What Does a Security Engineer Do?

By Robert Half on 25 August 2023
Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes

Amidst rapid digital transformation and the widespread implementation of IoT in various aspects of life, there has been a significant rise in the frequency of cyberattacks leading to the exposure of personal information and the compromise of customer data. Consequently, the demand for security engineers has significantly risen due to the heightened importance of cybersecurity measures.

This article unveils the evolving role of security engineers, encompassing responsibilities, requisite skills, average salary, and potential career pathways.

Roles and responsibilities

Security engineers handle a diverse set of responsibilities, all aimed at shielding information systems and networks from external threats. Tasks encompass designing information security policies, establishing network security, identifying and rectifying vulnerabilities, as well as ongoing system maintenance.

The work process is divided into phases like "planning and proposal," "design," "implementation," "testing," and "operation." While this structure mirrors other engineering roles, security engineers specialize in addressing information security concerns.

The following outlines the role of a security engineer in each phase:

  • Planning and Proposal: Understand client requirements and propose security measures. Those in charge of this role are often referred to as "security consultants." Obtaining Information Security Management System (ISMS) and Privacy Mark compliance is also a part of their responsibilities.
  • Design: Develop plans for building secure networks and systems. The growing prominence of cloud computing demands engineers skilled in its implementation.
  • Implementation: Translate proposed plans into functional systems that meet security standards.
  • Testing: Thoroughly assess and evaluate systems to identify vulnerabilities and take appropriate corrective actions.
  • Operation and Maintenance: After system deployment, ensure ongoing management, maintenance, and security updates. Staying informed about the latest threats and responding to incidents is crucial.

The rise of telework and cloud environments, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, has introduced new security risks. Security engineers must keep pace with evolving technologies and threats to safeguard valuable information. Given the escalating importance of security, the role and responsibilities of security engineers have never been more critical.

Essential skills

Now, let's delve into the essential skills that can pave the way to becoming a proficient security engineer.

  • Network Security Skills: Ability to identify network vulnerabilities and implement effective countermeasures, encompassing both basic and advanced network security knowledge.
  • System Security Skills: Proficiency in identifying system and application vulnerabilities and applying suitable countermeasures, while considering overall system protection.
  • Understanding of Cyber Attacks: Capability to anticipate threats from an attacker's perspective and develop countermeasures for emerging risks.
  • Programming Skills: Proficiency in programming is vital to implement security measures and assess vulnerabilities, particularly in security-related programming.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication with clients and teamwork are essential. Explaining security concepts in simple terms is a must.
  • Ethical and Moral Awareness: Understanding the risks of unauthorized access and misuse of information requires ethical sensitivity to maintain clients' trust.

Useful qualifications

If you're in this field and looking to enhance your skills, consider obtaining the following certifications.

  • Info Security Management Exam: National qualification testing foundational knowledge in information security and management.
  • Info Processing Security Support Engineer Exam: Challenging national qualification covering broad cybersecurity topics, including technical aspects.
  • Fundamental & Applied IT Engineer Exams: National IT qualifications progressing from basics to applied, enhancing IT skills.
  • Cisco Technician Certifications: Cisco's "CCNA Security" & "CCNP Security" certifications offer specialized knowledge for security engineers.
  • CompTIA Security+: Globally recognized qualification covering network security, compliance, threats, and more, showcasing diverse security skills.
  • Network Info Security Manager Qualification (NISM): Exam for security experts focusing on security management and countermeasures.
  • Certified Info Security Manager (CISM): International qualification for security auditors with 5+ years' experience in management.
  • Certified Info Systems Security Professional (CISSP): (ISC)² certification demonstrating expertise across 8 info security domains.
  • Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP): Offensive Security's certification in penetration testing, validating intrusion and privilege escalation skills.

These skills, experience, and qualifications play a pivotal role in skill enhancement and career growth.

Average salary for Security Engineers

Salaries for security engineers can vary significantly based on experience, skills, and the company. To explore average salaries and current trends in IT, refer to the latest salary guide.

The demand for security engineers is on the rise and is likely to further increase, boosting their market value.

Find out the average salary for a Security Engineer

Career path for Security Engineers

Security engineers can pursue diverse career paths. While gaining experience in the field, you can take on management responsibilities as a Project Manager (PM) or Project Leader (PL), or you can pursue technical expertise and become an IT specialist. Others may move into IT consulting or security planning positions, taking advantage of the technical experience and skills they have developed as engineers.

The number of companies seeking security engineers is on the rise, and the demand for security engineers is increasing. Demand is expected to continue to grow in the future, and security engineers will be able to work in a wide range of industries.

The wide array of career options can align with individual aspirations. Regardless of the chosen path, security engineers' knowledge and skills serve as the foundation for success in numerous fields.

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Security engineers are indispensable in the rapidly evolving digital age. At Robert Half, we have a dedicated team of cybersecurity professionals who can assist you in your career change. Please feel free to contact us to discuss your career change or career opportunities.

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