In today’s world, when most of the firms shifted their data to the cloud, major interactions between the client and the firm are established via the internet.
This means the online transmission of data and crucial assets is being carried out frequently. Denial of access to this data to people with wrong intentions is a big challenge for these companies.
In this timeframe, data security is a major concern that comes under the umbrella of cybersecurity. A security consultant is the one who assesses the security measures of his firm or client’s organization. As a security consultant, you have to keep on updating the security system, look for breaches, evaluate risks, and provide solutions to these problems.
In times to come, a security consultant role in an organization’s success will increase exponentially. Hence, if you are thinking of becoming a security consultant, you are in the right direction.
In this article, you will get maximum information about this position.
What Does A Security Consultant Do?
Security consultants offer consultation to a single company, multiple firms, or provide services as an employee in a bigger security firm. Security Consultants keep on analyzing systems by evaluating potential cybersecurity threats.
A security consultant constantly searches for security breaches that can be exploited. He must know how a hacker thinks to protect his own assets.
With the progress in every field, security consultants must stay updated on the latest tech and potential risk factors. They may also train the staff to understand and protect themselves against cybersecurity risks.
Also, a security consultant ensures the safety of digital assets. It includes the client’s data, a firm’s operating software, and other sensitive info. Any security breach can damage the client’s trust and can be liable for the firm’s bad repute. Hence, security is the main concern of all organizations.
Moreover, it is the responsibility of security consultants to remain updated on the security systems, security standards, and authentication protocols. The security consultant supervises and guides the security team in the implementation of security policy. He ensures a quick response to any security incident and carries out complete documentation to avoid such incidents in the future.
As cybersecurity leaders, we have to create our message of influence because security is a culture and you need the business to take place and be part of that security culture.
Security consultants design a strategy to protect software, computers, networks, information, and data systems from inner and outer potential threats. They should ensure that these security solutions are beneficial and will have no side effects once integrated into the system.
In addition to already discussed security consultant’s duties, they also suggest improvements to the organization’s infrastructure and may present it to higher authorities. Once the firm selects a new strategy, a security consultant ensures new security measures as per the latest protocols and helps its implementation over time.
As the title suggests, the job of a security consultant demands special requirements. There are several things that you learn with the passage of time and experience. However, some in hand technical knowledge is essential in pursuing a career.
Furthermore, appropriate hands-on experience will assist you in getting a good position and early promotions. The exact requirements could be different for different firms and organizations. However, few general requirements are as below:
Since the post is quite technical, you will need to learn a few hard skills. These skills include:
- Fluency in programming languages such as python, PHP, Java, C, C++, and C#
- Hands-on working experience on both Windows and Unix operating systems
- Able to implement and use intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems
- High-level expertise with the common compliance assessment such as HIPPA, GLBA, SOX, PCI, and NIST
- Fundamental knowledge of network concepts such as VLANs, VoIP, DNS and VPNs
- Understanding of secure coding, ethical hacking, and threat modeling
Along with these hard skills, to become a successful security consultant, you need some soft skills too. Moreover, this isn’t a one-man job.
Depending on the size and commitments of the firm, you will probably be working with a team.
Here is what you need to be a good team member:
- Team Management
- Leadership qualities
- Good communicator
- Interpersonal skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Critical and interpretation skills
Some of the hard skills mentioned above are quite difficult to attain in a short duration of time. However, if you have the right educational background, this might not be a new topic for you. Also, for soft skills, certain certifications or qualifications will be useful, if not compulsory.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, cybersecurity, and information security, will help you to attain some of those hard skills. Moreover, during your bachelor’s degree, you will develop skills such as working in a team and communication skills.
Basically, all degrees that offer course work regarding computer and I.T, Information security, and programming languages can start your career as a security consultant. After that, a higher degree of education, such as a master’s and Ph.D. degree, will improve and polish your hard and soft skills.
During college, you should get involved in maximum projects and internships, and this hands-on experience will help you to solve critical problems. All these efforts will assist you in attaining knowledge and expertise to get your first job as a security consultant.
There is no set-in-stone progression of work experience required to become a security consultant. It all depends on the firm’s size and exact job responsibility. Desired experience varies from firm to firm; however, firms that require skillful staff will prefer individuals with at least five years of experience in the field of computer and information security.
Having said that, some companies might ask for less experience – one to two years, maybe. Basically, this depends on the job level. If it is an entry-level job, companies might hire individuals with zero to six months of experience too.
If you have a degree in the relevant field and a little information security experience, you have a future in security consultancy.
If you are concerned about not having the right experience and skills, you can always get a relevant certification. These certifications will boost your career progression.
Even if you are already highly skilled, you should keep on getting these certifications. These will add colors to your profile, and you will get preference, among others.
Moreover, if you are looking for a specific post in some company, you can look at that specific employer’s job requirement. Then, whatever you lack in required skills, try to fill the gap with relevant certification and license.
If you are already serving at a good post, these certifications can help you refine your skills and stay updated on the latest ones.
For a successful career in security consultancy, you can consider getting these certifications:
- Certified ethical hacker, also called CEH
- Certified information systems security professional, or CISSP
- Offensive security certified professional, also known as OSCP
- Certified information system auditor (CISA)
- Certified information security manager (CISM)
Career Path For A Security Consultant
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published in a report that a security consultant employment outlook is quite encouraging with a 28% growth rate for jobs in the cybersecurity sector. Whether it is a govt organization, banks, or private firms, all need to secure their crucial data. Therefore, the employment of a dedicated security team in every setup is mandatory.
The career path of a security consultant starts with a junior member of an IT team, you gain work experience for 1-3 years, and then companies can expect you to take leadership roles.
In this time period, you should get yourself involved in both technical and administrative tasks. However, by prioritizing continuing security information education, you can easily secure good promotions.
Moreover, there are few intermediate-level jobs such as security specialists, security analysts, security engineers, and security auditors. You should consider taking these jobs since these intermediate jobs will give you enough experience and preparation for a security consultant post.
Once you have enough experience and, because of the hard work you manage to earn a good reputation in your firm, you will be considered for a higher post such as security architect, security manager and, IT project manager. By securing these higher-level jobs, you have to look after both technical and managerial affairs.
Furthermore, if you are looking for a security consultant job, you might encounter different titles for the same job, such as computer security consultant, information security consultant, database security consultant, and network security consultant.
Expected Salary For A Security Consultant
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) prediction, the future of information security fields is quite bright and projecting a growth of 28% for cybersecurity analysts between 2018 to 2028.
As per one of PayScale reports in 2018, the average annual salary of security consultants is $83025. Besides, salary increment depends on a number of factors including, years of experience, education, and certification.
Moreover, the security consultant’s salary also depends on the company’s location. As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), security consultants working in New York, Washington DC, and New Jersey paid more than anywhere else in the country. As of May 2018, the annual mean salary of security consultants serving in New York and New Jersey was $122,000 and $121,600, respectively.
Although security consultant jobs seem entirely related to IT fields, it is a post that is available in many industries. According to the BLS report, the pharmaceutical and medicine industry, legal service, and wholesale electronic market are top-paying industries to a cybersecurity analyst, with the highest annual mean salary of $131,150.
With the passage of time, this salary figure will rise. However, an important point to consider is that your salary will depend on your qualifications, certification, experience, and your company.
Does a Security Consultant Have to Do Coding?
The job of a security consultant is not to write code; however, you must have the ability to understand code. In addition to this, adequate basic knowledge about programming languages will be a plus for you.
Is it Hard to Get a Job as a Security Consultant?
As mentioned earlier, there will be plenty of opportunities near the future. Therefore individuals with the right skills and expertise will be able to get good jobs.
How Much Do Security Consultants Make?
Well, it depends on a number of factors, such as what’s your educational skills and expertise, where you are, and in which company you are working? Keeping all these points in mind, you can expect it to be around $95,000 per annum.
Security consultants’ jobs in companies play a vital role. With their hands-on experience and exceptional skills, they keep on securing the firm’s data from all types of threats. That’s why firms will pay you a lot if you work for them as a security consultant.
While working at this post in any firm, you will keep on learning. It refines your old skills, and you stay updated on the latest tech. Keep in mind that Individuals with a relevant degree and ongoing education have a better chance to excel than those who do not pursue further training opportunities or certifications.
Finally, to answer your question: how to become a security consultant? You will need the right educational degrees. After that, you will have to gain experience and build relevant skills. Moreover, with the addition of suitable certifications, you are good to go.