Cyber security administrators are vital in protecting a government agency or private company from cyber-threats. If you are planning to become a cyber security administrator, you should also plan to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in cyber security. While you won’t stop major threats every day of the week, you’ll still be performing vital duties in protecting your employer from threats large and small. You’ll need to think as an adversary of your employer’s organization would. How would a hacker think and what would they try in order to successfully get into your company’s computer network? What would they do to cause damage or steal information?
What Does a Security Administrator Do?
In your future role as a cyber security administrator, you’ll help to point out the system needs of your organization, then install both network hardware and software. You’ll make sure upgrades are performed as scheduled, and the organization’s networks and security for the entire system are maintained. Occasionally, you’ll carry out full evaluations of the computer systems so that you can pinpoint what needs to be adjusted or corrected. You’ll be tasked with adding new users (employees) to the organizational network, assigning them security permissions, and updating them as needed. Another responsibility that falls to the administrator is the training of new users (management and employees) in the function of both the hardware and software.
When problems with the network develop, you’ll have to determine what is happening, then, along with your employees, correct the issues that have developed. The network’s monitoring system may alert you to a new problem, or an alert employee may contact you. You don’t only monitor desktop computers and laptops. You’ll also oversee the servers and any mobile equipment that has been assigned to employees. And, depending on where you work, you may be required to manage the telecommunication networks.
What are Their Responsibilities, Common Duties, and Tasks?
In your daily job, you will:
- Install, configure, and update security software
- Design and carry out new security measures once you have determined potential security risks your employer’s network is facing
- Come up with a plan of action so your responses to security breaches are proactive
- Constantly research new cyber security technology and stay updated on cyber security trends
- Monitor the state and safety of your employer’s computer networks
- Conduct tests to pinpoint weaknesses in the systems
- Connect with other employees and update them on the company’s security protocols
- Ask employees if they have noticed issues with the company’s computer networks
- Help to prevent a social engineering cyber-attack: hackers taking advantage of errors made by employees
- Work closely with company management to put together a strong security plan
In your daily work activities, you’ll use all the technical skills you learned in school. You’ll also use those skills that transfer easily from role to role such as communication, problem-solving, research, collaboration, planning, writing, organization, troubleshooting, and giving attention to the smallest details.
How to Become a Cyber Security Administrator
When you know you want to work in an organization as a cyber security administrator, you should assess your current skills. These include transferable skills such as communication, problem-solving, and troubleshooting. If you know you’re good at planning and teamwork, this means you are well-suited to this position.
You’ll also need to have excellent writing and research skills, as a cyber security administrator does many tasks requiring those skills. If you are organized and able to pay attention to detail, this might just be the right position for you.
Next, begin taking your classes, either at a community college from which you’ll transfer, or you can just start at a four-year university. You’ll need to learn Domain Name System (DNS), system administration, Cisco, Linux, hardware and software installation, Microsoft Active Directory, SQL, VMware products, Windows Server, and Technical Support.
If you have a two-year associate degree and you see a position for a cyber security administrator, apply for it. Someone who holds an associate degree in network systems administration will be well-suited to the position and it will give you great experience in the field. If you find you need to return to school, do so. It will only help you advance in your career.
Typical Requirements for Hiring
As you scan job ads for cyber security administrator positions, you’ll notice the requirements all fall into four distinct areas: Education, Training, Certifications, Skills.
You’ll need to possess a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, such as computer science, information technology, or a cyber security specialization. If you plan to work for a larger company, you may be required to have a master’s degree.
You are likely to learn your job skills in a formal education program, whether at the bachelor’s or master’s degree level. Employers may require you to show proof that you have completed at least one internship in your major. These internships should give you the chance to gain the practical experience you’ll need as you embark on your career.
This is more of a preference than a mandatory requirement for this profession, though larger companies with more complicated needs may see it as a requirement. These certifications include CompTIA Security +, Comp TIA A+ and CompTIA Network +.
Some skills are specific to your career* while others are skills that can transfer into any profession.
You will be required to show that you can monitor security issues and provide solutions across the board, then ensure they are operationally available and be able to identify and evaluate new tools as you search for vulnerabilities in the company’s networks.
You’ll also coordinate with vendors (third-party) for necessary upgrades and support used by all security controls, carry out system analyses to verify that all security tools are aligned with each other, and ensure that these tools are in full compliance with company security procedures that have already been established.
Any time your employer experiences a security escalation, you’ll act as a second-tier support person for the security operations center. In this capacity, you’ll maintain and operate forensics environments and information security labs.
Aside from the technical skills you need to work as a cyber security administrator, you’ll also need some soft skills. While soft skills don’t correlate directly with cyber security work, they will support you as you carry out your daily duties.
These skills include understanding human behavior, which enables you to understand why people act as they do; communication strategies, which allows you to determine how best to speak to a manager or employee; learning theory, which helps you understand how each employee learns best; and change management, which aids you to direct organizational change.
According to Payscale.com, the average income of a network administrator is $58,500 while the average income of a systems administrator is $61,500. Either way, this is a solid salary for a position which has the chance to lead to even more responsibility and higher salaries later in your career. Later-career average pay is $68,800 and $73,900, respectively.
The BLS shows network and computer systems administrators as making slightly less than the average across all computer-related occupations, but significantly more than that across all occupations. And, this is before you take into account the location or size of company at which you will work. Larger cities and larger companies often pay higher wages than small companies in small cities. Your pay can also be affected by your certifications, degree earned, past experience, and the industry of the company you work for. Companies who’s income relies on them protective significant amounts of sensitive data will often pay better wages to retain top talent in cyber security.
Outlook & Jobs
The employment of cyber security administrators (also called network and computer systems administrators) should grow about 5% between 2018 and 2028. This is about the same rate as for all other US occupations. IT and cyber security employees are in high demand; organizations and government agencies are growing as they buy new mobile networks and related technology and this growth is also pushed by the increasing use of information technology in the healthcare industry.
The only cloud on the horizon regarding growth in this sector comes from the increasing use of cloud computing. Network administrators may become more productive, which could lead to a slowdown in the growth of the sector. Several industries may be susceptible to this slowdown in employment growth.
Network administrators who specialize in computer systems design is predicted to grow about 24% between 2018 and 2028. Computer and information systems managers can look forward to a predicted industry growth of 11% between 2018 and 2028. The demand for these professionals will grow as organizations move their data to new digital platforms—the computer and information systems managers will carry these goals out.
The need for better cyber security also fuels the growing need for administrators in this field. The retail trade needs to invest and put into place better cyber security policies, given the numbers of recent cyber-attacks.
Computer and information systems managers may find themselves migrating to companies providing cloud computing as companies may outsource this role to organizations that provide cloud computing. Thus, IT and cyber security specialists may end up working in industries that are not related to computer industries (retail, schools, healthcare, etc.).