What is a Security Engineer?


Considering a career as a security engineer? You’ve found the right place. There are currently more open jobs for cybersecurity professionals throughout the US than qualified candidates. Even those with no experience can break into the tech field with the proper training. 

Your path to becoming a security engineer begins with developing the right skillset. If you’re new to the cyber field, there are many positions to help kick-start your career. The skills you’ll need as a security engineer can be developed in entry-level IT positions, such as a database or systems administrator, IT support agent or technician, web developer or software engineer. 

Entry-level positions, along with the right training, will help you learn the basics of resolving computer issues and how to build a secure network. 

The path you choose is up to you. The best way to start your security engineering career is to invest in yourself by learning new skills.

security engineer skills and salary

The High Demand for Security Engineers

The demand for Information Security Engineers is projected to grow 12% through 2026, though Colorado-specific employment trends estimate the growth in demand for these roles to reach 24% between 2018-2028.

The entire cybersecurity sector is skyrocketing, with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting cybersecurity careers to grow by 33% between 2020 and 2030–a staggering percentage when you consider that the average growth rate for other occupations is only 8%!

Companies are currently trying to fill 25,000 cybersecurity jobs in Colorado alone, according to Cyberseek, while over 714,000 cybersecurity roles are open nationwide.

Let’s compare national and Colorado demand for some security engineering positions.

NationalColorado
Information Security EngineersProjected employment: 483,000 employees

Projected growth: 12%

Projected annual job openings: 37,500
Projected employment: 21,600 employees

Projected growth: 24%

Projected annual job openings: 1,830
Information Security Analysts
Projected employment: 188,300 employees

Projected growth: 33%

Projected annual job openings: 16,300

Projected employment: 5,530 employees

Projected growth: 50%

Projected annual job openings: 510
Penetration Testers
Projected employment: 483,000 employees

Projected growth: 9%

Projected annual job openings: 37,500

Projected employment: 21,600 employees

Projected growth: 24%

Projected annual job openings: 1,830

As companies embrace remote work and businesses continue to adopt operational cloud services, a knowledgeable and skilled workforce will be essential to the protection of critical information.

Cyberattacks continue to threaten our critical infrastructure as well as financial institutions, the healthcare industry, and corporations across all sectors. Every industry requires innovative solutions and trained security engineers to prevent hackers from stealing secure data and penetrating networks.

What Does a Security Engineer Do?

As a security engineer, your day-to-day responsibilities are likely to include: 

  • Automating security measures
  • Identifying security improvements
  • Performing technical solutions to security vulnerabilities
  • Developing security assessments and threat models
  • Responding to attack vectors and security incidents
  • Coordinating incident response across teams

Ultimately, your day-to-day will depend on company needs. The industry you work for and the size of your security team will also impact daily tasks and responsibilities.

What is a Security Engineer’s Salary?

The average salary for a Security Engineer in the US is $124,526, according to Built In. The average Security Engineer salary in Colorado is $104,000. 

However, keep in mind that salaries in all industries can vary depending on your own level of  experience and education, your location, labor market trends and the position itself. 

What Does a Security Engineer Need to Know?

As a security engineer, you will require in-depth knowledge of various security tools and technologies. The following skills are essential.

  • Coding. The ability to write secure code will help to automate tasks for efficient security practices. Languages such as Python, C++, Java, Ruby and Bash are common.
  • Networking and network security. All networks face vulnerabilities and require routing protocols, encryption, firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs) for protection.
  • Penetration testing/ethical hacking. The ability to identify weaknesses is essential for recommending upgrades and fixes.
  • Computer forensics. Knowledge of investigative techniques is essential to identifying stored information from a computer device.
  • Database platforms. In order to protect data, you’ll need to have an understanding of how data is structured, stored and accessed.
  • Computer operating systems. Securing programs running on Windows, MacOS or Linux operating systems is crucial to preventing breaches. 
  • Project management. Coordinating projects across teams to protect the network may require managing multiple tasks. 
  • Problem-solving. Identifying potential threats before they cause harm is a critical skill for security engineers.
African-American Woman Writing Computer Code

Entry-Level Security Engineer Job Titles

There are many paths to begin your career as a security engineer. Check out the following entry-level positions to get started.

Jr. Cybersecurity Engineer

Junior network engineers are responsible for managing a company’s network connectivity and infrastructure. The estimated average salary for a Junior Cyber Security Engineer in Colorado is $87,401 per year. 

Security Systems Engineer

Security engineers are responsible for monitoring and testing networks for security breaches to resolve threats. The estimated average salary for a Security Systems Engineer in Colorado is $90,293 per year.

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts are responsible for maintaining firewalls and data encryption programs to protect sensitive information and system vulnerabilities. The estimated average salary for an Information Security Analyst in Colorado is $83,089 per year.

Additional Security Engineering Roles

Experience and skill level play a role in eligibility for security engineer jobs throughout the cybersecurity industry. Take a look at some mid-level position possibilities below. 

Network Security Engineer

Network security engineers are responsible for protecting systems from cyberattacks through bugs, malware and hacking. The estimated average salary for a Network Security Engineer in Colorado is $92,541 per year.

Cloud Security Engineer

Cloud Security Engineers are responsible for building, maintaining and infrastructure security of cloud networks and cloud-based systems. The estimated average salary for a Cloud Security Engineer in Colorado is $98,860 per year.

Information Security Engineer

Information Security Engineers are responsible for identifying, designing and executing applications to protect against attackers. The estimated average salary for an Information Security Engineer in Colorado is $139,185 per year.

Software Security Engineer

Software Security Engineers are responsible for implementing and testing security techniques to improve software security. The estimated average salary for a Software Security Engineer in Colorado is $117,160 per year.

security engineers working in office

Security Analyst vs Security Engineer. Which is Right for Me?

While a security engineer’s primary role is to design and implement an organization’s security architecture, security analysts work to detect and prevent breaches by monitoring the network.

Analyst

Security analyst professionals are responsible for monitoring and recommending organizational security protocols. Common duties include installing and managing software, identifying weaknesses to prevent cyberattacks and communicating security measures. Additional responsibilities may include utilizing new technologies to increase system security. 

Security analyst roles include:

  • Cybersecurity analyst
  • Computer forensic analyst
  • Information security analyst

Engineer

Security engineer professionals are responsible for creating organizational security strategies and protocols. Common duties include researching new security software, addressing technical problems and planning computer system upgrades. Additional responsibilities may include predicting future attacks and planning defenses against them.

Security engineer roles include:

  • Security software engineer
  • Cybersecurity engineer
  • Information security engineer
  • Computer security engineer

How Can I Become a Security Engineer?

Those seeking a security engineering role will benefit from proper training and developing critical thinking skills. Entry-level IT positions are a great place to start your journey as a cybersecurity analyst or penetration tester before entering a security engineering career. 

Develop the Necessary Skills and Experience

No matter where you are on your journey to becoming a security engineer, having a deep understanding of various security tools and technologies is key to building your skill set. Online courses, bootcamps or cybersecurity degree programs can provide you with the knowledge you need. 

Gain Certifications

Cybersecurity certifications aid in developing critical skills and signal to recruiters and hiring managers that you have the necessary knowledge. The University of Colorado Boulder Cybersecurity Bootcamp offers non-mandatory asynchronous classes focused on certification preparation for the following:

  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
  • Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate
  • (ISC)2 SSCP
  • LPI Linux Essentials
  • CompTIA CySA+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+

Grow Your Professional Network

Networking with other professionals is one of the best ways to stay connected with what’s happening in cybersecurity. Being a member of a professional organization can help you gain access to new job opportunities and avenues for building your skills.

Become a Security Engineer in Less Than a Year

The University of Colorado Boulder Cybersecurity Bootcamp is uniquely designed for learners of all backgrounds and experience levels. Gain real-world experience with hands-on tools in our Cyber Labs, where you will practice what you learn in class through simulations designed by cybersecurity professionals. Participants also receive personalized mentorship and guidance as they learn what it takes to become a security engineer from industry experts.

The Cybersecurity Bootcamp is a part-time 10-month program. You kick off your learning with the 30-hour Introductory Course for just $180, where you’ll get a feel for the full program before moving on to more advanced training in the Extended Course. Classes are live and online over weekends and evenings. 

Fill out the form below or call 303-848-2803 to learn more about our Cybersecurity Bootcamp and take the first step in your new career.

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