Network Security Engineer: Protecting Information and the Bottom Line

Hacker attacks and other cyber threats that target networks are ever-present security risks in today’s increasingly interconnected world where more and more sensitive information is being digitized.

“Businesses need to ensure their data is secure and protected at all times, and maintaining network security is a big part of that,” says Dave Kaplan, branch manager for Robert Half Technology in Charlotte, N.C.

Network security engineer salary increasing in 2014

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the network security engineer position is among the top six hot tech jobs for 2014. And many leading employers are prepared to offer higher starting compensation to skilled network security engineers this year. Robert Half Technology’s Salary Guide reports that the average starting network security engineer salary in the United States* is expected to increase 6.6 percent this year — ranging from $99,750 to $131,250. (Use the Robert Half Technology Salary Calculator to find specific salary information for your city.)

What it takes to be a network security engineer

To be a network security engineer, you must have:

  • Strong working knowledge of data and network security technologies
  • A minimum of five years of experience installing, monitoring and maintaining network security solutions
  • A four-year degree in a technical field
  • Excellent organizational, multitasking and communication skills

As a network security engineer, you must be able to translate security policies and procedures into technical architectures. You’re responsible for analyzing network performance, including identifying areas of concern and formulating action plans to remedy those areas. Your duties also include creating and maintaining documentation of network configurations and processes, as well as participating in post-deployment monitoring and testing. You need to plan, test and execute system upgrades as necessary, too.

Aspiring network security engineers: demonstrate your knowledge

Network security engineers are tasked with ensuring networking systems can withstand or speedily bounce back from problems caused by hacker attacks, natural disasters, or other threats and disruptions. That’s why a multifaceted background that includes information technology, information security, networking and engineering experience is important for this role. Kaplan suggests, “In addition to getting the right educational training, aspiring network security engineers should consider earning in-demand certifications, such as the Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) credential or Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) designation.” Technology is constantly evolving, so it’s imperative that network security engineers do the same when it comes to their skills and knowledge. According to Kaplan, “The best network security engineers strive for lifelong learning. This includes staying apprised of new security solutions hitting the market, devouring security publications to stay in the loop, and taking advantage of opportunities to either pick up new skills or improve those already acquired.”

Look to Robert Half Technology's latest Salary Guide for job descriptions and starting salaries for a wide range of IT jobs — including network security engineer. *Network security engineer starting salaries in Canada are projected to increase 6.2 percent in 2014, ranging from $95,000 to $124,500. Figures are in Canadian dollars.