Computer Security Specialists
Education & Training
To work as a computer security specialist, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma;
- complete formal training; and
- have one to five years of related work experience.
Education after high school
Due to the wide range of skills required, there are many ways to become a computer security specialist. While not required for this occupation, many employers prefer to hire people with some formal college education. A bachelor's degree in computer science or information systems is excellent preparation for this occupation. Technical schools, community colleges, and universities all offer training programs. Another route is to major in your area of interest and minor in computer science.
An important part of preparing for this field is learning the latest technology. Some people learn through classes and others teach themselves. An ideal way to prepare for this field is to get a part-time job or internship. In these hands-on learning environments, you learn new tools as they are used in the field.
Continuing education is very important in this field. Technology changes rapidly and specialists must stay up to date. Employers, hardware and software vendors, colleges and universities, and training institutes offer classes.
Some branches of the military train people to be computer systems specialists. Training lasts from seven to 13 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.
Fields of Study (What to study to prepare for this career)
Click on any of the Fields of Study listed below to find out more about preparing for this career.
- Computer Programming
- Computer Science
- Computer Systems Analysis
- Computer Systems Networking and Administration
- Database Administration
- Electronic Commerce
- Information Science
- Information Technology
- Management Information Systems
- Webmaster and Web Management
Level of Education
The table below lists the level of education attained by a subset of workers in this occupation. The workers surveyed were between age 25 and 44.
|Education level attained||Percentage of workers in this occupation*|
|Less than high school diploma||1|
|High school diploma or equivalent||8|
|Some college, no degree||22|
|Doctoral (Ph.D.) or professional degree||1|
* National data for information security analysts, web developers, and computer network architects (SOC 15-1179).
Helpful High School Courses
In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.
You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.
Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this occupation include:
- Computer Applications
- Computer Programming
- Computer Science
- Network Technology
Many computer security specialists are self-employed. To help you monitor your finances and taxes, you should consider taking these courses as well:
- Introduction to Business
The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.
You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.
Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career.
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.