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How Do I Become an Information Security Engineer?

Vicki Hogue-Davies
Vicki Hogue-Davies

An information security engineer protects the computer systems of governments, businesses and other organizations against intentional or unintentional disruption. To become an information security engineer, you usually need at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, information security, information technology or a similar area. Some employers might also require or desire a certificate focused on information security or specialized coursework taken in that area. There are several associations and organizations that can provide a professional certification for someone who wants to become an information security engineer. Depending upon the employer, technology-specific certifications for that employer's particular computer systems might also be required.

College-level work toward becoming an information security engineer will include advanced math courses such as trigonometry and calculus, as well as computer programming languages and other highly technical subjects. Specific courses in information security might include computer forensics, hacker software, network security and more. If you have not yet graduated from high school, taking computer courses and advanced math courses will help you gain the knowledge that you need for college-level work and help you to become an information security engineer. Getting good grades in these high school-level courses also can give you an edge in getting accepted into a competitive computer engineering college program.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

After you are in college, performing internships in the information security field will improve your attractiveness to prospective employers while also giving you valuable real-world work experience. Performing internships also can give you a view into different kinds of industries, allowing you to see which industries might be good fits for your personality, experience and interests. Internships also can allow you to prove yourself and give you opportunities with employers.

Characteristics of people who become successful information security engineers include an attention to detail, strong ethical standards, a high degree of discretion and the ability to work within a team. Having good written and verbal communication skills also is important to help ensure accuracy in computer systems design and maintenance. Curiosity, creativity and strong problem-solving abilities are important traits to have if you want to become an information security engineer.

The ability to pass an extensive background check and gain a security clearance might also be necessary for a career as an information security engineer. Some employers require security clearances because information security engineers are often exposed to or have access to sensitive data. Information security engineers also might be called information assurance engineers, information security system engineers or other similar titles.

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