Security engineers typically start their career paths by earning a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, or a related field. This process usually takes four years, although some schools offer accelerated options.
After graduation, prospective security engineers usually spend 1-5 years working in IT jobs. During this time, they can work with mentors, earn cybersecurity credentials, and join professional associations to advance their careers.
With a few years of experience behind them, these professionals can apply to a master’s program in security engineering or a related field. As part of a graduate program, students typically participate in an internship, and many learners also write a thesis or complete an applied research project. Upon finishing a master’s degree, graduates can apply for security engineering positions — about 10 years after starting their freshman year in college.
Steps to Becoming a Security Engineer
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in information security, cybersecurity, or a related field. A high GPA and a strong internship can add practical, real-world value to this degree.
2. Gain an entry-level job in an area related to security engineering, such as risk management or program testing.
3. Spend about five years gaining professional experience in the field.
4. After five years, security professionals can qualify for the CISSP credential through the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium.
5. Earn a master’s degree in cybersecurity or information security with a focus in security engineering.
6. Sign a contract for your first job as a security engineer.