Security managers supervise staff who implement and configure security measures. They also deal with high-level IT security issues, such as system breaches. Security management can be a mid-level or senior role. It entails more responsibility for an organization’s IT system than entry-level cyber security positions.
As a security manager, you can find employment in a variety of organizations, including governmental, non-governmental, and commercial types. To get hired as a security manager, you will need a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in a related subject. It may also be beneficial to have a relevant Master’s degree under your belt, although this does not tend to be necessary.
To find out more about what a security manager role is like, check out our career guide below. We have compiled everything you need to know about the position, including what the role entails and the education, skills, and level of experience you need to get hired. We also reveal the average salaries of security managers and how to scope out the best jobs in the field.
What is security management?
Security management involves protecting an organization’s computers, networks, and data against cyber attacks, breaches, and viruses. As a managerial role, it consists of overseeing IT security employees whose tasks it is to protect and strengthen a company’s security system.
A security manager is very much in charge of cyber security operations and is seen as an expert in this area. Security managers need to be aware of all types of cyber security protection, detection, response, and recovery. Security management helps guarantee the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of an organization’s sensitive data.
What does a security manager do?
Often, the role of a security manager will vary depending on the size of an organization. In a small company, you could be the one running the show. Your tasks might include configuring security policy, dealing with the technical aspects of security, and everything in between.
If you work for a larger organization, there may be more than one security manager. And each of these roles can assume a more narrow range of duties. As a security manager in a large company, you will most likely adopt one of the following two roles:
- Technical security manager: in this role, you will focus on security systems, such as firewalls, data protection controls, vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, patching, and encryption. You will also need to manage the team that is tasked with the deployment, configuration, and smooth functioning of these systems.
- Program security manager: this is more of a strategic role in which you focus on risk management and mitigation. You will help different teams in the organization get to grips with third-party risk and data privacy issues.
There are also more senior security management roles, which involve more responsibility in terms of managing a cyber security team. Your level of managerial duties will depend on your experience, knowledge, and skillset. But regardless of how senior the role, all security managers need to have an in-depth knowledge of different aspects of cyber security, as well as the ability to coordinate a team.
The exact role of a security manager, as we can see, depends on a variety of factors. However, there are some common duties involved in this role, including:
- Monitoring all IT operations and infrastructure. You can do this yourself or by leading the team involved in the tasks
- Maintaining all security tools and technology
- Monitoring internal and external policy compliance. This means ensuring that both an organization’s vendors and employees understand the cyber security risk management policies and that they operate within that framework
- Monitoring regulation compliance. This can be a large task, especially if you work in a heavily regulated industry that deals with credit card information, health care data, or other private information
- Working with different departments in the organization to reduce IT security risk. Since you’ll be dealing with technical controls and policies, you’ll need to be able to collaborate with other teams in the company
- Implementing new technology. As a security manager, you should be able to evaluate novel technologies and implement any controls that can mitigate risks associated with its use
- Continuously auditing controls and policies. This involves regularly checking the policies and controls you’ve put in place, which will reveal if there’s anything that requires improving or fixing
- Making sure that the benefits provided by the cyber security team are visible across the entire organization
- Detailing the security incident response program. This means having a well-defined plan of what to do should a compromise to the system occur
What skills are required to become a security manager?
A security manager should have a broad range of knowledge and abilities to match the tasks outlined above. The hard and soft skills involved in security management include:
- Deep familiarity with security and network architecture (this includes knowledge about routing, DNS, VPN, authentication, DDOS mitigation tools, proxy services, firewall, and intrusion prevention and detection protocols)
- Knowledge about several systems and frameworks, such as Linux, UNIX, Cisco, Python, information assurance, and virtualization/VMware
- Compliance-related skills – being able to effectively assist compliance auditors when necessary
- Excellent collaboration and leadership skills
- Outstanding communication skills, both verbal and written in nature
- Analytical skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Critical thinking skills
- A high level of self-motivation
- A strong desire to continually develop technical knowledge and managerial skills
How to become a security manager
Now that we’ve detailed the core aspects of security management, you should have a sense of whether this career path appeals to you. If it does, you will now be wondering how to obtain a security manager job. In this section, we describe a five-step process that explains all the steps you need to take to get hired.
Here’s how to become a security manager:
- Write up a clear and detailed career plan
- Get the right education
- Look into relevant certificates
- Begin your job hunt
- Develop your learning
Let’s now explore each of these steps in more detail:
1. Write up a clear and detailed career plan
First, you will need a thorough career plan, which should cover all the relevant aspects, such as:
- The kind of security manager you want to be: a technical security manager or a program security manager
- Whether you want to be the sole security manager in an organization
- Whether you want to eventually be a senior security manager
- The qualifications and certificates you need to obtain a security management position
- Whether you want to work for a private firm, government agency, or NGO
- The industry you want to work in (for example,l energy, education, media, transport, or finance)
- The kind of experience you need to be considered a capable security manager (for example, specific managerial experience or number of years working in cyber security)
If you’re ever in doubt about job requirements, you can always contact a recruiter directly. They will be able to underscore the necessary, preferred, and desirable qualifications, skills, and level of experience.
2. Get the right education
Most security manager positions will require the attainment of at least a Bachelor’s degree in cyber security or a related subject. Relevant subjects include computer science, computer engineering, computer programming, software development, and IT. A Bachelor’s course in one of these areas will provide you with the fundamental skills and insights to get started on your security manager career path.
Here are a few examples of the top Bachelor’s degrees to look into:
- Bellevue University’s Bachelor of Science Cybersecurity Degree
- Norwich University’s Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security
- University of Maryland’s Online Bachelor’s Degree: Computer Networks and Cybersecurity
However, if you already have a Bachelor’s degree under your belt, make sure to get in touch with recruiters to find out if it’s the right qualification for the jobs you’re applying for.
3. Look into relevant certificates
While a degree may be necessary for a security manager position, sometimes specific certificates are required as well. A lot of the time, these certificates can be preferred or desirable. This means gaining one will give you a competitive edge when applying for a job. Just make sure that the qualification you have in mind is relevant for the position. You don’t want to spend your time and money studying when you don’t have to.
Here are some of the most important certificates that any hopeful security manager should be aware of:
- GIAC’s (Global Information Assurance Certification) GPEN certification
- CISM – Certified Information Security Manager
- CompTIA Security+
- CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional
- CISA – Certified Information Security Auditor
- EC-Council’s Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA)
- GIAC Defensible Security Architecture (GDSA)
- IACRB’s Certified SCADA Security Architect (CSSA)
- (ISC)²’s CISSP – ISSAP (Information Systems Security Architecture Professional)
- CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker Certification
- IACRB’s CPT – Certified Penetration Tester
- IARCB’s CEPT – Certified Expert Penetration Tester
- CompTIA’s PenTest+
- EC-Council’s Certified Encryption Specialist (ECES)
4. Begin your job hunt
Once you’ve gained the necessary qualifications, you can begin your job hunt. But this doesn’t mean you can start applying for security manager positions right away. After all, most employers desire a certain number of years’ experience in IT and evidence of managerial success before hiring you. If you have little to no cyber security experience but a related degree, you can apply for entry-level IT jobs, and with the right kind of career development, you can become employable as a security manager.
On the other hand, if you already have sufficient experience, you can start applying for security manager roles. Already working in an IT team? Keep an eye on your organization’s vacancies to see if they’re hiring internally for security management positions. You may have an easier time gaining a job this way than by applying externally. Of course, you may be in between jobs or looking to work for a different company or industry. If that’s the case, you need to know the best resources for finding ideal vacancies.
Here are some useful websites listing governmental security manager jobs:
Or you may wish to work in the private sector. In that case, here are some of the top companies hiring security managers:
- Amazon.com, Inc.
- Northrop Grumman Corporation
- J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
- Facebook Inc.
- Raytheon Co.
- Google, Inc.
- FedEx Corporation
- The Walt Disney Company
You’ll be able to find plenty of security manager vacancies on the major job sites such as Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and Monster. You can also narrow your search by using niche job sites like CyberSecJobs.com.
Refer to the salary section below to find out which companies offer the best salaries for security manager roles.
5. Develop your learning
Securing a job in security management doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your career development. For example, you might want to gain more responsibilities, a more senior security manager position, or a different and more advanced position. In these cases, you’ll want to develop your learning. This could take the form of studying for a cyber security Master’s degree, which will allow you to enhance your knowledge and skills. Another option is to enroll in one or more certificate programs.
Alongside these endeavors, or instead of them, you can gain relevant cyber security and managerial experience while in your current role, allowing you to progress into a new role over time.
Many Master’s degrees and certificates can be completed fully online. This means you don’t have to travel to study, which makes online degrees a convenient option. Also, you can pursue your education during evening or weekend classes, as well as study part-time. This flexibility will allow you to work at the same time.
Bear in mind, many employers invest in education and training for their employees and may provide financial support for your studies.
A few online Master’s degrees to consider include:
- Western Governors University’s M.S. Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
- Florida Tech Online’s MS in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity
- Saint Leo University Online’s M.S. in Cybersecurity
On the other hand, you might be attracted to other areas of cyber security. A position as a security manager can make you an ideal candidate for roles in computer forensics, penetration testing, security consulting, and security architecture.
Security manager salary
The last aspect of the security manager role we will explore is the salary you can expect to earn. Depending on the site you visit, you’ll discover a range of average salaries for security manager positions. We recommend using PayScale, as it aggregates average salaries from a number of different sites. For this reason, it’s a reliable source of information. According to PayScale:
- The average salary for a security manager is $69,498.
- The range of pay for security managers is $44,000–$126,000.
There is also valuable data showing how you can expect to see your salary increase over time:
|< 1 year||1–4 years||5–9 years||10–19 years||20+ years|
If you want to aim for the best jobs, PayScale highlights what the top companies are paying security managers:
- Amazon.com, Inc: $105,000
- Northrop Grumman Corporation: $104,603
- Facebook Inc.: $153,766
- Raytheon Co.: $105,748
- Millennium Corporation: $80,000
- Google, Inc.: $105,142
- Federal Express Corporation: $82,424