In the past, the use of cybersecurity was on the network perimeter. Online businesses would use various products such as antivirus solutions and firewalls to protect their data and products.
At that time, this was enough to keep intruders and hackers away from your online resources. Over time, hackers have found ways to break these firewalls and other security systems.
Today, hackers try thousands of attacks at every online enterprise from every possible angle.
According to a recent report, cybercrimes cost businesses around 5.2 trillion in 2019. This is where cybersecurity plays its role. If you are thinking of becoming a security architect, you are definitely on the right track.
This article will provide you a complete insight into the security architect field.
What Does A Security Architect Do?
So, you are planning to start a career as a security architect, but are still confused about the nature of the job. You must have searched a lot about what exactly a security architect does.
In short, security architects assess information technology and computer systems of their organization and identify strengths and weaknesses.
The next step is to devise and install architectural changes in the security system. Well, it is not as simple as it seems to be.
As a security architect, you will have to think like a hacker and push existing security systems to their limits to determine their efficiency. Once you identify the potential risks and weaknesses, you can remove them by upgrading the system’s architecture.
As cybersecurity leaders, we have to create our message of influence because security is a culture and you need the business to take place and be part of that security culture.
What’s more, a security architect’s job doesn’t end with upgrading the system’s architecture. You have to respond to security breaches as well.
When incidents like security breaches arise, it is your job to find the cause of the breach, assess the extent of damage, and prepare a complete report in this regard.
You also have to suggest suitable changes in the system’s architecture. Once the security head approves the report, it will be your job to put the changes in place.
The job of a security architect requires special skills, education, and expertise, and you need to have some technical knowledge beforehand as well. Moreover, the right experience will also help you get this job in a better place.
The exact requirements can be different for different industries and organizations. But, let’s see some of the general requirements:
You need to have the following skills to apply for the post of security architect:
- A comprehensive understanding of frameworks such as COBIT
- Complete knowledge of control objectives for IT framed by ISACA.
- A complete grasp on cybersecurity laws and guidelines
- Complete understanding of complex risk management and assessment theories and practices
As a security architect, there are other skills that you must have when working in a security team. These include:
- Administrative and leadership skills
- Understanding of information technology ethics
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Innovative thinking and creativity
- Problem-solving and analytical skills
Well, you must be thinking that the skills mentioned above are quite hard to learn in a short period. But if you have the right educational background, you might be familiar with most of these skills.
You can get benefits from most of the degree programs as they teach you skills like administration, leadership, communication, and problem-solving. These soft skills are a part of almost every educational program.
If you want to start your career as a security architect, a bachelor’s degree will help you learn the basics, and a degree related to IT will help you master some of those hard skills.
Now, let’s assume that you have a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree in information technology.
So, what’s next? You should go for a higher degree of education, such as a master’s degree in cybersecurity. This will help you in developing an understanding of the nature of the job of a security architect.
It is a fact that many security architects have previous hacking experience. If you have the skills to penetrate computer and network security systems, believe me, you are already halfway across your journey to becoming a security specialist.
During your education, you will handle lots of projects and internships. These will give you the crucial hands-on experience and the expertise needed to get your first job.
You must be aware of the fact that applying for a job in any company requires experience, or exceptional skills if you are a beginner. The same is true for cybersecurity firms. Just hang in there as I walk you through the whole process.
Different companies need different levels of experience from their employees. This usually depends on the size of the company and the level of security required.
Companies that need more technical work may ask for at least five years of experience. On the other hand, some companies might be OK with even one or two years of work experience.
If you have an entry-level experience, you can get a role as a security analyst. Sounds good? You can also get the job of a security consultant or engineer, and after developing your skills, you can apply for a promotion to be a security architect.
However, it is very difficult to get the post of a security architect with entry or mid-level experience. The best way forward is to gain experience and learn more skills during your job as a security analyst.
This will help you develop and polish the skills necessary for the job of a security architect. Once you have developed the required skills, you can apply for the post of a security architect. In most cases, security architects start as a security consultant and engineer and then move to the next role.
To be honest, there is no need to worry if you lack some of the skills required for the job of a security architect.
No doubt, skills, and experience are the key requirements in this field, but here’s the interesting thing; cybersecurity certifications can get you back in the game.
Even if you have the skills and experience, a certificate of your skills can boost your resume. Certificates from well-known programs will make you stand out among the crowd.
The best way to apply for a job is to review the specific employer’s job requirements. These job requirements will give you an idea of the criteria of selection and guide you to get the right certifications for it.
But that’s not all. Certifications also help you polish your skills and remain updated to the level of cybersecurity requirements.
Some of the most relevant certifications that will boost your resume include:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- EC-Council Network Security Administrator (ENSA)
- The CREST Registered Technical Security Architecture (CRTSA)
- The GIAC®️ Defensible Security Architecture (GDSA)
- IACRB’s Certified SCADA Security Architect (CSSA)
- Certified Wireless Network Professional
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Career Path For A Security Architect
Cybersecurity is gaining popularity day by day, and almost every company needs a team of cybersecurity specialists. You can expect lots of opportunities to grow in this field in the coming years.
The job post for a security architect is an expert level post. You need to go through various phases to reach this post.
You can start with posts like a security engineer, security administrator, or network administrator. These will lead to higher-level jobs such as a security architect.
The point is once you have gained enough experience or proven yourself in that role, you may get promoted to more senior-level positions. These include security consultants, IT project managers, security architects, security managers, etc.
Also, after working as a security architect, you can get to the executive level positions. These positions include a security director or chief information security officer. Of course, you need to work hard and prove your skills in the relevant field to get to these positions.
Furthermore, these executive-level positions need an expert level of experience as a security architect. So, you will have to try your level best as a security architect to get to these positions.
Sometimes, the job will be the same or more or less similar, but it may have a different title. For instance, the position may be of a:
- Computer security architect
- Information security architect
- Software security architect
- Operating system security architect
Expected Salary For A Security Architect
We saved the best for the last. How much can you earn as a security specialist? The simple answer is, the job pays you enough to become independently wealthy in a few years, if not super-rich.
The salary range for security architects is $73,000 to $238,000. What you take home in the end mostly depends on your education, skills, certifications, and of course, your experience.
According to Indeed, the average salary for an IT architect in the US in 2020 was around $153,257.
As this is the beginning of the cybersecurity era, the need for security architects along with the average salary increases every year. However, keep in mind, the average salary for a security architect varies slightly with the location.
However, no matter the location, you can earn a handsome income as a security architect. No matter where you live, the average pay is almost the same everywhere, with only a slight variation.
Next, what about the industry you are working in? Today, almost all industries and companies need a cybersecurity team, from tech firms to airlines. Thus, the expected salary for this position can also vary from industry to industry.
For example, the average pay for a security architect at Lockheed Martin Corp is $140,000. In comparison, the average pay at the same position at American Airlines is around $100,000 on the lower end.
Let’s take a look at the most frequently asked questions in this regard.
What are the common activities a security architect must execute?
The job of a security architect includes analysis of the system. This further includes suggesting changes and implementing these changes as well.
Is it hard to get a job as a security architect?
The immediate answer is NO. There are a lot of cybersecurity jobs out there, and more will be available soon. Thus, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a job as a security architect.
But keep in mind that the position of security architect requires expert level experience. So, it is better to start with a lower job post, get some certifications, and improve your skills and expertise.
In short, we can say that a security architect is the one who protects the whole system from security breaches. As a security architect, you must have the mind of a hacker and think like one.
It may seem simple, but it’s not. Moreover, if you find it scary, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to build your skills, and the pay will make it all worth it.
Finally, to answer your question: how to become a security architect; you’ll need the right college degree, a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. After that, you will have to build the right skills and gain experience by working at a junior-level position.
Then, you are good to go.