How to Become a Director of Security

Society is more interconnected than ever thanks to the proliferation of mobile platforms, the internet of things (IoT), and social media. But these technologies are also introducing new cyber threats, increasing the demand for directors of security and related roles across all industries. Security professionals researching how to become a director of security should consider how an advanced degree could help position them as leaders in this growing field.

While news headlines mostly highlight data breaches at global companies, small businesses and organizations — from nonprofits to government agencies — in the United States are also on the front lines of the cyber war. On the world stage, the percentage of countries seeing cyber threats as a top concern surged from 54 percent in 2017 to an average of 61 percent in 2018, according to the Pew Research Center.

Defending against these growing cyber threats requires trained, nimble leaders who can direct teams of IT, cyber security, and data professionals to keep operations running. Maryville University is well-positioned to prepare these leaders with its online master’s in cyber security degree program.

A director of security advises his team manager in a room full of computer monitors.

What Does a Director of Security Do?

Directors of security evaluate an organization’s vulnerability and identify systems and processes to reduce cyber security risks and help prevent attacks. But cyber criminals are persistent in developing new ways to penetrate enterprise systems, and they often get past defenses. This means that a director of security must also know about the latest cyber threats. So, in answering the question, “what does a director of security do?” it becomes clear that the role is constantly evolving.

Vigilance and Upskilling

Cyber threats are ever-present, and a director of security must be aware of the dangers. Cyber criminals work 24/7 to penetrate organizational systems and access data. This means security directors must be easily reachable at any time, so it is common for security directors to work more than 40 hours a week. Additionally, planned systems outages to perform security upgrades often take place on weekends and evenings.

Successful directors of security never take anything for granted. Their constant awareness of possible data breaches means they conduct regular reviews to uncover issues as soon as they arise. To do this, they develop standards to test and validate security protocols. Because cyber criminals are constantly devising new ways to attack, security directors must keep up with the latest technology trends and continually update their skill sets and knowledge.

Leadership and Communication

A director of security manages a team of technical professionals and provides guidance on preventing attacks and keeping teams up to speed on new cyber security skills. In fact, security directors review existing cyber security programs and serve as advisers to CEOs on all matters of security, providing guidance on making improvements. A key tip for how to become a director of security is to work on cultivating communication, leadership, strategic planning, and research skills.

Cyber threats come not just from external sources, but also from within organizations themselves. Attacks that originate from within are not always malicious in nature; sometimes, a hack is a result of negligence or failure to follow security procedures, such as updating passwords. A director of security serves as a champion of security procedures, so the ability to lead and influence is key.

Constant vigilance when enforcing security procedures helps keep would-be cyber thieves away from an organization’s data, which is why the role of director of security is so important for organizations looking to remain competitive in the 21st century.

Steps to Become a Director of Security

Professionals looking to launch their leadership career paths in this field should consider a master’s in cyber security degree to gain a strong background in strategic planning and enhance their technical skills in areas such as cloud security, mobile forensics, and drone technology.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Individuals pursuing a career in this rapidly growing field can find answers about how to become a director of security by looking into education that can help them advance professionally. A bachelor’s degree in cyber security enables you to pursue a growing number of opportunities, from entry-level on up, in government agencies, financial institutions, businesses, and healthcare organizations.

Step 2: Earn a Master’s Degree

At the director of security level, an online master’s in cyber security degree can round out one’s technology skills with key business concepts, enabling informed decision-making in terms of security investments. Cyber security postgraduate coursework varies by specialty but typically includes cryptography and network security, incident handling, legal ramifications, and applications development.

Step 3: Attain Certifications and Complete Additional Training to Become a Director of Security

Since cyber security is constantly evolving, aspiring directors of security may need to complete certifications from accredited organizations to stay current on the latest trends. Certifications to consider include Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT), AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, and Project Management Professional (PMP).

Step 4: Gain Experience as a Security Professional

Detail-oriented professionals who offer analytical, team leadership, decision-making, and communication skills can position themselves to take on more cyber security responsibilities. They can take their first steps toward a director role by volunteering to serve on committees focused on technology and cyber security within their organizations. Professionals pursuing a career path as a director of security can benefit from taking coursework on related subjects offered by Maryville University.

While this article highlights some of the key steps for attaining a director of security role, additional training, certification, education, or experience may be required, depending on the employer and the nature of the position.

Director of Security Salaries

Organizations looking to employ directors of security include government/intelligence agencies, financial firms and banks, IT and networking firms, and large corporations that work with an abundance of customer data.

The estimated annual salaries for computer and information systems managers, which includes directors of security and related jobs, range from $139,220 to $178,333, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Director of security salaries can vary widely depending on education, certifications, and experience in the field.

Employment Outlook for Directors of Security

Employment growth for security directors is fueled by current market trends. As more organizations move toward digitization and cloud computing, they will rely on cybersecurity experts to help protect their valuable data. The BLS projects employment for computer and information systems manager roles, such as a director of security, will increase by 12 percent from 2016 to 2026. This exceeds the average growth rate for all occupations. Other similar roles include chief information officers (CIOs), chief technology officers (CTOs), and IT directors.

Explore Your Career Options

Maryville University is well-positioned to prepare students to begin their cyber security careers. For example, Maryville’s online master’s in cyber security degree program is geared toward real-world exposure, includes a holistic curriculum offering wide-ranging cyber security coursework, and focuses on helping students develop their technical knowledge.

Directors of security are in a unique position to strengthen interconnectedness in a world under constant attack from cyber criminals. If you are up for the challenge, you can help shape the future cyber landscape working as a leader and defender. Now is your chance to become a leader in a role with significant earning potential.

Learn More

Explore how an online master’s degree in cyber security from Maryville University can help you set a path to becoming a leader in the security field.

 

Sources: 

CIO, “The 15 Most Valuable IT Certifications Today”

Dice, “What It Takes to Earn Six Figures in Tech Security”

Harvard Business Review, “The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats Are Inside Your Company”

Pew Research Center, “Climate Change Still Seen as the Top Global Threat, but Cyberattacks a Rising Concern”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Systems Managers

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, “The Need for Greater Focus on the Cybersecurity Challenges Facing Small and Midsize Businesses”

CIO, “The 15 Most Valuable IT Certifications Today”

Dice, “What It Takes to Earn Six Figures in Tech Security”

Harvard Business Review, “The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats Are Inside Your Company”

Pew Research Center, “Climate Change Still Seen as the Top Global Threat, but Cyberattacks a Rising Concern”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Systems Managers

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, “The Need for Greater Focus on the Cybersecurity Challenges Facing Small and Midsize Businesses”