How to become a security consultant: a step-by-step guide
Updated 26 April 2023
A security consultant is someone who studies all aspects of the security practices for a particular organisation. They assess the current processes, study any perceived failures and implement improvements to the current security infrastructure. They can work individually, with a direct contract between them and their client, or they may work with a security firm, offering large-scale solutions to companies with several branches to secure. In this article, we discuss the required skills, average salary and how to become a security consultant.
How to become a security consultant
Knowing how to become a security consultant is the first step in beginning a career in this field. The basics of security strategies begin with the technological practices in place, from firewalls to password protection to the programs running cameras or security access systems. Security consultant jobs require familiarity with computer systems and software programs.
Related: What is an IT consultant?
Security consultants are analytical, forward-thinking, good at troubleshooting and can convey complex technical concepts in layman's terms. A degree in computer science, the ability to think critically and creativity are qualities desired for security consultants. As the job faces fresh problems every day, being creative may allow you to discover solutions in unexpected places. If this sounds like a career path you want to explore, follow our step-by-step guide to start your journey towards becoming a security consultant:
1. Examine your skills
Evaluate your computer literacy and hard and soft skills relating to what you might need in the role. If there are any lapses in your knowledge base or in your technical capabilities, there are several courses that can help you improve. Once you have a level of skill and willingness to educate yourself, look into the coursework associated with cybersecurity.
2. Obtain a degree
A typical degree for security consultants is anything to do with computer science, cybersecurity or information technology (IT). Any degree related to the field can help your chances of success in making this your career. Ensure that your education prepares you to confront digital threats and cybersecurity risks as you quickly discover solutions to technical issues. Focus on IT fundamentals, such as foundations, applications, business and cyber law.
3. Work experience
Find jobs related to IT that can help show your prospective employers your familiarity with cybersecurity and the technical prowess of computer security systems. Remember that entry-level positions may also include administrative, financial or assistant positions that work closely with the IT department. It looks good to have positions on your CV that highlight your soft skills, such as critical thinking, teamwork and leadership.
4. Continued education
Professional certifications may impress prospective employers and may also better prepare you to surpass the expectations of the job, outperforming your competition. Even after working in your desired field, continued education practices can keep you ahead of the curve and ready for the next challenge in your career. Ensure you're giving yourself every opportunity to succeed as you venture down your new career path.
5. Improve your skills
Even after you're set in your career as a security consultant, ensure that you continue to take certification courses and remain current with updated information. The digital world is constantly changing, and because of the job, it's crucial to be up to date with the latest news in cybersecurity. You can continue to branch out with different certifications as well to increase your understanding, efficiency and the value you bring to the industry.
Doing this before you've secured a position as a security consultant can make you a more compelling choice for potential employers, as they can see that you're dedicated to lifelong learning and self-improvement.
What is a security consultant?
A security consultant maintains the full scope of security, their specialisation being with technology. Also known as security analysts, security consultants focus their attention on threats such as hackers and malware. It's a security consultant's job to analyse, study and interpret any vulnerabilities in their client's networks, computer systems and software programs. Once they've determined any threats and developed a plan of action, it's their job to oversee the security initiatives being put into practice.
Security consultant requirements
Becoming a security consultant is an achievable career goal as long as you're willing to dedicate yourself to developing the associated skills. Critical thinkers and problem solvers excel in the field, so long as you put in the time and effort to learn the intricacies of the role. There are courses and certifications in cybersecurity that can improve your knowledge of what threats security consultants monitor. Eligible candidates have a degree in IT or another related subject and one to three years of experience within an IT-based role. Here are more details about the specific requirements:
A degree in a related IT field, such as cybersecurity, information security or computer science, is a good way to get on the right path to establishing your career. There is no specific degree required for being a security consultant, but it's best to go for one that focuses on preparation against digital risks and the quickly changing digital world. Find a degree that focuses on developing your knowledge of:
Security consultants are experts in the field, so they're required to have a certain level of experience when being considered for a position. One to three years of work experience in related roles, such as working in IT, computer programming or even working in an administrative role alongside an IT or cybersecurity team is sufficient experience to fill the position. Other jobs that stand out on your CV are any that helped to develop the essential skills, such as a management role that demonstrates your leadership capabilities or a communications job that exhibits your ability to multitask.
Required soft skills
The soft skills that make a great security consultant are critical thinking, problem-solving, logical thinking and communication skills. Leadership helps you stand out from the crowd, but a strong understanding of teamwork could help you get the entire team on the same page.
Managing IT has you facing regular threats and breaches, meaning you're able to quickly organise, analyse and communicate effectively with company executives about their operations. You're also charged with liaising with managers to outline any issues that may involve their teams. They may also ask you to communicate with a large group of employees through presentations, written reports or FAQs regarding best practices.
Required hard skills
Security consultants have hard skills relating to cybersecurity systems, which means their proficiency in computer skills is at a professional, working level. Because of the analytical nature of the job, problem-solving skills allow you to closer examine structure and systems relating to digital threats and help you implement solutions. Computer programming and networking are essential skills for security systems configuration. Security consultants have a thorough knowledge of the related technical aspects through courses such as:
Java computer programming
cloud infrastructure and computing
network and security applications
network and security foundations
Related: IT skills: definitions and examples
The ability to network and balance your workload through continued education can help you stand out from the crowd. There are several professional certifications that security consultants can add to their CVs to increase their value to prospective or current employers. These certifications are also vital in building your knowledge base and proficiency with the job. Some common certification choices for consultants are:
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
These certifications increase skills and knowledge relating to management, analysis of cybersecurity and how to find vulnerabilities in security systems as a penetration tester. These certifications can validate the wealth of knowledge you already possess, along with your ability to develop and implement security systems. Security consultants who get professional certifications are showing their expertise in the field and strengthening their ability to perform particular functions of the job. Employers recognise this as a dedication to performance and recognise that you have a strengthened knowledge of the industry.
Security consultant salary
The average salary for a security consultant job is £53,496 per year. Keep in mind that pay may vary by location, but this is an accurate estimate. Security consultants in London may make more than those in Leeds, for instance. A security consultant's salary can also vary depending on seniority, whether they're working as a freelancer and the size of the company they're working for.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
Explore more articles
- How does mystery shopping work? (With definition and FAQs)
- What does a bakery assistant do? (with responsibilities)
- 8 clinical psychology careers (with duties and salaries)
- What does a zookeeper do? (Plus salary and skills)
- Types of forensic science (Plus responsibilities and skills)
- How to become an offshore worker (Tips and qualifications)
- What does a personal shopper do? (Definition and skills)
- What does a sales assistant do? (And how to become one)
- How to become a childcare worker (including skills)
- 15 low-stress jobs in different industries (with salaries)
- How to become an occupational therapist
- 18 Jobs To Physics To Pursue With a Degree (With Salary Info)