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Career Paths to Becoming a Security Architect


Security architects play a vital role in strengthening networks and computer security. Specifically, they are responsible for assessing organizational systems and computers to discover and mitigate cybersecurity weaknesses. They perform risk analyses, vulnerability scans, and penetration tests on corporate networks and assess firewalls, routers, VPNs, and other comparable systems to determine their security efficacy. In addition, security architects are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining an organization's cybersecurity programs, architectures, and systems. They perform defensive and offensive functions to secure a network from internal and external attacks. Also, they leverage their expertise when designing, building, and implementing corporate networks and oversee network changes to uncover and mitigate security flaws that expose an organization to cybersecurity risks.

An Overview of Security Architects’ Job Market

As more companies digitize their operations to compete effectively in the modern enterprise environment, cyber threats continue to increase. As such, a recent study found that there will be more than 3.5 million vacant cybersecurity positions by 2025[1]. Unsurprisingly, experts forecast that the security architects’ job market will register a 5% growth between 2020 and 2030[2]. Furthermore, security analysts’ vacant roles will increase by 33% within the same period. Security architects' job growth rate is much faster compared to the average growth rates of other jobs in other industries. Additionally, security architects' entry-level jobs pay an average of $79,000 per year, while those with at least ten years of experience rake in more than $138,000[3]. Suffice it to say a career as a security architect is lucrative, but many people lack an idea of how to jumpstart such careers.

Career Paths to Becoming a Security Architect

1. Military to IT Engineer to Security Engineer to Security Architect

Modern warfare involves advanced technological use to counter threats from adversaries. As such, you can start a security architect career through the various career options in the military. For example, as the military relies on the internet and advanced tech, it requires well-versed individuals to protect critical equipment from attacks. Therefore, you begin a career as an information technology engineer responsible for troubleshooting, processing, and maintaining computer and communication systems. The military also requires cyber terrorism specialists, individuals tasked with securing telecommunication infrastructure from cyber terrorism. As a cyber-terrorism specialist, you gain experience identifying and evaluating cyber threats by analyzing large data to detect possible security breaches.

The experience gained from the military can propel your career by opening the door to the field of security engineering. Security engineers work with other cybersecurity professionals to implement and configure breach detection systems, install firewalls, and implement other functions to ensure adequate network and system protection. In addition, a security engineering role requires individuals to create and maintain organizational cybersecurity protocols and strategies and research new solutions to respond to emerging cyber threats and challenges. Security engineers also respond to intruders and predict future attack vectors to plan the necessary defenses. Thus, the skills acquired include a deep knowledge of current and emerging security risks, in-depth grasping of cybersecurity protocols, implementing robust cybersecurity measures, and designing security systems to protect data. These and other skills can jumpstart your career as a security architect.

2. College to IT Analyst to Security Analyst to Security Engineer to Security Architect

This is one of the most efficient ways to start a career as a security architect. While some security architects begin as amateur hackers and learn network architecture from home, most companies require a formal college education. Therefore, landing a job as a security architect may require you to produce education papers, such as a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, information technology, and computer science. Certifications in other fields like network security and engineering or information assurance are an added advantage.

Once done with college, you can hone your skills by becoming an IT analyst. IT analysts serve a crucial role in the organization by designing and implementing functional IT systems. Here, you become highly analytical in understanding business requirements, researching new tools, implementing system upgrades, and understanding user requirements. In other words, the goal of an IT analyst is to leverage information technology solutions to meet specific organizational requirements.

The skills acquired as an IT analyst can advance your security architect career by becoming a security analyst. A security analyst monitors and recommends various security protocols to protect organizational networks and systems. They communicate with other IT professionals to determine the implemented security measures, install and manage software securely to protect data, and actively attempt to break into information systems to discover and mitigate security weaknesses. Furthermore, they are responsible for evaluating new technologies to establish the security risks they introduce to an organization and identify measures for securing them.

These experiences can help you become a security engineer to gain the skills required to be a security architect. As a security engineer, you constantly innovate techniques to prevent attackers from intruding into organizational computers and information systems. For example, you undergo training to become proficient in designing and implementing multilevel cybersecurity protocols to secure data and network resources and responding to cyberattacks by leveraging computer forensics. From there, you qualify to become a competent security architect.

3. College to Security Analyst to Security Engineer to Security Architect

As mentioned earlier, a college education is a primary method through which you can start a successful career as a security architect. At a minimum, you must graduate with a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, information technology, computer science, or other related fields. However, instead of starting a career as an IT analyst, you can jump straight to the security analyst field, where you will acquire sufficient skills to become a security engineer.

For example, you can work in a security operations center (SOC) in an entry-level position where you perform tasks like compiling information, running security tests, and analyzing security data to detect attack events. Additional responsibilities include monitoring system events continuously to understand the organization’s threat landscape, identifying system vulnerabilities, prioritizing risk mitigation measures, and analyzing and interpreting security data to discover vulnerabilities.

Then, you can join a security engineering team to gain the experience needed before becoming a fully-fledged security architect. A security engineer's responsibilities provide you with hands-on practical experience in securing operating systems, cloud environments, scripting and programming languages, security tools, and compliance. You also become an expert at securing complex enterprise IT infrastructure and performing penetration tests when necessary. Combined with your experience as a security analyst, you can now start your career as a security architect.

4. IT Analyst (Help Desk) to IT Engineer (Infrastructure) to IT Engineer (Networking) to Security Engineer to Security Architect

As an IT help desk analyst, you are responsible for providing professional tech assistance and support to company customers for all tech-related issues affecting operating systems, networks, applications, and computer hardware. You also assist customers in installing or troubleshooting different software. In addition, you communicate with senior IT professionals and security analysts for more complex issues facing customers.

The experience acquired as an IT help desk analyst is sufficient to start an IT infrastructure engineer career. You may be assigned responsibilities like creating designs, building, implementing, evaluating, and maintaining organizational IT infrastructure to support daily business operations. You also assess current systems to ensure compliance and security best practices.

Then, you can become an IT network engineer to plan, design, deploy, and maintain computer networks to support wireless networks, data, voice, and video services. You also become proficient in configuring network firewalls, monitoring corporate networks for security issues, troubleshooting networks to identify performance issues, and implementing network security configurations. By understanding complex networks, you can pinpoint security problems accurately and mitigate them. These skills enable you to become a security engineer and start a career as a security architect.

Start Your Security Architect Career Now with International Security Architects United

There is no right or wrong way to become a security architect. However, in most cases, it comes down to skills, knowledge, and abilities with the right amount of information technology or developer-programming experience. More experience and an array of technical knowledge led to a higher level of proficiency. The International Security Architects (ISA) United organization supports you until you gain the skills required for a successful career as a security architect. As a member, you get a family of like-minded security professionals to share ideas, successes, support, and passion for anything security. Build a network of peers you can rely on for guidance, support, and idea-sharing.


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