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Skills Required to Become a Network Security Specialist

 Network Security

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Here’s how Network Security is used in Computer Network Specialist jobs:

  • Developed and implemented network security, risk management, and quality assurance policies.
  • Planned, coordinated, and implemented network security measures, including firewalls, and anti-virus software such as Norton Utility products.
  • Manage network security using MS Server 2003 Active Directory and Checkpoint Security.
  • Plan and design network security for our customer datacenter environment.
  • Researched and implemented computer/user specific Windows 2000 Active Directory Group Policy Objects to improve network security and user efficiency.
  • Appointed to Boundary Protection Technician, providing network security and monitoring firewall; opened firewall ports on case-by-case basis.

Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

Companies typically require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems or computer engineering. Depending on the role, some organizations also ask that you earn a master’s in business administration (MBA) or computer science before applying.

Earn Relevant IT Experience

A bachelor’s or master’s degree will get your foot in the door. But it’s not enough. Learning on-the-job IT skills are critical to becoming a network engineer.

First, you need to build a networking foundation. A help desk or entry-level IT support role is a great way to develop fundamental, real-world IT skills.

If you’re just starting out, here are the networking skills you should focus on developing:

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Network Engineer Basics

  • Clients and servers: How email, websites and pages connect using networks
  • IP addresses: Unique identification codes for network devices that control the flow of data
  • Network hubs, cables and switches: The hardware building blocks of any network
  • Firewalls and routers: Tools that organize and control network traffic flow

Get creative when choosing places to gain experience. Volunteer for small businesses or friends. Try an internship. Build your own PC or full stack networking project. You’ll gain networking skills, expand your portfolio of projects and you’ll have something to talk about in job interviews.

Once you’ve got the basic IT skills down, look for more relevant networking positions. Working as a junior network engineer or network analyst can help you gain networking experience. You’ll be assisting senior engineers with networking tasks, and it’s a great way to build your skill set.

Maximize the experience in every role. Work on as many different projects as you can. Volunteer to take on new tasks. Make connections with partner engineers or vendors. You’ll be more well-rounded, and it will help you narrow down your specialization.

Identify the Networking Engineering Path You Want

Once you’ve gained entry-level IT experience, you need to identify your career path. Networking engineering careers and positions vary widely depending on the industry, company and technology.

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If you’re just starting out, here’s a list of some of the networking jobs available:

  • Network Specialist
  • Network Administrator
  • Network Technician
  • Network Analyst
  • Network Manager
  • Network Engineer
  • Network Solutions Architect

Specialize Your Networking Role

You may specialize even further in the course of your networking career. Roles range from cloud and security specializations, such as a network security specialist or cloud networking architect, to wireless and VoIP concentrations as a wireless networking quality assurance or VoIP engineer.

You could also choose to dabble in a little bit of everything as a full stack network engineer (FSNE).

Networks are complicated. Rather than hiring people to focus on each area of IT, companies are increasingly looking for professionals with cross-functional skills. Full stack network engineers are trained in all areas of IT from routing, wireless, security, data center, automation, cloud and VoIP.

Training is more difficult for FSNEs. There isn’t a clear-cut path or certification. Instead of using your time to specialize in one area, try different roles and projects to round out your skill set.

If you’re not sure what route you want to take, here are two strategies to help you define your path.

  • Reach out to other network engineers for advice. Talk about your career aspirations with your manager or a mentor. They may be able to help you transition into more networking roles.
  • Research senior-level network engineer jobs. Look at the job postings that interest you. What skills and requirements are companies looking for? Any certifications or courses? Researching jobs can help you identify interests and skill gaps you can improve upon.

Supplement Your Skills With Networking Training and Courses

Training courses and IT certifications are a great way to supplement on-the-job training.

With networking training courses, you’ll learn about operating systems, information security, network administration and programming essentials. Depending on the organization, they may require specific certifications or training courses.

Microsoft, Cisco, Citrix, CompTIA, VMware and Red Hat all offer network engineer training and certifications. Here are some of the more highly desirable network engineer certifications:

  • CompTIA A+ Certification
  • CompTIA Network+ Certification
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2016
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Core Infrastructure
  • VMware Certified Professional – Network Virtualization
  • Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) – Routing and Switching
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional Level (CCNP) – Routing and Switching

Cisco is one of the more popular training options for network engineers. Courses include the theory of computer networking, test practical knowledge and teach you how to perform networking tasks.

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