Careers in Government Information Security
Information security professionals are involved in planning, implementing and monitoring security measures to protect computer networks, systems and information from cyber attacks. The highly specialized skills of these experts are in demand by government agencies all over the country and all over the world, where work is available in a variety of capacities.
If you’re exploring career options in information technology, database administration, or information systems, read on to learn about jobs in government information security – from employment opportunities, to the training and education you’ll need to launch this exciting career.
What is Government Information Security?
Government information security ensures that the vast amount of information needed for government to function and provide services to the American people remains confidential and readily available when it is needed. To do this successfully, information security risks must be understood and managed at all times. The benefits of proper government information security include smooth-running operations, integrity of service, national security, financial savings, and increased public trust and confidence.
Why Government Information Security Matters
Credit and debit card information, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers and bank account information are vulnerable to security breaches. If information is not adequately protected and a hacker obtains access to it, the impact on individuals and businesses could be devastating and costly. In the wrong hands, sensitive information can wipe out bank accounts or ruin even a highly trusted company’s reputation.
But when hackers target the government, they are typically looking for valuable classified information. If government information security is breached, sensitive data and military information could be funneled to our country’s enemies, with potential for great harm to countless individuals. Therefore, it is especially vital that government information is secure and protected 24/7, and that continual updates and tests are performed to stay ahead of cyber criminals' relentless attacks.
Where Can I Find Jobs in Government Information Security?
Information security jobs can be found in every branch of the military, plus hundreds of federal agencies, such as the National Security Agency, Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Homeland Security and the Johnson Space Center. From IT specialists and information security specialists, to supervisors and directors, these professionals are in demand throughout the government, at just about all levels of clearance and responsibility.
Education Preparation for Jobs in Government Information Security
Education requirements for government information security jobs will vary according to the position being sought. While you may enter the field with an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, you will typically need professional certification, as well.
Associate’s Degree: An associate’s, or two-year degree, along with relevant work experience, may be sufficient for entry-level or junior-level positions. However, this level of education can limit your chances for advancement in the field. In addition, employers hiring for government information security positions often require professional certifications and security clearances.
Bachelor’s Degree: You’ll have expanded career choices when you earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer information systems, or a related field from a four-year college or university. Most government information security jobs require a bachelor’s degree, plus professional certifications and security clearances. With experience and additional certifications, you could qualify for advancement.
Master’s Degree: If you’ve set your sights on advanced positions in government information security, such as chief information security officer or senior information security analyst, you’ll likely need a master’s degree in information technology. This two-year advanced degree program can be obtained at certain universities, either immediately upon completing a bachelor’s degree program, or after you’ve started working in the field.
In addition to adequate educational credentials, prospective government information security professionals will need additional qualifications when pursuing jobs in this field.
Government Information Security Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement
When pursuing a job in government information security, you’ll need to meet employers' requirement for education, training and certifications. The professional certifications required may include Security+, offered by CompTIA®, and CISSP®, SSCP® and CAP®, offered by (ISC)2. Individuals holding in-demand certifications may qualify for higher-level positions or career advancement.
Government information security employers often seek individuals with additional attributes and qualifications, including:
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Ability to handle multiple, competing priorities simultaneously
- A high level of integrity
Preparing for a government information security career may begin with earning an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree, obtaining professional certifications and honing the required skills that will increase your chances for advancement. You may find opportunities to start in an entry-level position, and use an employer’s tuition assistance program to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in information systems.
Does a Career in Government Information Security Interest You?
Information security professionals play a crucial role in keeping our nation safe. Outstanding career opportunities now exist in the field of government information security – at every level, and in every agency, across the country. If you enjoy a fast work pace with new challenges every day, this could be an ideal career choice for you. You’ll also experience the satisfaction of knowing you are protecting sensitive government and military information from cyber criminals, to benefit our country.