There are many job roles available for people looking for a career in cyber security, but one of the most prominent is that of the security architect. These professionals are among the most important elements of any firm's security team, as they will be primarily responsible for protecting critical systems from breaches.
But what does the role of a security architect look like, and what skills and qualifications will employers be looking for?
What is a security architect?
The security architect's main role is to create secure systems that prevent hackers gaining access to key data and applications. This includes managing the initial design phase, the building and implementation process and testing of the system. They will usually be in charge of a team of security professionals.
To be successful, a security architect will need to think like a hacker and have a deep understanding of the tactics and techniques that are likely to be used to break into systems. This allows them to identify the strengths and weaknesses of proposed IT solutions and devise the most appropriate countermeasures and changes to systems architecture.
What are the duties of a security architect?
The day-to-day duties of a security architect are likely to be highly varied. While their primary role will be to look closely at IT systems throughout the development process, identifying vulnerabilities and recommending solutions, this is far from their only responsibility.
These professionals will often need to design and build entirely new architectures to address emerging threats, which means they need to ensure they are keeping up with the latest developments in the sector. They will need to combine this knowledge with organisational requirements, industry standards and regulations to keep firms protected against the latest threats.
Security architects are often among the most senior members of a cyber security team, and will oversee the rollout of systems. This means they will have managerial responsibilities such as overseeing the work of other employees, setting timescales and deadlines, managing budgets and implementing and enforcing policies for use of IT systems.
In the event of a security incident, security architects will also be on the front lines of their firm's response. They will be required to assess what damage has been done, prepare reports on the incident, and design and implement changes to ensure there are no repeats.
What skills do you need for a career as a security architect?
A deep knowledge of programming, networking and hacking is essential for a career as a security architect. As a minimum, you should have a Bachelor's degree in a field such as Information Technology or Computer Science. A graduate degree or professional qualifications such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) are also highly advantageous.
One of the most important factors many employers look for is experience. Many security architects start out in more junior roles such as systems administrators, security analysts or security engineers before moving into these roles.
Aside from technical and experience qualifications, security architects also need a range of other skills. These include:
- Communication skills (both verbal and written)
- Research expertise
- Leadership skills
- Analytical thinking and problem solving
What job roles are available for those with security architecture experience?
Security architects jobs are in high demand across many industries, but those dealing with especially sensitive data, including financial services, government, telecommunications and defence, are always on the lookout for talented professionals.
Those looking to further their careers can also move into lead or principal security engineer roles, IT project leads or board-level positions such as chief information security officer.
Salaries for security architects can vary depending on the industry, the complexity of the firm's systems, and the level of management responsibility and experience they have. The median salary for these positions in the UK is around £60,000, but the most skilled and in-demand professionals can command salaries of up to £90,000.
If you're looking to move into this area or further your career, explore what security architect jobs are available today, or register for job alerts when new positions become available.