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How to get a job as a security engineer: skills, qualifications, responsibilities and salary

Scott Carey | Aug. 26, 2016
The UK has a growing skills gap for security engineers, here's what you need to know about the sector

Gordon Smith, UK client executive at Hired, says that salaries are currently "closer in line with software engineering in how they are tracking", with entry-level jobs ranging from £40,000-£50,000 a year and more senior roles up to £70,000 or £80,000.

Security engineer jobs: Employer perspective

There is growing demand for security engineers across industries, from specialist vendors like Darktrace to established enterprises, the public sector and even consultancies like PwC, which has announced that it will recruit more than 1,000 cyber security consultants between now and 2020.

Al Martin, vice president of technical operations at Darktrace says the security startup looks for "people with inquisitive minds."

When it comes to soft skills he says: "Teamwork is critical, as the team is spread out worldwide. Ensuring that our customers have an enjoyable, professional experience is a key metric for us. This comes through great technical knowledge, combined with strong soft people skills."

CGI's Andrew Rogoyski says the key skills required for a security engineer are rooted in subjects like computing, maths and engineering.

"However, the scope of cyber security is changing," he explains. "The constant development of new forms of attack and the rapid pace of technological innovation are giving rise to a need for a much broader set of skills, including the ability to analyse huge amounts of data and understand hackers behaviour."

When it comes to the public sector, to get a job in the "cyber and technical operations" department the GCHQ careers website asks for: "A technical qualification or experience in low level software, network security, malware analysis, penetration testing, or vulnerability discovery and mitigation would be useful. Most importantly you should be ready and willing to learn."

Specifically, a cyber engineer at GCHQ must "combine broad technical expertise with the confidence and ability to challenge what's possible and invent new solutions to complex technical problems."

Security engineer jobs: Security engineer perspective

On a day-to-day basis a Darktrace security engineer will "work with our customers to analyse their networks and report on anomalous activity," says Martin, vice president of technical operations at, Darktrace. "Each of our 1,200 deployments are different so, like our technology, our engineers have to be highly adaptive.

"Each day is different - you could be working through a deep packet analysis trying to understand the nature of a client's ransomware infection, architecting a global deployment for one of the world's largest financial institutions under attack hundreds of times a day, or presenting to a company's chief security officer what Darktrace has found in their networks that legacy security tools have missed."

Martin says he moved to the UK-based cyber security startup after he saw the work they were doing with machine learning.

 

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