How To Become a Security Consultant in 8 Steps (Plus Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 9, 2022

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

More companies are moving their processes online, which leaves their data susceptible to security breaches. Security consultants are responsible for reinforcing an organization's information systems and providing solutions in cases of a breach. Understanding how to become a security consultant can help you build the skills and knowledge you need to excel in this career path. In this article, we discuss what a security consultant is, highlight how to become one, and explore the skills needed for effective performance in this role.

What is a security consultant?

A security consultant is a technology professional who designs an organization's information and technology systems to avoid cyberattacks. They specialize in security software, information networks, and computer systems. Security consultants work with IT teams to integrate various departments into a company's IT system and ensure that company and client information is secure. Security consultants are also responsible for developing solutions to data breaches and mitigating damage. Their daily activities include consulting with clients, evaluating security systems, identifying potential threats, recommending feasible solutions, and providing frequent updates to employers.

Security consultants can work independently or as employees for a consulting company. Independent security consultants take jobs on a contractual basis. They usually work with other IT professionals and can collaborate with a client's IT team. Security consultants who are company employees work in IT teams. They can function as team leads or supervisors and direct the activities of other IT professionals. A security consultant's work environment is moderately paced and mostly involves routine system checks and updates. Various industries require these professionals, including technology firms, banks, retailers, and investment firms.

Related: How To Become an Independent Consultant (With Tips)

How to become a security consultant

Here is an overview of how to become a security consultant:

1. Obtain the relevant education

The first step to becoming a security consultant is to complete a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, computer science, or any related field. Most employers require this for entry-level candidates. Relevant degrees often train students on computer systems, database management, network infrastructure, and cybersecurity. Many university and college programs also incorporate internships into their learning curriculum. Through this, students can work with consulting companies and gain some preliminary experience. You can also take the more challenging route of self-learning through online tutorials and other resources. This method can make getting a job slightly more challenging.

2. Consider additional certifications

Certifications are a great way to demonstrate competence to clients. They also make a great addition to your resume or personal website. You can consider certifications like the Certified IoT Security Practitioner (CIoTSP) by CertNexus, or the Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE) by Certified Wireless Network Professionals (CWNP). Professional certifications usually involve rigorous training and certification exams. After passing, you receive a designated title that tells clients that you're an expert. Many certifications are also internationally recognized, making migration much easier.

Related: How To List Your Certifications on a Resume

3. Gain relevant experience

Gaining experience is important for honing your skills and building knowledge as a security consultant. Most certification and training programs include practical aspects that can help you gain relevant experience. You can also gain experience by interning at a security consulting firm. In an internship, you understudy various departments and specialists. This gives you knowledge of all aspects of your role and can help you decide on a specialty. Ensure you're accountable during your internships, and ask relevant questions. Volunteering for small businesses or friends and family can also be effective for gaining experience.

4. Create a resume

A resume summarizes your professional qualifications and is a requirement for most job applications. Tailor your resume to each role you apply for by including only the most relevant skills and experience. Relevant sections to include on your security consultant resume are your educational background, work experiences, skills, and certifications. Be specific about all details you provide, particularly those related to work duties and achievements. After you finish your resume, make sure to edit it to ensure it's neat, organized, and free of errors.

Related: How To Write a Resume

5. Apply for a job

If you intend to work for an employer, you can apply for a job. Security consultants can work in various settings, including government agencies, banks, investment firms, law firms, and technology companies. Employers usually announce when they're recruiting new consultants. Most job application processes include cover letter submissions, interviews, and skill assessment tests. You can research the company's recruitment process and prepare to improve your chances of success.

6. Register your business

Individuals looking to start their own consultancy services can register a business. Depending on which is most appropriate for you, you can register your business as a sole proprietorship or partnership. Registering your business protects you from legal issues and can qualify you for perks like input tax credits. Ensure you research the legal requirements for registering a business in your province and prepare all relevant documents.

7. Market your services

After registering your business, start marketing your services to attract clients. An effective marketing approach is to build a business website and blog, then use SEO and SEM to drive traffic towards it. By creating engaging content around cybersecurity, you can attract individuals who are likely to want your services. Social media, emails, and professional networking platforms are also great marketing channels.

8. Send proposals to clients

If you become an independent consultant, you may get most of your projects through proposals and pitches. First, you can use various websites and networking platforms to research companies and executives likely to need your services. Then, collect their email addresses and send them cold emails containing a business proposal. A good proposal includes your understanding of the client's needs, proposed solution, project timeline, and budget. Send as many proposals as possible so you can quickly find work and grow your brand.

Relevant skills for security consultants

Here are some skills that can aid your performance as a security consultant:

Technical skills

Technical skills involve knowledge or abilities professionals use to perform practical aspects of their trade. For security consultants, technical skills comprise knowledge of security software, programming languages, and computer systems. Security consultants use various coding languages and understand security software like identification technology and cloud storage platforms. The duties of a security consultant also involve activities like analyzing malware, maintaining accurate directories, and strengthening firewalls. These tasks require technical skills and an excellent understanding of computer systems.

Leadership skills

Security consultants are usually leaders or high-ranking members of IT teams in organizations. They are responsible for designing and implementing an organization's overall strategy towards cybersecurity and data protection. For this reason, security consultants usually report directly to managers or executives like the chief information officer. Typically, they supervise and direct the activities of other IT professionals like data scientists, web designers, and product developers. Security consultants require leadership skills to effectively harmonize the efforts of their team and obtain quality results.

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

Communication skills

Communication skills aid individuals in sharing and receiving information accurately. This skill is essential for security consultants to ensure they can complete work to the specifications of their clients. These professionals require active listening to understand an organization's ultimate goal and determine the best security system for it. They also need active listening to understand the feedback from their subordinates and make informed decisions. Security consultants usually explain technical jargon in simple terms when providing reports to clients or employers. They also pass instructions to subordinate staff and software vendors, which requires effective communication.

Teamwork skills

Teamwork skills are essential for collaborating effectively with coworkers and colleagues. Security consultants usually work in multi-person teams comprising various specialists. A typical IT team also includes web designers, programmers, software developers, and data scientists. These professionals handle different aspects of an organization's IT system, usually under the direction of a security consultant. Teamwork skills are essential for security consultants to share information, design schedules, and make decisions with team members. Teamwork skills also impact a security consultant's ability to take criticism and empathize with colleagues. These skills include emotional intelligence, conflict management, and persuasion.

Strategic thinking

As security consultants are responsible for building a company's IT infrastructure to suit its long-term company goals, they require strategic thinking. This refers to the ability to make actionable plans towards a long-term goal and make adjustments when necessary. Strategic thinking comprises foresight, adaptability, and resilience in the face of challenges. Security consultants assess the activities of all units in an organization and develop ways to incorporate their processes into its IT system. They also stay informed about emerging security software or data privacy trends and revise their plans to suit changing policies.

Legal knowledge

Security consultants design and implement many IT systems that an organization's customers interact with daily. Customer relationship management systems, payment platforms, and company websites are examples of such systems. While using these systems, customers usually release private information like account details and passwords. This raises many legal issues bordering on data privacy and management. Security consultants require legal knowledge to ensure they don't incur legal liabilities for their clients. Staying abreast of current data privacy laws and any changes in local or international law is also vital.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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