Few of the most high-paying jobs can be as fun as a firewall specialist’s. They literally get paid to break, crack, and hack their way to understanding vulnerabilities and how to prevent them. Indeed, they are such a rare commodity that companies are willing to shell out major salaries to the lucky few who managed to get certified in the field. Getting your own piece of the pie is as simple as knowing where to start, and what to look out for.
Big Capitalism Wants You, and Here’s Why
The median salary for the average firewall specialist for the year of 2004 was upwards of $70,000. What’s more is the benefit of experience; simply adding 10 years of experience in the field brings the average up to a formidable $100,000 each year. This staggering number isn’t a typo - companies are in desperate need of firewall specialists.
With the onslaught of new ways to infiltrate, crash, and compromise a computer’s security - corporations can suffer huge deficits in losses without proper protection. This protection comes in the form of the firewall specialist, whose goal is to guard the security of the employer. The firewall specialist is actually one of four main security specialists that seek to earn the big bucks - all of which are certified by Cisco. Salaries vary with each specialization, but firewall specialists are easily near the top of the list in terms of benefits and salary.
I’m Ready For the Big Bucks! What Do I Have to Do?
To become certified as a firewall specialist, one must first obtain the CCNA, or Cisco Certified Network Associate certification. This certification verifies that the student has an aptitude in installing, operating, and maintaining small networks and a good grasp on concepts such as TCP/IP, wireless, and fiber optic topics. With this certification alone, a healthy average salary of $60,000 can be expected - not bad at all!
The step up from the CCNA is the CCSP - or Cisco Certified Security Professional. This certification will verify that upon completion, test takers have learned the inner workings and theory of security. Specialization at this point can branch into different fields - such as an IPS specialist or VPN specialist. One of the highest certifications obtainable to date is the CCIE - or Cisco Certified Internetwork Engineer. This certification has only around 11,000 passed individuals around the world as of 2004. This also means a higher salary, however, with the higher end of the spectrum reaching $120,000 per year, with an average of $17,000 in benefits.
Obviously, specializing in the field of firewall security isn’t a bad choice either. However, the salary comes at a price - the certification exams are likely to give most people a hard time. Multiple exams must be taken - both written and “hands on” tests that will prove that students have the abilities necessary to become certified. Since even passing the basic CCNA can take anywhere up to a couple of year’s worth of classes to study for, it’s likely that the path to a high paying career will be well earned in the end.
A Building Block to a Better Future
The interesting thing about the Cisco certification hierarchy is that with every certification, a higher pay increase is on the horizon. This makes those who are motivated almost guaranteed a long-term career that both pays well and offers great benefits. This takes an entry-level job in the IT industry easy to come by, and advancement is a very respectable prospect!
While it’s likely that most will settle for a second level specialization, those who do choose to go on to achieve the highly coveted CCIE will join the ranks of only thousands world wide - and earn the glory that comes with it. When a certification such as this is present on a resume, finding a job will be not task at all - making job security and longevity phenomenal.
Technology related jobs are showing some of the best promise in any industry available today. The job security, benefits, salary, and likelihood of finding a job are all very excellent. Since the varying level of certifications offer a somewhat broad range of educational requirements, finding the right level of certification for your current situation is all but too convenient.
Be sure to keep an eye on the title of Firewall Specialist - the need for them will only grow in the future. And with that need, comes yet more benefits and better pay. With the proper motivation and education in networking and security, earning the big bucks is just a few certifications away!