For those either in the military or considering the military, information security is a key job path you might take. You can learn information security fundamentals if you are new to the information security field and also expand your current skill set if you have an information security background.
This article will provide an overview to military security careers including job outlook, how it differs from information security careers in the private sector, different career paths and even career possibilities for non-enlisted professionals. If you have ever wondered about military security careers and didn’t know where to begin, look no further.
Reasons to choose a career in military information security
The job outlook for military information security careers is strong. During the ten-year period of 2010 to 2020, the growth of this sector is expected to grow by 22%. In fact, this will only intensify as more of the military space moves into cyberspace. This rapid growth is caused by the increasing presence of cyberattacks.
Another good thing about choosing this career path is that when you are transitioning back into the civilian world, employment opportunities will be strong.
The earning potential of military information security spans the board from below average to competitive, depending on whether you are working a job for one of the different branches of the armed services or another limb of the body of military information security. For instance, a cybersecurity specialist in one of the branches of the armed services will earn an average salary of $58,430, and a U.S. Department of Defense security specialist can expect to earn $84,952.
Serving your country
Military information security careers are an attractive professional option because you get to serve your country as you build your career and your information security skill set. This kill-two-birds-with-one-stone approach is an advantage for this career path.
How military security careers differ from those in the private sector
Without question, military security careers do differ from comparable roles in the private sector. This difference lies more in the general differences between enlisted and civilian life.
If you’ve worked in information security in the military, it may seem to be a free-for-all in the private sector, where commitment is not valued as much as who you know. Adjustment may seem difficult. However, you can feel confident that this is mainly a procedural change to life. It has been recommended to learn how to adapt your newfound discipline to a less regimented lifestyle, and you will then have a leg up on others without this discipline.
One major example of the structural and regulatory differences between military and non-military information security careers is the authority of DoDD 8750. This Department of Defense directive governs information security careers and touches all areas of these careers — including training, certification and management. Most jobs require a certification to qualify for them and all prerequisites enumerated in DoDD 8750 must be satisfied to work the role.
Aside from the less structured nature of the private sector, information technology is not so different from military information security. Both require a high level of analytical and technical skills, the ability to follow procedure, a keen eye for detail and being defense-oriented.
Sample career paths
Below are some career paths available in the military information security sphere. These roles exist in all branches of the United States armed services.
Cybersecurity specialists protect U.S. military networks, and the country, from enemy cyberattack. The average salary for enlisted cybersecurity specialists is $58,430, and there are currently 10,979 serving in the military today.
Cybersecurity officer is a higher rank than cybersecurity specialist, and this is reflected in elevated responsibility and pay rate. This role protects military networks and the country from enemy cyberattacks and also serves as a source of expertise for the proper employment, defense and support of strategic and tactical networks. Cybersecurity officers can expect an average salary of $81,270, and there are 6,807 serving in the military today.
This role conducts cyberspace operations, both offensive and defensive, to support the full range of military options. Cyber-operations specialists utilize computer programs, devices and different techniques to create a desired effect within cyberspace. Those in this role can expect to earn an average salary of $58,655, and there are currently 22,256 in the military workforce today.
Cyber-operations officers are responsible for both offensive and defensive cyberspace operations like their non-officers. However, they also undertake higher-level responsibilities, including integrating both offensive and defensive operations in concert to further support military operations. There are currently 30,933 cyber-operations officers in the military, and they make an average salary of $91,804.
Non-enlisted military security careers
Those not in combat boots can also lend their information security skills to the military sphere. The Department of Defense decided that regular recruits may not offer all of the skilled personnel needed in the cyberwarfare fight, so they have allowed civilians to work in military information security jobs.
Non-enlisted personnel are vital for cybersecurity, as they make up 20% of the military information security workforce. The Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA, was established to advertise military information security careers to civilians and post different military information security jobs available. DISA posts new jobs regularly and can be found here. Based on a review of the currently posted roles, the average salaries they offer are significantly higher than those for information security specialists currently enlisted in the U.S. armed forces.
Military information security careers should be a no-brainer for those with information security skills, a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and an interest in the military. The job outlook is strong both in the military and as a veteran, and even civilians can get in on it. For those enlisted, they have the general career paths of cybersecurity and cyber-operations, both with an officer counterpart that has higher-level responsibilities.
Chasing the information security dream in the military is may come off as different from the private sector, but the most important aspect of these careers hold true: high-level information security skills are in high demand, both in the military and the private sector, and you’ll get far by growing and sharpening your skill sets in both as well.
- Cyber-Operations Officers, Today’s Military
- Careers in Information Assurance & Cyber Security, Military.com
- Cyber Security Officers, Military.com
- Cyber Security Specialists, Military.com
- Military Information Security, Florida Tech
- Earning a Degree to Prepare for a Cyber Security Career with the Department of Defense (DOD), Cyber Security Masters Degree
- 7 Tips for Vets Transitioning from Military to a Private Sector IT Career, LeaderQuest
- Military, myFUTURE