What Is a Security Engineer? 2024 Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn what it takes to build and maintain cybersecurity systems.

[Featured image] A security engineer stands in front of a desk with a light, laptop, and desktop computer in an open office with lots of windows.

Security engineers build security systems. They also implement and monitor security controls to protect an organisation’s data from cyber attacks, loss, or unauthorised access.

In this article, you’ll learn more about:

  • What you can expect from a job as a security engineer

  • Why you might consider a career in security engineering 

  • How to get a job as a security engineer

What does a security engineer do?

As a security engineer, it’s your job to keep a company’s security systems up and running. This might involve implementing and testing new security features, planning computer and network upgrades, troubleshooting, and responding to security incidents. Security engineers may also be called cybersecurity engineers, information systems security engineers, information security engineers, or network security engineers.

Watch this video to learn more about security engineering from Rob, a security engineer at Google.

Tasks and responsibilities

The day-to-day tasks you can expect to perform as a security engineer will vary depending on your company, industry, and the size of your security team. To give you a better idea of what the job entails, here are some tasks and responsibilities found in real security engineer job listings on LinkedIn:

  • Identifying security measures to improve incident response

  • Responding to security incidents

  • Coordinating incident response across teams

  • Performing security assessments and code audits

  • Developing technical solutions to security vulnerabilities

  • Researching new attack vectors and developing threat models

  • Automating security improvements

Industry and workplace

You’ll work with technology and a range of technical skills as a security engineer, but that doesn’t mean you have to work in a technology company. Internet fraud in India rose considerably following the pandemic, with 52,000 cybercrimes reported in 2021 [1]. India is now the most affected country in the world when it comes to cyber scams, with 31 per cent of Indians losing money through falling victim to cyber attacks [2].

As information security grows in importance across industries, so does the need for security engineers. This means you can find jobs in health care, finance, non-profit, government, manufacturing, or retail, to name a few.

Security engineer vs. security analyst: What's the difference?

Both security analysts and engineers are responsible for protecting their organisation's computers, networks, and data. Whilst there might be some overlap in their tasks, these two jobs are distinct.

Security engineers build systems to protect computer systems and networks and track incidents. Security analysts monitor the network to detect and respond to security breaches. Many security engineers start out as security analysts.


Why pursue a career in security engineering?

As a security engineer, you have the opportunity to create a significant impact at your company. Your efforts can help safeguard your organisation’s profits and reputation. You’ll also work in an evolving environment where new threats emerge regularly. This can be an exciting option if you enjoy a challenge and love to learn.

Security engineer salary

Your deep knowledge of computers, networks, and security best practices is often well-compensated in the world of cybersecurity. Here’s a look at the average base salaries for security engineers in India according to several popular sites (as of April 2023). Keep in mind that factors such as location, experience, industry, and education can impact how much you make.


Job outlook

Given the increase in cybercrime, internet security is a fast-growing industry in India, and the demand for cybersecurity applicants has increased dramatically. Many industries have reported job openings that are hard to fill due to a talent gap. NASSCOM reports a shortage of around one million skilled security professionals [3]. 

Security engineer career path

Security engineers might start as information security analysts or penetration testers before building the knowledge and skills to design and implement security systems. After gaining experience, you may go on to become a security architect, IT security manager, director of security, or even chief information security officer [4]. 

How to become a cybersecurity engineer

Security engineering is typically considered a mid-level IT role. This means that working toward a career as a security engineer means building a strong foundation in IT and security skills and gaining on-the-job experience. If a career in security engineering is a good fit for you, these are the steps you can take to get there.

1. Develop your cybersecurity skills.

Security engineers need a deep understanding of a range of security tools and technologies and an up-to-date view of the threat landscape. Here are some key skills to build through online courses, bootcamps, or cybersecurity degrees.

  • Coding: The ability to write secure code in languages like Python, C++, Java, Ruby, and Bash means you can automate tasks for more efficient security practices.

  • Networking and network security: Many vulnerabilities are found in networks, so it’s essential that you know how to secure a network architecture. Be sure you’re familiar with routing protocols, encryption, firewalls, and virtual private networks (VPNs).

  • Penetration testing: Penetration tests help you identify weaknesses in current security systems so you can recommend upgrades and fixes.

  • Operating systems: Depending on the organisation you work for, you may be tasked with securing environments running on Windows, macOS, or Linux operating systems.

  • Endpoint security: As more people work from home, you’ll need to be able to secure endpoints in multiple locations using firewalls and other technologies.

  • Up-to-date knowledge of security trends and hacker tactics: The world of cybersecurity is constantly evolving. Stay ahead of hackers and other bad actors by keeping up with the latest in the industry.

  • Intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems: Whilst analysts may be the ones monitoring network activity on an IDS or IPS, you should know how they work and how to troubleshoot them.

  • Database platforms: Data is often a company’s most valuable asset. Since it’s your job to protect it, you’ll want to understand how data is structured, stored, and accessed.

  • Workplace skills: As a security engineer, you’ll often need to collaborate with a security team, present findings and recommendations to executives, and encourage good security practices across teams. This means workplace skills like communication, leadership, problem-solving, and collaboration are crucial.  

2. Get qualified.

Getting professionally qualified in cybersecurity can help you develop key skills and make yourself more attractive to recruiters and employers. Some of the most requested certifications for security engineers include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), CompTIA Security+, and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). 

Many cybersecurity certifications, including the highly sought-after CISSP, require several years of industry experience to qualify. If you're just starting out in cybersecurity, consider an early-career credential, like the CompTIA Security+ or GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC). After gaining a few years of experience as a cybersecurity analyst, consider a mid-career certification, like the CompTIA PenTest+, Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP), or Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).


3. Start with an entry-level IT or cybersecurity position.

Many security engineering roles require previous experience in IT and cybersecurity. Many engineers start out in entry-level IT positions before shifting into security as a cybersecurity analyst or penetration tester. Starting in IT can help you gain hands-on experience and build trust within your organisation before you take on more security responsibilities.

4. Join an organisation for security professionals.

Join a professional organisation for more opportunities to build your skills and network with other professionals. By networking, you can stay up-to-date with what’s happening in cybersecurity, including new job opportunities that might not get listed on public job boards. Some organisations to consider include:

  • Data Security Council of India (DSCI)

  • Central Association of Private Security Industry (CAPSI)

  • Institute of cybersecurity Professionals India (ICSPI)

  • The Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec)

Take the next step with Coursera

Start building job-ready skills with the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera. Get hands-on experience with industry tools and examine real-world case studies, all at your own pace. Upon completion, you’ll have a certificate for your resume and be prepared to explore job titles like security analyst, SOC (security operations center) analyst, and more.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Article sources


Statistica. "Number of cyber crimes reported across India from 2012-2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/309435/india-cyber-crime-it-act/." Accessed April 28, 2023.

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