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Career Story: Computer Network Security Analyst

Computer Network Security Analyst

Job Title: Network Security Analyst

Type of Company: I work for the state of North Carolina providing IT services to its numerous agencies.

Education: BS, Computer Information Systems, Devry University, Kansis City, Missouri

Previous Experience: I started as a computer operator in college. I then was a programer for about a month before deciding I hated that. I then took a job as a network technician for a year. After that I took a job as a network manager for a hospital with a really small computer network. I stayed for ten years while the network grew and saw my skills grow as well. I then moved back to my home state and took a contracting job. I now work full time for the state of North Carolina.

Job Tasks: I am a network security analyst. I typically spend my day analyzing network security issues and troubleshooting the network for issues related to security devices and network switches. I work in a pod of other people who do pretty much the same thing. Our work is very structured in that we have a ticketing system and most of our daily workload revolves around working on problems that are called or emailed in to this system. Doing break/fix, or basically fixing stuff people find broken is about 80 percent of our job. The other 20 percent is doing maintenance on existing systems: firewalls, IPS units, or switches, or other hardware.

But sometimes we get involved in new projects to bring systems online. Essentially our unit function is to provide security for the network of computers that the state of North Carolina owns and operates to ensure that it is safe from attackers and anybody intent on stealing data or causing trouble. We are also on call in cases where something major gets broken and can be called in at a moments notice. We are very high visibility, since what we do affects the entire state network of computers. Minor mistakes can be amplified into public relations disasters, so we have to be alert and constantly double-check what we are doing. We also deal with some prominent politicians and have to handle them with kid gloves.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of this job is that it pays well and is very secure. The need for network security will be never ending as long as computers are around.

The worst part of this job is it's micro-managed and, because it's a service desk type of job, it can get boring very quickly.

Job Tips: As much as it hurts me to say this, don't pursue a job in IT. It's just not worth it. You don't get any respect and it's a field based on throwaway knowledge: stuff that changes every six months or so. And you will be treated as a throwaway yourself. It's pretty brutal. If you must do this, though, I would suggest that
1.) you budget lots of your personal time for training and constant retraining; 2.) you budget lots of your own personal money for retraining and training; and 3.) that you plan to have a limited career and make a good exit strategy ahead of time. You will only be able to handle the stress for about ten years.

Additional Thoughts: Just say no. Don't get into IT. Your sanity, and overall well-being and happiness are not worth the money they flash at you. IT has become a disposable commodity based solely on throwaway skillsets. It's not worth the expense or trouble of getting all the education required for the way you are treated afterwards.

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