Security consultants identify security weakness in information technology (IT), advise organisations on IT security, and design IT security systems.
Security consultants usually earn
$92K-$137K per year
Source: AbsoluteIT, 'Tech Remuneration Report', 2018.
Pay for security consultants varies depending on skills and experience. According to Absolute IT, security consultants in the:
- lowest-paid group earn an average of $92,000 a year
- middle pay range earn an average of $117,000
- highest-paid group earn an average of $137,000.
IT security consultants working as contractors earn an average of $85 to $140 an hour.
Source: AbsoluteIT, 'Tech Remuneration Report', January 2018.
- AbsoluteIT website - January 2018 Tech Remuneration Report (PDF - 3.17MB)
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Security consultants may do some or all of the following:
- take the lead in identifying cyber security gaps
- create risk assessment policies
- monitor network security and report on issues
- research, cost, design and implement new or improved network systems and platforms
- manage responses to cyber attacks and ensure damage to the security of information is kept to a minimum
- supervise other staff and oversee any changes to network security
- keep up to date with the latest cyber security threats and solutions.
Skills and knowledge
Security consultants need to have knowledge of:
- current IT security standards, practices and methods
- internet threats and hacking tools
- security software and penetration tools such as Metasploit and AppScan
- computer and network systems, software and devices and operating systems such as Windows Client and Linux
- manual and automated security tests
- coding languages such as Java or C++.
- usually work full time and may also work evenings and weekends, and be on call
- work in their own or clients' offices
- work in conditions that may be stressful, because they work to strict deadlines while responding to security threats
- may travel locally or overseas to meet clients.
There are no specific requirements to become a security consultant. However, you usually need one or more of:
- a diploma or degree, preferably in an IT-related subject such as network engineering, computer science or cyber security
- a relevant industry-based certification, such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). People usually study for this once they have some IT experience.
In addition, security consultants usually need three to seven years’ experience in intermediate-level security roles such as security analyst, or a related role such as network administrator.
Common ways of gaining IT-related knowledge include learning through online courses and tutorials, and working on your own projects.
If you are a graduate from a field other than IT, you can gain a fast-tracked IT-related qualification through ICT Graduate Schools.
- Tertiary Education Commission website - information on ICT graduate schools
- Cyber Degrees website - information on certification for cyber security
- International Info System Security Certification Consortium website - find out about CISSP certification
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include digital technologies, maths, physics and English.
For Year 11 to 13 students, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain industry experience.
Security consultants need to be:
- creative and imaginative, as they need to design new security systems
- analytical thinkers and problem solvers
- detail-oriented and curious
- good at seeing the big picture, to examine solutions and problems from all sides
- skilled communicators
- skilled leaders and negotiators.
Useful experience for security consultants includes:
- work in entry-level IT jobs such as information technology helpdesk/support technician
- on-the-job training through IT internships and graduate recruitment programmes
- hacking experience gained through study or hacking conferences
- working on individual IT projects such as setting up your own penetration testing lab or assembling computers.
- NxtSteps website - find IT internships and graduate programmes
- Summer of Tech website - information on the IT internship programme
Security consultants spend a lot of time using computers, so they need to know how to use computer equipment properly to avoid occupational overuse syndrome (OOS).
Security consultants may choose to become certified or chartered through associations such as the Institute of IT Professionals.
Find out more about training
- Engineering New Zealand
- (04) 473 9444 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.engineeringnz.org
- IT Professionals
- 0800 252 255 - email@example.com - www.itp.org.nz
- (09) 475 0204 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nztech.org.nz
Check out related courses
What are the chances of getting a job?
Security consultants are in high demand due to:
- increasing numbers of organisations shifting services and systems online
- the ease with which hackers can access and damage online information or networks, because information is increasingly available through multiple devices and the "Internet of Things" – anything connected to the internet, including vehicles and home appliances.
Shortage of security consultants
The need for security consultants is increasing but there are not enough to meet demand, and not enough information technology (IT) trainees or juniors who can progress into the role.
As a result, ICT security specialist appears on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled security consultants from overseas to work in New Zealand.
How to get your first IT job
You can improve your chances of getting an IT job by gaining experience through government and IT industry initiatives, which include:
- internships such as Summer of Tech
- graduate programmes offered by IT companies
- events such as hackathons
- mentoring programmes
- programmes to encourage more women into IT, such as Shadow Tech.
- Summer of Tech website – find out about their IT internship programme
- NZTech website – find out about Shadow Tech
- Cyber Security Challenge website – find out about the next event
Types of employers varied
Security consultants may work for a wide range of organisations, including:
- private companies that provide computer, database and network security services to other organisations
- government departments and other large organisations
- telecommunications and energy companies.
Security consultants may also be self-employed.
- AbsoluteIT, 'Employer Report', March 2017, (www.absoluteit.co.nz).
- Hays, 'Hotspots of Skills in Demand, January – June 2018', (www.hays.net.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Long-term Skill Shortage List', 19 February 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Paredes, D, 'The Untrammelled Rise of the Cyber Security Professional', CIO, accessed 24 March 2017.
- Seath, S, and Drew, C, 'Cyber Security Skills Report', Greater Wellington Regional Council, September 2016.
- The Domain Name Commission, '.nz Statistics by Financial Year', accessed February 2018, (www.dnc.org.nz).
- University of Waikato website, 'Students Urged to Combat Cybercrime', 30 March 2017, (www.waikato.ac.nz).
- Vaughan, J, 'Job Openings in Cybersecurity Expected to Skyrocket in 2017', accessed 23 March 2017.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Security consultants may progress into roles such as:
- security architect
- security manager
- IT project manager
- security director
- chief information and security officer (CISO).
Last updated 20 August 2020