What Is a Security Director?

Updated January 13, 2023

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Modern organizations prioritize their security protocols to protect sensitive data. A security director spearheads these security efforts by implementing and coordinating procedures to reduce risk, encrypt information, and ensure compliance.

Also known as a cybersecurity director, a security director typically manages an organization's security department. They work with network administrators, cybersecurity managers, and security analysts. These professionals also collaborate with human resources departments to evaluate and improve data security compliance.

To prepare for this position, learners typically pursue bachelor's degrees in information technology, cybersecurity, or other related fields. Employers may also seek a master's-level education, certifications, or relevant professional experience for this managerial role.

Discover a security director's key responsibilities, necessary skills, and potential career paths with this guide.

What Does a Cybersecurity Director Do?

Companies hire security directors to manage the security personnel and systems that keep company data safe. Most security director job descriptions include overseeing security departments and programs. Security directors improve organizational security by implementing and maintaining information technology-related security measures.

Security breaches can damage an organization's finances and destroy client trust, making the security director's role essential to any company's success. When security threats arise, security directors supervise incident response and investigation.

These professionals also perform managerial tasks, including budgeting and strategic planning. Human resources-related duties can include hiring, training, managing, and firing personnel.

They also create security improvement strategies, set goals, ensure legal compliance, and establish company security policies.

Some security directors report to chief information security officers (CISOs) or other top managers.

Key Soft Skills for Security Directors

  • Leadership: This role requires professionals to oversee multiple people and, sometimes, departments. Effective management and communication skills assist security directors in directing subordinates and coordinating teams to complete tasks.
  • Collaboration: Cybersecurity directors work with multiple people daily, including department heads, executives, and IT professionals. Understanding how to manage successful projects and encourage collaboration is crucial to this role.
  • Analytical Skills: These directors explore large data sets to determine the best course of action for organization-wide security. Each day may consist of analyzing reports and data to inform security decisions.
  • Attention to Detail: While overseeing projects and analyzing reports, security directors must pinpoint critical details that assist their efforts. This skill can make it easier to identify vulnerabilities and reduce risk in security processes.

Key Hard Skills for Security Directors

  • Ethical Hacking: A security director's job requires an understanding of how others hack into systems. Using this knowledge, security IT directors can spot and counteract potential vulnerabilities in their systems.
  • Disaster Recovery:Data breaches can happen to the most high-tech and secure systems. Security directors have ample disaster recovery training, allowing them to stop security problems quickly, protect systems, and recover lost data.
  • Risk Management: Security directors use risk management skills daily to evaluate potential security threats and protect an organization's IT infrastructure against those threats. They set strategies for continuous security improvements to reduce risk.
  • Strategic Plan Design: Cybersecurity directors create strategic security plans for organizations. These plans may include processes for data compliance, disaster recovery, risk management, and security testing.

A Day in the Life of a Security Director

A security director's job typically involves daily strategic planning and oversight for disaster recovery and risk mitigation. Conducting security assessments, ensuring compliance, and performing ethical hacking tests are also everyday responsibilities for security directors.

Security directors manage teams of IT professionals, provide guidance, and delegate tasks as needed. These professionals also consult with decision-makers, compile reports from analysts, and develop short-term and long-term security goals.

Security Director Job and Salary Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists a median 2021 salary of $159,010 for computer and information systems managers, which includes security directors. Additionally, the BLS projects a 16% employment growth rate from 2021-2031 for these positions based on increasing demand for information technology professionals and services.

Although entry-level positions typically require candidates with bachelor's degrees, earning certifications or graduate-level education can lead to advancements. For instance, cybersecurity directors can gain on-the-job experience to work their way toward becoming chief technology officers (CTOs) or chief information officers (CIOs).

Location and industry can also influence a security director's salary and opportunities. BLS 2021 data indicates that computer systems design and management sectors typically offer these professionals the highest number of employment opportunities. However, information services and computer manufacturing rank among the top-paying industries.


Annual Median Salary

Source: BLS

History of Cybersecurity Directors

The first incidence of methodical and harmful hacking dates back to the 1960s. However, cybersecurity became mainstream in the following decade, when the earliest form of the internet was born.

The need for cybersecurity professionals increased as the internet evolved into what it is today. In the early 2000s, technology companies sought security experts to handle network threats and attacks as quickly as possible.

As technology grows in sophistication, onboarding solid cybersecurity teams has become especially necessary. Cybersecurity directors have, therefore, become notable figures in organizations with large IT teams to oversee security projects and reduce the risk of threats.

Similar Specializations and Career Paths

Cybersecurity directors can move into executive-level positions, such as CISOs or CTOs. These advancements typically happen after several years of experience as directors.

Cybersecurity directors may also focus on specific IT areas, such as software development or network security. A specialization can propel security directors into leading departments for large organizations.

A graduate degree, certifications, or several years of work experience can create pathways for security directors, like becoming a CIO. According to December 2022 Payscale data, a CIO with 20+ years of experience earns an average of $183,370.

Career Description Required Education Required Experience Median Annual Salary

Chief Information Security Officer

CISOs have similar responsibilities as chief information officers but with a focus on an organization's cybersecurity. They oversee and work to improve cybersecurity processes and policies.

Master's degree

10 years in management


Security Consultant

Security consultants follow cybersecurity trends, identify vulnerabilities, and compile data for reports. They use this information to notify decision-makers of key improvement areas.

Bachelor's degree

3-5 years


Security Administrator

Security administrators uphold organizations' computer network safety practices. Their primary responsibilities include upgrading systems, detecting and mitigating threats, and implementing effective safety measures.

Associate degree, but certification may be required



Security Auditor

Security auditors evaluate companies' current cybersecurity practices to identify areas of improvement.

Bachelor's degree

At least 1 year


Security Software Developer

Security software developers specialize in creating cybersecurity tools and applications. They also test and upgrade current software as necessary.

Bachelor's degree



Source: BLS, Payscale

How to Become a Cybersecurity Director

Security director education requirements usually depend on the position, company, and industry. Aspiring security directors can launch their careers by earning bachelor's degrees in cybersecurity, computer science, or other related fields.

Many security director positions also require a graduate certificate or master's degree in cybersecurity or IT security management. Earning a cybersecurity master's degree can help aspiring professionals with unrelated bachelor's degrees.

Most information security jobs require considerable additional learning beyond a degree. The cybersecurity field features many professional certification options that bolster cybersecurity skills. Many security directors hold certifications in information systems security professional (CISSP) or certified information security manager (CISM). Similarly, these professionals must develop their skills while on the job.

Many director positions require at least seven years of work experience in the information security field, with some time spent in management. Such professionals often have experience in roles such as security administrator, systems administrator, and network administrator. Security-related roles — such as security specialist, consultant, engineer, analyst, or auditor — offer more focused preparation for security director jobs.

  • Start your search for cybersecurity bachelor's degrees in this guide, which lists a few top online options.
  • Learn more about what an online master's degree in cybersecurity can do for your career.
  • Begin your cybersecurity journey with this guide to computer science programs and available degree levels.
  • Discover why an IT management degree program can open the door to a cybersecurity leadership career.
  • Explore some of the top cybersecurity certifications for various IT careers and advancement opportunities.
  • Is a bootcamp right for you? Discover what cybersecurity bootcamps offer compared to traditional degree programs.

Professional Organizations for Security Directors

  • Information Systems Security Association International: ISSA allows cybersecurity professionals to hold leadership positions for membership events. Members can earn continuing education credits through workshops, webinars, and chapter events.
  • (ISC)²: Originally founded in 1989 as the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, Inc., (ISC)² provides industry-recognized certifications, such as systems security certified practitioner and certified information systems security professional.
  • International Association of Privacy Professionals: IAPP focuses on data security through distinguished leadership, industry research, and continuing education. Members can search IAPP's job board, train for various data privacy certifications, and join international conferences with the industry's top leaders.
  • International Association of Security Awareness Professionals: Organizations can join IASAP to have their security directors participate in its in-person meetings and activities. Professionals from Fortune 500 companies comprise approximately 70% of the organization's membership.

Learn More About Security Directors

Salary and Career Outlook for Security Directors

Salary and Career Outlook for Security Directors

How to Become a Security Director

How to Become a Security Director

Day in the Life of a Security Director

Day in the Life of a Security Director

Certifications for Security Directors

Certifications for Security Directors

Questions About Security Directors

  • What does a director of cybersecurity do?

    A director of cybersecurity primarily manages teams of security professionals. They also analyze potential threats, create emergency response plans, and meet with decision-makers to suggest security solutions.

  • Is working in cybersecurity management a good career choice?

    Yes. Cybersecurity managers can earn attractive salaries while enjoying promising career growth. With an increasing demand for these professionals, cybersecurity leaders may see plenty of opportunities for advancement, especially after pursuing additional training or credentials.

  • What skills are required for security directors?

    Leadership, collaboration, and attention to detail are critical skills that individuals interested in security director positions should have. They should also feel confident in their ethical hacking, risk management, and disaster recovery abilities.

  • How do you become a cybersecurity director?

    Cybersecurity directors may find entry-level positions with bachelor's degrees in information technology. However, many organizations prefer candidates with master's degrees, relevant certifications, or work experience.

Page last reviewed on Dec 7, 2022

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