Firewall Engineer Job Description
Firewall engineers design, build, and manage the security infrastructure of information technology (IT) systems. This includes installing hardware, configuring firewalls, setting up virtual private networks (VPNs), and adding upgrades. Despite the strong technical focus of the job, firewall engineers also engage with clients, relaying information about the project and troubleshooting all issues discovered. They are proficient in change management and disaster response, and they actively apply policies and standards to all projects. While they spend most of their time in front of a computer, they often function within a team of other engineers, and they may work shifts at irregular hours to perform maintenance at unobtrusive times or resolve critical issues.
Firewall Engineer Duties and Responsibilities
Firewall engineers are responsible for handling several daily tasks. We analyzed multiple job listings for firewall engineers and found that the following duties and responsibilities are commonly listed for this occupation:
Design Security Systems
Firewall engineers review client requirements for security systems and collaborate with other engineers and developers to decide on an overall technical approach. Once they reach agreement with the client, they proceed with creating specific designs.
Install and Maintain Firewalls
It’s up to firewall engineers to direct the installation of both the software and hardware components of firewalls along with other portions of security infrastructure. They also configure firewalls for usage, manage their day-to-day operations, and perform regular maintenance through upgrades and patches.
Firewall engineers constantly monitor security devices and applications for performance problems and provide troubleshooting support for clients. When issues arise, they must analyze the root cause and resolve them promptly or else escalate them to another department while updating clients all throughout.
Aside from preparing status reports for clients, firewall engineers write extensive documentation on procedures, device statuses, firewall block lists, and other important technical areas. They also create diagrams of network topologies and record details of troubleshooting processes.
Standards and policies are extremely important when it comes to network security, and firewall engineers should be aware of these, keeping abreast of changes and defining processes for compliance. In addition, they enforce quality control and ensure that all output meets project requirements.
Firewall Engineer Skills and Qualifications
Firewall engineers are problem-solvers with a strong technical aptitude. They communicate well with clients and other members of their team, and they hold their work to high standards, optimizing performance and resolving all errors. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, computer science, or a related field, employers look for firewall engineers with the following skills:
- Expertise in computer security – firewall engineers must have advanced knowledge of computer security and networking. They’re familiar with the underlying theories and can diagnose issues, build infrastructure, and work with related software
- Problem-solving skills – this role requires much problem-solving, since firewall engineers must be able to apply their technical expertise across various client environments and solve any obstacles that arise
- Customer service – firewall engineers interact with clients during all phases of the project, from planning to maintenance. In particular, they must be mindful of client needs and clearly communicate complex information
- Attention to detail – as with most other jobs that involve working with technology, firewall engineers must be meticulous and detail oriented, examining every aspect of the system to guarantee security and spot computer bugs or anomalous activity while they’re still minor
- Time management – it’s common for firewall engineers to multitask, as they often take on several projects at the same time while debugging problems reported by customers and coordinating with other team members
Tools of the Trade
Firewall engineers rely on the following software to complete their job duties:
- Network analysis software (Sniffer, Wireshark, Microsoft Network Monitor)
- Network security hardware (Forcepoint Sidewinder, Palo Alto, Cisco)
- Diagram software (Visio, Lucidchart, Intermapper)
- Customer service software (Zendesk, Zoho Desk, Vision Helpdesk)
- Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
Firewall Engineer Education and Training
Most firewall engineers have a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, information technology, computer science, or a related field. Because this position relies heavily on hard skills, significant technical training is necessary, and employers typically look for security and networking certifications from organizations such as Cisco and AXELOS. It’s also preferable for candidates to have at least four years of previous experience in computer networking, especially with firewall technologies.
Firewall Engineer Salary and Outlook
PayScale reports that firewall engineers have a median annual salary of around $84,000. Those in the bottom 10 percent of the income range earn less than $54,000 per year, while those in the highest 10 percent earn significantly more, with salaries going beyond $140,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a job outlook of 6 percent growth for network and computer systems administrators, a sector that includes firewall engineers. The increasing use of information technology is a major driver, but cloud computing may bolster productivity and cut down work for network administrators.
If you’re interested in a career as a firewall engineer, there are many resources available. Browse through this curated list for books, communities, and learning opportunities:
Network World – this website is a comprehensive source of news and in-depth information about the networking industry. It publishes blog posts, slideshows, insider tips, and tutorials on a regular basis, and compiles white papers from different organizations
Defensive Security Handbook: Best Practices for Securing Infrastructure – written by two security experts, this book takes readers through all of the processes needed for a robust information security program, complete with code snippets, walkthroughs, and practical examples
Cisco Networking Academy – for firewall engineers planning to obtain Cisco certification, this website is an invaluable source of industry information and study materials tailored per track. As a community dedicated to social learning, it encourages members to find study groups and join online discussions
Applied Network Security Monitoring: Collection, Detection, and Analysis – this thorough guide is well suited for experienced firewall engineers who want to improve their network monitoring capabilities. It presents multiple analysis frameworks and breaks down the process into the three stages of collection, detection, and analysis
Information Systems Security Association International – ISSA is a worldwide community that caters to cybersecurity professionals. Members can avail of conferences and seminars as well as access to publications, online forums, and certification training programs
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