How to Become a Security Software Developer

A security software developer may be responsible for developing security pieces of software (such as malware detection applications, antiviruses, intrusion detection applications, traffic analysis software). Another role that a security software developer may be assigned is to work as part of a development team that is creating an application software. Often, in this role, a security software developer is referred to as an application security engineer. Other titles for security software developers include cyber developer, security developer, and security software engineer.

Security software developers must analyze software to identify and resolve security issues within it. They must do this within each part of the software development creation lifecycle. This requires great attention to detail and heavy analytical skills. Security software developers may work for government agencies, businesses and non-profit organizations.

Researchers have determined that people with certain personality traits are best suited to becoming security software developers. These include people who are self-starters, energetic, extroverted, confident, enthusiastic, optimistic, persuasive, and motivational. Additionally, the best security software developers are also creative, artistic, articulate and expressive. If these personality traits describe you well, and if exploring the world of security software developers sounds intriguing to you, keep reading to discover how you can become one!

Education and Experience Required to Become a Security Software Developer

In order to become a security software developer, you need a bachelor’s degree. This degree should be in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, mathematics, network security or another related field. Use our handy guide to find an applicable, accredited Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree in your state. Some examples of potential undergraduate degrees that could lend themselves well to working as a security software developer include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Software Development and Security – University of Maryland Global Campus, online
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Secure Software Development – Red Rocks Community College, Colorado
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity, Concentration in Secure Software Development – Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Software Engineering Concentration – Southern New Hampshire University, online

You do not need to have a graduate degree in order to get a job as a security software developer, but you will need at least five years of experience working in the field. The normal standard for experience for security software developers is three years of work as a software developer and two years as an auditor or tester.  Because working as a security software developer is such a sensitive job, employers do not like to have to train people to learn these skills while on the job. (One great way to gain experience while you are still in school is through an internship. Check out our Guide to Cybersecurity Internships).

Industry certifications can help you to land some security software developer jobs. Commonly held certifications by these professionals include:

  • Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)- (ISC)2
  • GIAC Certified Web Application Defender (GWEB)
  • GIAC Secure Software Programmer- Java (GSSP-JAVA)
  • GIAC Secure Software Programmer – .NET (GSSP-.NET)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)-EC-Council
  • Certified Encryption Specialist (CES)- EC-Council
  • Certified Application Security Engineer (CASE) – EC-Council
  • Certified Secure Programmer (ECSP)- EC-Council

Job Description & Skills Required for a Security Software Developer

Security software developers analyze software designs to identify and resolve security issues within them. There are a wide variety of skills and duties that go along with this title, depending upon the employer. Responsibilities of a security software developer could include:

  • Creating secure software tools and systems along with a team of developers
  • Leading in software design, implementation and testing
  • Providing engineering designs for new software applications
  • Developing a software security strategy
  • Participating in the lifecycle development of software systems
  • Implementing, testing and operating advanced software security techniques
  • Designing and building prototype solutions
  • Facilitating meetings with clients to determine their needs
  • Performing ongoing security testing for software vulnerabilities
  • Knowing which attack vectors may be used to exploit software
  • Researching and identifying flaws in software
  • Consulting with team members on secure programming practices
  • Remedying development mistakes
  • Maintaining technical documentation
  • Troubleshooting and debugging issues that may arise

Skills that the best security software developers possess include, but are not limited to:

  • Creativity and the ability to think of many different contingencies
  • Excellent analytical skills
  • Strong computer programming background and of programming languages
  • Knowledge of various computer operating systems
  • Experience with a variety of relational databases
  • Knowledge of IP security domain
  • Ability to work well on a team
  • Thorough knowledge of coding and software design
  • Ability to work well under pressure
  • Experience in testing and auditing software is a plus
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Good presentation skills

Security Software Developer Salary & Job Outlook

While the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not specify average annual salaries for security software developers, it is possible to find such information online. lists the average annual security software developer salary, as of 2020, at $74,104. places the salary higher, at $117,060 annually.

According to TechBeacon, some of the best-paying cities in which security software developers/engineers can work include:

  • Seattle, WA
  • San Jose, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Madison, WI
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Portland, OR
  • Atlanta, GA

The BLS says that prospects for occupations within the information security analyst field (including security software developers) are great from 2019 to 2029. It is projected that growth within this category will occur at a rate of 31 percent, faster than the average expected growth for all other occupations. Becoming a security software developer is a good move if you are looking for a challenging, exciting, secure position that should be guaranteed for years to come.