Cyber network defenders are relatively new to the U.S. Army. The position, known as military occupational specialty (MOS) 25D, was established in 2013 to help address the rising threat of attacks via cyberspace and computer networks. Similar jobs in the private sector are among some of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. Those with military experience in the field will be well-positioned to find work if and when they leave the service.
Army Cyber Network Defender Duties & Responsibilities
This job generally requires the ability to do the following work:
- Implement hardware and software infrastructures
- Test hardware and software infrastructures
- Assess the general strengths and likely vulnerabilities of networks
- Analyze specific issues to identify threats or potential threats
- Respond to immediate cyber threats
- Provide detailed reports to review issues or potential issues and solutions or potential solutions
Cyber network defenders help create computer systems that can handle sensitive military data and withstand external cyber threats. They also review networks that already are in place in order to identify potential threats or to respond to immediate threats.
Specific knowledge includes expertise in automated information systems (AIS) security; computer terminal devices; networking theory and concepts, Windows and UNIX operating systems; procedural actions in telecommunications operations such as message formatting, processing incoming/outgoing messages, and service actions; and training on communications security equipment and devices.
Army Cyber Network Defender Salary
Enlisted service members are paid according to the U.S. military pay chart, and cyber network defenders will be paid at the level of E-6 (staff sergeant) as a minimum. "E" stands for "enlisted," and the corresponding number represents the level on the pay scale. The enlisted pay scale has nine levels.
The annual salary range for E-6 ranges from $31,352.40 ($15.07 hourly) for those with two or fewer years of experience to $48,561.60 ($23.34 hourly) for those with at least 18 years of experience. Those with a rank of E-9 (sergeant major) and at least 34 years of experience earn $94,186.80 annually ($45.28 hourly).
Information security analysts represent the closest job title in the private sector:
- Median Annual Salary: $98,350 ($47.28/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $156,580 ($75.28/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $56,750 ($27.28/hour)
Education, Training, and Certification
Eligibility for a job as a cyber network defender requires a rank of staff sergeant at a minimum.
- Education: The only requirement to join the Army is a GED, but advancing into a career as a cyber network defender is more likely for someone who has a two-year or four-year degree in a computer-related field.
- Experience: Candidates for cyber network defender jobs need at least four years of experience with information technology (IT) and information architecture (IA).
- Training: Seven weeks of advanced individual training (AIT) at Fort Gordon, Georgia, includes classroom time in addition to time in the field.
Army Cyber Network Defender Skills & Competencies
In addition to specific knowledge about computer coding, there are other soft skills that are beneficial to anyone pursuing a career as a cyber network defender in the Army.
- Focus: The work of a cyber network defender often involves working with many lines of computer code. It's important to be able to identify issues and address them as needed.
- Attention to detail: The slightest variation in computer codes can have a significant impact, so cyber network defenders need to be able to recognize them quickly and know how to address them.
- High ethical standards: The job involves national defense and requires eligibility for top-secret security clearance.
- Calm under pressure: If problems arise or if problems are identified, cyber network defenders need to know how to address them calmly and quickly and who to inform about the issues.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track military jobs, but the closest civilian equivalent to a cyber network defender is a fast-growing career. Opportunities for information security analysts are expected to grow by about 28% for the decade ending in 2026. This is four times better than the 7% rate projected for all occupations.
This growth bodes well for veterans who worked as cyber network defenders and now are seeking jobs in the private sector.
Cyber network defenders spend the majority of their time working on computers. Much of the work is centered around internet-based threats, so it can be done from anywhere as long as there is an internet connection.
Military jobs have unpredictable work schedules. While cyber network defenders can work a schedule that resembles a standard workweek, internet threats can take place at any time. Anyone responding to such threats needs to be able to work at any time, making odd hours a common occurrence for this profession.
How to Get the Job
Resume: Experience is necessary for this Army job, so follow appropriate for putting together your resume.
Interview: There is more to the interview process than just a job interview. Applicants must be eligible for top-secret security clearance, so be prepared to go through a separate process.
Apply: Check for openings through the U.S. Army's jobs site.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People interested in a career as an Army cyber network defender also might consider one of the following civilian career paths, listed with median annual salaries:
- Information Security Analyst: $98,350
- Computer and Information Systems Manager: $142,530
- Computer Systems Analyst: $88,740