What is a Chief Security Officer?

A chief security officer (CSO) is one of the most respected executives in any organization. He is responsible for the entire physical and digital security structure and operations within an organization and responds directly to the chief executive officer, chief administrative officer or the head of the legal counsel. This post will shed more light on what chief security officers do, how much they earn, job outlook and career requirments.

Key Responsibilities

Chief security officers have the following responsibilities;

  • Perform analyses to determine the type of security risks existing within an organization.
  • Steer risk management operations and activities to enhance the value of the organization.
  • Monitor and issue instructions to security directors and vendors who guard the organization’s assets, computer systems and intellectual property.
  • Develop security goals, objectives and metrics that conform to the organization’s strategic plan.
  • Oversee the development and implementation of global security policy and standards.
  • Work with other executives to brainstorm and prioritize security operations and spending in a way that maximizes protection and minimizes costs.
  • Liaise with external consultants to conduct independent security audits.

Becoming a Chief Security Officer

Chief security officers deal with both digital and physical security. You must understand which areas you need to protect and which security risks you need to be aware of. You will need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer or business-related field to get a job as a CSO. However, most companies prefer individuals with master’s or doctorate degrees. You can pursue master’s degree in information security or any other related discipline.

In addition to good academic credentials, this position requires several years of leadership experience. You need some experience managing multiple security teams and developing security solutions. Some companies may require you to have a lengthy background in information technology, law enforcement and criminal justice.

You also need some certifications to improve your resume. You can choose to become a Certified Information Systems Auditor, GIAC Security Leadership Expert or Certified Information Security Manager. A certificate from the law enforcement unit or the department of criminal justice may also be a necessity.


Chief security officers possess certain skills that enable them to function effectively at work. They communicate effectively with the team they lead, executive and members of the public. They persuade people successfully and speak fluently in public. They also have strong analytical and critical thinking skills and can build relationships quickly.

Work Environment

Chief security officers spend a larger percentage of their time working behind a computer. They may sometimes attend meetings and training sessions within the organization. They may also travel frequently to regional or international security seminars and conferences.


Chief security officers perform executive functions. As a result, the get some of the best salaries. According to PayScale, their average salary per year is $143,541. The earning potential depends on the type of company one works for and level of experience. Those who work for multinational companies and are highly experienced earn up to $300,000. Those who are still new to the job or work for smaller companies earn as low as $66,384.

Related Resource: Top 40 Best Associates in Criminal Justice Online 2018

A CSO is a highly respected individual who is responsible for the entire security posture of an organization. Without his wisdom and knowledge, an organization’s security systems may be at risk of major attacks from hackers and burglars. Read, and if possible, reread this post to gain more insights on what it takes to work as a chief security officer (CSO).