Best Jobs in America 2009 – Top 50: Computer/Network Security Consultant

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Gregory Evans is a computer security consultant at LIGATT Security International in Atlanta.

Top 50 rank: 8
Sector: Information Technology

What they do: Protect computer systems and networks against hackers, spyware, and viruses. “I consider myself a cybercrime fighter,” says Gregory Evans, an independent computer security consultant in Atlanta.

Why it’s great: No company or government agency can afford to have a serious breach in the security of its computer system. New technologies and an unending supply of creative hackers around the world keep the field challenging. Consultants can often work from home. And top-level pros command big paychecks.

Drawbacks: Talk about stress. If a system is infiltrated by a virus or hacker, it could mean lights out for the security consultant’s career. “This is a job you can’t afford to ever fail in,” says Evans.

Pre-reqs: Mostly major geekdom, since the skills can be self-taught. Still, a computer science degree comes in handy. An information systems security professional certification (CISSP) is increasingly favored. Experience is key for better-paying positions: Most companies won’t hire a consultant with less than five years of experience.

Evans took a more unique route: He actually started as a hacker, but was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy in 2002, served 16 months in prison and was ordered to pay more than $9 million in restitution and fines. After prison, he went the white-hat route, starting a security consulting business in 2003. That year, a chain of computer security stores contracted to sell his cyber security software. He has since done deals with the Atlanta Hawks and The City of Los Angeles.

Clarification: An earlier version of this profile didn’t mention that Gregory Evans is a former computer hacker who was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy in 2002.

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