Some job titles are confusing while others are pretty exact. If you are an HR Director, then it is pretty much a given you will be dealing with HR responsibilities, hiring, firing, promotion, and personnel records on a daily basis. What about a Security Analyst? That is not nearly as clear, and the responsibilities of a security analyst could be very broad.

Know What to Look for in a Title When Job Searching

Do you know what your job titles means and does it accurately describe what your role and responsibilities are in the workplace? Knowing your job title and its meaning really comes in handy when you find yourself on the job market looking for a new job. In cybersecurity, job titles are all over the place, and where a security analyst means one thing for an employer, it could mean something completely different for another employer. When looking for a new job, understanding the job titles will help you narrow down your options.

Common, Vague IT and Security Job Titles

Here are some common vague IT and security job titles and what they mean, are you one of them?

Systems Engineer

This is perhaps the most widely used job description in IT, right up there with Systems Administrator. According to Incose, a systems engineer “Systems Engineering is a transdisciplinary and integrative approach to enable the successful realization, use, and retirement of engineered systems, using systems principles and concepts, and scientific, technological, and management methods.” All of you systems engineers out there… is this you?? For some yes, and for others absolutely not. Within IT, and my experience, I would say a better description could be “an individual that possesses a skill set within one of the defined datacenter technologies such as networking, virtualization, identity management, storage and or end user devices.” Is this a more accurate definition? I certainly think it fits better.

Security Analyst

Security related roles are so hard to define in terms of words. Security professionals are skilled in more than just one discipline, and  many come from a background of networking or datacenter work. Digital Guardian definition reads, “The security analyst plays a vital role in keeping an organization’s proprietary and sensitive information secure. He/she works inter-departmentally to identify and correct flaws in the company’s security systems, solutions, and programs while recommending specific measures that can improve the company’s overall security posture.” The security analyst needs to pay close attention to detail and be good at analyzing large data sets to find a leak, a risk or an attack vector. It is definitely a vital role, and a good analyst will definitely improve a company’s security posture.

Network Administrator

The network administrator is a little more straightforward; however I have current and former colleagues that have held the title who would beg to differ. A network administrator could mean an individual that retains administrative responsibilities over any asset connected to the network. One network administrator could actually be a VMware professional, or a server administrator, it really just depends. The bulk of job listings with the network administrator title are likely in line with administering switches and routers, firewalls and load balancers. Techopedia defines a network administrator as, “…an IT expert who manages an organization’s network. The network administrator must possess a high level of technological knowledge and is most commonly the highest level of technical staff within a given organization. Network administrators keep networks operational and monitor functions and operations within the network. A network administrator is responsible for installing, maintaining and upgrading any software or hardware required to efficiently run a computer network. The IT or computer network may extend to a local area network, wide area network, the Internet and intranets.” While this is fairly accurate, for some contracts, it could be far from what a network administrator would do. Sometimes, it just depends on the contract.

Read the Fine Print

A title does not determine what you do for the company or what value you bring to the table. What you do in your position determines how you will be defined. Read the fine print of the job listing, and when you get an interview, make sure you know the details of what you will be doing day in and day out. Regardless of the title, it’s about finding something that you will look forward to getting up for in the morning.

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Greg Stuart is the owner and editor of He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He has 20 years of IT experience and currently works as an IT Consultant both in the private and public sector. Greg holds a BS in Information Technology and an MBA degree. He currently resides in Southeast Idaho. You can follow him on Twitter @vDestination, read his blog ( and listen to his podcast (