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Entities of all kinds, from retailers to government organizations, store and transmit data online daily. Therefore, it is becoming more and more important to keep this data out of the reach of malicious actors.
Enter the cybersecurity analyst, who works to defend valuable information against a faceless and ever-changing adversary. In this article, we explore how to become a cybersecurity analyst. We also share essential information on this career path, including salary data and cybersecurity job prospects.
What is a Cybersecurity Analyst?
Cybersecurity analysts plan, execute and monitor security measures to protect their organization’s computer networks, systems and sensitive information.
As for day-to-day responsibilities, cybersecurity analysts maintain security software such as firewalls and data encryption programs. They also investigate security breaches and prepare reports on these breaches to provide action to management.
With ever-changing security needs, a cybersecurity analyst must keep up to date with the latest security trends, including the techniques used by hackers to infiltrate computer systems. These professionals are also researching new security technologies to ensure that their organizations are using the most effective security systems.
Cyber Security Analyst vs Information Security Analyst
A cybersecurity analyst is a type of information security analyst. Both roles aim to protect and secure data, but cybersecurity analysts focus on cybercrimes. These crimes include identity theft, fraud, ransomware, and impersonation or phishing to trick users into sharing sensitive information.
Cybersecurity Analyst Salary and Career Prospects
Cybersecurity analysts enjoy above-average demand and earn relatively high salaries. The United States Board of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide specific data on cybersecurity analysts, but the BLS reports data on information security analysts. Let’s take a closer look.
According to the BLS, infosec analysts earn a median annual salary of $102,600, more than double the median annual salary of all workers nationwide. The top 10% earn more than $165,920.
Cyberseek.org specifically provides salary data for cybersecurity analysts. According to Cyberseek, these mid-level professionals earn an average annual salary of $107,500.
In terms of job demand, the BLS projects significant job growth of 35% for information security analysts from 2021 to 2031, or 19,500 additional jobs per year.
This demand is driven by the growing adoption of cloud services by small and medium-sized businesses. The increase in cyberattacks has also led to an increased need for cybersecurity analysts.
How to become a cybersecurity analyst
Becoming a cybersecurity analyst can lead to high earning potential and strong job security. As with many high-skilled careers, the path to becoming a cybersecurity analyst typically begins with earning a college degree. Candidates should then gain experience in entry-level cybersecurity jobs.
Since the field of cybersecurity is constantly evolving, we recommend that you keep up to date with the latest technologies and practices by obtaining and maintaining certifications. These credentials can help you thrive in the field of information security.
earn a degree
A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science and information technology or a related field like math or engineering is often required to land a cybersecurity analyst position.
In the 2020 Cybersecurity Career Pursuers Study, conducted by (ISC)², more than half of respondents said they had computer and information science degrees. Of all the cybersecurity professionals surveyed, 40% had a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and 33% had a master’s degree in cybersecurity. Another 8% had a doctorate in the field. Respondents in senior or managerial positions tended to hold postgraduate degrees.
Is a Cybersecurity Degree Worth It? The answers to this survey indicate yes. According to the (ISC)² report, a bachelor’s degree is the most common college degree among cybersecurity professionals. That said, some employers may only require a two-year degree if you also have extensive experience and/or professional certifications.
As an alternative to traditional degrees, you can consider a cybersecurity bootcamp. Bootcamps are accelerated, immersive programs that prepare students to enter the tech industry quickly. However, given the intensive nature of bootcamps, you may not be able to work while you complete your courses.
Depending on the cybersecurity analyst position you are applying for, the experience required can range from none for entry-level positions to several years for advanced positions. For many candidates starting a career in cybersecurity, the journey begins with working in lower-level information technology roles.
One specific information technology job that can lead to a cybersecurity analyst role is that of network and computer systems administrator. These professionals develop the networks and computer systems of their organizations. They also manage users and maintain system security.
Certifications can hone and validate your cybersecurity skills. According to the aforementioned (ISC)² survey, job seekers in this field should prioritize cybersecurity and IT certifications.
Two of the most popular professional qualifications for cybersecurity analysts include the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)® designation and the CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) certification.
The CISSP is one of the most valuable information security certifications. It has been around for over 25 years and over 130,000 people in over 170 countries are CISSPs. Additionally, data shows that CISSP holders are more in demand and earn more than those without. CISSPs have an average salary of $131,030, according to (ISC)².
If you’re wondering how to get into cybersecurity without experience, the CISSP designation isn’t the answer. This title is for experienced professionals, showcasing their skills and achievements. To qualify, you must demonstrate the equivalent of four years of practical experience and have a CISSP holder guarantor for you.
For those looking for cybersecurity certifications for beginners, the CompTIA CySA+ credential requires no experience. However, candidates must demonstrate skills in several areas of cybersecurity.
The certification test includes sections on threat and vulnerability management, software and system security, and incident response. The exam consists of a maximum of 85 questions. Its multiple-choice and performance-based questions must be completed in 165 minutes.
Apply for jobs
When you’re ready to start applying, it’s time to browse the job boards. One particular platform to consider is Dice, which focuses on tech careers. Popular sites such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and Monster also post cybersecurity analyst positions.
If you are looking for a government career, start your search with USAJOBS or Government Jobs.
Cyberseek is also a great resource, offering a heatmap to show which states have the highest and lowest need for cybersecurity professionals. The site also offers a career path chart to suggest how your career might progress.
FAQs for becoming a cybersecurity analyst
What qualifications do I need to be a cybersecurity analyst?
Cybersecurity analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology, cybersecurity, or related fields.
How long does it take to become a cybersecurity analyst?
Becoming a cybersecurity analyst can take as little as two years if you earn a cybersecurity associate. However, four years is a more reasonable timeframe, as earning a bachelor’s degree and entry-level certification can help you stand out to employers.
Is it difficult to become a cybersecurity analyst?
Cybersecurity is a demanding field. Due to the speed at which practices and technologies in the cybersecurity industry change and develop over time, job seekers in the field should keep up to date with the latest developments.