With malicious hackers continuously improving their attacking techniques, the demand for cybersecurity professionals remains high. Consequently, companies are looking for workers capable of preventing cyberattacks and protecting their sensitive information from any potential breaches.
Do you think you have what it takes to pursue a career dedicated to fighting cybercrime? Continue reading as we dive into the profession of a cyber security analyst to explore their responsibilities, necessary skills for the job, as well as inform you how to become a cyber security analyst.
Is Cyber Security a Good Career Choice?
Pursuing jobs in the cyber security industry, overall, is a splendid choice you can make for your career. This field offers many promising career paths, including that of a cyber security analyst. The overall job market has been experiencing a shortage of cyber workers with advanced cyber security skills. So, there are many open positions that guarantee your employment if you have the right skills and credentials for the role.
In addition to the current high demand, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the cyber security industry will continue to experience job growth of around 31% from 2019 to 2029. While the average growth rate for most occupations is between 5% to 8%, this field of work beats it by 26% percent. Therefore, the fast growth of cyber security careers in comparison to employment for all professions further proves that this is a highly in-demand industry.
What does a Cyber Security Analyst Do?
Cyber security analysts are trained professionals who usually work as part of IT departments within various companies and organizations. These individuals plan and conduct security measures in IT infrastructure in order to protect networks and systems that carry sensitive information from security breaches and attacks. To prevent such intrusions, they thoroughly study and analyze various methods of cyber attacks, malware, and the behavior of cybercriminals.
Although the exact tasks depend on the company you work for, some common duties and responsibilities that are typically part of the cyber security analyst description include:
- Monitoring computer networks and systems.
- Conducting ethical hacking to find potential entry points in your systems and fix them before any attacks occur.
- Evaluating vulnerabilities in the infrastructure of networks and systems.
- Responding to incidents to understand the consequences of cyber-attacks and coming up with recovery plans.
- Researching information technology (IT) security trends.
- Suggesting necessary security changes to management or IT staff.
- Installing and observing if antivirus programs are working efficiently.
How to Become A Cyber Security Analyst
Even when pursuing entry-level positions for a cyber security analyst job, there are certain education requirements, certificates needed, and a skillset that qualifies you for the job. Below you will find some common cyber security analyst requirements that you need to fulfill in order to pursue a career in this field.
The minimum educational requirement for a cyber security analyst position is a bachelor’s degree. The degree can be in a generalized program such as information technology, computer science, or programming. However, you also can seek a more specific program, such as a cyber security bachelor’s degree. This degree might be enough to get you an entry-level job.
However, if you are one that constantly seeks to further your education after your bachelor’s and wants to qualify for more advanced roles in the field, a Master of Science in Cyber Security may be the right program for you. This type of degree not only broadens your knowledge of cyber security but is also what can often set you apart from other candidates when applying for a job and the competition is tight.
Another way to expand your knowledge and skills in cyber security is to explore various certifications offered in the field. Some great choices you can begin with include CompTIA Security+, which encompasses a wide range of topics and coverage of cyber security.
For a more advanced certification, choose CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CompTIA CySA+). This certification covers more in-depth areas of cyber security such as threat and vulnerability management, incident response, software and systems security, security architecture and tools, and more.
Other certifications to explore include Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC), etc.
Skills to develop
In order to succeed as a cyber security analyst, you need to be equipped with both hard and soft skills that are relevant for the role. From IT knowledge to communication, here are some of the skills you need for this career.
Information Technology knowledge
Cyber security analysts must continuously improve their knowledge and keep up with the latest data protection practices and techniques. This knowledge encompasses information systems, network security, cryptography, vulnerability assessment, ethical hacking, and programming languages such as Python.
Analytical skills will enable you to study computer systems, assess risks, and consider possible solutions. Through improving this skill, you will be able to think critically when solving problems.
Handling and response
The purpose of cyber security professionals is to handle any threat or potential breach into the company’s systems. However, it is equally as important for them to be skilled in handling the situation if such an incident does occur. Handling and responding to an alert as quickly as possible can often prevent system breaches.
Cyber security analysts need communication skills so they effectively collaborate with other cyber security professionals or coworkers outside of the IT department. This way, they can work better in preventing security breaches by educating other coworkers on security practices and getting their input.
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Problem-solving skills will come in handy when you encounter an attacker with an unfamiliar hacking style. These skills will guide you towards finding the right solution when dealing with any complications you encounter.
Many job positions in the cyber security department require previous experience in the field. A great way to gain such experience is through internships, be it as a cyber security analyst or a similar role in cyber security.
This temporary position will help you get acquainted with some basic tasks and practices in security analyst while you’re under the supervision of a senior-position experienced professional. If you’re one to learn by doing, an internship is a perfect opportunity to get you started and prepare you for future roles as a cyber security analyst.
More Tips for Future Cyber Security Analysts
While they meet education requirements and have the necessary skills, individuals seeking cyber security analysts roles often struggle to kickstart their career due to being new to the field. Here are some tips to help you turn those education credentials into an actual job title:
Research the industry
The cyber security market is still evolving and growing due to the increasing dependence of businesses on information technology and cyber security. To have a successful career as a cyber security analyst, you should always research the industry, follow the latest developments, and stay on top of any new trends in the cyber security and cybercrime world. When you acknowledge these changes, you can ensure you are fit for the job by developing new skills necessary for the new concepts presented.
Whether it be networking links you created during school, through internships, volunteering programs, online, or at some event, connections you form with other professionals in the field can truly help when seeking job opportunities. In fact, according to a study, over 80% of job seekers credit networking as the reason why they found jobs. Therefore, go to that cyber security event and get to talking!
Focus Your Interests
The U.S. Council of Economic Advisers estimated that in 2016 malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion. So, it is no surprise that companies are expanding their security teams in an attempt to protect their data and systems from such breaches. Because of such high numbers related to cybercrime, jobs in the cyber security field require more specialized tasks to ensure the protection of data. You can focus your interest in a specific area and role related to cyber security analysis, such as:
- Virus technician
- Penetration tester
- Intrusion detection specialist
- Incident responder in computer security
- Source code auditor
Protecting data has become vital for businesses and organizations. That is why if you are interested in cyber security, now is the time to pursue it as a career. Refer to the requirements and job description we provided and see if you are interested in becoming a cyber security analyst. The low unemployment combined with a dedication to the job will guarantee your success in this career. With the right education programs and networking connections, you will begin your path towards prosperity.