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Entities of all kinds, from retailers to government organisations, store and transmit online data every day. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important to keep this data out of the hands of malicious actors.
Enter the cybersecurity analyst, who works to defend precious information from a faceless and ever-changing adversary. In this article, we explore how to become a cybersecurity analyst. We also share essential information about this career path, including cybersecurity salary and job outlook data.
What is a Cybersecurity Analyst?
Cybersecurity analysts plan, carry out, and monitor security measures to protect their organizations’ computer networks, systems, and sensitive information. They play a crucial role in safeguarding data from cybercrimes such as identity theft, fraud, ransomware, and phishing attacks.
On a day-to-day basis, cybersecurity analysts are responsible for maintaining security software such as firewalls and data encryption programs. They also investigate security breaches and prepare reports to provide metrics for management.
With the ever-evolving nature of cyber threats, a cybersecurity analyst must stay up to date with the latest security trends and techniques used by hackers. They research new security technologies to ensure their organizations are using the most effective security systems available.
Cybersecurity Analyst Salary and Career Outlook
Cybersecurity analysts enjoy above-average demand and earn relatively high salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), information security analysts, which includes cybersecurity analysts, earn a median annual salary of $102,600 (£81,962), which is more than double the median annual salary for all workers nationwide. The top 10% of earners make over $165,920 (£142,164).
According to Cyberseek.org, mid-level cybersecurity analysts earn an average annual wage of $107,500 (£85,876).
In terms of job outlook, the BLS projects a significant 35% growth in jobs for information security analysts from 2021 to 2031, amounting to an additional 19,500 jobs per year. This demand is driven by the increasing adoption of cloud services by small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the rising number of cyberattacks, which requires more professionals in the field.
How to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst
Becoming a cybersecurity analyst can lead to high earning potential and strong job security. The path to becoming a cybersecurity analyst typically begins with earning a college degree, gaining experience in entry-level cybersecurity jobs, and obtaining relevant certifications.
1. Earn a Degree
A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, computer and information technology, or a related field such as mathematics or engineering is often required to land a cybersecurity analyst position. In the 2020 Cybersecurity Career Pursuers Study conducted by (ISC)², over half of the respondents reported holding computer and information science degrees.
A bachelor’s degree is the most common academic credential amongst cybersecurity professionals. However, some employers may require only a two-year degree if you also have extensive experience and/or professional certifications.
Alternatively, you might consider a cybersecurity bootcamp, which is an accelerated and immersive program that prepares students to enter the tech sector quickly. Keep in mind that bootcamps are intensive, and you may not be able to work while completing the program.
2. Gain Experience
Depending on the cybersecurity analyst job you are applying for, the required experience may range from none for entry-level positions to several years for advanced roles. Many candidates start their careers in cybersecurity by working in lower-level information technology roles.
One specific information technology job that can lead to a cybersecurity analyst role is that of a network and computer systems administrator. These professionals develop their organizations’ computer networks and systems, and they also manage users and maintain system security.
3. Obtain Certification
Certifications can help hone and validate your skills in cybersecurity. According to the (ISC)² survey mentioned earlier, job-seekers in this field should prioritise cybersecurity and IT certifications.
Two popular professional certifications 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 more than 130,000 individuals across over 170 countries are CISSPs. CISSP-holders are in higher demand and earn more than those without the certification. On average, CISSPs earn a salary of $131,030 (£104,679).
To qualify for the CISSP certification, you must demonstrate the equivalent of four years of hands-on experience in at least two of the eight CISSP domains and have a CISSP-holder vouch for you.
For those seeking cybersecurity certifications for beginners, the CompTIA CySA+ credential does not require experience. However, candidates must display skills in multiple areas of cybersecurity. The certification test includes sections on threat and vulnerability management, software and systems security, and incident response.
4. Apply for Jobs
When you’re ready to start applying, it’s time to scour the job boards. Platforms such as Dice, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and Monster often post cybersecurity analyst roles. If you are looking for a career in government, start your search with USAJOBS or Government Jobs.
Cyberseek is an excellent resource as well, offering a heat map to show which states have the highest and lowest demand for cybersecurity professionals. The site also provides a career pathway flowchart to suggest how your career might progress.
Becoming a cybersecurity analyst requires a combination of education, experience, and certifications. With the increasing importance of protecting sensitive information from cyber threats, the demand for cybersecurity analysts is on the rise. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can position yourself for a successful career in this dynamic and rewarding field.
Remember to stay updated with the latest technologies and practices, as the field of cybersecurity is constantly evolving. By continuously learning and adapting to new threats, you can become a valuable asset in the fight against cybercrime.
So, if you are interested in a career that combines technology and problem-solving skills, consider becoming a cybersecurity analyst. The opportunities are vast, the salaries are high, and the job outlook is promising. Start your journey today and make a difference in the world of cybersecurity.
– U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS)