What is a cybersecurity analyst?
A cybersecurity analyst serves as a crucial line of defense in safeguarding an organization’s data and IT infrastructure. In an era where data breaches, cyber-attacks, and online fraud are increasingly common, these professionals become indispensable. They monitor, analyze, and mitigate security vulnerabilities and risks to protect against unauthorized access, data loss, and cyber threats.
While information security is a concern for every modern organization, these analysts focus on identifying and neutralizing specific threats that could jeopardize the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of an organization’s digital assets. By implementing and managing security measures, they contribute not only to the operational continuity of the business but also to safeguarding its reputation and legal standing.
Duties and responsibilities
The duties of a cybersecurity analyst are both preventative and responsive. On the preventative side, they conduct regular systems audits to identify vulnerabilities and recommend enhancements. They are also involved in the development and implementation of an organization’s cybersecurity policies, including defining security protocols and disaster recovery plans. On the responsive side, they monitor network traffic and server logs for suspicious activity.
When a security incident occurs, they are the first responders who analyze the breach, contain it, and coordinate the recovery process. This role involves a thorough understanding of various cybersecurity tools and platforms for intrusion detection, encryption, and firewall management. They also liaise with other departments to create organization-wide awareness about cybersecurity best practices.
Cybersecurity analysts generally work in an office environment but increasingly have the option for remote work given the nature of their responsibilities. They work closely with IT departments and often report to a senior security officer or directly to executives, depending on the organizational structure. The work is highly technical and requires a deep understanding of IT systems, networks, and security protocols.
Given the fast-evolving nature of cybersecurity threats, the work environment is dynamic and requires constant learning. They often need to collaborate across various departments to ensure that security measures are understood and adhered to, making interpersonal skills a valuable asset for this role.
Typical work hours
The work hours for a cybersecurity analyst can vary, depending on the organization’s needs and the nature of the threats it faces. While many analysts work a standard 40-hour week, the role may require being on-call outside regular business hours to respond to security incidents or system anomalies.
In industries where continuous operation is necessary, such as finance or healthcare, they might work in shifts to provide 24/7 coverage. Periods of high alert, such as during a targeted cyber-attack, may also necessitate extended hours. Flexibility and adaptability are key attributes, given that cybersecurity is an ever-evolving field with threats that don’t adhere to a 9-to-5 schedule.
How to become a cybersecurity analyst
In order to become a cybersecurity analyst, you will need a combination of education, training, and experience. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal:
Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree
The first step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in an information technology area of study. A bachelor’s degree is typically a four-year program from an accredited university or college. Most job openings in cybersecurity require at least a bachelor’s degree. There are universities where you can get a specific degree in cybersecurity, but other IT degrees are a great start.
Step 2: Take specialized courses in cybersecurity
Courses and certifications specific to cybersecurity will cover all the unique languages, tools, and best practices in the field. As one of the most in-demand roles in tech right now, some incredible courses are available from top-rated institutions.
- Udemy offers The Complete Cyber Security Course, which teaches an advanced practical skillset in defending all online threats, including hackers, trackers, malware, and more. It covers multiple operating systems and includes the very latest up-to-date information and methods.
- Coursera offers a IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate. To get this certificate, participants must complete the necessary coursework and projects. This will show hands-on experience to hiring managers.
Step 3: Receive certification
Professional certifications are a clear way to communicate to potential employers what skills and knowledge the applicants have. Obtaining certification in cybersecurity will help candidates ensure they have the necessary background knowledge and qualifications.
Security+ from CompTIA is one of the most widely recognized. This entry-level certification validates the foundational skills needed for all cybersecurity roles. It ensures candidates have the problem-solving skills to operate within the law, monitor and secure hybrid environments, assess the security of an environment, and identify, analyze, and respond to security events and incidents.
Step 4: Apply for jobs and internships
Once the knowledge and skillset are there, it’s time to apply for jobs. Internships are a great starter option for building your resume and getting additional on-the-job training. Colleges and universities often have great recommendations and can help with job or internship placement. There are also incredible online resources, like LinkedIn and Indeed, which will have job postings and allow you to apply online. Consider any opportunities that allow you to gain experience.
Step 5: Obtain additional certification to advance your career
Once you’ve worked in the cybersecurity field and begun to gain some experience, additional certifications can be added to your resume.
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – The Certified Information Systems Security Professional is a certification that requires five or more years of cumulative work experience in at least two of eight different cybersecurity domains: Software Development Security, Security Operations, Security Assessment, and Testing, Identity and Access Management, Communication and Network Security, Security Architecture and Engineering, and Asset Security.
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) – One of the most recognized certifications, the Certified Information Systems Auditor, shows abilities to assess and prevent security vulnerabilities, implement new controls, and report compliance.
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – For advancement to senior positions and the management side, the Certified Information Security Manager shows the ability to handle managing this part of the business. From development to risk management and governance, this covers the next levels.
Step 6: Continue your education
It’s easy to see how quickly the world of technology is changing. That means the methods by which cyber criminals operate are also shifting and changing. Cybersecurity analysts can stay ahead of potential threats and issues by staying in the know of any trends or changes in the field. Continuing education options from companies like Udemy and Coursera are great for staying in touch with the most current information available.
How much do cybersecurity analysts make?
There are many variables that go into determining how much a cybersecurity analyst makes, from company size to experience to education, just to name a few.
Highest paying industries
- Information: $104,210
- Management of Companies and Enterprises: $101,520
- Finance and Insurance: $99,830
- Utilities: $98,430
- Manufacturing: $96,360
Highest paying states
- New York: $121,750
- New Jersey: $119,300
- California: $116,860
- District of Columbia: $115,890
- Virginia: $114,280
Types of cybersecurity analysts
Cybersecurity is a large field, growing with each new development in workplace technology. Analysts can be used in many ways, so let’s break down the major paths in this field.
Offensive security is the field of cybersecurity that focuses on the proactive approach. These analysts often play the role of the hacker and look for vulnerabilities in the network. This helps companies understand where they need to prioritize updates and stronger security. Sometimes known as ethical hackers, these roles are important to understanding how things look to an outsider trying to get in.
Incident response teams work to fix vulnerabilities when issues occur. Once a security issue is discovered, this team helps minimize further issues and loss. It requires quick thinking, great communication, and teamwork. This type of expertise is also used in digital forensics. These analysts help law enforcement with cybercrimes.
Security architects and engineers
Security architects and engineers manage an organization’s network and security infrastructure. This is a great role for people who enjoy building and changing the network structure to build up defenses. It’s less about specific incidents of cybersecurity and more about the overall big picture.
Cybersecurity managers often oversee a team of people who work on the network and security system. It’s a great role for experienced analysts who enjoy developing talents and working with people. Entry-level analysts can advance to these management positions with experience.
Top skills for cybersecurity analysts
This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as a cybersecurity analyst. The following descriptions provide insights into the abilities anyone aspiring to this role should focus on developing.
Analysts must have a robust understanding of security protocols, risk management frameworks, and various security software and hardware. This technical proficiency allows them to implement and manage security measures effectively, safeguarding an organization’s data and infrastructure from potential breaches.
The ability to dissect complex data sets and security logs is crucial. Analytical thinking skills help these professionals identify irregular patterns or anomalies that could signify a security breach. By quickly recognizing these signs, they can take timely action to counteract threats, thus reducing potential damage.
Attention to detail
In cybersecurity, minor oversights can result in significant vulnerabilities. Hence, attention to detail is vital. They must be meticulous in their audits of security setups, ensuring that no loophole or weakness goes unnoticed. This thoroughness contributes to the overall resilience of an organization’s security infrastructure.
Clear and precise communication is essential when dealing with security protocols and potential breaches. Analysts need to articulate complex technical issues to non-experts in a way that is easily understood. This skill is particularly crucial during times of crisis, as effective communication can expedite resolution and minimize impact.
The cybersecurity landscape is ever-changing, with new threats emerging regularly. A proactive approach to learning about these evolving risks enables analysts to adapt and update security measures as needed. Keeping up with industry trends, advancements in technology, and emerging threats helps these professionals anticipate and prepare for future challenges.
Cybersecurity analyst career path
Embarking on a career as a cybersecurity analyst is a decision that places you at the forefront of protecting an organization’s data and infrastructure. Usually, professionals in this field begin as junior analysts or interns, gaining practical experience in monitoring network traffic, analyzing vulnerabilities, and implementing security protocols. Earning certifications like CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), or Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is highly recommended early on to enhance your credibility and job prospects.
With a few years under your belt, you’ll have the opportunity to move into a full-fledged cybersecurity analyst role, where your responsibilities will expand to include threat hunting, incident response, and possibly even forensic analysis. At this stage, you’ll be expected to have a deeper understanding of security frameworks and compliance standards like ISO 27001 or NIST.
As you gain more experience and expertise, the next step is often a senior analyst or lead analyst position. These roles involve more strategic decision-making, and you’ll likely be tasked with mentoring junior staff and perhaps managing a small team. Specializing in a specific area like cloud security, ethical hacking, or risk assessment can also set you on a path to becoming an SME (Subject Matter Expert).
Ultimately, you may aspire to managerial or executive roles such as a cybersecurity manager, director of information security, or even chief information security officer (CISO). These positions demand a holistic understanding of cybersecurity, including budgeting, governance, and aligning security objectives with broader organizational goals. Many professionals also diversify into cybersecurity consulting, offering their specialized skills to various clients.
Similar job titles
Position trends and outlook for cybersecurity analysts
One significant trend in this area is the integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify and neutralize threats in real time. With the proliferation of IoT (Internet of Things) devices and the ongoing transition to 5G networks, the role of a cybersecurity analyst is becoming more complex and vital.
Organizations are also focusing on a more proactive approach rather than a reactive one, emphasizing threat prediction and prevention over resolution. Additionally, the adoption of cloud computing and remote work environments has led to a growing need for analysts who can secure distributed networks. Regulatory compliance, including GDPR and other data protection laws, has further increased the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals.
Employment projections for cybersecurity analysts
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for information security analysts, which includes cybersecurity analysts, is expected to grow 32% through 2032. This rate of growth is much faster than the average for all occupations. The escalating number of cyber threats and the need to secure both traditional and cloud-based infrastructure contribute to this high growth rate.
Cybersecurity analyst career tips
Soft skills and traits for cybersecurity analysts
Learn as much as possible about cybersecurity and what areas are available. Find out if there’s a specific section you’re most passionate about. Practice presentation skills and reporting information to large groups of people, both in-person and written. Make continuing education a priority to stay on top of technological changes and be aware of new threats.
Commonly required skills and qualifications
Consider consulting to build up experience. Many companies are hiring consultants for short-term projects, which could give you some background to add to your resume. Shadow someone in the cybersecurity field for the day to understand what the role does daily. Practice skills like network monitoring and endpoint management. If you work with users working from home, you’ll need to learn how to secure multiple endpoints, like computers and phones. Educate yourself on the companies that have had data breaches and hacker attacks to understand the fallout when things are not secure on a network.
Develop a professional network
Subscribe to Cybersecurity Magazine to stay current on happenings in the field and hear from your peers and their work. You should also join some professional networks to meet others in your field. Here are a few networks to explore:
- International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology (IACSIT)
- Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
- Cyber Threat Intelligence Network (NCSA)
- Information Systems Security Association (ISSA)
- Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS)
- Silicon Valley Cybersecurity Institute (SVCSI)
Where the cybersecurity analyst jobs are
- ACI Federal
Top job sites
What qualifications does a cybersecurity analyst need?
Most jobs in cybersecurity require a bachelor’s degree in technology, like computer sciences and information technology. In addition, some positions require additional certification in specific areas of cybersecurity.
Do cybersecurity analysts need coding knowledge?
Coding is not required for most basic entry-level positions but can be necessary for career advancement.
What does a cybersecurity analyst do each day?
Daily tasks for cybersecurity analysts include monitoring networks, assessing the status of security measures, looking into any issues that arise, and analyzing data. There might also be regular reporting and communication with other parts of the organization.
What are the top three most common cyber threats?
While there are many threats in the World Wide Web today, the three main issues for cybersecurity are social engineering attacks (like phishing), ransomware, and remote working risks.
Are there companies that hire hackers?
Ethical hackers are used to find vulnerabilities within a company’s network before someone outside can. Companies like IBM and the US Army hire ethical hackers to help them get ahead of the problems.
How do I find cybersecurity analyst jobs?
Use online job search tools and job boards, as well as reach out to any connections you have. The field is growing quickly, so there are constantly new jobs and expanding teams.
What should be on my resume for a cybersecurity analyst?
When creating your resume to apply for a cybersecurity analyst role, you’ll want to include any experience you have in the field and all of your education. Include any certifications you have and list any internships or consulting gigs.
How long does it take to become a cybersecurity analyst?
Once you have your four-year degree in a computer science field, you can get a cybersecurity certification to gain more specialized knowledge. Start with an entry-level position to gain experience, and you can work your way up from there.
Do cybersecurity analysts only work for tech companies?
All significant organizations need a cybersecurity team to help protect their network, its users, and its customers. You can find cybersecurity roles in any industry, from film production to healthcare to government to tech companies.