The cyber-world is an ever-changing entity that needs constant monitoring and protection. The demand for well-qualified cybersecurity analysts has never been higher. By 2029, over 40,000 new cybersecurity analyst jobs will be created – an increase of over 30%!
The best way to become a cybersecurity analyst is by first understanding what the job entails, how much it pays, and the skills required to excel in this position. The certifications a security analyst needs are also important. Once you have those under your belt, you need to take steps to find the right employment opportunity. (If you’d like some help with that, don’t hesitate to reach out to CIBR Warriors!)
The following guide will cover all of these topics in detail.
Cybersecurity analysts have various responsibilities: from protecting companies and their employees to ensuring that data is secure. The following are some of the most important duties a cybersecurity analyst might be responsible for:
- Creating security policies
- Testing networks, mobile devices, and software for security vulnerabilities
- Managing/monitoring systems (such as firewalls)
- Performing penetration tests
- Developing and implementing security awareness training programs for employees
- Investigating cybercrime, whether internal or external
The responsibilities of a cybersecurity analyst depend on the size of the company they work at as well as how many people are in their department. The more complex the organization is, it will require a larger number of employees and cybersecurity analysts.
The responsibilities of a security analyst at the federal level are very different from those who work for retail companies, so it is crucial to understand what you are signing up for when accepting an offer from one organization or another.
The role of an analyst is a mid-level one, so they will need to work with both senior and junior staff members. The cybersecurity analyst needs to communicate effectively, solve problems creatively, have excellent technical skills to understand cyber threats and be a leader who can motivate others around them.
Cybersecurity analysts should possess the following proficiencies:
- Analytical thinking
- The ability to learn quickly
- The willingness and desire to constantly update their knowledge to stay on top of the latest cyber threats
- The ability to work well under pressure and prioritize tasks based upon urgency, impact, and risk
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that cybersecurity analyst jobs are projected to grow by 31% during the next decade, which is much faster than average. The BLS also states that there were 131,000 Cybersecurity Analysts working in 2019 and that this number will increase to 171,900 by 2029.
Cybersecurity skills can be applied across various industries, including healthcare, finance, government, and defense. The demand for professionals in this cybersecurity field is high because the cyber world is constantly growing more complex.
The BLS predicts that there will be an increase in demand for those who have expertise in cloud security and mobile device management. These two areas are continually evolving due to the number of employees who rely on them.
While it isn’t necessary to have a master’s degree or a doctorate to become an analyst, many employers require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer-related sciences.
The average salary for a cybersecurity analyst is $95,000. The top-paying industries include aerospace and defense as well as computer systems design and information technology services.
The cybersecurity analyst job title also requires certifications to demonstrate expertise and knowledge of the field.
The most common certificate is from ISC², but there are other options depending on what kind of organization you want to work for.
Cybersecurity Analyst Skills
There are six crucial technical skills you need to develop to reach this position.
Information security is the act of protecting data. An analyst needs to know how to define risk levels within the organization so that they can be mitigated through proper security measures.
It would be best if you also understood how different technical issues are created to prevent future ones from occurring. The analyst needs to be able to develop security policies that are designed for the company, as well as successfully implement them.
If information security is about protecting data, information systems are about what kind of data it is. An analyst needs to understand the various systems in place to ensure there aren’t any vulnerabilities that could allow cybercriminals access. They should also know how these different systems work together and what their roles are and why they’re vital within the organization’s structure.
The security of information systems directly impacts the organization’s ability to protect its data, so it makes sense that this would be considered one of the most critical areas.
You will also need to understand how older systems work to create strategies better around upgrading or replacing legacy hardware and software. The analyst has to know what security risks are involved with upgrading and how to mitigate them.
Linux is commonly used in most modern servers, making it essential for cybersecurity analysts to know how it functions. They have a deep understanding of Linux’s security features and protocols in order to implement them properly while also staying up-to-date on changes as they’re made available by the developers.
Linux is a great cybersecurity option because it is secure and stable.
Analysts also need to troubleshoot any issues that might arise with their implementation of systems and create strategies around updating or replacing them when necessary. They need to know how best to administer Linux servers to take full advantage of their security features without sacrificing speed or functionality.
Securing networks is similar to securing systems. The analyst should understand how networks function and the issues that could arise if proper measures aren’t taken. They need experience in creating, implementing, updating, and maintaining policies around network security.
Network security measures ensure that there are no loopholes for cybercriminals to exploit. Awareness of network security issues also helps the organization respond more quickly if a breach ever happens, preventing further damage from occurring.
Analyzing potential threats is another crucial area of cybersecurity. A cybersecurity analyst needs to understand threats, how they arise, and the different kinds present within a system infrastructure. As an analyst, you will need to know what type of security options exist for dealing with each type and where these measures should be implemented within the organization’s structure.
Threat analysis is not limited only to systems or networks. The analyst needs to understand how applications, devices like routers and switches, servers, operating systems, and other company assets can be impacted if security threats are present.
The skill of security operations includes a range of practices, such as incident detection, assessment, prevention, and response. The analyst needs to know how the entire process works from start to finish to appropriately respond if there is an issue with security measures.
The point of security operations is to maintain an optimal level of security for the organization. The more adept the analyst is at each step in the process, the greater their chances that everything falls into place when it counts most.
The main goal here is to reduce vulnerabilities as much as possible and keep downtime and other negative issues from occurring.
Cybersecurity Analyst Certifications
From a list of required skills, let’s jump right into a list of required certifications.
You’ll need to have a variety of qualifications. Here are the top five most requested ones by employers.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
The CISSP is one of the most respected certifications out there because it is vendor-neutral. The certification covers eight main subject areas, each with its subcategories:
- Asset Security
- Security Operations
- Communication and Network Security
- Identity and Access Management
- Security Assessment and Testing
- Security Architecture and Engineering
- Security and Risk Management
- Software Development Security
The requirements for CISSP are rigorous. The candidate must have at least five years of full-time cybersecurity work experience in at least two subject areas. Furthermore, they must pass strict criminal background and history checks.
GIAC stands for Global Information Assurance Certification. The SANS Institute developed the GIAC program, and it covers information security topics in several areas:
- Cyber Defense
- Penetration Testing
- Security Operations
- Management, Audit, and Legal
- Incident Response and Forensics
- Industrial Control Systems
Something unique to GIAC certificates is the requirement of writing a formal paper to obtain the “gold” level of the cert. The final requirement is taking an exam, which covers everything from the course curriculum. If the candidate chooses not to write the paper, they can obtain the “silver” level. The good news is that GIAC offers a basic guide to help those who do choose this route through the process of writing their paper and taking the exam.
Certified Information System Auditor (CISA)
CISA is a certification accredited under ISO/IEC 17024 (the highest certification standard of the International Organization for Standardization).
The CISA is designed to certify individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and experience in information systems auditing, control, or security. The main focus here is on using an audit approach rooted in a risk assessment process to identify what needs attention most within the organization’s IT infrastructure.
Like the CISSP, the CISA candidate must have at least five years of experience working as information security or control auditor.
Certified Information System Manager (CISM)
By acquiring the CISM cert, you demonstrate skills in:
- Managing information security
- Identifying and managing cybersecurity risks
- Leading and developing a cybersecurity team
- Safeguarding company assets
The CISM is a perfect certification for those who are interested in becoming cybersecurity analyst managers. The requirements include at least five years of experience working as an information security professional and taking a specific course. The course contains four modules that cover all aspects of managing organizational risks related to IT systems.
Like the CISA, the CISM is also accredited under ISO/IEC 17024 and is considered the highest standard in certification.
The good news about these certs is that they are all highly valued by employers across many different industries (including but not limited to government agencies).
Out of all certifications outlined above, the Security+ is arguably the easiest to obtain. The requirements are fairly basic:
- The CompTIA Network+ certification
- At least two years of experience in IT administration, networking, or cybersecurity (recommended, not mandatory)
- The ability to pass a test (passing score is currently above 750 out of 900 points on the exam)
The Security+ certification has been around for decades and is well respected by employers. The exam covers topics such as managing risk, network security and infrastructure, compliance and operational standards, threats, and vulnerabilities (to name just a few). The certification is also valid for three years before the candidate needs to recertify to maintain it.
The Right Job Opportunity
Once you feel like you have all the required skills and qualifications to advance your cybersecurity career, it’s time to look for the right job opportunity.
The best way to get the job you want is by researching and networking in advance, so employers can see that you have what it takes (and are serious about making a career change).
Here are valuable tips on how to get a job as a cybersecurity analyst:
Define Your Needs
The first crucial step is to know what you’re looking for. Spend some time thinking about the type of work you’d like to do or even meet with a cybersecurity expert who can help direct your search. The more information you have on what exactly interests you and where your skills are best suited, the better equipped you will be when it comes time to find a job.
Consider more than just the job description – what kind of company culture do you like to work in? Do you prefer remote or office work? Are you comfortable being on-call from time to time? The more you know about yourself and what makes you tick, the easier it will be to find a job opportunity that works.
Research the Right Companies
With a clear image of what your dream job looks like, it’s time to find the right companies to look for openings. The best way is by looking at websites of organizations that you feel fit the profile and see what positions they’re advertising.
Be critical – this is the place where you will be spending more than eight hours every day, so it’s important that you feel comfortable and not overwhelmed by everything. Make a list of the companies where you want to work at and start researching them online.
The other thing you can do is reach out through LinkedIn or any other networking channel to people who already work there – ask them about the company culture and what they like/dislike. The goal is to get as much information as you can from people who work there already so that when it comes time for an interview, you will be well prepared and ready to impress your potential employer.
Build Your Network
The best type of job opportunities come from your network of contacts. The more people you know, the better your chances are at finding a job that’s ideal for you and in which you’ll excel. This includes other cybersecurity professionals and those who work for organizations and companies that hire IT staff regularly – think recruitment agencies or HR departments within large corporations.
Ask for Help
Finally, there’s no harm in asking for help. Staffing agencies are the logical next step in the job searching process since they cover everything from finding the right fit for you to preparing you for the job interview.
The main advantage is that these companies are very well connected, which means they have a vast pool of contacts to find ideal jobs for their clients. A recruiter will also help you with all the paperwork and application processes, so you don’t have to worry about anything except showing up for a good interview.
Becoming a cybersecurity analyst is a great career move that is in high demand. Analysts typically have a high annual salary and are needed in practically every industry, not only information technology.
Before you start looking for the perfect job, you need to acquire the right skills and certifications. The industry is constantly evolving, so you will need to be up-to-date with the newest trends in cybersecurity. The more knowledge about yourself, what kind of work environment makes you thrive, and the right companies that fit your profile and contacts within this field, the better the chance of getting hired.
The key is to be proactive and persistent in your search because finding the perfect job takes time, but it’s worth all of your efforts.
Reaching out to a staffing agency such as CIBR Warriors is a wise decision that will help you in many ways. Feel free to contact us for more information about our services. We’d be more than happy to help you with all of your career-related questions.