Cybersecurity Analyst Career Guide
What you need to know to position yourself for important, high-paying jobs
Anyone who uses a computer or network system is susceptible to a cyberattack, which means everyone — from large corporations and government entities to small businesses and individuals — is at risk every day.
Today, nearly all organizations understand the need to have security protection measures in place, and to employ professionals who are dedicated to preventing and mitigating cyberattacks. A cybersecurity analyst will do just that — and it’s a high-demand job that’s on the rise across all industries.
Similar to many positions within the cybersecurity field, the responsibilities of a cybersecurity analyst may range depending on the industry and the organization, but the goal is the same: to protect a computer or network system and provide the first line of defense against the growing number of cybercrimes, including identity theft, phishing and ransomware.
What Is a Cybersecurity Analyst?
As a cybersecurity analyst, you will plan and implement security measures to protect the computer networks and systems of a company or organization.
You may also help create a disaster recovery plan, which an IT department will follow in the event of a breach of security emergency.
One of the biggest aspects of your job is keeping up to date on IT security and the latest methods that attackers are using to potentially infiltrate a system. It’s important to constantly research the latest technology in order to determine the most effective methods of protection against cyberattacks.
Why Cybersecurity Analysts Matter
From individuals to large corporations, no one is safe from a cyberattack. Target, Yahoo, eBay, UPS, Google and Apple are among the countless large U.S. companies that have experienced security breaches, exposing customer-sensitive data. As a cybersecurity analyst, you are on the front lines in the battle against hackers who are targeting companies and government organizations.
Cyber Defense Magazine reports that small businesses are the target of 43% of cyberattacks. Global cyber education firm Cybint reports that there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds with more than 93% of health care organizations having been the victim of a data breach within the last three years.
Cybersecurity Analyst Job Duties
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the responsibilities of cybersecurity analytics typically include the following:
- Monitor networks for security breaches, violations, or other related issues
- Investigate breaches when they occur
- Research the latest trends in IT and security
- Develop security procedures and processes
- Install software, such as firewalls and other programs, in order to protect sensitive information
- Educate others on security products and preventative measures
- Simulate attacks to look for vulnerabilities
Important Skills for Cybersecurity Analysts
There are many desired skills and areas in which you should have experience when it comes to working as a cybersecurity analyst. Cyberseek, an online tool that provides data about the supply and demand of the cybersecurity job market, lists the following top skills for cybersecurity analyst positions:
- Information security
- Information systems
- Network security
- Threat analysis
- Security operations
- Vulnerability assessment
- Project management
- Intrusion detection
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the following “important qualities” for cybersecurity analyst positions:
- Analytical skills. Cybersecurity analysts must analyze computer systems and networks and evaluate all risks in order to figure out how security policies, processes and procedures can be enhanced.
- Detail-oriented. Since cyberattacks can be difficult to identify and uncover, cybersecurity analysts must pay close attention and monitor any changes to the network or systems.
- Cybersecurity analysts must anticipate risks and implement new ways to protect computer systems, networks and information.
- Problem-solving skills. Cybersecurity analysts must quickly react to alerts, breaches and issues and uncover and solve any flaws or problems as they arise.
Cybersecurity Analyst Salary and Job Outlook
If you’re looking for a high-demand job with an exceptional career outlook, look no further than cybersecurity analyst positions, which are projected to grow 32% from 2018 to 2028 (must faster than the average).
Ongoing demand for cybersecurity analysts “is expected to be very high, as these analysts will be needed to create innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or causing problems for computer networks,” according to BLS.
The popular job site Monster expects the need for cybersecurity analysts to continue, explaining that “cyberattacks are only becoming more common and more harmful, and even though we tend to only hear about the attacks of high-profile entities, no company — or individual for that matter — with an online presence is immune to attacks.”
In an article from U.S. News & World Report, Andrea Hoy, president of the Information Systems Security Association’s international board of directors, recommends asking yourself the following questions before taking a job:
- What job responsibilities do you want to fill?
- What do you hope to gain from a particular position?
“Jobs in this field are everywhere,” Hoy says. “We presently have a shortage of cybersecurity professionals.”
In terms of salary, these positions typically pay a median salary of $103,590, with the highest 10% earning more than $158,860.
What You Need for a Cybersecurity Analyst Position
There are a wide variety of cybersecurity analyst positions across all industries and in both the government and private sector. From health care and manufacturing to retail and financial services, every business and organization — regardless of size and industry — has a need for these now-essential professionals.
If you are positioning yourself for cybersecurity analyst roles, you’re typically going to need a combination of experience, related education and certifications. Entry-level positions usually require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information assurance, programming or a related field. In general, you’ll also need to have some previous experience in a related position or department, such as information technology.
There are many information security certifications available, which can give you an edge over other candidates, including this list from Indeed of the top 10 cybersecurity analyst certifications:
- CompTIA’s Network+
- CompTIA’s Security+
- CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst
- CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner
- CompTIA Security Analytics Expert certification
- The EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker Certification
- Certified Security Analyst Training
- The GIAC Information Security Fundamentals
- The GIAC Security Essentials Certification
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Companies Hiring for Cybersecurity Analysts
A recent search for “cybersecurity analyst” job openings on LinkedIn revealed more than 21,000 results at a wide variety of companies, some of which are cited below. (You can see similar LinkedIn search results here.)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- Delta Air Lines
- Boston Children’s Hospital
- Morgan Stanley
- Bank of America
- Major League Baseball
- Ulta Beauty
As you can see, the opportunities for cybersecurity analyst positions range across a wide variety of industries, including financial services, health care, entertainment, sports, consumer products, travel, government and more.
According to Cyberseek’s Cybersecurity Supply/Demand Heat Map, the states with the most cybersecurity job postings include New York, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Texas and California.
How to Find a Cybersecurity Analyst Position
A bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as computer science or programming is typically required. Earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity is an option chosen by many for a range of important reasons. For example, a cybersecurity master’s degree:
- Provides you with an edge over the competition
- Offers comprehensive knowledge and practical skills
- Provides immersive experiences and real-world exposure
- Allows you to meet and work with leaders and experts in the cybersecurity field
A master’s degree in cybersecurity can help you gain an important advantage in the job market. Plus, you’ll achieve a deeper understanding of cybersecurity concepts, topics and theories.
The University of San Diego — a highly regarded industry thought leader and education provider — publishes a Cybersecurity Blog that highlights the cybersecurity employment landscape. You can find a wide range of helpful and informative articles, including:
- Cybersecurity Jobs Report
- Top Cybersecurity Certifications: Which Ones Are Right for You?
- Best Industries for Cybersecurity Job Seekers
The university also offers the 100% online Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership degree program, which features practical, cutting-edge curriculum taught by expert instructors who share insights drawn from highly relevant industry experience.
Other Cybersecurity Careers You Might Be Interested In
Cybersecurity is a fast-growing, high-paying field with a range of different types of job openings. Which role might be ideal for you? Take a moment to explore some of the other exciting careers in cybersecurity:
Want to see the top paying jobs in cybersecurity? Read this article.
Want to see the top entry level jobs in cybersecurity? Read this article.
Want to see the top non-technical jobs in cybersecurity? Read this article.
Want to learn how to land the best jobs in cybersecurity? Read this article.