How to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst
How to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst
As the digital storage of financial information and personal data continues to grow, so do the number and scale of challenges to information security. An increasing number of businesses rank cyberattacks as the #1 threat they face, and many of them are ramping up their cybersecurity efforts as a result. According to a report from Hiscox, 40% of U.S. businesses reported cyberattacks costing $25,000 or more in 2021—up from 34% the year before.
Insufficient cybersecurity strategies may lead to data breaches and financial losses. That’s why businesses rely on cybersecurity analysts who play a crucial role in helping organizations optimize their cybersecurity strategies to keep them safe from potential attacks. While many companies have been known to underutilize cybersecurity analysts in the past, modern cyberattackers are making that a risky and potentially costly choice. Cyberattackers infiltrated 86% of businesses in 2021, a 24% rise over the preceding seven years, according to an analysis from CyberEdge Group.
Those looking to take advantage of the growing demand for cybersecurity analysts should start by learning more about the job’s description and how to become a cybersecurity analyst. A cybersecurity bootcamp can be a great starting point for learning about the nature of cybersecurity and preparing for certification exams that are the first step into the field.
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What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do?
Cybersecurity analysts are professionals in the information technology field whose primary role is to defend businesses and other organizations from cyberattacks—and respond rapidly to restore protection if a system is compromised. Cybersecurity analysts perform many tasks as part of their profession, including:
- Examining and assessing potential vulnerabilities in an organization’s digital infrastructure
- Recording and reporting on any attempted cyberattacks
- Promptly resolving breaches or attacks by determining the source of the attack
Most of the work performed by cybersecurity analysts is preventive, such as giving guidance, evaluations, or reports on the quality of a business’s security. However, in the event of a cyberattack, these analysts use their skills to resolve security breaches and quickly identify the attack’s origins. For optimal preventive and reactive strategies, these professionals help businesses develop standards for security and maintain updates to their systems in accordance with the latest cybersecurity trends.
Steps to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst
While professionals can follow any of a number of paths to gain a cybersecurity analyst job, a few are more common than others. Making sure one has the right knowledge is an excellent place to start, but experience and certifications also play a role. Here are the common steps that individuals can take to become a cybersecurity analyst.
Many businesses prefer to hire individuals with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a similar field, while some prefer candidates with a master’s degree in cybersecurity or information security for security analyst jobs. However, CyberSeek reports that 12% of job listings for cybersecurity analysts do not require a degree, which provides some flexibility for those looking to break into a new field.
A cybersecurity bootcamp is another educational option to use to build on cybersecurity fundamentals, prepare for advanced roles, and train for necessary certifications.
Other information technology professionals may also pursue careers as cybersecurity analysts. Jobs such as IT support specialist or system administrator give individuals beneficial hands-on experience that can train them for certifications and provide them with the foundation they need to apply to a degree program related to cybersecurity.
Many businesses seek applicants with a cybersecurity certification along with their bachelor’s or master’s degree. For those interested in how to become a cybersecurity analyst, earning relevant certifications is a key step, because they show that the individual has a standard level of knowledge on a particular subject in the IT field.
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) cybersecurity analyst (CSA+) accreditation is the industry standard. It focuses on fundamental technical abilities and requires passing a test with multiple-choice and application-based questions.
A few other certifications of note include:
- ISACA’s Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification
- ISACA’s Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification
- ISACA’s Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification
- (ISC)²’s Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification
- Global Information Assurance Certifications (GIAC)
- The IAPP’s Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) certification
Cybersecurity Job Salary and Outlook
With the rise in cyberthreats, cybersecurity analysts are widely in demand and well compensated. The median annual salary for cybersecurity analysts was $96,781 as of June 2022, according to Lightcast™. Job prospects look very strong, with 23.4% projected employment growth between 2022 and 2032. Location can play a role in securing a position, as openings tend to be more numerous closer to large cities where most businesses will need cybersecurity assistance.
According to Lightcast™, cybersecurity analysts just entering the profession, or participating for two years or less, have an average annual salary of $79,300, while those with a tenure of nine years or more have a median annual salary of $108,000, suggesting considerable opportunity exists for financial gains in the field.
Knowing how to become a cybersecurity analyst is crucial to getting the job, but it is only the beginning of the career journey, as this position can set one up to achieve more high-ranking roles. Cybersecurity analysts can look forward to potentially moving into roles such as:
Cybersecurity managers perform many of the main duties of a cybersecurity analyst, such as maintaining security systems, identifying system vulnerabilities, and creating strategies to stop cyberattacks. However, they do so at a managerial level, taking a leadership role while their team performs many of the individual tasks.
Cybersecurity engineers design and execute secure network solutions to prevent hacking events and various other cyber assaults. While cybersecurity analysts evaluate the effectiveness of systems, cybersecurity engineers create them. Cybersecurity engineers typically work on creating, analyzing, and implementing security systems and subsystems, often working with other IT professionals to change or improve computer code to address vulnerabilities.
Advance Your Skills in Cybersecurity
Jumping onto a new career path may seem daunting, even if you already have experience in IT or cybersecurity. That’s why learning the ropes from a team of expert educators with industry experience can be a wise choice. If you’re looking to learn more about how to become a cybersecurity analyst and stand out among your peers in the field, consider University of Oklahoma Outreach's Cybersecurity Analytics Bootcamp.
Taught by industry-experienced instructors, University of Oklahoma Outreach’s Cybersecurity bootcamp helps individuals build real-world cybersecurity skills that can benefit them regardless of their current level of knowledge. Learn how University of Oklahoma Outreach can guide you on a pathway toward a promising career in cybersecurity.