How to Become an Information Security Analyst
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Now is an excellent time to enter the growing and lucrative cybersecurity field. Information security analysts can expect high salaries and strong growth over the next decade.
This page explains how to become an information security analyst. We cover the education, experience, and certifications that prepare people for this field. We also describe what to expect from potential information security analyst careers.
What Is an Information Security Analyst?
Information security analysts ensure security measures that keep organizations' computer networks and systems safe. Security analysts conduct penetration testing, investigate security breaches, and install software to protect valuable data.
An information security analyst's career focuses on cybersecurity, a subfield of computer science. Cybersecurity professionals need an advanced understanding of networks and computers to prevent and respond to cyberattacks.
Security analysts conduct penetration testing, investigate security breaches, and install software to protect valuable data.
Information security analysts often work with their organizations' information technology departments. Security analysts typically collaborate with computer systems analysts and network administrators to help other employees understand security products and procedures. These professionals find work in industries such as computer systems design, finance and insurance, and information organizations.
What Education Do Information Security Analysts Need?
Information security analysts typically need at least a bachelor's degree in a field like cybersecurity, computer science, or IT. Some security analysts earn degrees in disciplines like engineering or math. Most bachelor's degrees take four full-time years to complete.
Some employers prefer applicants with a master's in information systems or a related field. A master's degree usually takes two full-time years to complete.
Individuals with a master's degree in information security earn more on average than those with only a bachelor's. January 2022 Payscale data shows the average annual salary for bachelor's in information science graduates is $77,000. The average salary for professionals with a master's in information science is $96,000 per year.
Cybersecurity bootcamps provide intensive, career-relevant training in a short period of time. Some people earn one or more college degrees and complete a cybersecurity bootcamp to develop practical, in-demand skills.
How Much Experience Do Information Security Analysts Need?
In addition to a bachelor's degree, most employers require information security analysts to hold previous information technology or computer-related experience. This requirement varies by employer and position. Many security analysts start their careers as computer or network system administrators, database administrators, or computer systems analysts.
Some employers let information security analysts substitute education for experience. Other workplaces may hire applicants without a bachelor's degree, letting them substitute experience for the education requirement.
An information security analyst career can benefit from professional certifications, which demonstrate advanced professional knowledge and skills. Although no certifications are required at state or national levels for this career, many employers prefer information security analysts with a professional certification.
Below, we describe some potential certifications for information security analysts.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional: The CISSP certification is a general information security certificate for experienced professionals. Applicants must have at least five years of paid experience, pass an exam, and agree to a code of ethics.
Systems Security Certified Practitioner: Earning the SSCP certification demonstrates advanced knowledge and technical skills in IT infrastructure security best practices. Applicants must have at least one year of paid experience, pass an exam, and agree to a code of ethics.
CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst: Created for intermediate cybersecurity professionals, the CySA+ certification requires passing an exam with multiple-choice, hands-on, and performance-based questions. CySA+ certified professionals must renew their credential every three years by completing 60 continuing education units.
How Do I Become an Information Security Analyst?
You can launch an information security analyst career through several pathways. The most direct route to becoming an information security analyst is to earn a four-year bachelor's degree in a computer science-related field. Some security analysts also earn a master's degree to increase their earning potential and career opportunities.
Some people learn information security skills and knowledge by completing an intensive bootcamp instead of a traditional higher education degree.
Most security analyst jobs require some professional IT experience. Some employers allow applicants to substitute education for experience, or vice versa. Although not required, completing professional certifications can open the door to better opportunities by keeping security analysts' skills up to date.
Steps to Becoming an Information Security Analyst
Bachelor's Degree Path
- Earn a bachelor's degree. Most information security analyst jobs require at least a bachelor's degree. Potential majors include information security, cybersecurity, information technology, and computer science.
- Get professional experience. Most security analyst jobs require some relevant experience in an IT or computers job. Some bachelor's programs offer internships that let students gain professional experience while still in school. Many graduates start their information security analyst career in entry-level IT roles.
- Obtain professional certifications. Although the field does not require a blanket certification for security analysts, becoming certified can open the door to more opportunities. Employers often prefer job applicants who hold security certifications, which demonstrate proficiency in technical skills and knowledge.
- Complete continuing education. Enrolling in professional development training and continuing education courses helps security analysts stay current on best practices in the field. You may need to complete continuing education to maintain or renew your professional certifications.
- Complete a cybersecurity bootcamp.
- Get professional experience.
- Obtain professional certifications.
- Complete continuing education.
Cybersecurity bootcamps provide practical, hands-on training in information security skills and knowledge. They can prepare students for entry-level information security jobs in less time and for less money than the typical four-year bachelor's program. Many people who complete a cybersecurity bootcamp already hold an associate or bachelor's degree in an unrelated field.
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Should I Become an Information Security Analyst?
Anyone who becomes an information security analyst will experience an exciting and dynamic position that can shift daily as trends in cybersecurity do. The career remains fresh as you’ll see new things daily and you'll know you're helping organizations stay secure. It can be challenging at times with the demands on time. Threat actors never sleep and you may work late nights, weekends, or holidays if there is an incident to respond to.What type of person does well in this role?
A person with analytical skills. Someone who can detect anomalies in data and have the drive to hunt down why they're there. It may be something legitimate happening, or potentially something malicious. Also a person who can be flexible with their time.Who does this role help? How does this role impact others?
This role helps organizations understand threats they may face and detect intrusion within their organization. The intelligence found will support the general cybersecurity community along with clients and their own organization.Why do we need more information security analysts?
Cybersecurity attacks are still increasing and technology will always have vulnerabilities. It takes dedicated security analysts to help protect clients and organizations worldwide.What next-level roles can information security analysts take on?
Security Analysts can specialize in roles that may assist with incident response, threat intelligence, or move into management roles with those teams.
The Job Hunt
To find the first job of your information security analyst career, look at job fairs, annual conferences, professional group networking events, and online job boards. Ask mentors, former work or internship supervisors, and professors for recommendations and leads on security analyst openings.
Most universities have career development centers where students and recent graduates can get help finding a job. Common services include resume-writing help, mock interviews, and professional development training and workshops.
Consult the popular online job boards below for information security analyst postings.
Questions About Information Security Analysts
What skills do you need to be an information security analyst?
Information security analysts need excellent analytical, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. They also need tech knowledge in security, networking, and incident response and reporting.
How do I become a security analyst?
Security analysts typically earn a bachelor's degree and gain professional experience to qualify for entry-level jobs. Completing a cybersecurity bootcamp is another route into the field. Completing optional professional certifications can also lead to more security analyst positions.
Do you need a degree to be a cybersecurity analyst?
Most security analyst positions require at least a four-year bachelor's degree in information technology and computers or a related field. Some employers let workers substitute experience for education requirements. Completing a cybersecurity bootcamp may qualify graduates for more advanced positions.
Are cybersecurity jobs boring?
Information security analyst careers require skills that evolve alongside new cyberthreats and emerging technologies. Like any career, some aspects of cybersecurity jobs can be repetitive or boring, like documenting information or going to meetings.
Born and raised in upstate New York, Brian Nichols began his IT education through a vocational high school where he focused on computer science, IT fundamentals, and networking. Brian then went to his local community college, where he received his associate of science in computer information science. He then received his bachelor of science in applied networking and system administration from a private college. Brian now lives in Kansas City, where he works full-time as a DevOps engineer. Brian is also a part-time instructor in cybersecurity. He's passionate about cybersecurity and helping students succeed. Brian Nichols is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.
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