How To Become a Cyber Security Analyst (Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 December 2022

Published 4 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Cyber security analysts are quickly becoming invaluable assets to companies as our reliance on technology grows and the hackers' methods become more complex and advanced. These analysts play an important role in preventing security breaches and protecting the IT infrastructure of organisations. Learning what this role involves can help you determine if it's the right career for you. In this article, we describe what IT security is, outline how to become a cyber security analyst, explore what the common duties are and list the key skills that can help you succeed in this field.

Related: 10 Valuable Cyber Security Certifications (And Requirements)

How to become a cyber security analyst

The requirements may vary depending on the type of organisation and position you apply for. These are the general steps you can take:

1. Earn a relevant degree

Typically, employers ask candidates to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. They usually prefer candidates to hold a degree in cyber security, but it's also possible for you to achieve this career if you choose a relevant degree, such as computer science, mathematics, software engineering or information technology. A bachelor's degree takes approximately three to four years to complete.

You may also consider pursuing an advanced degree. This can help you improve your future earning potential, increase your expertise and provide you with a competitive advantage. This usually takes about one to two years to complete. It's advisable to choose a master's degree in information security or cyber security.

Related: Is the CASP+ Certification Worth It? (With Tips and FAQ)

2. Obtain experience

The next step is to gain professional experience that's relevant to the field of cyber security. It's beneficial to do so because it develops your practical knowledge and many employers ask candidates to have a certain level of experience before applying. You may consider finding an entry-level IT job. Alternatively, you can complete an internship in a related field. Both are excellent opportunities for you to develop your skills, grow your network and boost your CV.

Related: What Is the Importance of an Internship?

3. Gain certification

There are many relevant certifications in existence. Therefore, it's important to consider several factors before choosing one. Contemplate if it helps you along your chosen career path, if it's affordable and if the timeline suits your personal schedule. It's also important to remember that some courses have specific prerequisites for participants.

It's recommended that you become certified because of the numerous advantages that follow. For example, it helps you prove to your employer that you have up-to-date knowledge and skills, increases your level of specialised education and shows your commitment to your profession.

Related: What IT Certifications Should I Get?

What is cyber security?

With the expansion of technology, the field of IT security is relatively new. It involves identifying potential risks and protecting networks and computer systems. The aim is to protect the client's data from cyber-related crimes.

Cyber security analysts safeguard a company's electronic data, hardware and software from damage, theft or information leakage carried out by cybercriminals. They're important because they ensure an organisation can continue to operate by minimising the number of times the system freezes or crashes, protecting against hackers and preventing malicious softwares, such as viruses, spyware or worms. Clients can use these security analysts for everything from protecting the privacy of emails to safeguarding national secrets. They can find work with a large variety of employers, including:

  • Law firms

  • Hospitals

  • Government agencies

  • Consulting firms

  • Private companies

Related: 21 Best Technology Jobs To Choose With Salaries and Duties

5 recommended certifications for cyber security analysts

These are some of the certifications you may choose to pursue:

1. The EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker Certification

This certification teaches you how to find and fix weaknesses in a network. It prepares you for your future career by training you to think like a hacker. This allows you to predict and prevent potential cyber attacks. It requires participants to have a minimum of two years experience in the information technology industry.

Related: What Is Ethical Hacking? (With Examples and Types of Hacker)

2. Certified Security Analyst Training

This programme teaches participants how to design and conduct penetration tests. Analysts use these tests to protect a company's IT infrastructure by identifying and reducing security risks. It's recommended that participants first complete the Ethical Hacker Certification before joining this course.

Related: How To Become a Penetration Tester: Role, Skills and FAQs

3. CompTIA's Security+

This certification is highly recommended because it provides participants with foundational knowledge. Students gain an insight into key aspects of security, such as cryptography and risk management. They learn how to perform threat analyses and how to secure applications, networks and devices. There are no specific prerequisites for joining this programme.

4. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

This in-depth certification is especially recommended for security consultants and government employees. It teaches professional ethics and cryptography. It also teaches participants how to investigate cyber threats and mitigate vulnerabilities. CISSP requires students to have at least five years of related professional experience.

5. CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)

This programme provides specialised training for IT professionals who want to become security analysts. It teaches students how to carry out the various tasks related to this career, including how to secure a company's systems, analyse threat data and identify vulnerabilities. It has no specific requirements for participants who wish to join.

What does a cyber security analyst do?

The analyst's primary role is to have an in-depth understanding of a specific company's IT infrastructure. Their work consists of constantly monitoring the network and evaluating what potential threats may breach the system. Their common duties and responsibilities include:

  • Creating contingency plans in case of cyber attacks

  • Simulating security breaches through ethical hacking

  • Identifying potential threats and weaknesses

  • Implementing protective measures, such as firewalls

  • Monitoring the company's system

  • Conducting investigations into security alerts and breaches

  • Writing reports for technical staff and laypersons

  • Keeping informed of the latest developments in cyber security

  • Researching emerging threats

  • Evaluating different security products

  • Giving advice to staff about security issues, such as phishing and spam

  • Securing the servers and the users' privacy

What is the work environment like for cyber security analysts?

The work environment can change depending on the employer. The position is usually full time, although some companies offer more flexible arrangements. Depending on the nature of your job, your employer may require you to work outside of normal office hours. It's also possible for you to choose to work on a self-employed basis or through a recruitment agency. If you provide consulting services, you may travel around the country to work with different clients.

What are the necessary skills?

These are some of the key skills you can develop if you want to succeed in this line of work:

Technical knowledge

It's vital that you have exceptional IT skills. This includes having a strong understanding of information technology, software, hardware and web-based systems. Furthermore, you can develop your technical knowledge by improving your ability to troubleshoot and assess vulnerabilities.

Communication

Having strong written and verbal communication skills allows you to convey complex information to non-technical staff. This is especially important when you're advising a business on how to improve their safeguards or training the staff on how to avoid security issues. Actively listening to the questions and concerns your coworkers or clients may raise helps you explain yourself in a clear manner. Your written communication skills can help you when generating technical reports.

Related: 10 Important Social Skills To Have (Definition and Examples)

Time management

Your workload can fluctuate and may be especially heavy at times. Having the ability to manage your time allows you to work well under pressure. This is a particularly valuable skill to have when you're handling threats or security breaches.

Attention to detail

Security analysts hold positions of great responsibility because they're in charge of protecting the company from cyber attacks. Therefore, it's necessary that you're able to pay excellent attention to detail. Cyber threats can be difficult to detect and foresee so it's important to be thorough in your work.

Innovation

Developing your creativity can allow you to solve existing security issues and predict future threats. You can use your innovation to keep your strategies up to date throughout your career. This is crucial as hackers become more advanced in the methods they use to target organisations.

Average salary for cyber security analysts

The average salary of a cyber security analyst is $86,377 per year. This can change depending on their level of experience, education, certification and the seniority of their position. The type of employer and geographic location can also influence their salary. Common benefits include:

  • Medical insurance

  • Paid vacation days

  • Sick leave

  • Dental insurance

  • Retirement benefits

  • Bonuses

Related careers

You may find the following related careers interesting:

  • Software engineer

  • Network engineer

  • IT consultant

  • Computer scientist

  • System administrator

  • Backend developer

  • Information security analyst

  • Computer systems analyst

  • Penetration tester

  • Cyber crime investigator

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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