A single cyber security breach affecting a company’s data can cost a business millions. As a result, companies are searching for cybersecurity professionals capable of analyzing, optimizing, and enhancing their security strategies.
If you’re interested in security and technology, then pursuing a role as a cybersecurity analyst could be an incredible opportunity since there is a great demand for cybersecurity analysts in the market.
In this post, you’ll learn about the role of cybersecurity analyst, what it involves, and how you can dive into this career path.
What is a Cybersecurity Analyst?
Cybersecurity analysts are responsible for protecting a company’s network, software, and hardware from attacks and unauthorized access.
They create contingency plans, review suspicious activities on a company’s network, report on security breaches, and guide other professionals in cybersecurity best practices.
At small companies, cybersecurity analysts are often involved in a range of cybersecurity related tasks.
However, at bigger organizations, these professionals often specialize in one area as part of a comprehensive security team.
What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do?
The exact responsibilities of a cybersecurity analyst can vary from company to company.
Mainly, these professionals are required to plan, evaluate, and implement security measures that protect organizations from breaches.
Using intelligent technology, many cybersecurity analysts monitor networks and servers consistently to ensure assets remain safe. They also work rapidly to secure and preserve data in the event of an attack.
Some of the most common tasks of a cybersecurity analyst include:
- Monitoring networks: Examining and monitoring networks, watching for any potential suspicious activities or attacks.
- Managing software: Installing, managing, and updating security software, such as encryptions and firewalls.
- Testing security systems: Performing vulnerability testing, penetration testing, and risk analysis to evaluate and update security measures.
- Preparing reports: Writing and sharing detailed incident reports, ensuring cybersecurity guidelines are in place, and reporting on security breaches.
- Educating employees: Providing other employees with step-by-step guidance on how to use security tools and adhere to safety standards.
- Conducting threat research: Learning about the latest threats in the digital landscape and presenting insights to business leaders and IT teams.
- Fixing vulnerabilities: Examining firewalls, encryption programs, and other tools for potential vulnerabilities and implementing improvements.
How to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst Without Experience
- Start By Self Studying
- Get a Related Degree
- Obtain a Cybersecurity Certification
- Learn Python Programming
- Practice Cybersecurity Skills
- Apply for Internships or Entry-Level Positions
- Get an Advanced Cybersecurity Certification
- Apply for Cybersecurity Analyst Positions
1. Start By Self Studying
To become a cybersecurity analyst, professionals need an extensive knowledge of the cybersecurity and threat landscape. You’ll need to understand how computer systems, operating systems, and networks operate.
If you’re completely new to the field, you’ll need to develop an understanding of some of the key techniques professionals use to protect data, such as:
- The CIA triad: The Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability model outlines the three most crucial elements of an effective security model. Confidentiality looks at the rules that restrict access to information, integrity ensures the accuracy of the information, and availability ensures people who need to access the data can use it.
- Risk management: Professionals in the cybersecurity landscape need to be able to identify risks and manage them rapidly. Risk management techniques will teach you how to find, analyze, monitor, and potentially fix security risks.
- Security control: Security control describes the measures companies use to determine effective ways of protecting the integrity and confidentiality of data in a business ecosystem.
- Threat and vulnerability assessment: This refers to the techniques companies use to identify vulnerabilities and high-risk areas in a company’s network or ecosystem.
- Recovery: Recovery refers to the various procedures used to restore data that has been damaged, compromised, or lost due to a system failure or attack.
You’ll also need a comprehensive knowledge of basic data and network security strategies.
You can learn more about each of these concepts by taking online courses, examining free resources, downloading Ebooks, and following professionals in the cybersecurity space.
2. Get a Related Degree
Most companies will prefer to work with cybersecurity analysts that have at least a bachelor’s degree in information security or related fields.
Although it is possible to work your way up to a cybersecurity role, starting in an entry-level IT position, you’ll generally accomplish more with a degree in your field.
Depending on your career goals and any areas of specialization you might be interested in, you could consider getting a degree in information technology (IT), computer science, computer programming, network administration, or computer science.
You may also choose to specialize in specific areas, such as:
- Cloud Security
- Penetration testing
- Endpoint protection
- Data loss prevention
- Incident response
- Forensic analysis
- Application security
- Network defense
- Critical infrastructure security
According to Zippia, around 61% of cybersecurity analysts have a bachelor’s degree and earn an average of $88,780 per year with that degree.
3. Obtain a Cybersecurity Certification
Alongside a degree in an IT or security related field, a certification specific to cybersecurity can be extremely useful if you want to increase your employment opportunities.
Cybersecurity certifications can also offer behind-the-scenes insights into leveraging different cybersecurity methodologies, tools, and tactics.
There are numerous options available to consider. For beginners, the Google Cybersecurity Professional certificate covers everything from how to implement security controls and identify risks to how to use solutions like SQL, Python, and Linux to perform security tasks.
Other excellent options for beginners and intermediate-level professionals include:
- Cisco’s CCNA certification: Cisco’s CCNA certification covers networking fundamentals, IP services, automation, programmability, and more. Earning this certificate shows you have the skills required to optimize advanced networks.
- CompTIA Security+: The CompTIA security certification highlights your ability to thrive in a professional role related to cybersecurity. You’ll learn how to assess the security of an organization and monitor and secure IT environments.
- Certified Ethical Hacker: The CEH certification teaches students how to “lawfully” hack organizations to uncover potential threats. You’ll learn how to look for vulnerabilities in a target system and to assist in protecting business assets.
- CISSP: The Certified Information Systems Security Professional certificate shows you know hot to design, implement, and monitor a cybersecurity program. You’ll need at least five or more years of work experience before taking the CISSP exam.
4. Learn Python Programming
A knowledge of programming can be extremely useful to professionals in the cybersecurity space. As a cybersecurity analyst, you’ll need to know how to protect digital technologies from malicious attacks in the cloud, mobile networks, and more.
Hackers generally use Python to write hacking scripts, exploits, and malicious programs, so understanding how Python works is crucial. You’ll also need to understand how to implement automated security practices using coding and programming methodologies.
With Python training, you can learn how to create automation codes that allow you to monitor networks and technology in real-time and implement fixes rapidly.
There are various fantastic Python courses available to beginners online, such as the Google IT Automation with Python certificate or the Complete Python Bootcamp from Udemy.
Using these courses, you’ll be able to learn how to use Python successfully as a security expert, and you’ll be able to experiment with coding strategies.
5. Practice Cybersecurity Skills
Practice is essential to a cybersecurity professional. The more time you spend evaluating risks and implementing strategies to mitigate attacks, the more efficient you’ll become.
There are various excellent resources you can use to gain hands-on experience.
Platforms like Hack The Box or TryHackMe offer an opportunity to gain practical experience in identifying and mitigating potential threats. These platforms offer access to simulated environments where you can safely hone your skills.
You can also consider competing in hackathons or joining community forums where you can practice skills related to:
- Intrusion detection: Monitoring networks, using SIEMs, and conducting event log analysis tasks related to potential intrusion issues.
- Endpoint management: Using technology to secure multiple endpoints such as smartphones, computers, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
- Network security: Monitoring and understanding how networks work and implementing strategies to keep networks secure against unauthorized access.
- Data security: leveraging encryption tools, transmission controls, and internet protocols to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility for data.
6. Apply for Internships or Entry-Level Positions
Once you’ve developed the skills required to thrive in a cybersecurity analyst role, the next step is seeking out an entry-level role.
Entry-level positions will allow you to develop your hands-on experience further and build a powerful professional network.
You can explore internships and entry-level roles related to both cybersecurity and Information Technology. You might look for roles in IT support, network administration, or system administration to help strengthen your skillset.
As you’re searching for an entry-level role, it’s worth going beyond general job sites like LinkedIn and Indeed to examine forums related specifically to cybersecurity. Platforms like NinjaJobs are excellent for cybersecurity professionals.
Look for roles with on-the-job training where possible, so you can continue to build on your resume and impress future employers.
7. Get an Advanced Cybersecurity Certification
While the initial cybersecurity certificates mentioned above can be extremely beneficial to beginners in this field, it’s also a good idea to look into more advanced certifications.
Higher-paying roles will generally require more in-depth certifications, such as:
- CISA: The Certified Information Systems Auditor certification, issued by the ISACA is a globally recognized certification that validates your skills in auditing, controlling, and securing information systems and networks.
- CISM: With the Certified Information Security Manager certification, you can showcase your expertise in the management side of information security, experimenting with governance, program development, and risk management.
- OSCP: The Offensive Security Certified Professional certification is one of the most sought-after accreditations for penetration testers. It demonstrates your ability to use exploitation strategies and produce reports related to different types of attacks.
Keep in mind, some of these certifications may require you to have a few years of on-the-job experience before you can apply for an examination.
8. Apply for Cybersecurity Analyst Positions
Finally, you’ll be ready to start applying for positions as a cybersecurity analyst.
Before you start reaching out to potential employers, it’s a good idea to build a comprehensive portfolio where you can demonstrate your skills and abilities to employers.
Work on hackathons and participate in cybersecurity-related groups online to highlight your skills. Once you have your portfolio, ensure you’re prepared for the interview process.
Some employers will require applicants to complete technical tasks as part of an initial assessment. It’s worth researching the tools and operating systems the business uses before you go to the interview to ensure you’re prepared.
You can find Cybersecurity Analyst roles on well-known job boards like Indeed, or you can search for “Analyst” positions on LinkedIn. Keep in mind the job title may vary depending on where you choose to apply. Look for titles such as:
- Senior cybersecurity analyst
- Cybersecurity analyst
- SOC analyst
- Junior cyber security analyst
- Information security analyst
How Much Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Earn?
The average income of a cybersecurity analyst can vary depending on your level of experience, your location, and the tasks you’ll be responsible for.
According to Glassdoor, in 2023, the average income for a cybersecurity analyst in 2023 was approximately $96,727 per year.
Salary.com suggests the entry-level income for a cybersecurity analyst is around $76,258 per year, with higher income available for those with more experience or those in senior roles.
According to PayScale, beginners in the cybersecurity analyst landscape can earn around $80,145 per year.
Is Cybersecurity Analyst a Good Job?
A role as a cybersecurity analyst can be a highly lucrative and fulfilling career. Professionals in this industry have the potential to make a significant amount of money, protecting companies and their assets from digital attacks.
There’s even an opportunity to create a business of your own, working as a freelance analyst, cybersecurity auditor, or consultant.
As a cybersecurity professional, you’ll be one of the most valuable resources in any business, ensuring a company’s crucial assets remain secure.
However, this fast-paced role can also be stressful at times. It’s important to ensure you can adapt quickly to different potential threats in the digital landscape without being overwhelmed.
If you have an analytical mindset and are willing to keep expanding on your education and knowledge, a role as a cybersecurity analyst could be ideal for you.