As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the world of cyber security becomes more and more important to organizations. In fact, the cyber security industry is expected to see a 10.6% compound annual growth rate over the next decade, reaching a market share of over $199 billion by 2025.
With the industry poised for such a meteoric rise, it should not be surprising that many young professionals are seeking careers in cyber security – particularly as cyber security analysts. But how do you land this coveted position? Here is your guide to having a stimulating and lucrative future as a cyber security analyst.
How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst
First things first: what is a cyber security analyst? These individuals are IT professionals who specialize in web security for various organizations. A cyber security analyst monitors a company’s network and searches for vulnerabilities, learns about various threats from online hackers and viruses, and designs and implements security measures to protect the network from those threats.
Working as a cyber security analyst can be a great career for anyone interested in technology and digital safety. But to land one of these jobs, you’ll have to go through a long journey of education, certification, and work experience.
Step One: Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
If you want to work in cyber security, you’ll have to get a college degree. While some companies may hire cyber security professionals who have an associate’s degree or lower, the vast majority of employers want to hire individuals who at least have a bachelor’s.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, computer engineering, or any other related field is your best choice if you want to pursue the cyber security industry. In these programs, you’ll be able to learn and fine-tune the skills you’ll need for success on the job.
Step Two: Specialize with Certifications
Once you walk across that stage and get your college degree, you may think you’re ready to jump into the role of cyber security analyst. But don’t jump just yet – your educational journey isn’t quite finished. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, most cyber security professionals earn certifications in their specific field within the IT industry.
Common certifications for cyber security analysts include:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
- GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)
Getting these certifications can be time-consuming and expensive, but keep in mind that they are necessary to becoming a cyber security analyst. If you want to succeed, you’ll need to pay attention during your training and study hard for those certification exams.
Step Three: Get Experience in IT
Classroom instruction is an invaluable part of your cyber security career path. The classes you take in college will teach you important concepts relevant to digital security, as well as the technical skills you’ll need to use daily in your future work. However, there is no substitute for real-world training – and that is why many employers hire IT candidates with experience.
Luckily, this is one step you can do concurrently with steps one and two. A part-time internship while you’re getting your bachelor’s degree can be extremely useful (and look good to both your professors and future employers), and an entry-level IT position can be a great place to cut your teeth while getting certified to be a cyber security analyst.
Step Four: Work Your Way Up
This step is simultaneously the easiest and hardest one. At this point, all you can do is work hard until the right opportunity arises. For some, this might be frustrating; after all, they want to be a cyber security analyst, not an entry-level IT worker!
While it may be hard for impatient professionals, this is an important part of your career path. Working in lower-level positions gives you ample opportunities to fine-tune your skills, which is critical in an ever-evolving industry like IT. If you work hard and learn as much as possible, you’ll attract the attention of managers and colleagues – and when it does come time for you to become a cyber security analyst, you’ll be more than ready.
Important Skills to Have as a Cyber Security Analyst
Cyber security analysts have an important role within their organizations, and that role is only becoming more important as the years go on. It is vital that these professionals are the best of the best, possessing all the necessary skills to properly perform their jobs.
But what exactly ARE these requirements? If you want to be a cyber security analyst, make sure you hone the following skills:
Programming and Coding
Most IT positions require some knowledge of programming or code writing, but cyber security analysts need to be experts at this skill. These professionals often must write security measures into a company’s network to protect the system from threats – and the code they write must be effective against hackers and other digital bad actors.
Cyber security analysts must have a working knowledge of programming languages like C, C++, PHP, Perl, and Java. They also need to have a solid understanding of many operating systems (especially iOs, Windows, and Lunux). This knowledge is the foundation on which their entire career is based, so it’s best to learn as much about programming as you can.
Attention to Detail
A lot of the work cyber security analysts does involve small details. A single mistake in a line of code can to lead to a massive security vulnerability – and it’s the analyst’s job to find that single character and correct it. Therefore, cyber security analysts must be incredibly focused and detail oriented.
In addition to spotting tiny details in a vast cyber network, cyber security analysts must be able to process these details and use them to make smart security decisions for their organization. Analysts should be analytical and forward-thinking, always keeping abreast of potential threats that could attack their network. This will help them design innovative security programs that protect their companies from data hacks, viruses, and other digital security nightmares.
Any individual who loves computers, coding, and security would love working as a cyber security analyst. But to reach that goal, you’ll need to be educated, certified, and experienced. Cyber security training will help you learn the tools, techniques and procedures to be an effective cyber security analyst and advance in your career.
Glenn Mabry is a senior Instructor / Security Researcher for Advanced Security. With over twenty years in intel and cybersecurity with both the public and private sectors, Glenn has a passion for cybersecurity. Glenn teaches cybersecurity topics such as Cloud Security, Exploitation and Penetration Testing. Advanced Security is a cybersecurity training network that gives the industry’s top Subject Matter Experts the ability to showcase their skills and learners the advantage of staying ahead of the extremely fast-paced industry.