As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the world of cybersecurity becomes more and more important to organizations. In fact, the cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity – particularly cybersecurity analysts. But how do you land this coveted position? Here is your guide to having a stimulating and lucrative future as a cybersecurity analyst.
How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst
First things first: what is a cybersecurity analyst? These individuals are IT professionals who specialize in web security for various organizations. A cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity, you’ll have to get a college degree. While some companies may hire cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity analyst. But don’t jump just yet – your educational journey isn’t quite finished. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, most cybersecurity professionals earn certifications in their specific field within the IT industry.
Common certifications for cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity analyst, you’ll be more than ready.
Important Skills to Have as a Cyber Security Analyst
Cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity analyst, make sure you hone the following skills:
Programming and Coding
Most IT positions require some knowledge of programming or code writing, but cybersecurity 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.
Cybersecurity 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 Linux). 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 cybersecurity analysts do involve small details. A single mistake in a line of code can lead to a massive security vulnerability – and it’s the analyst’s job to find that single character and correct it. Therefore, cybersecurity analysts must be incredibly focused and detail-oriented.
In addition to spotting tiny details in a vast cyber network, cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity analyst. But to reach that goal, you’ll need to be educated, certified, and experienced. Cybersecurity training will help you learn the tools, techniques, and procedures to be an effective cybersecurity 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.
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