Your bank transactions, your family’s medical history, an organization's financial records — all of these exist in the form of data that is stored somewhere out there in the digital web. And this data is in desperate need of protection.
"The bargain we strike is that being so open & connected makes us vulnerable."
“The bargain we strike is that being so open and connected makes us vulnerable,” says Peter Nguyen, technical services director at LightCyber. In this digital age, we are easily compromised.
The good news is there are professionals waging wars behind-the-screen to ensure our national and personal data is kept safe and secure. But the demand for these experts is growing and positions are becoming harder to fill.
Maybe you know you want to join this fight or perhaps you’re just curious about what it takes. In any case, if you’re at all interested in how to become an information security analyst or what the position entails, you came to the right place! Read on for the answers to all of your questions.
What does it take to be an information security analyst?
In-demand skills needed:
Information security (InfoSec) professionals, sometimes referred to as cyber security professionals, must possess a handful of technical skills. But with so many different techniques and software out there, it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts.
We used real-time job analysis software to examine nearly 115,000 information security job postings from the past year.1 The data helped us identify the top 10 technical skills employers are seeking. Here’s what we found:
- Network security
- Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA)
- Information assurance
- Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)
- System & network configuration
But it takes more than technical skills to succeed as an InfoSec analyst. Employers are looking for candidates who possess a healthy balance of hard and soft skills to get the job done properly.
Our analysis also revealed the importance of critical thinking and complex problem solving skills. InfoSec analysts should also be effective communicators who employ active listening skills, because they often interact with various members of the company and must explain complex information in a simple way.
Education & experience needed:
Don’t be intimidated by the list of skills highlighted above. InfoSec analysts are responsible for very complex, technical tasks, which is why undergoing a formal education is so critical. These are precisely the skills and proficiencies you’ll master in an cyber security degree program.
Our analysis indicated that 86 percent of employers are seeking candidates who have at least a bachelor’s degree.1 Having some sort of work experience under your belt is also a plus. When your job is to secure the data and information systems company’s rely on, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding to build on.
In the tech world, certifications are sort of a badge of approval. It’s another way to prove you’re ready and equipped for the job at hand. Here are the three certifications in highest demand for InfoSec analysts:1
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
What should you expect as an information security analyst?
Typical job duties:Information security analysts must always be ready to adapt to an evolving digital world in order to stay a step ahead of cybercriminals. In doing so, they are responsible for a variety of tasks.
Here’s a look at a few common job duties, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- Monitoring networks for security breaches and investigating when one is detected
- Installing and maintaining software to protect sensitive information
- Simulating attacks to identify potential areas of vulnerability
- Develop security standards and best practices for the company
You’ll also be expected to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technology in order to develop professionally and recommend security advancements for your organization.
You’re probably wondering if acquiring the education, experience and certificates is worth it. Well the compensation may be enough to convince you. The BLS reports the median annual salary for InfoSec analysts in 2014 at $88,890.2 That’s more than twice the national average for all occupations!
But keep in mind that your salary range will depend on your education, experience and the sector in which you’re working. Top-tier InfoSec analysts are earning upwards of $140,000 annually, according to the BLS.
As cyberattacks continue to grow in frequency and attackers become more sophisticated, the demand for InfoSec analysts remains high. The BLS projects positions will grow at the much-faster-than-average rate of 18 percent through 2024. The predicted areas of highest opportunity for InfoSec analysts are the federal government and the healthcare field.
Securing your future
Now you have a better understanding of how to become an information security analyst and what you can expect in the field. Do you feel compelled to join the fight against cybercrime? If so, it’s time to start preparing yourself to qualify for one of those coveted positions.
Learn more about how a degree can help get you there: Is a Cyber Security Degree Worth it? The Facts You Can’t Ignore.
1 Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 114,496 information security analyst job postings, Mar. 01, 2015 – Feb. 29, 2016)
2 Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.