How to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst (Including FAQs)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 24, 2022
Published December 1, 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.
If you have exceptional analytical and troubleshooting skills, a career as a cybersecurity analyst may interest you. These professionals implement security measures to help protect a company's computer systems and networks. Learning more about the skills and education required for a cybersecurity analyst may help you find a job in this emerging field. In this article, we discuss how to become a cyber security analyst and answer frequently asked questions to help you decide whether this career suits your interests and skill set.
Steps on how to become a cybersecurity analyst
If you're generally interested in the information technology (IT) and cybersecurity fields but still not quite sure where to start, you can follow these steps on how to become a cybersecurity analyst:
1. Complete a diploma or degree program
To become a cybersecurity analyst, you may first complete a degree or diploma program at a university or college. Cybersecurity courses can teach you how to implement cyber security measures, design network infrastructures, provide technical support for computer systems, and stop hackers from invading computer systems.
You can expect to spend around two to four years in college or university to receive the qualifications to prepare you for this career. Gaining experience in the field quickly can help you attain more offers for promotions if you can impress employers with your educational progress and experience.
2. Develop relevant skills
To prepare to excel in your role as a cybersecurity analyst, you can develop skills like attention to detail, logical thinking, and problem-solving. These skills can help you analyze and address potential threats quickly. The job may require you to work under pressure, so being able to prioritize tasks and handle multiple projects at one time can be helpful. Strong communication skills are also typically important for excelling in this type of career, as analysts may need to explain complicated cybersecurity concepts to clients of various experience levels.
3. Select a specialization that interests you
To excel as a cybersecurity analyst, it's important to focus on a specialization that engages you. For instance, if you want to work for a law enforcement agency, you may specialize in tracking cyber criminals. If you enjoy working with computers and understanding how they work on a technical level, you can focus on how malware spreads and infects systems.
4. Consider a volunteer role
Volunteering with organizations that focus on information technology can help you build your resume and gain valuable insight into how companies operate. For instance, if you want to specialize in encryption technologies, you may volunteer for an agency that protects personal data or that transfers large amounts of data requiring encryption. Both part-time and full-time volunteer positions can help you gain relevant experience and cybersecurity knowledge.
5. Consider an internship
If you're in college or university, you can also complete an internship to gain practical experience. By completing such an internship, you can improve your resume and demonstrate how passionate you are about pursuing this career path. If you're already working full-time but want to change careers, you can search for companies that may allow you to complete internships on your own time, such as during the evenings or weekends.
6. Gain cyber security job certifications
To impress prospective employers and demonstrate your skill set, you can also complete a cyber security job certification before or after your college or university education. Certification programs typically take anywhere between a few days to a year and require you to complete a series of courses. You can sometimes complete these remotely on your own time. Some certification programs include an exam to pass before you can receive your certification. Certifications can show both that you're an accomplished cybersecurity professional and that you're determined to continue learning about the field and improving your skill set.
7. Apply for relevant roles
Prepare your resume and cover letter and begin applying for roles. You can seek entry-level jobs first to learn more about the industry from experienced professionals and advance your career. If you want to improve your performance in interviews, you can continue learning about the industry either on your own or by talking to professionals. Preparing for interviews by practicing answers to common interview questions can help you showcase how well-suited you are to this career path.
If you have experience in another field but want to transition into a cybersecurity analyst position, you may discuss this in your cover letter or resume. Showing prospective employers your passion for this field and how much effort and time you typically give to your work can increase your chances of receiving an offer.
8. Obtain relevant work experience
Many employers prefer to hire cybersecurity analysts with some relevant experience in the field. For example, if you want to specialize in malware analysis, you can gain experience with dissecting computer code and figuring out how it works. As you gain more experience in the field, you may also pursue higher-level jobs as a cybersecurity specialist. You can also complete an internship that allows you to gain practical knowledge of how the industry operates.
FAQs about how to become a cybersecurity analyst
Here are some common questions that emerging cybersecurity analyst professionals often have:
Can I work overseas once I'm established in my career?
Due to how cybersecurity is expanding globally, there are often many opportunities for professionals who want to work overseas. For instance, if you are in the IT industry and want to pursue international work, you can use your skills to help international or overseas-based companies protect their computer systems and networks. Some of these companies set up offices in multiple countries, while others may offer opportunities for employees to transfer to other locations.
How can I continue learning new aspects of cybersecurity?
Continuing education can help cybersecurity professionals gain new skills and diversify their current skill set. For instance, you could earn a master's degree in information security or take part in an executive program offered by cybersecurity organizations. Such programs can offer you access to industry-leading experience and practical knowledge from other students. Many of these courses also offer career coaching that can help prepare you for the job search and interview process after graduation.
What are the day-to-day responsibilities of a cybersecurity analyst?
One of the main duties of a security analyst is to identify how hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in the organization. You may also hire a cybersecurity analyst to help prevent malware attacks within your own network. It's important for you to update software applications and hardware regularly to help ensure they remain secure. If there are problems with an application affecting how the network operates, you may seek to find a solution that allows these components to cooperate more efficiently. Another common responsibility is to keep detailed records of daily incidents.
Where do cybersecurity analysts work?
Some common industries where professionals typically find jobs are computer system design services, software publishers, data processing services, colleges, universities, and government facilities. Cybersecurity analyst jobs are also often available in research and development firms, advertising agencies, engineering services firms, and manufacturing companies. Some analysts may decide to work as self-employed service providers.
What's a typical day like?
A cybersecurity analyst may work variable hours, depending on their company's customer service policies. Some professionals start their day by checking messages and emails related to the projects they're working on. After attending meetings with team members and taking detailed notes, they may return to working on specific tasks for several more hours.
Cybersecurity analysts also review how effective their current solutions are and how much risk those solutions add to each system or network in the organization. For example, some employees may focus on creating software patches to fix vulnerabilities in systems, while other analysts may focus more on how to improve current processes within a set budget.
How do I become a cybersecurity analyst without a degree?
You may be able to find work as a cybersecurity analyst with at least a diploma or certificate in cybersecurity. You can begin by choosing a source of practical experience to put on your resume when applying for a job. Your cover letter and the role's application process are both important opportunities to highlight how your previous work experiences relates to the position you're seeking.
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