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How To Become A Cyber Security Analyst: Degree and Career Guide
Security is a major component of life. We lock our doors and keep our homes safe; we try to keep our loved ones and our possessions safe. Because we wouldn't compromise our safety and security in the real world, what makes the digital world any different?
In fact, our digital data needs to be protected, especially when you consider how much of our lives are stored on our phones and our computers and that these days, even most of our financial transactions are done online or on our devices.
The cyber and digital world has certainly given us multiple benefits, but with those benefits also come security threats. Often, as individuals, we are targeted, whether through our online and digital financial applications, our data being targeted, or our social media being hacked. If this happens to us as individuals, one can only imagine the risks that large organizations face.
It is for that reason that cyber security analysts have been employed to play an important role in preventing and mitigating cyber-attacks, specifically for large organizations that may hold sensitive client data and much more.
To become a cyber security analyst, you would first need to earn your bachelor's degree, then you would need to complete an internship or gain some direct industry-related experience, work toward the appropriate qualifications, and then pursue an entry-level position.
Let us take a closer look at this career path and let us look, in closer detail, at the steps you would need to take to become a successful cybersecurity analyst.
What Is A Cyber Security Analyst?
At its most basic form, a cybersecurity analyst is brought on board to keep the digital data of an organization safe. As an individual, you wouldn't really need a cyber security analyst because, on such a small scale, you can implement security protocols on your own personal data yourself, making you the cyber security analyst of your own life.
However, in a large corporation, you need someone to take control and handle all threats, potential threats, security breaches, defects in security, flaws, and weak points within a company's digital system. You will be responsible for managing and monitoring a company's digital programs, native and downloaded applications, security systems, and networks.
Whether or not cyber security analysts have found any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in an organization's cyber systems, they will have to find ways of improving or enhancing the existing systems to form preventative measures as well.
They need to be able to successfully enhance an organization's digital infrastructure, and while most functions would be preventative, in some cases, if breaches and hacks do take place, they would need to take an aggressive approach to retrieve and secure the data that was compromised.
Overall, cyber security analysts prevent companies from falling victim to cyber-attacks, finding compromised points or kinks in the shield.
But this is not an easy job to do because the cyber and the digital space is not a tangible thing. It is unseen and defending something that is unseen is not as simple as placing a wall around your home. Therefore, a cyber security analyst will need to be extremely skilled at pre-emptively securing a digital space.
Why Are Cyber Security Analysts Important?
Aside from the type of sensitive data and financial data that many organizations may hold, if a digital security breach is faced, it could result in loss of business, and it could greatly tarnish an organization's reputation meaning that the company could lose money.
It is for that reason that security analysts are required to keep businesses in operation.
Steps To Become A Cyber Security Analyst
Step One: Obtain Your Qualification
The first step of every specialist or niche career journey starts by getting the appropriate degree in the field. This qualifies you for jobs in the field and equips you with the skills and acknowledgment that you need to be successful in the role.
To become a cyber security analyst, you would need to work toward your bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, information technology (IT), or computer science. You would need to consider taking coursework that would lean more toward program and security programs for you to be successful in this career path.
Step Two: Gain Experience
While having theoretical and academic knowledge is extremely important, you also need to pursue direct experience to learn how to appropriately apply your knowledge and skills in a practical setting. You could pursue this experience through an internship while you are studying, or you could wait to complete your degree before pursuing an internship. You could also consider an entry-level role after completing your degree to get hands-on experience.
Having this exposure to the field will allow you to learn from people who are experienced in the field and you have the opportunity to acquire skills from them that you wouldn't normally learn from an academic sphere.
Step Three: Gain Certification and Credentials
You can then consider pursuing a certificate that is specifically for cybersecurity professionals. You could become a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) to name a few.
Step Four: Find Your Role
Once you have your qualifications, skills, and experience, you can then pursue a role in an organization as a cybersecurity analyst. You can then pursue advanced degrees as well and maintain your qualifications so that your knowledge and skills remain relevant and to make sure that you stay abreast of all progressions that occur in cyber security. Getting a graduate degree will also qualify you for c-suite-level roles and management-level roles.
What Skills Do You Need To Be A Cyber Security Analyst?
You would need effective communication skills, the ability to work in a team, organizational and problem-solving skills, risk analysis skills, and programming and software skills.
You would also need to be skilled at identifying threats and malicious codes and knowing network protocols, and you would need to have a strong sense of integrity and discretion because you may be privy to a lot of sensitive information.
What Is The Salary And Job Outlook For Cyber Security Analyst?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analysts earn a median annual salary of $102,600. Employment for this career expects to see a 35% growth over the next ten years with an average of about 19,500 jobs opening each year for the next ten years.
Is It Worth It To Pursue A Career In Cyber Security?
When you look at the earning potential and the job outlook, you can see that being a cyber security analyst is really worth it, providing you with a great return on investment.
What Is The Work Environment For Cyber Security Analysts?
In most cases, these individuals will work in a normal office setting during traditional working hours between Monday and Friday. You could also work as a consultant or as a freelancer whereby you may have more flexibility, but you will need to work during your client's office hours.
If you have a knack for security and the digital space, putting these two together may make for the greatest career prospect for you. A natural inclination toward this career path, coupled with the potential salary you could earn, makes this a career worth considering.
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