The time it takes to excel in this career varies depending on multiple factors, including your training, skills, and experience. Here's what prepares you to pursue a career as an information security analyst.
What higher education is required?
Let's look at security analyst education requirements. First, you need a bachelor's degree in computer and information technology. A computer-related field such as math or engineering will also allow you to become an information security analyst. These undergraduate degrees may stem from generalized programs such as computer science or programming. You can also get a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity.
However, you may pursue this profession with a high school diploma, relevant industry training, and certifications. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 30% of those working in information security don't have a bachelor's degree or higher4. Most employers prefer information security analysts with professional certifications.
In the US, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in management information systems will give you a deeper dive into computer based-security. This is essential if you want to apply your computer security skills in the context of business management.
With a degree in cybersecurity, you can properly design, develop, execute, and oversee an organization's computer security system. The curriculum offers knowledge about IT-related systems and trends. It also teaches you how to handle critical computer-related issues such as cyber-attacks and data breaches.
A degree may help you stand out in the job market. Yet you must add experience to your resume to attract more opportunities. For instance, you need several years of experience in information security to become an intermediate-level security analyst.
Having on-the-job experience demonstrates your ability to apply your knowledge in real-world situations, which is what hiring teams look for. So generally, you must have experience in an information technology department. For instance, as a network and computer systems administrator.
What licenses, certifications, and registrations are needed?
You must have something unique, that other candidates lack, to stand out and get hired as an information security analyst. Many employers prefer candidates who have an information security certification.
Some certifications are for entry-level security analysts, while others are designed for experienced analysts. In the US, credentials such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) indicate that you have more profound cybersecurity knowledge. For instance, Certified Ethical Hacker credentials prove that you can hack into a company's network security system to identify and expose vulnerabilities.
Additionally, Reverse Engineering Analyst Certification shows that you have the skills to analyze malware in a system.
You can even get certification in specialized areas such as systems auditing.
What advancement or specialization opportunities are there?
You can advance your career path to become a chief security officer or a computer and information systems manager. A chief security officer provides executive leadership and directs all efforts concerned with the organization's security. An information systems manager oversees the use of technology in an organization.
You can also pursue a master's in cybersecurity for your advancement in the US. This will help strengthen your skills relevant to adjacent subject areas, including business and computer engineering. The program combines academic coursework with practical work experience, giving you an edge over the competition.
Also, once you have enough experience, you may advance toward a leadership role within the organization. For instance, you may become a cybersecurity manager to oversee your company's network and systems. In this role, you'll manage security teams and ensure security compliance.
Consider also that you can advance to the highest security role in an organization. This is the chief information security officer (CISO). You'll manage operations, policies, and budgets across the organization's security infrastructure at this executive level.
Other security analyst positions include:
- Network architects - specialize in computer communication networks such as local area networks, cloud computing, and company-wide networks. You'll be designing networks, analyzing data traffic, and upgrading hardware, among other tasks.
- Information researcher - focus on new ideas in information security. Your role will be to generate innovative ideas to improve technology.
- Software developer - you can develop programs, operating systems, or applications. Your role is to conduct market research and create programs that meet market needs.
- Network administrator - this role requires you to keep your company's computer networks functioning during regular operations. You'll be responsible for your organization's local and wide-area networks and other data systems. You'll set up new systems, troubleshoot issues, and conduct system updates. You may also need to train other staff in technology-related tasks.
Generally, you're not limited to the role of an information security analyst. There are multiple cybersecurity analyst jobs in the market to consider. You can advance and specialize in specific sectors within the field.