Almost 40 times per second, a hacker attempts to attack an application, network, or computing infrastructure. To prevent this from happening, organizations need cybersecurity professionals to protect them. Unfortunately, there are millions of unfilled cybersecurity roles in the US. Becoming a cybersecurity analyst is a great way to get involved in the field, make a difference, and earn a higher-than-average income. There are many different ways to become a cybersecurity analyst. People do not necessarily need a degree to find a good job. This guide breaks down what anyone considering a career as an analyst needs to know.
FAQ: Understanding the Field of Cybersecurity
What is the difference between cyber security, information security, and network security?
Information security refers to all o the information or data of an organization, which may be digital or not. Network security refers to the security of the architecture of the network itself. Cybersecurity is the defense of networks, applications, and computing architecture from cyber attacks.
Is cybersecurity studied at the undergraduate or graduate level?
Some undergraduate degrees cover cybersecurity. Students can develop their expertise in cybersecurity through graduate-level certificates and degrees.
What are typical degrees leading to a career in cybersecurity?
There are different paths to landing a career in cybersecurity. These are some of the undergraduate degrees that lead to a career in cybersecurity:
- A. in Cybersecurity;
- A. in Criminology;
- A. in Computer Science;
- A. in Information Technology; and,
- A. in Computer Engineering.
Is it possible to become a cybersecurity analyst without a degree?
While many cybersecurity analysts do have a degree, many do not. It is possible to enter the field by meeting supplementary metrics through degree alternatives and experience.
1. What is a Cybersecurity Analyst?
A cybersecurity analyst works to assess, analyze, and remedy security threats to computing networks, software, and architecture. By understanding the threats that exist and how people engage in malicious conduct, cybersecurity analysts can develop ways to prevent attacks and isolate weaknesses in computing systems. Cybersecurity analysts can work in a variety of specialties, such as networks or cloud computing. They work at government agencies, tech companies, and any company that wants to protect its computing environment or data.
FAQ: Job Options in Cybersecurity
What are the common job titles in cybersecurity?
There are many different types of roles available in cybersecurity. These are some of the most common:
- Cybersecurity analyst;
- Penetration tester;
- Network Engineer;
- Chief information security officer;
- Cloud security architect; and,
- Cybersecurity engineer.
What is a cybersecurity analyst vs cybersecurity specialist?
A cybersecurity analyst and a cybersecurity specialists are the same positions. A company may favor one title over another.
What is a cybersecurity analyst vs cybersecurity engineer?
Cybersecurity analysts and engineers often work together with some overlapping responsibilities, but they do have different roles. Cybersecurity engineers often implement the processes outlined by analysts. Engineers are the architects of the computing infrastructure.
What is a cybersecurity analyst vs information security analyst?
There is an overlap between the roles of cybersecurity analysts and information security analysts. At some firms, these terms may be interchangeable. Technically, information security analysts may deal with all forms of data protection, but cybersecurity analysts solely focus on digital data.
What is a cybersecurity analyst vs penetration tester?
A penetration tester has a specific certification stating that they qualify as one. They also focus solely on testing for weaknesses rather than building and preventing attacks.
What is a cybersecurity analyst vs SOC analyst?
SOC analysts work as part of large teams to triage cyber attacks. They are similar to first responders after an emergency, but cybersecurity analysts focus on prevention.
What is a cybersecurity analyst vs ethical hacker?
Ethical hackers just focus on hacking into the system to alert those in charge (such as cybersecurity analysts) of insecure features. Cybersecurity analysts may engage in that work, but they focus on fixing and preventing the problems.
2. What are the Key Characteristics of a Cybersecurity Analyst? What Type of Person Makes a Good Cybersecurity Analyst?
- Rational and scholarly mindset;
- Cool under pressure or in an emergency;
- Open communicator;
- Ability to understand the motivation of others; and,
- A love for the field.
3. What Skills do You Need to be a Cybersecurity Analyst?
A career as a cybersecurity analyst requires a variety of skills that are both technical and non-technical. These are some of the most important cybersecurity skills.
3.1 Cybersecurity Soft Skills
Cybersecurity soft skills are the non-technical skills that analysts need to be successful in the job.
- Communication skills: Cybersecurity analysts often work with other departments and as part of a team. Analysts need to have the ability to communicate issues, work well with others, and problem solve as a team.
- Patience: Working in IT involves trial and error. It can take many unsuccessful attempts to resolve a cybersecurity problem. Analysts need the patience and perseverance to keep going until they solve the problem.
- Creativity: Analysts may need to think creatively to determine the possible ways that a hacker may make a system unsafe. They may equally need to produce unique ways to mitigate risks to their businesses.
3.2 Cybersecurity Hard Skills
Employers look for particular technical skills or hard skills from potential cybersecurity analysts. These are some of the most important.
- Hacking: To know how to prevent something from occurring, analysts need to know how it is done. Hacking skills help analysts find problems and develop solutions.
- Networks: Cybersecurity analysts may work to keep computing infrastructure secure. To do this, they need to understand networks and network security.
- Design: Another element of the job of a cybersecurity analyst is to aid with the design and development of software and other applications. They need to know how and why different elements of cybersecurity apply throughout the design process.
4. Can I Become a Cybersecurity Analyst without a Degree?
Many IT-based careers do not require formal degrees in the subject to get a job. It is possible to become a cybersecurity analyst without any kind of college degree, but applicants have to work hard to build the same skills and portfolio as someone with a degree. Here is how to become a cybersecurity analyst step by step.
- Obtaining Knowledge: Cybersecurity is a technical field, and anyone interested in it needs to obtain a fluency of concepts and tools for the job. People can do this without a degree by enrolling in a program, course, or boot camp to learn the skills of the job. Reading professional publications also helps keep people up to date in the field.
- Using Certifications: Special certifications prove that people have the skills, which signals to prospective employers that your expertise is trustworthy. Certifications abound in areas like ethical hacking, cloud computing, and more. Getting a certificate involves an external examination process that meets criteria in the industry proving an applicant is just as skillful as someone with a degree.
- Gaining Experience: Getting experience is crucial for employment as a cybersecurity analyst. To do this without a degree, applicants can look for entry-level positions that rely on their transferable skills. They can also use a portfolio of projects from a boot camp or course. Some people may consider freelance work as they build their experience.
- Developing Networks: Networking is crucial to obtain any job. Attending events, conferences, and local Meetups for IT professionals and those in the cybersecurity field can expand someone’s network. Informational interviews can help applicants introduce themselves to people currently in the field. Using the connections of friends and family to take someone in the field out for coffee can help grow their network and land a job.
Once someone completes these steps, they should be ready to apply for jobs. In interviews, applicants without degrees should especially stress their transferable skills from any previous job experience or qualifications, along with their new cybersecurity skills and portfolio.
4.1 What are the top online cybersecurity programs for beginners?
Online cybersecurity courses and programs for beginners do not assume much technical or cybersecurity knowledge. This is a great option for people without a formal degree or experience in the field.
- Cyber Aces: The Cyber Aces beginner course from SANS introduces students to cybersecurity concepts. The course is completely free. It does not lead to any credits or certifications, but it can serve as a way to start to understand the field. It even has information on careers in cybersecurity.
- Introduction to Cybersecurity Specialization: The Introduction to Cybersecurity Specialization on Coursera is a program for beginners developed by NYU professors. Students complete four courses to finish the specialization. Topics include introductory concepts, cyber threats, risk mitigation, and systems security.
- Harvard Cybersecurity: Harvard University has an online course through its extension office that allows enrollees to complete a short course in cybersecurity without the background needed to get regular admittance into Harvard. The Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age course for beginners with an emphasis on cybersecurity policy. It helps students interested in careers in cybersecurity compliance gain the necessary knowledge and skills to draft mitigation plans and understand the basics of cybersecurity.
- Essentials of Cybersecurity: Essentials of Cybersecurity is an online edX course that consists of four courses and a final capstone project. Students do have the option of obtaining actual credits for the coursework. Beginning students start with learning the basics of cybersecurity before moving into subjects on digital forensics, mitigating risk, and network security. This program can help propel students into an entry-level cybersecurity position, such as an analyst.
- Ops and Cybersecurity by Code Fellows: Learn about cybersecurity through the Ops and Cybersecurity course from Code Fellows. The online program consists of multiple short courses that start with the most basic elements of cybersecurity. Enrollees can follow the different courses available from basic through advanced administration.
4.2 What are the top cybersecurity boot camps?
Bootcamps offer a fast, immersive experience to learn about issues related to cybersecurity. These programs often include projects students can use as part of a portfolio to apply for jobs. These are some of the top cybersecurity boot camp programs.
- Fullstack Cybersecurity Bootcamp: The Fullstack Cybersecurity Bootcamp from Fullstack Academy is an online and in-person optional program for developing a range of cybersecurity skills. In just three months full-time or six months part-time, students work through and create projects on a range of cybersecurity skills. Students start at the foundations of the field and progress into topics like digital forensics and ethical hacking.
- Cybersecurity Bootcamp at UCLA Extension: The Cybersecurity Bootcamp from the UCLA Extension programs provides both a theory-driven and immersive experience in cybersecurity from a leading university. Over 24 weeks, students learn about the tools that analysts use, ethical hacking, network security, and more. Students can also get career assistance and advice.
- Vanderbilt University Cybersecurity Bootcamp: The Cybersecurity Bootcamp from Vanderbilt University is a 24-week, online, part-time boot camp for beginners. Students learn to test applications and networks for security deficits, identify risks, protect information on the cloud, and more. Students have access to career services.
- Georgia Tech Cybersecurity Bootcamp: Georgia Tech offers the Cybersecurity Bootcamp as a comprehensive experience for students. Courses include foundations of cybersecurity, administration, networks, and defensive and offensive cyber security risk and mitigation. The boot camp ends in an exam and projects for certification of completion.
- Springboard Cybersecurity Bootcamp: Springboard’s Cybersecurity Bootcamp is an internationally recognized boot camp that can help people launch their careers with top tech companies. Enrollees focus on fundamentals, assessments, and mitigation. Students can wait until they get a job in cybersecurity to make their payments and may receive a refund if they do not land a job after successful completion of the program.
5. What are the Most In-demand Cybersecurity Certifications?
Cybersecurity certifications can provide those already in the field with additional expertise and training or provide a scholarly background for those without an education in the field. Getting a certification can especially help those who lack a degree, experience, or background in cybersecurity. These are the top cybersecurity certifications in 2022.
- Certified Ethical Hacker: The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) program teaches professionals how to hack systems in order to find security issues. By learning the tactics that criminal hackers use, professionals can locate and safeguard weaknesses in software and systems infrastructure. Students can learn about security and the cloud, web applications, malware, and more.
- Certified Cloud Security Professional: A program as a Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) focuses on established and emerging security issues with cloud computing. The CCSP is for those already working as an IT professional focusing on the cloud, such as a cloud architect. Instead of having particular courses to finish, those who want to earn the certificate must have at least five years’ worth of experience and pass an exam.
- Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge: The Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) is for those with less experience and expertise than those achieving the CCSP. Certification involves an elective training program with labs and lectures on cloud security. Students can learn starting from a basic level about cloud architecture before advancing to advanced cloud security topics. Certification involves the completion of an exam.
- CompTIA #CySA+ Cybersecurity Analyst Certification: The CompTIA #CySA+ Cybersecurity Analyst Certification focuses on teaching professionals about cyber forensics. Courses focus on finding and analyzing evidence of security breaches. It also teaches emergency response and security breach prevention methods.
- Certified Information Security Manager: The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) program helps IT professionals get the training to move into management positions in cybersecurity. The certification focuses on both hard and soft skills to help increase the knowledge of potential cybersecurity managers. It also teaches practitioners how to communicate fluently with teams and regulators.
- Certified Application Security Engineer: The Certified Application Security Engineer program teaches IT professionals about making secure software. The emphasis of the program is on strengthened security at every phase of software development so that the overall product is wholly secure. Students learn skills like threat modeling, teamwork in cybersecurity, and code review.
- Licensed Penetration Tester: A certificate for a Licensed Penetration Tester gives professionals in the cybersecurity field advanced skills in testing digital security. Students learn how to hack and develop tests to withstand attacks. To earn this certificate, someone must already possess a CEH.
- Boston University Information Security Graduate Certificate: While Boston University has several cybersecurity certificates, the Information Security Graduate Certificate targets students who plan to work in the private sector. This four-course certificate can also serve as pre-requisites for a full graduate-level degree. Courses cover network and enterprise cybersecurity, biometrics, digital evidence, cryptology, and more.
- Michigan State University Cyber Criminology and Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate: The Cyber Criminology and Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate through Michigan State University is an academic program for those with an undergraduate degree, but it does not require an undergraduate degree in technical field. Students can learn about digital forensics, cyber terrorism, and more. This kind of degree is especially helpful for those going into an investigative role or government agency.
- Stanford University Advanced Cybersecurity Certificate: The Advanced Cybersecurity Certificate from Stanford University is a six-course, self-paced program on cybersecurity. It aims to develop professionals who are already in the IT field or have a background in IT. With an emphasis on electives over core courses, students can concentrate on the areas they need, such as writing code for safety programs, managerial decision-making in cybersecurity, and protecting mobile networks.
6. Who are some of the Top Cybersecurity Companies to Work for?
Many different types of companies need cybersecurity analysts. These are some of the top companies and government agencies in the US for a career in cybersecurity:
- National Security Agency;
- Federal Bureau of Investigation;
- Lockheed Martin;
- Dynetics; and,
7. Career Outlook
Are cybersecurity analyst jobs in demand?
Cybersecurity analysts are in high demand. Experts expect the role to keep increasing in demand with 33 percent job growth through 2030.
How much can you make as a cybersecurity analyst?
A career as a cybersecurity analyst has high earning potential in many countries in the world. Someone’s actual salary range depends on factors such as the cost of living, educational background, and experience.
How much does a cybersecurity analyst earn in Australia?
A cybersecurity analyst in Australia makes an average of $118,547 (AUD).
How much does a cybersecurity analyst earn in Canada?
In Canada, cybersecurity analysts make an average of $85,276 (CAD).
How much does a cybersecurity analyst earn in India?
Cybersecurity analysts in India can earn an average of ₹5,16,283 per year.
How much does a cybersecurity analyst earn in the UK?
The average salary for a cybersecurity analyst in the UK at the entry-level is between £25,000 and £35,000. Those with more experience make up to about £60,000.
How much does a cybersecurity analyst earn in the USA?
The average salary for a cybersecurity analyst in the USA is $103,590 per year.