Protecting the security and integrity of data is becoming ever-more vital for businesses and organizations worldwide, pushing demand for qualified cybersecurity analysts. These professionals monitor computer networks to ensure safeguards are in place to protect sensitive data and information from cyber criminals.
If you’re considering a future in the sphere of information technology (IT), you may want to learn more about a cybersecurity analyst career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analyst jobs are projected to increase by 37% through 2022, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations.
Cybersecurity analysis is the process of protecting websites and networks from cyber threats, such as malware, denial-of-service attacks and viruses. Without constant monitoring and analysis, businesses, public organizations, government agencies and individuals are vulnerable to harmful infiltration of their computer information systems. With a growing number of threats from cyber attacks, the need for effective cybersecurity analysis has grown rapidly and should continue to grow, according to the BLS.
Cybersecurity analysts help prevent attacks through their expertise and knowledge of databases, networks, hardware, firewalls and encryption. These professionals aid in keeping businesses’ computer systems running smoothly, help prevent the theft of sensitive financial and personal information, and seek to prevent hackers from accessing and divulging military secrets and other government data. Through constant monitoring and analysis, cybersecurity analysts help avert untold losses in productivity and dollars.
In performing their job duties, cybersecurity analysts assess and mitigate risk while enhancing system security. They are typically responsible for identifying and “patching” any security weaknesses they may find, and making recommendations for security hardware and software.
These professionals are often tasked with establishing information security policies and procedures, as well as reviewing violations to help prevent future occurrences. Cybersecurity analysts may also regulate access to computer files, develop firewalls, perform risk assessments and test data processing systems to verify security measures.
Organizations that deal with sensitive data often need the services of cybersecurity analysts. Job opportunities may be found in the healthcare, financial services and insurance industries, as well as in education systems.
Cybersecurity professionals also are in high demand in the military and government agencies. The Department of Defense announced it was seeking to hire up to 3,000 cyber-savvy civilians during 2015 to be part of the U.S. Cyber Command. The federal agency is seeking candidates who can analyze malware, respond to incidents, manage cyber drills and detect vulnerabilities. The White House is also staffing its new cyber policymaking unit.
Attaining a career as a cybersecurity analyst will require preparation and dedication in order to obtain the education and expertise sought by employers, including a college degree.
If you’re interested in working for the military or a government agency, you may be required to obtain security clearances and industry certifications. Prospective employers may offer tuition assistance to help employees obtain a master’s degree.
In addition to advanced educational qualifications, interpersonal skills and general business expertise are important attributes for cybersecurity analysts. Employers also may seek the following qualities in cybersecurity analyst candidates:
According to May 2014 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for information security analysts nationwide was $91,600, with wages for the top 10% of earners exceeding $140,000. For the new Department of Defense positions, the pay scale ranges from about $42,000 to $132,000. The military also offers recruiting, relocation and retention bonuses with student loan reimbursements to attract candidates from the private sector.
Salary potential and employment opportunities vary depending on geographic location and market conditions, as well as an applicant’s education and experience.
If you’re interested in working with data and computer networks, and would enjoy combating and preventing cyber crimes, a career as a cybersecurity analyst could be a good option. Use this career guide to get started on the road to this challenging, rewarding and in-demand profession.