How to Become an
Information Security Analyst
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
Information security analysts are in high demand because their skills are very important to doing business today since most industries rely heavily on information systems. If you’re interested in becoming an information security analyst, then this article is for you.
Below, we will go over everything you need to know in order to break into the field, from the best programs and certifications to the key skills and duties of the job.
What Is an Information Security Analyst?
Information security analysts are the protectors of an organization’s IT system. They have many important duties, which involve designing, maintaining, and improving a company’s computer systems.
Information security analysis is often ranked as one of the best technology jobs based on salary and job availability. If you already know a lot about programming and are interested in IT systems, then a job in information security might be a great fit for you.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become an Information Security Analyst?
To become an information security analyst, you typically need to start by gaining a college degree. Popular degree paths include computer science, programming, and engineering. Some schools might also offer a concentration in information security.
If it’s available, choose a degree path that includes some lessons on evaluating the security risks of a computer network. A degree in computer science will usually include courses on security issues and systems design.
Best Information Security Analyst Education Tracks
There are several education tracks available for information security analysts.
Community colleges are a popular way to earn a two-year associate degree at an affordable price. These degrees can be easily transferred to count toward a four-year bachelor’s degree program. Many community colleges offer accredited information security analyst degrees and certifications.
Information Security Analyst Degrees
A bachelor’s degree in a computer or technology-related field is required to enter most information security analyst positions. In your four-year bachelor’s degree program, you will learn the skills and knowledge you’ll need to work as an information security analyst.
Students can choose whether they want to complete a more general degree in computer science or programming, or a degree in cyber security if it is available.
Information Security Analyst Bootcamps
Bootcamps have become a popular alternative to a four-year degree. They are usually more intensive, but are also shorter and less expensive than a traditional college degree. Bootcamps are also preferable because they offer career services to help graduates find a job fast.
If you’re interested in attending an information security analyst bootcamp, you should look for one that has a proven curriculum and a strong network of industry specialists. Fullstack Academy and Ironhack are two examples.
Information Security Analyst Courses
If you’re not sure whether you want to pursue a career in information security analysis, then you should enroll in a short course online to see if you like it. There are several excellent online courses you can take to get a feel for information security.
Massive open online course provider Coursera has many courses on information security. These include beginner courses such as Introduction to Cybersecurity and Risk Management and intermediate courses like Real-Time Cyber Threat Detection and Mitigation.
These lessons are offered in cooperation with prestigious institutions such as New York University. They are also self-paced, so you can study whenever you’re free.
How to Become an Information Security Analyst: A Step-by-Step Guide
Information security analysis is tough but rewarding work. The best way to get started in this field is to complete a degree path, gain work experience, and earn credentials. Below are the steps you should follow to become an information security analyst.
Earn a bachelor’s degree
This is the logical first step to becoming an information security analyst because bachelor’s degree programs cover many of the hard skills needed for the job.
Gain professional experience
There are several ways you can get experience. The most practical choices are internships and freelance work. If you have no work experience, you should revise your resume to emphasize your skills.
You should also see if your university can set you up with an internship or work opportunity through the career services department.
It’s worth noting that prospective employers will give preference to applicants who are certified. Certification can be a great way to offset the fact that you have no work experience. We’ll get into the possible certifications you can obtain later in this article.
Pursue a master’s degree
Prestigious companies will be looking for employees who have a master’s degree in information or cyber security. If you’re interested in a high-level position, this will give you a leg up. It usually takes two years to complete a master’s degree.
Look for the right job
This is an important yet often overlooked step. You should look for a job that suits your needs, rather than taking the first offer you get. Find a company that has friendly staff, a flexible and healthy work environment, and opportunities for promotions.
Key Information Security Analyst Skills
Becoming an information security analyst requires a combination of passion, knowledge, and a versatile skillset. In addition to hard technical skills, soft skills such as problem solving, communication, and critical thinking are especially useful in this career.
Below, we have explained in detail some of the hard skills that are most important for information security analysis.
Network Security and Risk Management
Devising and implementing strategies to improve the security of a company’s computer network is a major part of information security. Information security analysts should know how to install new security software, as well as how to respond to potential risks.
Analysts who are adept at risk management can promptly identify whether an incoming virus should be considered a major threat.
Security analysts must have strong ethical hacking skills. This means they can attempt to hack into the system to identify any security flaws. Then, they will install software to proactively protect against future attacks. This type of simulated cyber attack is also known as penetration testing.
Computer Forensics and IT Infrastructure
Information security analysts should also be well-versed in computer forensics. This involves preventing crime by collecting, analyzing, and reporting data. In the event of a breach, the security analyst must know how to navigate the IT infrastructure and collect data along the way that can be used to identify the intruder.
Familiarity with the IT infrastructure is important because it allows the analyst to trace the problem to its roots.
Information Security Analyst Salary and Job Outlook
Information security analysts are well paid, even when compared with other IT occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national median salary for all computer occupations was $88,240 in May of 2019. The agency also reported that the median pay for information security analysts is over $99,700.
According to the BLS, the number of jobs available in information security analysts is projected to grow by 31 percent between 2019 to 2029. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. One reason for this major increase is that information security analysts can find work in almost any industry.
Entry-Level Information Security Analyst Job Requirements
To become an information security analyst, you need to meet certain prerequisites in terms of your education, certifications, and experience. The minimum requirement for an entry-level job in information security analysis is a bachelor’s degree. At this level, you can expect to make around $60,000 per year, according to the BLS.
What Does an Information Security Analyst Do?
Information security analysts can work for government agencies, companies, and non-profits. They are especially important for protecting information in the finance, insurance, and health care sectors.
Information security analysts’ main duties are to design, maintain, and improve network security systems. Below, we’ll look at some of these responsibilities in detail.
Preventing Security Breaches
The main job of an information security analyst is to prevent and neutralize security breaches. To do this, information security analysts make sure only authorized personnel can access certain data. Information security analysts do so through various software engineering principles such as penetration testing.
Information security analysts must protect both virtual and physical computer infrastructures. To do this, they use software monitor systems for suspicious behavior. They then design solutions to minimize any potential risks they have spotted.
Security analysts are also in charge of producing reports for IT administrators and company managers so they can assess whether current security policies are effective. Similarly, security analysts will also design and conduct training programs to educate other employees on proper security protocols.
Maintaining and Improving Network Systems
Another important duty of an information security analyst is to ensure that their network systems are functioning properly. To do so, they must install, maintain, and update their company’s security software and networks.
They should be ready to handle any issues that their colleagues encounter when using the computer system. Security analysts also ensure that all software used at the company is protected by the necessary security measures.
Information Security Analyst Certifications
One way to stand out as a security analyst is to have a certification. Employers often specify in their job postings which certification they prefer to see from a prospective employee. These certifications aren’t required to find a job, but they are highly recommended because they increase the likelihood that you’ll land the job.
Below, we’ll look at some of the different certifications that are available to you.
A Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is commonly requested by employers. It is offered by the non-profit security training organization (ISC)². The exam for this certification will test your ability to design and implement cyber security measures. Registrants will also get access to exclusive resources, academic tools, and peer networks.
EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker
Ethical hacking is essential to a successful career in information security. The EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker program is popular because it applies to a range of careers. Those who sign up for this course will study modern hacking threats, and will get hands-on experience defending against attacks.
EC-Council also offers other relevant certifications in penetration testing, network defense, and threat analysis.
A Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification is a great choice if you want to advance your career. This certification from the IT governance group ISACA will bring you up to speed on all areas of information security. The course comes with numerous prep tools and career coaching resources.
How to Prepare for Your Information Security Analyst Job Interview
The interview is often the most nerve-wracking aspect of any job search. However, if you have a good grasp of the duties and skills that a security analyst needs, the interview should be easy. Use the interview to demonstrate that you are confident in your abilities and that you can handle pressure.
In your information security analyst interview, you will most likely be asked about your soft and hard skills. Below are some sample questions that may come up.
Information Security Analyst Job Interview Practice Questions
- In your eyes, what is the role of an information security analyst?
- How would you about securing a network? What factors do you need to take into account?
- What are the steps to set up a firewall?
- What is phishing? How can you stop it?
How Long Does It Take to Become an Information Security Analyst?
It takes approximately four years to earn a bachelor’s degree in a field related to information security. Many students also choose to dedicate some time to internships or work experience after graduation.
Some employers require new hires to possess a Master’s Degree in Information Security, or in a related field. Depending on whether you complete a master’s degree, it will take between four to seven years to become an information security analyst.
Should You Become an Information Security Analyst in 2021?
Yes, because professionals in this field are in extremely high demand. The trend in new job openings for security analysts is expected to continue through 2029. As more companies open up and start collecting information digitally, they will need information security analysts to protect their data.
It is also a very well-paid job, with plenty of opportunities to climb the ladder at your place of work. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in tech but aren’t sure where to start, you should definitely consider becoming an information security analyst.
Information Security Analyst FAQ
What requirements are there to become a security analyst?
Information security analysts are usually required to have a bachelor’s degree, work experience, and sometimes a professional certification.
Is information security analysis a good job?
Yes, as the sector is expanding at a rapid pace, leading to a major demand for skilled information security analysts. This job pays well and provides opportunities for advancement.
What is the difference between information security analysis and cyber security?
Information security analysis and cyber security are often discussed in the same breath, but they are slightly different. Cyber security refers to protection against cyber attacks that involve data, storage sources, and devices. On the other hand, information security analysts work to secure data from any form of threat, digital or not.
Is information security analysis stressful?
Information security analysts may experience stress, as they have to juggle many duties. They must ensure that the computer systems they are monitoring are protected, which involves staying up to date with new threats, and updating software. The job can be particularly stressful if a security breach occurs.