What Is a Cyber Security Analyst? (With Job Duties and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 21 January 2023

Published 23 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The digital era has made it possible to conduct nearly all personal, professional and financial business online. However, with the benefits of this cyber world also comes the risk of cyber attacks, data breaches and many other online threats. Cyber security analysts play a critical role in preventing cyber attacks or the compromising of systems to protect individuals and large organisations. In this article, we answer the question ‘what is a cyber security analyst’ by exploring their job duties, sharing their average salary and providing tips to help you become one.

What is a cyber security analyst?

A cyber security analyst is a trained information technology (IT) professional who monitors, prevents and stops cyber attacks. They act as a company's security force by protecting their network and IT infrastructure. Cyber security analysts may use their strong understanding of malware and cyber criminal behaviour to design and maintain security features.

Related: What Is an IT Consultant? (With Skills and Qualifications)

What does a cyber security analyst do?

A cyber security analyst's primary function is to protect organisations from cyber attacks and respond swiftly to restore protection if compromised. Accomplishing this requires them to perform a range of tasks, including evaluating and assessing potential vulnerabilities in an organisation's digital infrastructure, documenting and reporting on any attempted cyber attacks and resolving breaches or attacks swiftly by identifying the source of the attack. Most cyber security analysts' work is preventative and, depending on the organisation, they might offer consultation, assessment or analysis services.

Why is cyber security important?

Given the significant amount of personal and professional activity handled digitally, it's critical that organisations have strong cyber security analysts to protect them and help address challenges when they arise. Cyber security analysts work to prevent theft of an institution's personal and financial information, block attackers from accessing the company's confidential data and records and ensure operating systems run smoothly. Without these security measures in place, organisations are at significant risk of losing information, money, access to necessary files and privacy.

Related: What Is an IT Consultant? (With Skills and Qualifications)

Average salary for a cyber security analyst

The average base salary for a cyber security analyst is $118,577 per year. The amount you earn as a cyber security analyst may vary based on your education level, work experience and skill set. Where your job is located and the cost of living in your area may also impact your salary.

How to become a cyber security analyst

Here are some steps you can follow to begin your career as a cyber security analyst:

1. Obtain a degree

To become a cyber security analyst, obtain a bachelor's degree in computer science, programming or a related field. This can prepare you by teaching you foundational cyber security concepts, honing your critical thinking skills and providing you with hands-on experience. Some courses you may take during your undergraduate program include:

  • Software development

  • Database management

  • Information and computer security

  • Cryptography

  • Computer programming

  • Cyber attacks and defences

  • Internet architecture

  • Cyber security programs, policies and ethics

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2. Acquire certifications

There are several certifications you may pursue to hone your skills as a cyber security analyst. While earning additional certifications is optional, many employers prefer to hire candidates who demonstrate advanced cyber security knowledge by earning relevant industry credentials. Some popular certifications you may acquire include:

  • CompTIA Security+: This entry-level credential can help you hone your cyber security skills by providing you with hands-on experience in areas such as threat management, cryptography and network access control.

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): Earning your CEH credential from the EC-Council can show employers you're capable of identifying vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. This course teaches individuals how to think like a hacker so they can evaluate technology systems and mitigate risks more effectively.

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): The CISSP certification evaluates an IT professional's ability to protect companies against cyber attacks. The test covers topics such as asset security, risk management, security architecture and operations.

  • Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC): This certification provides hands-on experience and in-depth coursework in cyber security topics such as digital forensics, cyber defence, incident response and penetration testing. You can earn four different levels of GIAC certification, including introductory, intermediate, advanced and expert.

Related: Top 5 Network Security Certifications (With Example Jobs)

3. Gain relevant experience

Although being formally hired as a cyber security analyst requires a bachelor's degree and related certifications, you can obtain relevant professional experience between your studies that may assist you when you begin applying for jobs. Many people work in other IT jobs before becoming a security analyst. Even a college IT job can be valuable in developing your relevant skills and improving your resume. University internships or practicum experiences are also great ways to gain relevant experience before applying for an official analyst position.

Related: What Does a Computer Forensic Analyst Do? (With Skills)

4. Create a professional resume

A well-written resume can distinguish you from similarly qualified candidates and increase your chances of being called for an interview. In addition to your formal education and certifications, a strong resume can highlight the transferrable job skills you developed during your internship or prior work experiences. In the case of a cyber security analyst, this includes the technical and analytical skills necessary to prevent or mitigate cyber attacks, as well as essential interpersonal skills to excel in the role.

Entry-level applicants can ensure their resume is competitive by including their undergraduate GPA, honours, any languages they speak or any professional organisations they belong to. A strong summary statement is also essential for an entry-level resume. Tailoring your resume to the specific job you're applying for by including keywords from the job description and highlighting the most relevant transferrable skills can help you ensure a successful application process.

Read more: How to Write an Entry-level Cyber Security Resume in 7 Steps

Skills for a cyber security analyst

As technology advances, cyber security professionals can continuously hone and develop their skills to protect the organisations they work for. Here are some skills you can focus on improving to advance in your career as a cyber security analyst:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving: Cyber security analysts are responsible for troubleshooting issues when they arise. Having excellent critical thinking skills can help you gather and assess information to develop logical solutions to these challenges.

  • Basic technology skills: To become a successful cyber security analyst, it's important to have a strong understanding of fundamental technology skills, such as network configuration, firewall installation and programming. These basic skills can help you complete more advanced tasks, such as developing cloud systems, more effectively.

  • Adaptability: Cyber security analysts often need to adapt quickly to new threats and new types of technology. Being flexible in your problem-solving approach and staying up to date on the latest changes in the industry can help you adjust processes and systems as needed.

  • Risk management: Being able to identify and manage potential risks can help you prevent cyber attacks from happening. Practise assessing vulnerable areas of networks and computer systems by regularly monitoring them to improve this skill.

  • Communication skills: Cyber security analysts often share their reports and recommendations with key company leaders. Being able to communicate complex ideas effectively is an important skill that can help you gain support for your ideas so you can implement the right procedures and systems to keep the organisation safe.

  • Cloud computing: Having experience implementing and managing cloud computing systems and processes can help you protect data storage. Familiarise yourself with these practices to collaborate with other members of the IT department effectively.

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Frequently asked questions about cyber security analyst careers

Here are some frequently asked questions about the cyber security analyst career path:

What interpersonal skills are important for cyber security analysts to have?

To complement their technical skills and expertise, the most essential interpersonal skills for a cyber security analyst include effective communication, strategic decision-making, solutions-oriented problem solving and the ability to persuade people. Effective communication includes both oral and written communication, as cyber security analysts often write reports and verbally share updates that require translating technical information into everyday language. Honing these skills can help you ensure key decision-makers in your organisation understand why certain technology systems and protocols are in place.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

What are the typical working conditions for a cyber security analyst?

Cyber security analysts typically work in an office, during the traditional work hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. If unique projects or circumstances require it, they may work later evening or weekend hours as well. If working as a consultant, this job likely requires travel to different locations around the country.

What is the difference between a cyber security analyst and a cybercrime investigator?

While both professions work to secure the digital world for clients or organisations, a cyber security analyst's role is more focused on prevention. A cyber crime investigator's role is more reactive. Cybercrime investigators use their analytical skills to identify the individual, or criminal, responsible for the data breach and participate in judicial proceedings as needed by testifying in court or submitting a written testimony of their findings.

Please note that none of the organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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