How Do You Become a Cybersecurity Analyst?

Interested in becoming a security analyst? Springboard can help! Explore everything you need to know about becoming a security analyst in this guide.

how to become a cyber security analyst

Security analysts are an organization’s frontline defense against security breaches, cyber attacks, and data theft. As a growing number of government agencies and organizations within the private sector process more and more sensitive data and proprietary information electronically, security analysts are in high demand and play a critical role in information security and strengthening a company’s overall security posture.

While it takes dedication to gain the necessary skills to be a security analyst, many people in the field find the work varied and rewarding, with opportunities for specialization and the chance to tackle some of the most pressing cyber threats facing the world’s most important industries.

What Is a Cybersecurity Analyst?

Commonly known as a cybersecurity analyst, data security analyst, cybersecurity specialist, information security analyst, or network security analyst, a security analyst protects an organization’s data from unauthorized access by identifying and addressing security threats, using industry best practices to bolster an organization’s security systems, and countering cyber attacks when they happen.

What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do?

Security analysts play a vital role in protecting an organization's computer networks on two fronts: preventing malicious cyber attacks, and implementing recovery plans. In the former, security analysts use a wide variety of tools and techniques to stop hackers in their tracks, such as deploying firewalls, performing penetration testing to identify weaknesses in secure networks, patching up those weaknesses, and identifying suspicious activity. In the latter, security analysts jump into action when a breach has occurred to determine the cause of the cyber attack, figure out what kinds of sensitive information have been accessed, reverse engineer malware, and author reports for management and law enforcement.

Whether specializing in prevention or recovery, security analysts use their technical skills and critical thinking to strengthen an organization’s security measures and minimize security risks.

Cybersecurity Analyst vs. Information Security Analyst: What’s the Difference?

The job titles security analyst, information security analyst, cybersecurity specialist, network security analyst, and data security analyst are used interchangeably and, although duties may differ from organization to organization, they generally have the same responsibilities.

These cybersecurity professionals use their analytical skills and technical know-how to monitor security access, perform vulnerability testing and risk analysis, implement recovery plans, and help organizations comply with industry and government regulations.

Cybersecurity Analyst vs. Security Engineer: What’s the Difference?

Security engineers, also known as cybersecurity engineers or information security engineers, design, develop, and deploy security solutions to monitor and combat malicious attacks and data breaches.

Security analysts use those security solutions—along with their own analytical skills—to monitor, prevent, analyze, and manage security threats.

Both career paths have some crossover in terms of shared goals and responsibilities, and both roles commonly require backgrounds in computer science and software engineering. Security analysts and engineers often work together on incident response teams.

Cybersecurity Analyst vs. Security Architect: What’s the Difference?

Security architects, also known as cybersecurity architects or information security architects, design and maintain the security structures and systems within an organization. Similar to security analysts, security architects will search for vulnerabilities within systems and address them before they become a problem for the organization.

Security analysts have a bird’s-eye view of both the security architecture and the software solutions and often work together with security engineers and architects to ward off potential cyber threats.

Can You Become a Cybersecurity Analyst Without a Degree?

While most employers expect applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, or engineering-related field, it’s possible for people who don’t hold degrees to land entry-level cybersecurity roles if they also have some industry experience, coupled with relevant certifications or bootcamp training.

cyber security analyst job description

How to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst in 6 Steps

Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field. Because of this, there is no “right” way to become a security analyst. There are multiple ways to get into cybersecurity analytics depending on your educational background, technical skills, and areas of interest.

The steps below outline how you can get hired as a security analyst.

  1. Understand your end goal. Before you decide to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree or enroll in an online bootcamp, it’s important to be clear about what you want out of a career in cybersecurity so that you can determine the best path to take. Some career paths within cybersecurity will require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, engineer, or a related field, while others determine eligibility based on work experience and relevant certifications. Either way, preparing for a career in security analytics takes hard work and commitment, so it’s important to understand your end goal.
  2. Learn a programming language. While security analysts don’t usually design or build software, they need to be familiar with coding languages so they can identify and fix problematic code, recognize hacker signatures, reverse engineer malware, and work with other security professionals on the engineering and architecture side to help secure an organization’s networks. Basic knowledge of web development, HTML, HTTP, and application security is also useful.
  3. Get certified. Although many security analysts hold bachelor’s degrees in a related field, preference is increasingly given to those who have supplemented their education and training with certifications, which ensure that an analyst’s skills are relevant and up-to-date. While rare, applicants who don’t have a bachelor’s degree have been known to get hired because they hold relevant certifications and can demonstrate expertise in the area. Some common professional certifications include: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), CompTIA Security+, GIAC Certified Penetration Tester, and GSEC: SANS GIAC Security Essentials.
  4. Work on real-life projects. The most important part of becoming a security analyst is knowing how to apply your theoretical knowledge to actual tasks and assignments. In addition to internships and bootcamp projects—both of which offer hands-on experience in cybersecurity—those interested in working on real-life projects can also participate in bug bounty programs, which give budding security analysts a chance to put their bug hunting and system monitoring skills to the test.
  5. Build your professional network. If you’ve taken a training course, stay in touch with mentors and advisors. Apply to and interview with organizations that are hiring security analysts.
  6. Do an online course or bootcamp. While some security analysts find success in completing these steps on their own, many benefit from additional support. For this reason, candidates often turn to an online bootcamp experience for a comprehensive and supported approach to learning security analytics.

Cybersecurity Analyst Job Profile, Skills, & More

As the job title suggests, security analysts use their analytical and technical skills to monitor, assess, and protect an organization from cyber attacks.

All successful security analysts must have:

  • Technical proficiency
  • Analytical skills
  • Operational practicality
  • Awareness of security regulation and best practices

Learn more about a cybersecurity analyst job description, roles, responsibilities, and salary here.

How Can Springboard Help You Become A Cybersecurity Analyst?

Want to know how to get into cybersecurity or a related field? Springboard’s Cyber Security Career Track is comprehensive, accessible, and designed for those who have basic skills in foundational programming, an aptitude for problem-solving, and strong communication and collaboration skills.

The online, six-moth, self-paced curriculum will help you master key aspects of application security concepts, application design, programming and implementation, secure application testing, and software analysis. You will learn to:

  • Develop metrics to improve code
  • Meet regulatory requirements during the design process
  • Design secure interfaces within applications
  • Find and fix malicious code
  • Test for known and unknown vulnerabilities
  • Work on a multi-part capstone project

Springboard’s Cyber Security Career Track is now enrolling.

Cybersecurity Analyst Career FAQs

Want to know more about how to get into cybersecurity? Read on to find the answers to some frequently asked questions.

  • How long does it take to become a security analyst?

Although it can vary depending on an individual’s education and experience, it takes roughly two to four years to acquire the necessary skills, experience, and certifications to become a security analyst. For someone who already had a bachelor’s degree in a related field under their belt, the timeline can be even shorter.

  • Is cybersecurity a good career?

The cybersecurity field is varied, constantly evolving, presents new and exciting challenges, and security analysts are often well-compensated and in high demand.

  • What do you need to study to be a security analyst?

Most employers require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, engineering, or a related field, although applicants who don’t have a degree can be considered if they have relevant industry experience, cybersecurity certifications, or online bootcamp training.

Is cybersecurity the right career for you?

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the cybersecurity industry is expected to have 3.5 million high-paying, unfilled jobs this year. With Springboard’s comprehensive Cyber Security Career Track, you’ll work 1:1 with an industry-mentor to learn key aspects of information technology, security software, security auditing, and finding and fixing malicious code. Learning units include subject-expert approved resources, application-based mini-projects, hands-on labs, and career-search related coursework.

The course will culminate in a multi-part capstone project that you can highlight on your resume for prospective employers or use to demonstrate your technical knowledge in your job interview. The learning materials will also help prepare you to pass the globally-recognized CompTIA Security+  certification so you stand out when applying for cybersecurity roles.

Learn more about Springboard’s Cyber Security Career Track here.

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