Cyber security analysis has a booming career field for most of the 21st century, but demand has grown even more over the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to convert their operations to an online-only model, and this resulted in many organizations realizing their cyber security was inadequate. In fact, in August 2020 the FBI reported that they’d seen a 400% increase in complaints of cyber-attacks – as many as 4,000 attacks a day!
This massive increase in cyber-crime cemented cyber security analysts as an essential part of any corporation doing business online – and even as we approach a post-COVID world, this demand for cyber security experts is likely to remain high. This is great news for tech enthusiasts entering the workforce in the coming years… but how exactly do they become cyber security analysts?
Becoming a cyber security analyst is a fairly simple process, but there are several small steps along the way. Anyone hoping to enjoy this exciting career will need to get a bachelor’s degree, get experience in the tech sector through internships, get special certifications, and then work their way up from an entry-level position.
Here’s what you need to know about becoming a cyber security analyst.
Step 1: Get Your Degree
Like most professions in the modern age, you’ll need to get a college degree before you can become a cyber security analyst. The vast majority of employers expect their analysts to at least have a bachelor’s degree, though some may accept an associate’s degree if you have proven cyber security experience.
What should you major in? Most cyber security analysts get their degrees in computer science, information technology, computer or software engineering, information assurance, or a similar field. These programs are the ones most likely to teach you the hard skills you’ll need for success in the tech industry like coding and penetration testing.
Step 2: Get an Internship
Your degree is a great way to show employers that you have the know-how and the drive to be a cyber security analyst, but it is no substitute for on-the-job experience. This is why many employers look for candidates who also spent time in internships along with earning a degree.
An internship is an opportunity to get up close and personal with the world of cyber security. You can network with professionals, learn tricks of the trade, and gain valuable experience as an intern, so make sure you try to take advantage of this unique learning opportunity. It just might make all the difference in getting your first job!
Step 3: Get Certified
Your cyber security education doesn’t end the day you get your bachelor’s degree. In fact, most cyber security professionals are certified in a specific type of cyber security work. These certifications will help you gain more knowledge about this complex field – and they just might give you an edge over other candidates.
Which certifications are best for an aspiring cyber security analyst? We’d recommend the following:
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- Comp TIA Security +
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Admittedly, these certifications can be quite expensive. For example, taking the GSEC exam can cost as much as $1,700! But despite the costs, these certifications are definitely worth it. According to research from software company Burning Glass, 59% of employers expect their cyber security analysts to have at least one certification! The cost of getting your certification is an unquestionable investment in your future career.
Step 4: Start Working
Once you have your degree, your certification, and the experiences you gained from your internship, you should be ready to jump into the world of cyber security analysis, right? Not quite. That same report from Burning Glass states that many employers (46%) want their cyber security professionals to have 3-5 years of experience in the industry – and that was in June 2019, before cyber-attacks skyrocketed.
If you want to work as a cyber security analyst, you’ll probably have to start your career in an adjacent position. You may start as an IT support tech, or as a program developer. These jobs may not be exactly what you want to do, but if you find yourself working in these positions be patient. They are just stepping stones to bigger things.
Step 5: Work Your Way Up
This final step is the one that often takes the longest. Many organizations like to promote their cyber security professionals from within the company (as it protects their proprietary data from potentially rogue eyes). Therefore, anyone working within an organization has a better chance at monitoring that company’s network than an outsider – and that’s where you’ll have the upper hand.
Once you land that entry-level job, make sure that you work hard, network with your colleagues and bosses, and produce consistently good work. If you do, eventually you’ll earn yourself the coveted title of cyber security analyst!