I’m a security analyst and people frequently ask me what I do as a security analyst. The short answer is easy: I monitor the data of the business I’m working for.
As part of the monitoring, I prevent and stop attacks on their data. To do that, I create firewalls and either develop or purchase software systems to protect the business’ infrastructures.
As businesses are more and more using a digital interface to store information, security analysts are in high demand. If you want to know more, read on. In this article I’ll discuss the following:
- About the Security Analyst Career
- Soft Skills Needed to Be a Security Analyst
- How to Become a Security Analyst
- Continue with Informal Learning
- Where to Work as a Security Analyst
- Contact Potential Employers
About the Security Analyst Career
As a security analyst, I identify network weaknesses in our business. It may sound strange, but every day I try to hack my company’s networks. When I detect weaknesses, I determine how to patch the “holes” in the networks.
If there has been a breach of security, I have to find ways to protect the systems against another similar breach. I use various software to increase and strengthen our business’ digital information.
I work for a small private business, but many analysts work for the government or large public organizations. Many also work as freelancers and assist more than one company.
Sometimes when I find a potential threat, I advise management to get a specialized freelancer to assist me.
A Typical Day as a Security Analyst
My day starts by looking at the previous day’s reports. Then I check for any new threats reported by other security analysts in the field. I quickly check to see whether any malware has infiltrated our basic systems.
Most days I communicate with other analysts to discuss new threats and ways to protect our systems. I also inform software developers if I’ve detected weaknesses in their software that could lead to hacking.
Other daily responsibilities include the ongoing monitoring of our business’ digital systems and managing the software we are using. I prepare and submit a security report to my management and suggest new security plans when necessary.
Soft Skills Needed to Be a Security Analyst
Critical Thinking And Collaboration: In my job, I have to be able to think critically. This is necessary to work through complex coding and software issues. I must also be willing to collaborate with other analysts and software developers.
Communication Skills: Although my job requires me to have strong tech skills, I must also have verbal and written communication skills. It is expected of me to be able to explain the data problems to people who may not have any technical background.
Generally, people without a technical background have to decide on fund-allocations for security purposes.
Learning Attitude: I must have the adaptability to grow within my field. I read a lot about the newest security developments and hacking techniques. I’m on a continuous learning curve.
Required Hard Skills
Understanding Systems: Like other security analysts, I have the expertise to understand a diversity of systems and networks. I have to know how each element of our network might have an impact on security.
Ability to Code: To do my job efficiently I have a working knowledge of computer scripts. I’ve found that scripts like Java and C++ benefit me the most. With these scripts, I encode threats and rewrite software when needed.
Hacking Operating Systems: I have to understand hacking processes to block and prevent any cyber-attack. Sometimes I use my hacking knowledge to try and hack our own information. This helps me to discover weaknesses in our data systems. I also work on a diverse array of operating systems like iOS, Windows, and Linux.
How to Become a Security Analyst
You might now wonder what I had to do to become a security analyst. The process differs from person to person, however, my road to becoming a security analyst will give you an idea of what to expect.
I’ve studied formally and hold a bachelor’s degree in Information Security. My studies included subjects like cybersecurity, computer programming, information security, and other related fields.
The larger organizations often require that their security analysts hold at least a master’s degree with one of these fields as the major.
There are also online boot camps offering workshops and crash courses in security and coding. This leads in many cases to certifications.
These certifications can help you to get a junior security analyst post somewhere. You can then study further while getting on-the-job experience.
This experience on your resume will help you to stand out from other applicants. Apart from my bachelor’s degree, I’m also certified in other IT fields. Some of these certifications I received while doing my bachelor’s degree, and others after completion of my degree.
Continue with Informal Learning
Like me, many computer professionals learn new scripts, codes, and programs on their own. A recent survey found that 85.5% of the responding group has taught themselves new tools, frameworks, or coding languages.
This is what is very exciting about my job. I’m learning something new every day and adding to my knowledge base daily.
Many employers often seek candidates who have shown that they haven’t stop learning after they’ve received their formal qualifications but keep up with the newest technology and trends.
So, don’t forget to put all your expertise into your resume, and do not only refer to your formal education.
Salary and Earnings
You will understand if I don’t share my current personal income with you! However, I’ll provide the newest statistics about the salary of security analysts. Generally speaking, security analysts tend to earn high wages.
In 2019/2020 the low-earning 10% of security analysts earned a median annual wage of $57,810. The top 90% of earners received $158,860 annually. This is also an indication of what fees you can quote if you are a freelancer.
But the city you are working in also influences your salary. In Washington, DC the average annual salary is $117,810, in New York, NY it is $127,850, and in Dallas, TX it’s $114,100. If you’re working in Boston, MA the average is $106,650, and in Atlanta, GA it is $100,810.
Where to Work as a Security Analyst
Like me, you can work as a security analyst in the computer and information technology industry.
But most other industries employ security analysts or at least use freelance analysts from time to time.
Apart from the computer and information sector, many security analysts are employed by the finance and management sectors.
How to Search For a Job
The online job board CyberSecJobs is ideal for job-seeking. It is administered by the company ClearedJobs. This job board company provides for job seekers looking for vacancies, and for employers looking for applicants. You can search under specific criteria, like company or location.
It is important to remember that this job board is only for U.S. citizens. You have to be a U.S. citizen to apply for any of the vacancies listed on the board. All the employers advertising here also require a current security clearance.
Another online board is the CyberSecurityJobBoard. This board also provides for job seekers looking for vacancies, and for employers looking for applicants. Like most other online job boards you can search under specific criteria. You can also look at vacancies advertised on the job site NinjaJobs.
Contact Potential Employers
Apart from using job boards, you can send your resume directly to employers. You can start by sending it to the “big players” in the field. But don’t forget about the companies in your local area.
One of the largest companies is Northrup Grumman which develops cyberinfrastructure and also offers security training and support. You might be able to get a job as a security analyst in this prestigious company. For more details visit their website.
Dell Technologies employs analysts to develop new, safe products. Look at their website regarding possibilities.
Accenture is an Irish multinational global company. The company has hubs around the United States and employs security analysts to assist their clients with cybersecurity issues.
Whether you apply online or directly to an employer, you’ll need a resume to submit. You have to give enough information, but you have to do it in a concise and organized manner so the potential employer can get a strong summary of your qualifications and education without having to read everything.
Studies show employers only spend about 5-7 seconds looking at a single resume when they start scanning for possible recruits. If they find something interesting during those few seconds they will later go back and read more.
In your resume make sure you include your personal contact details, relevant experience, skills and qualifications, and why you are the best person to fill the vacancy.
If you are interested in a job as a security analyst, ensure that you get the right formal education.
If you’re already qualified and you know that you have the skills and motivation needed, start applying now! Do it online, but don’t forget to contact possible employers directly.