Overview of Security Analyst Jobs
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Security Analysts are by far the most common job title of cyber security professionals. And one of the most important. Daily, security analysts probe the systems they are meant to protect to discover security weaknesses. Once the weaknesses are discovered, a security analyst will help to implement creative ways to prevent others from exploiting these weaknesses.
Security Analyst Job Description:
- Planning and implementing security measures for computers, networks, and data.
- Staying up-to-date with new technologies, and leading efforts to implement new security technologies
- Creating, implementing, and practicing disastear recovery and mitigaton plans
- Helping with encryption, firewall, and other general security-related tasks in your organization
- Establishing and training other non-cyber security staff on security protocols.
Differences Between Security Analyst and Security Administrator Positions
Security analysts and administrators often work in tandem, though their roles focus on different aspects of cyber security. Where a security analyst will help to discover security flaws and recommend changes to help tighten up cyber security, administrators take a more active role in implementing technical changes. Also, security administrators are the main party responsible for keeping a system going. The number one focus of many security administrator positions is to ensure system up time. While the main focus of security analysts is to ferret out security weaknesses and come up with solutions to these weaknesses.
Educational Background Needed for Security Analyst Positions
While there are those who have worked their way up through IT ranks and learned information assurance skills less formarly, most security analyst positions require a bachelors degree in computer science, programming, or information technology. Furthermore, some employers prefer that security analysts have more specialized undergraduate degrees such as bachelors in cyber security or information assurance. Depending on the seniority of the role, many employers also prefer technical certifications which coupled with any technical undergraduate degree can help to show competency in cyber security topics. For more information on these educational requirements, check out our ranking of top online bachelors degrees in cyber security, as well as our guide to the most lucrative and in-demand cyber security certifications.
Technical Skills Needed for Security Analyst Positions
While this skillset may vary from organization to organization, many of the most requested include the following:
- Data and Traffic Analysis
- Anti-virus and anti-malware advanced knowledge
- Security configuration knowledge
- Data Management knowledge
- Computer networking, routing and switching knowledge
- Commonly some combination of C, C++, C#, Java or PHP programming knowledge
- Linux, Unix, and Windows operating system knowledge
- Security information and event management
- Wide ranging device configuration knowledge
- Some incident response knowledge
While that list may seem overwhelming to those looking for their first job as a security analyst, note that very few security analysts are experts in most of the above disciplines, and on-the-job learning is definitely part of the security analyst experience.
Job Outlook and Salary Information for Security Analysts
As with most cyber security roles, employment prospects for security analysts are great. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the number of open jobs in security analyst positions are set to increase by 18% nationwide by 2024. This signals that demand for security analysts is booming. With the scale of cyber threats quickly ramping up in recent years, it’s safe to say that demand could even greatly outpace the BLS estimate.
Earnings for security analysts are a great indicator for cyber security job earnings in general, as security analyst is one of the most common positions in information assurance teams. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the median salary for a security analyst was $92,600 in May 2016. While entry level salaries in this role may be slightly lower, security analysts are often within the first five years of their cyber security career, signalling the ability to make a high salary fairly soon into your cyber security career.
Security analyst positions are available in every branch of the armed forces, and go by the following names:
- Army: cryptologic network warfare specialist and military intelligence systems maintainer
- Navy: information warfrace and technology roles
- Air Force: cyber systems operators
- Marine Corps: information security or assurance technician
As with many cyber security roles, obtaining a security clearance can be crucial if you’re looking for work in government agencies, trying to work as a government contractor, or work in an organization that works with government contractors. Security clearances can take from 3 months to one year from the start of the application process to obtain. So often the easiest way to not slow down employment prospects is to obtain a security clearance within a current cyber security role, instead of applying for jobs that prefer a security clearance when you don’t have one. One important note is that only naturalized US citizens may obtain security clearances to work with government agencies or as contractors.