In a global workplace climate dominated by technology, every company needs trusted, experienced professionals to keep its data, computer networks, and systems secure. According to an estimate by Statista, the annual cost of cybercrime is expected to exceed $10 trillion. The demand for information security personnel will likely grow to meet this increased financial threat. Companies can fill this need with staff like information security analysts.
The role of an information security analyst isn’t easy. New threats appear all the time, so defending businesses’ complex technology resources demands constant attention and adaptation. However, these professionals’ earning potential, job security, and chances for advancement can all serve as great rewards for those who make the leap.
What Is an Information Security Analyst?
An information security analyst is the go-to person for a company’s cybersecurity strategy. These professionals are responsible for planning and designing new security approaches, as well as putting those plans into action.
The information security analyst role continues to increase in scope and importance, due to the fact that cyberattacks are increasing in volume and sophistication. A good information security analyst will keep learning on the job, staying abreast of emerging tools and tactics used by cybercriminals, and devising ways to cope with those risks.
Information Security Analyst Job Description
While it’s true that information security professionals are the people most responsible for protecting a business against hackers, reducing the job description to “someone who copes with cyberattacks” is too limiting. The role requires a more nuanced look at the specific responsibilities:
- Security measures: Information security analysts implement, maintain, and perform necessary upgrades to the security measures that protect systems and infrastructure.
- Risk assessment: These professionals perform audits and assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities.
- Policy development: Information security analysts must use their knowledge of information systems, cybersecurity, and company systems to create and implement effective security policies.
- Security training: This role involves promoting awareness and education about information security and best practices through training programs and other initiatives.
- Regulatory compliance: These analysts need to stay up to date on evolving laws and information security policies to help the company maintain compliance.
- Reporting: Information security analysts need to be able to provide regular updates on the status of information security and any recommendations they may have regarding potential improvements to IT infrastructure.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that information security analysts work on their employers’ disaster recovery strategies, too. Disaster recovery procedures are invoked whenever a company’s technology systems fail — whether due to a cyberattack, a natural disaster affecting a data center, or any other kind of intervention. To work on these plans, information security analysts have to be intensely familiar with their employer’s technology capabilities and needs.
Necessary Skills for an Information Security Analyst
Effective information security analysts must possess a mix of hard and soft skills, such as communication and problem-solving. Useful abilities for these professionals include:
- Multitasking and problem-solving: Protecting a company against IT threats is rarely straightforward. An information security analyst may be coordinating a software upgrade one moment, then working on a breach response the next. Taking a calm, analytical approach to resolving issues, even when many things are happening at once, is a fundamental IT security ability.
- Advanced technology knowledge: One of the most challenging parts of working in information technology is the fast pace. Yesterday’s cutting-edge system will be obsolete tomorrow. As an information technology analyst, a professional will have to build a working knowledge of the latest IT tools, then continue to learn as new versions roll out.
- People skills and service mindset: An information security analyst is in the business of helping other employees and departments with their technology issues. This means these security professionals need to be skilled at working with others. From guiding colleagues through technology upgrades to making reports on security status, there are plenty of scenarios where communication becomes a core information security value.
An information security analyst shouldn’t be 100% dedicated to either their soft skills or technical knowledge. The best of these professionals are well-rounded and able to combine their ever-expanding tech expertise with the ability to communicate clearly with their coworkers.
Education and Certification for Information Security Analysts
Learning about IT concepts in college courses — whether at the bachelor’s or master’s level — is one of the most direct ways to build useful knowledge for an information security analyst career. Today’s online programs enable working professionals to study while still working full-time jobs.
Often, employers hiring information security analysts won’t require candidates to have a master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree will suffice for many roles, provided it is in a computer-related field, such as information systems.
Of course, studying information technology at a college level is about more than the diploma students earn at the end of their programs. The true value comes from the skills and knowledge learned from the curriculum. Hiring managers will want to verify that candidates have picked up technical knowledge while completing college programs.
Why become an information security analyst?
Becoming an information security analyst means taking on an impressive set of responsibilities and duties. To dedicated and ambitious professionals with an interest in cybersecurity, this is just par for the course.
With that said, it wouldn’t be feasible to take on an information security analyst’s high-pressure job without adequate compensation. In terms of salary, job demand, and potential for advancement, these roles tend to deliver. After all, well-managed information security is crucial to a company’s continued security and success. There’s no substitute for a skilled information security analyst.
Information Security Analyst Salary and Job Outlook
According to the most recent BLS survey, conducted in May 2021, the median salary for an information security analyst is $102,600. The lowest-earning 10% of these professionals make $61,520 a year or less, while the top 10% make more than $165,920.
Analysts working in the information sector saw the highest median annual salary, followed by finance and insurance and then management of companies and enterprises. According to the BLS, the number of information security analyst openings will increase by 35% between 2021 and 2031. Considering the growth among all roles is projected to be 5% in that same period, it’s clear that companies are scaling up their information security departments.
The BLS did note that information security analysts have to provide a high level of service and availability to earn impressive salaries. Some of these security professionals do work more than the conventional 40-hour workweek, and it’s considered normal for analysts to be on call at all hours in case a security problem strikes at night or on the weekend.
Potential for Advancement
There are plenty of pathways for ambitious and successful information security analysts to take on more responsibilities. This includes positions like information security engineers or information security managers. While these roles will bring more responsibilities, the chance of advancing from a lucrative role to an even more influential position is surely enticing.
Considering the increasing importance of information security in companies’ long-term prospects, it’s not surprising that information security managers can, in turn, be promoted to take on C-suite duties. The chief security officer — sometimes referred to as a chief information security officer — is a highly specialized member of a leadership team, one dedicated to bringing data protection to the boardroom.
How Do Professionals Become Information Security Analysts?
Businesses won’t entrust their security strategies to just anyone. To earn hiring managers’ trust and become their pick for an information security analyst role, professionals should build their skills in a variety of ways.
The abilities it takes to become an effective information security analyst candidate — and then thrive on the job — span tech knowledge, interpersonal competency, and more. By developing these skills in both the professional realm and higher education, aspiring security experts can help their own cases as they apply for analyst roles.