When you ask how to break into a career in cybersecurity as a security analyst, everyone seems to have a different answer, but there are a few solid strategies that will work for most eager newcomers.
A security analyst is a member of a Security Operations Center (SOC) team and is the “eyes on glass” Level 1 analyst. If you are seeking to enter the world of cybersecurity, a security analyst role is the first step.
A security analyst is the primary role responsible for monitoring network traffic and identifying potential cyber threats. They are the first point of contact for security incidents and are responsible for not only identifying the threat, but also acting to mitigate any damage to protect the organization.
Some experts say that a specific educational background is not very relevant, and that passion and an innately curious nature to learn is far more essential to learn the necessary skills and knowledge about cybersecurity technologies, policies, procedures, and more.
In looking for a Security Analyst role, you’ll see many companies requiring specific prerequisites from their applicants. Some may accept a two-year associate’s degree, but many others look for a four-year bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, software engineering, information assurance, or some equivalent, relevant field of study.
Beyond degrees, certifications are the next most sought-after qualifications by potential employers. Certs demonstrate very specific competence in select technologies or disciplines in the industry. While there are many certifications for cybersecurity professionals, there are a few that are specifically beneficial and attractive on a resume:
- CompTIA Security+ – a global certification validating baseline skills required for core security functions and when you are pursuing an information technology career.
- CompTIA Network+ – a global certification covering configuration, troubleshooting, and managing networks.
- CompTIA Cyber Security Analyst (CYSA+) – a certification for professionals in cybersecurity involved in incident detection, prevention, and response by continuous system monitoring.
- Python – a certification in a programming language commonly used in cybersecurity for malware analysis, packet transmission, host discovery, server access, decoding, network scanning, port scanning, and more.
- Coding – Certification in C or C++ languages is also beneficial.
There are many other certifications that security analysts seek after beginning their careers. These are just a place to start your journey.
Transitioning into a new career in cybersecurity, without a traditional educational background in computer science may be challenging, but there is still hope. There are a few ways that help you get started on your journey to becoming a cybersecurity analyst. In fact, an enthusiasm for the subject matter and an eagerness to learn are probably the most valuable attributes for an applicant.
A career in cybersecurity is for someone with a love of learning and with a curious nature. An essential step is reading and digging deep to learn as much as possible about being a security analyst and other roles you might be interested in. Moreover, seek to learn something on topics such as data governance, regulatory compliance, security operations, access controls, help desks, penetration testing, ethical hacking, digital forensics, network security, and compliance.
Content from cybersecurity professionals found on blogs and YouTube can also provide excellent insight.
Working in an adjacent technology role such as a help desk where you can learn about computers and networking is a good way to position yourself to get into security. Some companies may also provide formal training or a promotion track to help fill gaps left by security analysts also moving up to more senior roles.
Many companies are facing challenges in filling vacancies and finding qualified candidates. One alternative some employers are now using is called “upskilling.” This involves looking laterally at capable people already working for the organization in other departments and training them to fill cyber roles, such as security analyst.
Experts say there are a few benefits to upskilling instead of hiring a new employee. For example, already employed staff are familiar with the company’s history, culture, have relationships within the company, and know the hierarchy. Although these employees might lack training and certifications, it’s a relatively small price to pay in exchange for onboarding a talented member to the security operations team.
Becoming a Security Analyst
Becoming a security analyst can be the first step in a rewarding career. Begin by learning about threats and what can be done to secure a network against them. Then begin to look for opportunities with companies as a security analyst. Work on building a network of contacts while staying abreast of the latest developments and trends.