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Cyber Security Analyst

Job Spotlight - Cyber Security

If you love technology and are savvy when it comes computers, working in Cyber Security may be what you are best suited for. But how do you go about getting a job like this? What kind of education would you need? What exactly does a Information Security Analyst do?
 

Quick Facts: Cyber Security Analyst
2015 Median Pay (Annual) $90,120
2015 Median Pay (Hourly) $43.33
Entry Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Experience in Related Field Five years or less
2014-2024 Projected Outlook 18% growth (much faster than average)
2014 Number of Jobs 82,900
2014-2024 Estimated Employment Gains 14,800

Resource: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Cyber Security FAQs

If you have questions like this, then you came to the right web site. Our goal is to serve a resource to give you a better grasp of Cyber Security and how you can get involved. We have gathered the most-frequently-asked questions concerning work in the field of Cyber Security to help make this resource work better for you. If we have missed any questions you want to ask or if you have any suggestions on how to make this page better, just drop us a line and let us know.

What is Cyber Security?

Cyber Security is the prevention and protection of computer systems, networks, programs, data and telecommunication infrastructures from attacks, destruction, modifications, theft and unauthorized or unintended access. Those who work in this field are commonly called Cyber Security Analysts, Computer Security Specialists, Information Security Analysts and Data Security Analysts, to name a few titles.

A Cyber Security Analyst normally works as part of a team to help combat the increasing number hackers and viruses that are being used to disable, infiltrate, raid or destroy information and data in business, government, organizations and private computer systems. This is done via ethical hacking and devising new ways to stay in front of those looking to do harm.

The need for more workers in information security is growing each year. In fact, according to an article in U.S. News, Information Security Analyst ranks as the 11th best job of the future. This is one of the many reasons you should consider working in this field.

Working in Cyber Security is challenging, rewarding and a great way to make a living. You will working on the front lines of the keeping your company or in some cases, your country safe from hooligans looking to cause chaos. In a way it is like being a super hero but one that uses their skills, mind and knowledge to stop the villains.

How Can I Become a Cyber Security Specialist?

Quick Info: Types of Degrees for Cyber Security
Levels of degrees
• Certificate
• Bachelor’s degree – Recommended for entry level
• Master’s degree
• Doctorate degree
Types of programs
• Applications and Programming
• Business Systems Analysis
• Computer Engineering Technology
• Computer Information Systems
• Computer Network Systems
• Computer Science
• Cyber Security
• Database Management and Business Intelligence
• Digital Forensics
• Healthcare Information Technology
• Information Technology
• Mobile Technology
• Networking and Communications
• Software Applications Development
• Software Engineering Technology
• Systems Security
• Web Application Development
Some certifications you may want to earn
• Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
• GIAC Information Security Fundamentals
• CompTIA Security+
• (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional
• (ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner
• ISACA Certified Information Security Manager
• Electronic Commerce (EC) Council Certified Ethical Hacker
• GIAC Systems and Network Auditor

With few exceptions, you will not be able to start working in Cyber Security without a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science or a related major. There are a few entry-level jobs in computer security that do not require a four-year degree. Normally this would mean at least a certificate in Cyber Security or more commonly an Associate of Science degree. However, take note that some of these positions are being phased out for entry level jobs as the threats on the internet are becoming more common and malicious.

Let’s look at the most common path that you should expect to take to work as a Cyber Security Specialist.

Education

The amount of education you will need is mainly dictated by what you are looking for out of your job and how much time you want to spend in school. We do recommend that you pursue a bachelor’s degree rather than a certificate or an associate’s degree, but if you have the ambition and the desire to learn you can do just as well with one of the lower level degrees. Sometimes experience can trump book learning in this field as well as others.

Certificate Program

These quick one year or less programs can be very helpful, especially to someone with either experience or changing the focus of their knowledge.

  • More often than not, you may have limited advancement potential due to others with more education.
  • By starting out with just a certificate you can also gauge your interest in this field without spending too much money or time.
  • Some opportunities for employment may be available if the demand for Cyber Security outpaces the number of qualified applicants.
Associate Degree

It is possible for you to pursue an Associate of Science degree in Cyber Security or other computer related major and land an entry level position in network administration.

  • From landing that first job, you will want to gain as much experience as possible. Working with others in the IT department to learn firsthand how it all works.
  • Only recommended for those who are looking to get a job in IT quickly or have this serve as a stepping stone for going back to get more education.
  • Chances for advancement and job openings may be available if demand for information security continues to rise.
Bachelor Degree

We highly-recommend pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, Cyber Security or a related field in order to start working in this industry.

  • A BS should open more opportunities than either a certificate or an associate’s degree.
  • The prospect to earn fairly good wages is higher in comparison to lower degrees or certificates.
  • The ability to be self-employed by working as an Information Security Analyst for a wide range of companies on contract.
  • The growing demand for Cyber Security in the health care sector should fuel an increase in demand of bachelor degree analyst.
Master’s Degree

A master’s degree in the Cyber Security field is extremely beneficial for anyone looking to hold a supervisory position or would like to work on the research end of data security.

  • Potentially higher wages and more advancement opportunities.
  • A master’s degree can help overlook lack of experience in some situations.
  • Some employers require anyone working on information systems to have at least a master’s degree.
Other Options

While some people may not think of the U.S. military as a source for Cyber Security education, but it definitely can be. The U.S. military has become more reliant on computers and when there are computers there is a need for information security. The military might be a great option for people who either have the desire to serve and protect their country or those who may not have the financial resources to go to school.

Experience gained through the military is some of the best you can get and on top of that, you get paid to learn. What can be better than getting a fat paycheck while training for something you love and getting solid information security experience that can come in handy once your time in the service is over? I can’t think of anything, can you?

After Training

Chances are that directly after college you will not start working as a full-time Cyber Security analyst. Depending on where you are employed, you might start as part of the IT team with the idea of getting the experience necessary to move in to a more trusted role. You will need to start earning certifications in Information Security that can help you become more involved in security. It is smart to find a company that will help pay for your certifications and exams as these exams can be fairly expensive.

CISSP Certification

After gaining three to five years’ worth of experience helping with information systems security, you will want to take the next step – taking the CISSP exam. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is a certification that objectively proves your competence in systems security. By passing this exam you will have greater opportunities for employment as well as potentially higher salary offers. Plus, the CISSP can provide a fantastic foundation for other Information Security certifications that should help you out professionally.

What Topics Will be Covered in Cyber Security Courses?

Some of the topics you may cover in Information Security programs include:

  • Intruder and hacker attacks
  • Vulnerability in coding and software
  • Malware
  • Malicious codes such as worms and viruses
  • Cryptography
  • Operations security
  • Ethics, law and investigation
  • Technological Transformations
  • Security architecture and models
  • Security management policies
  • Applications and systems development
  • Telecommunications, Network and internet security

Where Can I Find Information Security Programs?

Quick Info: Tips to Finding a School
What to look for
• Accreditation
• Reputation of program
• Cost of tuition
• Location of campus
• Graduation rate
• Instructor/student ratio
• Successful alumni
• Internships
• Job placement services
• Networking possibilities

One of the best ways to find colleges offering Cyber Security degrees is the internet. It is easy to pull up a list of the top programs throughout the country so you can compare the colleges. But how do you pick which Cyber Security school is the right one for you?

To start off with, you will want to enroll in a college or university that has been accredited from a professional organization such as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (ACFS). Find a school that offers a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security or a related field such as computer science, programming, network information. If at all possible find a college that has a good reputation in the industry for teaching network security. This reputation may help you gain a bit of an advantage over others when you are starting to look for a job.

Military

If you want to enlist in the military instead of heading straight to school, then you will find it pretty easy to do. The best bet is to visit your local recruiting office and talk to the person in charge. Ask them any and all questions about Information Security you may have about joining up. You don’t have to enlist right then and there. It is better if you take a day or so to figure out if joining the military is the right path for you.

Another option for those who may want to explore the idea of enlistment is checking out each of the branch’s websites. These sites are loaded with tons of information that can help you decide whether or not you want to join. Remember this is a big commitment and one that should not be taken lightly. To find out more of what each branch of the military has to offer, check out the links below.

U.S. Army

U.S. Navy

U.S. Air Force

U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. National Guard

Is It Possible to Earn a Cyber Security Degree Online?

Of course! In fact, you will find that a growing number of colleges around the country are starting up online courses for computer science, Cyber Security and other related majors. These programs are becoming increasingly popular and extremely helpful for people who are not able to attend a traditional style college due to other responsibilities.

Another use of online education can be used by those who are looking to further their education by pursuing a higher degree such as going from an associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree. You may also find that taking a few classes can help you gain a better understanding of a facet of Cyber Security or use these courses to ready yourself for a certification exam.

You do not have to look further than your computer to find an online school that fits your need. Make sure you find a program that is accredited and reputable as well one that has the right type of training you need. Cyber Security online courses can be an amazing experience for you.

How Long do Computer Security Programs Take?

If you decide you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security, you should expect to spend 3-to-5 years in college. Of course this is depending on how hard you push yourself, load up your schedule or have a quick grasp of the information. If you decide to go for a master’s degree afterwards, this may take at least an additional 2-to-3 years.

You should also know that learning never really ends for those working in Cyber Security. Threats and technology are always changing so you will need to continue keeping up which sometimes requires more courses. Not to mention that most certifications do require continuing education in order to maintaining your status.

What is a Good Cyber Security Analyst Job Description?

There are a number of duties that those working as a Information Security Analyst may have to do, depending on the industry or company they work for. Each industry has different priorities when it comes to Cyber Security whether it is to just protect their system to stopping the theft of propriety information.

Those working for the government or a government contractor is concerned with potential break-ins and trying to protect the network from attacks either by hackers or terrorists as well as confidential information theft. If you happen to work for an e-commerce company you are more concerned with protecting your system from hackers, spyware, viruses or theft. Cyber Security analysts working in healthcare has the top priority of defending their files for reasons of patient privacy.

Some of the more common duties of a Cyber Security expert include:

  • Planning and creating a security policy
  • Managing firewalls and other security products 24/7
  • Performing risk assessments through ethical hacking in to the system to find and fix any holes in the security
  • Keeping up to date with the latest tech and security trends
  • Investigating any security breaches and violations
  • Installing new security software including firewalls and data encryption
  • Making reports on the strengths, vulnerabilities and weaknesses of security system
  • Develop network recovery programs in case of disaster, information security breaches or hardware failure
  • Create backups to safeguard files from loss of information either accidental or unauthorized
  • Monitor network for computer viruses and update virus protection
  • Helping train staff on security procedures
  • Work with outside vendors and programmers for the security needs of the organization
  • Making recommendations for security enhancements
  • Report any security breaches and, if needed, contact the correct authorities

What is the Median Cyber Security Salary?

Is Cyber Security a good paying job? The latest data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics should put a fairly big smile on your face stating the annual median salary of an Information Security analyst is $90,120 ($43.33 an hour). The top 10 percent were making more than $135,000 while the bottom 10% were around $50,000.

cyber security salary

Your real pay might slightly be different due to a number of factors. The most common factors associated with actual pay include:

  • Experience
  • Location
  • Cost of Living
  • Employer

What is the Outlook for Cyber Security?

As you might expect, the outlook for Cyber Security is definitely on the way up. The increased awareness of hacking and attacks on computer systems combined with the overall dependence on computers have created a demand that is far outreaching the supply of trained professionals. The U.S. government currently rates Information Security as one of the more important positions in years to come, so much so that so that even the President remarked on the importance of this field.

Cyber Security Projected Job Growth

The projected growth of this industry over the next decade is expected to increase by 18% to. It is possible to even go above this quite positive numbers due to the expansion of electronic medical records along with more protection against terrorists and foreign based attacks. Two government agencies that are looking to hire a large percentage of Cyber Security specialists includes Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Defense (DoD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Are There Any Information Security Certifications?

There are dozens of certifications that can earned. Most of these will help you professionally by proving you have the knowledge and skills necessary for certain positions. As the demand for qualified professionals in Cyber Security continues to grow, you may find that certifications can help you get an advantage over your competition when it comes to employment opportunities.

One of the most recognized certifications in the industry is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) issued by International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2). This certification is given after passing the exam to prove that the individual has the experience, knowledge and proficiency in Cyber Security. This certification is highly recommended for anyone serious about their professional standing.

Some other certifications that can be earned by Cyber Security analysts include:

Another Note About Cyber Security Certifications

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers free Cyber Security classes for anyone looking for some of the basics. Some of the courses cover white collar crime, cyber law and information risk management. Upon completing the courses, you can receive a certification from Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA).

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