A security analyst is a professional that protects digital data from hackers who wish to steal information or bring down organizations. These kinds of attacks seem to be on the rise, some of which have been quite public and damaging. Continue reading to learn more about this field, the education required to enter it, the types of skills that are useful within the industry, the job outlook and more.

What Security Analysts Do

Security analysts are information technology (IT) professionals who can work for such institutions as banks, IT consulting firms, healthcare companies and government agencies. They may even be self-employed on a freelance or contract basis. They develop, plan and implement security protocol in order to protect the information held by computer networks from being compromised by outside attacks. It’s imperative that these data professionals stay informed of the very latest computer information technologies, along with the methodologies used by hackers to breach security measures that are currently in place around the world.

In order to accomplish these general duties, analysts must create information recovery plans for use in case of a disastrous breach. They also need to keep abreast of the current levels of security within their networks by testing and assessing the data processing systems regularly. Security analysts are experts at installing devices to ensure the safety of information such as firewalls and data encryption. They are responsible for recommending the kinds of tools, resources and security enhancements their employers should buy to stay on top of the latest vulnerabilities. Finally, analysts are in charge of training staff across their organizations in the procedures that are to be used to maintain network and information safety.

Education and Training

At minimum, it’s likely you would need to acquire at least a Bachelor’s degree in a subject related to computer information systems or computer science.

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Many employers also prefer to hire those with experience in a relevant occupation. More and more schools today have specific programs gear specifically toward becoming a security analyst. An MBA, Master of Business Administration, is sometimes sought after by hiring agents, as the in-depth business knowledge can be useful to particular organizations. This degree usually takes an addition two years, on average, to complete following a four-year Bachelor’s program.

It’s also helpful to obtain a certification in security analysis. Many are available, such as that of Security Systems Professional or more specialized certificates in areas like systems auditing or penetration testing.

Job Outlook

It’s important to be detail oriented and possess strong analytical skills if you want to enter this field. Possessing great problem solving skills, along with ingenuity, will keep you ahead of the cyber attackers and assist in handling any issues they may cause. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay in this field as of 2015 was $90,120 per year with an 18% job growth projected over the next decade, which is quite good.

If you enjoy working with computers and using your skills to solve problems, this industry may be a good fit. A security analyst plays an important role in keeping information safe from those who wish to steal it or wreak havoc.