Learn About Being an Information Security Analyst

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 10, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: Becoming an Information Security Analyst

Are you interested in a career as an Information Security Analyst but are not sure how to start preparing for it? We have you covered!

What does an information security analyst do?

Information security analysts help protect companies’ information from hackers, viruses, malware and cyberattacks. They protect computer networks and systems and prevent hackers from stealing important data. They also regularly update systems with the latest firewall protection. An information security analyst’s job responsibilities might include:

  • Identifying a computer network’s potential risks and vulnerabilities

  • Monitoring and investigating security breaches

  • Installing defenses, such as data encryption, virus protection and firewalls

  • Educating employees or clients about security procedures and programs

  • Helping employees troubleshoot security or access issues

  • Testing protection programs to make sure they work

  • Creating plans for emergencies and how to protect, store or recover data during power outages and natural disasters

  • Researching new viruses and cyberattacks and how to prevent them

Average salary

Because all companies need to keep sensitive information secure, information security analysts are in high demand. The size, type and geographical location of the company in which they work can affect an information security analyst’s salary. Their level of education and experience can also be a factor in the wages they earn. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $94,448 per year

  • Some salaries range from $24,000 to $170,000 per year.

Information security analyst requirements

Most information security analysts complete a certain education level, then gain experience in the field to find employment. They usually earn certifications and develop a skill set to be successful.

Education

Information security analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field such as computer science, information technology, programming or computer engineering. Some employers prefer to hire information security analysts with master’s degrees. A master’s degree in information systems takes two years to complete and includes courses in business, management and programming.

Training

Information security analysts get much of their training through university courses, internships and work experience. Most analysts have prior experience in information technology positions, such as network technician, computer technician or support analyst.

Students can undergo internships while completing their degrees. Internships help them gain practical experience in their chosen field. During an internship, a student can also make valuable connections with IT professionals who may help them find jobs once they graduate.

Certifications

While certifications are not mandatory, they can offer information security analysts more job opportunities and earning potential. Information security certifications include:

Certified Information Systems Security Professional

The CISSP is an internationally respected credential for information security analysts with at least five years of work experience. Qualified analysts must pass the exam and earn 40 continuing education hours a year to remain certified. Those wishing to specialize further can take another exam to add one of three concentrations — architecture, engineering or management.

Certified Ethical Hacker

A CEH shows that an information security analyst understands how to find weaknesses in a system and defend against hackers. Candidates must take a training course and pass an exam to become certified.

EC-Council Certified Security Analyst

This certification is for individuals who are already CEH-certified and want to further their skills. Candidates must take a hands-on training course and pass an exam to become certified.

Information Systems Audit and Control Association certification

There are four separate certifications — Certified Information Systems Auditor, Certified Information Security Manager, Governance of Enterprise IT and Risk and Information Systems Control. Candidates must meet experience requirements and pass an exam for each.

Global Information Assurance certification

There are 30 specialties for all experience levels, ranging from cyber defense to incident response. You can choose a GIAC certification based on your skills and career goals, then study for and pass the exam.

Skills

Information security analysts are logical and investigative individuals. They often work well under pressure. Skills information security analysts need to succeed include:

Analytical skills

Information security analysts must closely assess computer networks for security breaches and areas of weakness. They use their analytical skills to strengthen and improve system protection.

Attention to detail

Information security analysts should be able to identify the most subtle changes in computer performance and signs of an attack. They may need to review hundreds or thousands of lines of computer code to detect any changes.

Problem-solving

Information security analysts figure out how to best protect computer systems and fix issues. They need to be excellent problem solvers to create multiple solutions to the same problem and choose the best one. 

Computer skills

Information security analysts must have exceptional computer programming skills. They should also have extensive knowledge of databases, networks and computer systems. Since the IT field constantly changes, they need to keep their computer knowledge current to identify threats. 

Communication

Information security analysts must be able to communicate with supervisors and coworkers clearly and explain complex computer issues in easy-to-understand terms. They often communicate via email on online chat programs, so written communication skills are also important. 

Information security analyst work environment

Most information security analysts work full time in office settings. Usually, they work during normal business hours. They might work evenings or weekends if an emergency or a data breach occurs. 

Information security analysts can work for nearly any type of company but usually find employment in the following industries:

  • Health care

  • Insurance

  • Finance

  • Government

  • Education

They often work as part of an information technology department team. Information security analysts can also work for consulting firms and travel to clients’ places of work.

How to become an information security analyst

Information security analysts spend years gaining the education, training and work experience they need to succeed. Steps to become an information security analyst might include:

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.

Most employers require you to have a four-year bachelor’s degree in a computer field, such as computer science or information systems.

2. Gain experience. 

Most employers also prefer to hire information security analysts who have several years of work experience. Seek an internship while earning your degree. After graduating, apply for entry-level jobs, such desktop support analyst, technical support specialist or computer systems analyst to develop your system administration and programming experience. 

3. Become certified. 

While not mandatory, many employers look for candidates with certification from one of several professional organizations. You might choose a specialized certification that shows your skills in a certain area, such as penetration testing or systems auditing. These certifications can help your resume stand out during the hiring process.

4. Get a master’s degree.

If your goal is to work in an upper-level or management IT position, a master’s degree in information systems can prepare you for this career path. These two-year programs offer a combination of advanced information systems coursework and finance, marketing, human resources and other business courses.

5. Advance in your career.

If you have a certification, you might need to earn a certain number of continuing education hours each year to remain certified. As you gain work experience and credentials, you might qualify for more advanced and higher-paying computer security positions, such as computer network architect, IT manager or network and computer systems administrator.

Information security analyst job description example

Hamilton Corp. is looking for a detail-oriented and inquisitive information security analyst to join our pharmaceutical company’s IT department. The security analyst will identify cyber threats to our company’s computer systems and implementing plans to prevent security breaches. The information security analyst will oversee the installation and updating of protection software on all employees’ computers. The ideal candidate will have exceptional analytical skills and knowledge of current network security risks and hacking trends. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and at least five years of computer systems experience. Professional certification is preferred.

Related careers

  • Network administrator

  • Systems analyst

  • System administrator

  • Computer programmer


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