According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for IT security analysts – cybersecurity – is projected to grow more than 31% by 2029. In fact, the demand for professionals who possess cybersecurity skills is growing four times faster than other IT jobs, and twelve times faster than the total labor market.
The need for robust cybersecurity is well known. Securing the technologies that power our economy, military, industry and personal lives is a critical priority. News stories about large-scale data breaches, identity theft, international hacking, and loss of intellectual property emerge daily. The IT security field is growing and salaries in cyber security can be high, yet employers and government agencies still face a significant shortage.
So, where do information security analysts work, and what skills are important for them to possess? They work in a variety of fields including professional services, finance, manufacturing and defense. These professionals work with a variety of network devices, computers and servers, as well as software packages to secure technology resources. The work is often fast-paced, and possessing the skill set to solve complex problems quickly is a daily requirement. Though the work can be intense, it can also be very rewarding because workers know that they’ve successfully helped keep families, finances and our nation safe.
As a security analyst, your work days will be filled with important tasks and projects. Some of the most common duties are to conducting vulnerability testing, investigate security threats and collect forensic data. Working in the field of IT provides the opportunity to gain new skill sets, learn new technologies and be a part of constant innovation. Solving complex problems and understanding that the work you do is critical to the success of the business or organization you support can be very rewarding.
Becoming an information security analyst often requires a college education. Obtaining your cyber security degree and gaining some work experience in a junior IT position is a traditional path to becoming a cybersecurity professional. Entry-level cyber security jobs that help prepare individuals for advanced job roles include:
- IT support specialist
- Desktop support technician
- Help desk technician
- Application support specialist
- Computer technician
- Systems administrator
There are many options for becoming a cyber security analyst or specialist. Programs are offered online as well as on the ground. Look for programs that provide a solid foundation in the field of IT, with additional courses that concentrate specifically on cybersecurity. (One program to consider is Herzing University’s Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity.)
A degree in IT with a security focus is a smart move to a potential long-term career. Whatever option you choose, IT education is a great pathway to a challenging and rewarding career in cybersecurity!
Chris LaBounty is an academic and technologist with more than 20 years of experience in higher education and technology. He has developed and managed programs in information technology, mobile applications, networking and software engineering. In addition to teaching and leading academic programs, Chris has worked as a certified field engineer and Java Enterprise developer. He lives in Minnesota with his family and enjoys the outdoors.