The rising number of cyber attacks makes this position more in demand than ever.

As the frequency of high-profile cyber attacks rises, so does the demand for cyber security analysts to counter the bad guys. The cyber security segment of the IT field is estimated to be growing at a much brisker pace than other specialties within this in-demand professional arena.

The Internal Revenue Service, Target and The Home Depot are just a few of the high-profile targets struck in recent years by sophisticated hackers with a desire to swipe personal information from others. With sensitive data vulnerable in ways never experienced before, private firms and government agencies alike are stepping up the pace to hire professional to keep data safe.

This all adds up to opportunity for those who earn cyber security degrees and enter the frontline in the fight to keep information safe.

Why Such a Demand?

As evidenced by the number of recent high-profile cyberattacks, including those on the United States government, “secured” data is only secure until hackers find a backdoor in to access the information.

From data related to one person or family stored on a personal computer to “cloud” files that could represent millions of targets, the computing world is far from truly safe. That’s where cyber security analysts enter the picture. While the bad guys work to breach networks, security pros serve on the opposite side, constantly working to shore up defenses and secure data against attacks.

Entering the Field

Cyber security analysts are uniquely qualified to serve as the counters to cyber criminals. These professionals generally hold at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming or a related field. They focus their attention on monitoring organizations’ networks for security breaches, investigating attacks should they happen and developing means to prevent attacks and secure data in the first place.

While many entry-level cyber security analysts jobs are open to those with bachelor’s degrees, some employers prefer master’s level degrees in computer science or related fields along with related work experience. MBAs may also prove helpful for advancement.

Entry level titles and roles may vary a bit. Some of the possible entry-level job titles include information security analyst, security analyst, security engineer, security software developer and security architect, among others.

A Day in the Life

Cyber security analysts or Information security analysts generally work in office settings. Top employers in the arena include computer companies, finance and insurance firms and information enterprises. Government agencies are also ramping up their hiring in this arena with departments such as Homeland Security.

Most professionals find themselves working in office settings where it is their job to stay one step ahead of potential hackers.

Duties in the profession may vary based on the precise post, but generally include:

  • Monitoring for security breaches
  • Investigating breaches that do occur
  • Installing and using software to protect data
  • Creating reports related to security activities
  • Developing security protocols and best practices
  • Recommending security enhancements
  • Training computer users when new security products or procedures are put into place

Outlook for the Field

The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics has pegged the cyber security analyst profession as one of the fastest-growing in the nation. Those who enter the field will find the projected job growth is anticipated at 18% through 2024, which is significantly higher than the 11% growth estimated for all job fields. Workers in this field earned a median annual pay of $92,600 a year, according to a national survey conducted by BLS in May 2016. In fact, the top 10% earned roughly $147,290 annually

Students interested in entering the cyber security field are urged to conduct their own research. Entry level requirements, job availability and projected pay may vary based on employer and geographical region. Specific aspects of the field, such as software development, may have different requirements along with varying salary and growth projections.