Cybersecurity Job Description: What to Expect

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn what you can expect from three common cybersecurity jobs, including their duties, qualifications, and pay range.

[Featured image] A cybersecurity analyst holds a notebook and stands in front of a room filled with servers.

Cybersecurity is a fast-growing and high-paying field. As data and digital technologies become more important to the daily functioning of businesses and organizations around the world, so too do the roles of cybersecurity professionals capable of protecting those businesses from bad actors like hackers and scammers. 

The data is clear. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for information security analysts – the job category under which many cybersecurity positions fall – is expected to grow by 32 percent between 2022 and 2032. And they’re paid well, too. The BLS notes the median annual salary for information security analysts is $112,000 per year [1]. 

So, cybersecurity has a positive job outlook and potentially high pay, but what do professionals actually do from one day to the other? And what do employers expect from job applicants in terms of skills and qualifications? 

In this article, you’ll explore job descriptions for three different cybersecurity positions – cybersecurity analyst, specialist, and manager – to learn more about what you can expect from each one. At the end, you’ll also find suggested online courses you can take to gain job-relevant skills today.

Cybersecurity jobs

Cybersecurity professionals assess security risks, design security strategies, and implement security technologies to protect organizations from cyber attacks. There are numerous positions within the field of cybersecurity, which each perform distinct duties as they seek to protect organizations from harm. 

To help you get a better idea of what to expect from different positions in the field, here are the job descriptions for three different cybersecurity roles you may encounter during your job search. 

Read more: 10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond

1. Cybersecurity analyst job description 

Cybersecurity analysts are responsible for designing, implementing, monitoring, and maintaining an organization’s data and information. As a cybersecurity analyst, you’ll be tasked with identifying vulnerabilities within systems, resolving them, and then responding to cybersecurity breaches, such as hacking, when they occur. 

Analysts often work closely with cybersecurity engineers, who develop technical cybersecurity solutions, by providing feedback and insight into how systems can be improved. Their work can be focused on hardware, software, or any other system that cybercriminals may wish to infiltrate, bypass, or steal. 


Your day-to-day responsibilities as a cybersecurity analyst will vary depending on the organization in which you work. Nonetheless, here are some common duties you’ll likely perform in the role: 

  • Identifying and fixing vulnerabilities within existing security systems 

  • Performing penetration tests or working directly with penetration testers to assess potential security problems

  • Developing organization-wide security measures 

  • Documenting known security breaches and vulnerabilities 

  • Providing feedback to cybersecurity engineers to improve proposed or existing systems 

  • Staying up-to-date on the latest information technology (IT) and cybersecurity developments 


Some common workplace and technical skills you’ll need to possess as a cybersecurity analyst include: 

  • Problem-solving 

  • Teamwork 

  • Knowledge of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), antivirus, proxies, firewalls, and intrusion detection concepts related to the field

  • Endpoint management, particularly with a variety of tools like computers, phones, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices 

Credentials and qualifications 

Many employers either require or prefer applicants to have a bachelor’s degree, ideally in a related field such as computer science, engineering, or math. Nonetheless, some employers may be willing to hire applicants with a high school diploma or associate degree based on their knowledge, prior work experience, and skill set. 

Read more: Cybersecurity Degrees and Alternatives: Your 2023 Guide

2. Cybersecurity specialist job description 

Cybersecurity specialists are responsible for protecting an organization’s computer systems and networks. As a result, they perform many of the same duties as cybersecurity analysts – and sometimes are called the same thing – but typically focus more on system protection rather than data protection. As a cybersecurity specialist, consequently, you’ll be most often tasked with conducting vulnerability scans to uncover and resolve vulnerabilities in data centers, networks, and software systems. 

Cybersecurity specialists work with other security professionals, including cybersecurity architects and engineers, to ensure that an organization’s actual system remains as secure as possible. In effect, their work ensures the protection of all users within an entire network, whether they be its employees or clients. 


The day-to-day responsibilities of a cybersecurity specialist vary depending on the organization in which they work. However, some common duties you can expect to perform in the position include: 

  • Conducting audits to determine security violations or vulnerabilities 

  • Implementing security controls 

  • Upgrading networks to cohere with industry best practices 

  • Researching, testing, and implementing security technology 

  • Developing firewalls for network infrastructure 

  • Granting privileges to users based on their needs and use cases 


There are a variety of workplace and technical skills that you’ll need to possess as a cybersecurity specialist. Some of the most common include: 

  • Creative problem-solving  

  • Teamwork and collaboration

  • Knowledge of and experience working with network data, logs, and other types of attack artifacts

  • Comfort working with antivirus and security software 

Credentials and qualifications 

Most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as computer science, math, or engineering. In some cases, however, you may be able to get a job with a high school diploma or associate degree, depending on your skill level and years of experience. 

Curious about certification? 

Don’t have a degree? One way that may increase your chances of being hired is by obtaining either a professional certificate, such as Google’s Cybersecurity Professional Certificate or a professional certification like CompTIA Security+. While certificates are awarded to individuals who have completed a course of study, certifications indicate the holder has passed a particular exam. 

Read more: 10 Popular Cybersecurity Certifications


3. Cybersecurity manager job description 

Cybersecurity managers are responsible for overseeing an organization’s security infrastructure. As cybersecurity manager, you’ll be tasked with managing both human and technological resources to ensure that security infrastructure is properly maintained and that security breaches are handled in an efficient and timely manner. At the same time, you’ll need to lead risk mitigation efforts, source cybersecurity tools, and ensure your organization complies with proper rules and regulations. 

As a manager, you must be comfortable working with a wide range of other cybersecurity professionals and providing direction when necessary. If you handle responsibility well, enjoy working with others, and are comfortable in a leadership position, then you might consider a career as a cybersecurity manager. 


Cybersecurity managers must oversee the resources required to maintain and improve an organization’s cybersecurity system. As a result, their exact duties will vary considerably from one job to another. Nonetheless, some common duties you can expect to perform as a cybersecurity manager include the following: 

  • Training employees on cybersecurity best practices 

  • Delegating tasks and monitoring team performance

  • Overseeing updates to existing security systems and implementing new protocols

  • Leading efforts to address security breaches

  • Developing security strategies and making adjustments as needed. 


In their day-to-day work, cybersecurity managers must use a wide range of both workplace and technical skills. Some of the skills you’ll need as a cybersecurity manager include: 

  • Leadership 

  • Resource management 

  • Problem-solving

  • Collaboration

  • Extensive knowledge of cybersecurity systems and infrastructure 

Credentials and qualifications 

Typically, employers prefer job applicants with a bachelor’s or even master’s degree in a field related to cybersecurity, such as computer science, math, or engineering. In some cases, an employer may be willing to hire someone with a high school diploma or associate degree, but they will need to have prior experience to qualify. 

Learn cybersecurity on Coursera 

Cybersecurity is an impactful and growing field. If you enjoy solving problems, working with technical systems, and collaborating with a team of like-minded professionals, then a career in cybersecurity might be right for you. 

Gain job-relevant skills today on Coursera. In Google’s Cybersecurity Professional Certificate, you’ll learn how to protect networks, devices, people, and data from unauthorized access and cyberattacks using (SIEM) tools. You’ll also learn how to identify common risks, threats, and vulnerabilities and even gain hands-on experience with Python, Linux, and SQL.

Article sources

  1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Information Security Analysts,” Accessed October 2, 2023.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.