How to Become an Information Security Analyst: Salary, Skills, and More

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Information security analysts keep organizations' data safe. You can become one by getting a certification, building the right skills, or earning a related degree.

Information security analyst at work in an office

What is an information security analyst?

The twenty-first century has already seen large information breaches at big companies in which sensitive data—including the credit card numbers, passwords, and social security numbers of hundreds of millions of users—were compromised. Information security analysts work to protect organizations from similar threats, preventing data hacks and breaches.

Here’s what you need to know about becoming an information security analyst.

Learn more: 10 Popular Cybersecurity Certifications

Information security analyst salary and job outlooks

Information security analysts received a median salary of $99,730 in May 2019, reports the BLS. The hourly equivalent is about $47.95 per hour [1].

Job prospects in the information security field are expected to grow rapidly in the next decade. The BLS estimates that information security analyst positions will grow by 31 percent from 2019 to 2029. That’s much faster than the average for all occupations.

What does an information security analyst do, exactly?

An information security analyst protects an organization's computer networks, systems, and databases from cyberattacks and data breaches. 

An information security analyst’s job description might specifically include:

  • Detecting, monitoring, and mediating various aspects of security—including physical security, software security, and network security

  • Performing compliance control testing

  • Developing recommendations and training programs to minimize security risk in the company

  • Being aware of evolving threats in cybersecurity space by communicating with external sources

  • Collaborating with other teams and management within a company to implement best security practices

Information security analysts are needed in companies that keep sensitive data and information. This can include almost any field—including business, governance, technology, finance, energy, and many more.

Information security vs. cybersecurity

Information security is often confused with cybersecurity—which is understandable, because there is significant overlap, and many use the two interchangeably. Cybersecurity, however, refers more broadly to preventing cyberattacks that come from unauthorized electronic sources.

Information security focuses specifically on protecting the data and information of an organization, employees, or users, which can exist in both physical and electronic form. Information security also means making sure data is accessible to those who are authorized to use it.

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How to become an information security analyst

You can take several paths to become an information security analyst. Ultimately, you’ll need to have certain skills. These include: 

  • Computer security basics: This includes knowledge of firewalls, routers, and other security infrastructure, as well as an understanding of risk management frameworks. Some information security jobs might ask for ethical hacking or penetration testing experience.

  • Familiarity with privacy laws: Information security analyst positions can call for a familiarity with data privacy laws in your region. Working in specific sectors, like health care or finance, might also call for an understanding of those sector’s privacy laws.

  • Communication and teamwork: Knowing where and how security threats happen, and responding to them once they do, means you’ll be communicating frequently with your team and other players. 

You can build out these skills through the following means.

IT certifications: Earning a cybersecurity certification can give you a solid knowledge base in security issues, while also giving you the credentials to show employers your competency. Certifications in security or networks are a good place to start.

Degrees: Information security analyst positions typically call for at least a bachelor’s degree. Majoring in computer science or computer engineering can set you up to be a competitive job candidate for information security jobs upon graduation.

Don’t have a computer science degree? 

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, make sure you have relevant skills and look for entry-level positions that don’t call for specific degrees. You can work your way up to being an analyst from there. With a few years of experience under your belt, hiring managers may waive degree requirements. Getting an entry-level IT certification may also give you the experience needed.

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Get started in information security

Being able to keep organizations safe from ill-intentioned players can make a career as an information security analyst deeply rewarding—and not just financially. Start building job-ready skills with the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera. Learn from top industry experts at IBM as you earn a credential for your resume.

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Article sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Information Security Analysts, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm." Accessed March 26, 2021.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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