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

Written by Coursera Staff • 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.

[Featured image] An information security analyst wearing black headphones and a patterned tank top works at a monitor with a printer to their right and colleagues in the background.

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.

In this article, you'll learn more about information security analysts, including what they do, how much they earn, and what you need to do to become one. If you're already interested in pursuing a career in IT or as a security analyst, though, you might consider enrolling in either Google's IT Support Professional Certificate or Microsoft's Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate.

Learn more: 10 Popular Cybersecurity Certifications

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.

Hear more about cybersecurity threat intelligence in this lecture from IBM's Security Analyst Fundamentals Specialization:

Information security analyst salary and job outlooks

Information security analysts received a median salary of $112,000 in May 2022, reports the BLS. The hourly equivalent is about $53.85 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 32 percent from 2022 to 2032. That’s much faster than the average for all occupations.

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.


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. According to Zippia, 62 percent of information security analysts have a bachelor's degree, and 20 percent have an associate degree[2]. 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.


Read more: Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: How the Jobs Differ

Get started in information security

If you’re interested in starting a career in cybersecurity, consider the Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera. This program is designed ​​to help individuals with no previous experience find their first job in the field of cybersecurity, all at their own pace. The courses cover topics such as security models, tools that are used to access and address threats, networks, and more. 

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Information Security Analysts," Accessed March 26, 2024.

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