What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do? 2024 Job Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Cybersecurity analysts are often the first line of defense against cyber attackers. In this article, learn about what a cybersecurity analyst does, how to become one, and more.

[Featured image] A cybersecurity analyst works on their laptop at home.

Safety tech has become a booming industry sector in the UK, and recent research by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) found the number of firms providing safety tech products and services increased 17 per cent in 2021 [1]. The industry’s revenues also increased 21 percent (£65m), which indicates that the sector is not only maturing but also on track to hit a £1bn revenue target by the mid-2020s.

A cybersecurity analyst is an entry-level job that protects an organisation’s computer networks from cyberattacks and unauthorised access. In this role, you’ll be a key player in protecting your organisation’s valuable data. Read on to take a closer look at what working as a cybersecurity analyst is like, why you might choose to pursue a career in cybersecurity, and how to get started in this in-demand field. 

Cybersecurity analyst job description

As a cybersecurity analyst, you’re tasked with protecting your company’s hardware, software, and networks from theft, loss, or unauthorized access. At a small company or organization, you might expect to perform a variety of cybersecurity tasks. At larger organizations, you might specialize as one part of a larger security team. 

While the day-to-day tasks of a cybersecurity analyst will vary from company to company, here are a few tasks and responsibilities pulled from real job listings:

  • Monitor network traffic for security incidents and events

  • Install security measures and operate software

  • Upgrade systems to enable security software

  • Install and upgrade antivirus software

  • Test and evaluate new technology

  • Perform penetration testing

  • Gather feedback from end users to continue to improve systems

  • Investigate security alerts and provide incident response

  • Assist with the creation, maintenance, and delivery of cybersecurity awareness training for colleagues

Cybersecurity analysts need to understand the latest cyber threat landscape, as well as their company’s IT infrastructure. Depending on where you work, this might mean having familiarity with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems and experience with firewalls, VPNs, and proxies, as well as security and information event management systems (SIEMs). 

Cybersecurity analyst vs. information security analyst: What’s the difference?

Information security and cybersecurity overlap, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. While cybersecurity analysts and information security analysts might perform similar tasks, their roles are somewhat different. 

Information security is a broader term that refers to the protection of data. Cybersecurity refers to the protection of data in its digital form. A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for data security for any data stored on computers, hard drives, or the internet. An information security analyst would also consider the security of data stored elsewhere, like documents in a filing cabinet or insider knowledge possessed by some employees.


Why pursue a career in cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is central to to keeping an organisation’s data protected. With new threats and sophisticated attacks emerging all the time, there’s always something new to learn. Staying one step ahead of cybercriminals can be an exciting job where no two days are the same.

You’ll be able to couple your cybersecurity expertise with other interests you may have by finding work in government, non-profit, the financial sector, critical infrastructure, or most other industry areas. 

Cybersecurity analyst salary

According to Glassdoor, cybersecurity analysts in the UK earn an average salary of £41,435 per year. Keep in mind that your location, level of experience, and industry influence salary ranges. 

How to become a cybersecurity analyst

Starting a career in cybersecurity—or switching from another field—typically involves developing the right skills for the job. If you’re interested in getting a job as a cybersecurity analyst, here are some steps you can take to get on your way.

1. Learn the basics of cybersecurity. 

The field of cybersecurity has its own set of jargon, tools, and best practices. It can help to get an overview of it all by taking some introductory courses in cybersecurity. While it’s possible to teach yourself through books, blogs, podcasts, and other resources, you may find a course helpful in giving structure and context to what you’re learning.

Do I need a degree to be a cybersecurity analyst?

While earning a degree isn't strictly necessary to get a job, earning one could mean more job opportunities and a more competitive CV. Typically employers will be looking for you to major in computer science, cloud computing, information technology, or other related fields.


2. Develop your cybersecurity skills.

While cybersecurity analysis is a technical role with some job-specific skills, you’ll also want to develop your workplace skills. These are some skills to focus on as you get yourself job-ready.

Cybersecurity technical skills

You might develop your CV in cybersecurity by building a skill set that includes:

  • Intrusion detection: While the ultimate goal of cybersecurity is to prevent attacks, you’ll need to know how to detect them when they do happen. This can include network monitoring, event log analysis, and familiarity with SIEMs.

  • Endpoint management: As more and more people work from home, companies need security professionals who know how to secure multiple endpoints, like computers, phones, and Internet of Things devices. Tools might include firewalls, antivirus software, network access controls, and virtual private networks (VPNs).

  • Data security: Data represents a valuable resource for most organizations. Knowing how to protect it involves understanding encryption, access management, transmission control and internet protocols (TCPs and IPs), and the CIA Triad (confidentiality, integrity, accessibility).

  • Networking and network security: Most attacks occur on networked systems. To protect against these types of threats, you’ll need to know how networks work and their particular vulnerabilities.

  • Programming: While advances in technology are enabling cybersecurity analysts to perform their work without having to write code, a foundational understanding of languages like JavaScript, Python, and C/C++ could give you a competitive edge.

Cybersecurity workplace skills

Along with an understanding of the cybersecurity risks associated with various technologies and ways to manage them, employers typically also seek:

  • Attention to detail: Noticing a small anomaly could mean saving your company from a big data loss. 

  • Communication: When security events happen, you’ll need to coordinate with your security team and document the process of investigation and recovery. You may be tasked with training your fellow employees in best security practices.

  • Critical thinking: Whether you’re responding to a threat, patching a vulnerability, or recommending new security protocols, critical thinking skills empower you to make data-driven decisions.

  • Curiosity: Technology continues to evolve and cybercriminals continue to come up with new ways to steal or destroy data. Curiosity will help you stay up to date on new threats and security best practices.

  • Calm under pressure: Responding to a security event means acting fast and prioritizing the tasks that will shut down the attack or isolate the data breach quickly to minimize damage.

Get a cybersecurity certification.

Earning a cybersecurity certification can be a great way to validate your skills to recruiters and potential employers. Preparing for an exam doubles as a way to learn more about the field and build your skills.  The following popular certifications can help your cybersecurity career:

  • CompTIA Security+

  • SANS Institute qualifications

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

  • (ISC)² Certified Information Systems Security Professional (ISC2 CISSP)

Apply for apprenticeships or entry-level jobs

Once you’ve built your cybersecurity skill set, start applying for jobs or internships in the field. Depending on your professional and educational background, you may start in an entry-level information technology (IT) job before advancing into more specialised positions. 

Get started in cybersecurity

Ready to develop both technical and workplace skills for a career in cybersecurity? The Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera is your gateway to exploring job titles like security analyst SOC (security operations center) analyst, and more. Upon completion, you’ll have exclusive access to a job platform with over 150 employees hiring for entry-level cybersecurity roles and other resources that will support you in your job search. 

Article sources


DCMS. “The UK Safety Tech Sector: 2022 Analysis, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safer-technology-safer-users-the-uk-as-a-world-leader-in-safety-tech/” Accessed July 21, 2023.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

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.