How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst (2024)

How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst

A quick search for “Cyber Security Analyst” in most job search websites returns a plethora of opportunities. Yet, a strict definition of what that job entails is hard to nail down. Cyber security analyst is really an umbrella term that can mean different things, despite the demand. 

So, how can you take advantage of the many opportunities available? 

At StationX, we have trained over 500,000 students in cyber security. Now, we’ve assembled this guide to help you on your journey to becoming a cyber security analyst.

We will discuss the generally accepted job role, what hard and soft skills are in demand, what training you need, the certifications to pursue, how to get a mentor, and how to prepare for the interview.

By the time you finish this guide, you will have all the tools and knowledge you need to begin your career journey and become a cyber security analyst.

What Is a Cyber Security Analyst?

Cyber security analyst is a very general umbrella term, making a real definition of the role tricky to nail down. This might seem odd considering the frequency with which it appears in job postings. 

A likely reason for this is companies are looking for a jack-of-all-trades to be part of their internal defense team. It can also mean that the specific industry job titles and specializations are not known to whoever is in charge or hiring.

However, there are many tasks and requirements that frequently appear in job postings for cyber security analysts.

Overall, the position usually entails assisting in protecting the organization from cyber threats using a variety of tools and technologies. This will involve:

  • Monitoring networks and systems
  • Detecting threats
  • Analyzing logs
  • Determining real “events” from false alarms
  • Either resolving the issues yourself or escalating them to another security department
  • Designing and implementing a “secure network” or “secure infrastructure”

Sometimes the position involves auditing how the organization complies with internal policies/standards or external laws and regulations. They may also work to establish response plans in the event of a security breach or write the internal policies and disaster recovery plans for the organization. 

While this is not common on job postings, we have seen requests for knowledge or experience in cyber forensics, though this tends to be its own specific job title, as it is highly specialized.

Knowledge of tools and systems such as Splunk, Snort, Wireshark, Elastic, ArcSight, or QRadar is common.

You may hear other job titles referring to the same kind of work, such as

  • Security Operations Center Analyst
  • Security Analyst
  • Information Technology Security Analyst
  • Compliance Analyst

If you are already familiar with the roles, salaries, and specifics of the career, you can jump straight to Steps to Becoming a Cyber Security Analyst.

Where Does a Cyber Security Analyst Fit Into the Cyber Security Industry?

There are many domains that make up cyber security. This extends from understanding threat intelligence, to standards and governance, to actual security architecture.

We can see how big the cyber security environment is by taking a look below. Remember that this is merely a high-level summary; there is far too much data to fit into one chart at this time, but let's keep things straightforward for now.

Some careers will fall nearly into one domain. Because there are many elements to what can be considered “cyber security analyst,” it is certainly an exception. Looking below, we’ll see all the different areas it can cover.

Cybersecurity Domains

Each of these domains consists of multiple skills, knowledge bases, and elements. See our detailed descriptions below.

Security Architecture

Security architecture is a comprehensive security design that considers both the requirements and potential hazards present in a particular situation or environment. Additionally, it details where and when to implement security controls.

  • Data Leakage Prevention:‍ Data leak prevention is a cybersecurity practice that involves implementing secure data practices to reduce accidental exposure. Effective data leak prevention plays a crucial role in a comprehensive data loss prevention (DLP) strategy.

    Data leaks are an easy attack vector for cybercriminals. Exposed data, such as leaked credentials, allows unauthorized access to an organization’s systems. This direct access enables hackers to carry out a range of cyber attacks with less effort, such as:

    • Ransomware and other types of malware injections
    • Social engineering, including phishing
    • Data exfiltration/data theft

(Source: UpGuard)

  • Network Security: Assuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (referred to as the CIA Triad) of a network or system. 
  • Patch Management: Ensuring all the latest updates and security fixes are in place on systems and programs. 
  • Access Control: By validating various login credentials, such as usernames and passwords, PINs, biometric scans, and security tokens, “access control” identifies users. 
  • Cloud Security: Cloud is currently the fastest-growing networking technology. Public cloud systems (such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud) and private cloud systems (such as those offered by Oracle and VMWare) are replacing traditional physical on-premises systems due to their low startup costs and ability to quickly expand and decrease resources as needed.

    The growing popularity of cloud-based systems has made them an attractive target for hackers and bad actors.
  • Endpoint Hygiene: Endpoint hygiene is the term for device-level security procedures that guard an organization's hardware, software, and data against exploitation and unauthorized access. This method analyzes each computer, smartphone, and smart device as a miniature digital world, making it easier to spot user habits and flaws in the system that could endanger the entire network.
  • Security Engineering: The testing, screening, and incorporating of security software and monitoring systems for breaches and attacks. Implementing security controls and an integral part of the system’s operation

Frameworks and Standards

A set of rules, recommendations, and best practices for controlling hazards in the digital sphere. Security goals, such as preventing unauthorized system access, are often matched with controls, such as proper password policies, etc.

  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework: A set of best practices and recommendations for cyber security from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
  • ISO 27001/ISO 27017/ISO 27018: A family of standards and best practices to improve an organization's information security posture. Combined, they include implementing a systematic approach to risk management, an overview of what various tools are and which you might choose to implement, and how to apply security standards to cloud-based systems.
  • CIS Top 20 Controls: The Center for Internet Security (CIS) Top 20 Critical Security Controls (previously known as the SANS Top 20 Critical Security Controls), is a prioritized set of best practices created to stop the most pervasive and dangerous threats of today. It was developed by leading security experts from around the world and is refined and validated every year. (Source: Rapid7)

Risk Assessment

Determining the security risks to a system, including the severity of a vulnerability and the potential impact if it is exploited.

  • 3rd Party Risk: Any risk to an organization caused by a breach of, or vulnerability within, an outside party. For example, hackers managed to breach the retail giant Target’s network in 2013 by accessing the HVAC system installed by an outside company through stolen credentials.
  • 4th Party Risk: Security threats that occur when a party or individual gain access to an organization's private data through a third-party relationship. A third-party is any organization you deal with directly. A fourth-party deals with the third-party.
  • Assets Inventory: A current listing and record of all the company’s hardware and software.

Threat Intelligence

Threat intelligence is data that is collected, processed, and analyzed to understand a threat actor’s motives, targets, and attack behaviors. Threat intelligence enables us to make faster, more informed, data-backed security decisions and change their behavior from reactive to proactive in the fight against threat actors. (Source: CrowdStrike)

  • IOCs: Indicators of Compromise are observed pieces of evidence or artifacts that suggest, with a high probability, that a system has been successfully attacked, leading to a breach.

Enterprise Risk Management

The systematic approach of identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential cyber threats and vulnerabilities across an organization's digital infrastructure, data assets, and information systems.

  • Lines of Defense: The Three Lines of Defense model assists organizations in establishing risk management capabilities.

    • Managers: Responsible for day-to-day procedures (process owners).
    • Risk and Compliance Team: Assist managers in implementing procedures and anticipating events.
    • Audit Team: Independent and objective review of compliance.

Security Operations

Security Operations is a collaboration between IT security and operations teams that integrates tools, processes, and technology to keep an enterprise secure while reducing risk. (Source: VMWare)

  • SOAR: SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response) refers to a collection of software solutions and tools that allow organizations to streamline security operations in three key areas: threat and vulnerability management, incident response, and security operations automation.

    To break it down further, security automation is the automatic handling of security operations-related tasks. It is the process of executing these tasks—such as scanning for vulnerabilities, or searching for logs—without human intervention. Security orchestration refers to a method of connecting security tools and integrating disparate security systems. It is the connected layer that streamlines security processes and powers security automation. (Source: Rapid7)
  • SIEM: Security information and event management, SIEM for short, is a solution that helps organizations detect, analyze, and respond to security threats before they harm business operations.

    SIEM, pronounced “sim,” combines both security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM) into one security management system. SIEM technology collects event log data from a range of sources, identifies activity that deviates from the norm with real-time analysis, and takes appropriate action.

    In short, SIEM gives organizations visibility into activity within their network so they can respond swiftly to potential cyberattacks and meet compliance requirements. (Source: Microsoft)
  • Security Operations Centers: Simply put, a security operations center (SOC – pronounced “sock”) is a team of experts that proactively monitor an organization’s ability to operate securely…

    Members of a SOC team are responsible for a variety of activities, including proactive monitoring, incident response and recovery, remediation activities, compliance, and coordination and context. (Source: CompTIA)
  • Incident Response: Incident responders monitor a network and react to any sign of breach or intrusion. They respond using the “Four Stages of Incident Response.”

    • Preparation: Establishing procedures to deal with breaches.
    • Detection/Analysis: Monitoring.
    • Containment: Containing the damage, eradicating the malicious element, and recovering with backups to restore operation.
    • Post-Incident: Reporting, post-mortem, meetings with necessary departments, and strategies for improvement.
  • Detection: Discovering a security breach through anomalies in log files, changes in system response, artifacts on a system, or other evidence.
  • Containment: Step three in the “Four Stages of Incident Response.” Blue Teams use these steps to handle security breaches and attacks once they have occurred.

    Containment involves three primary tasks

    • Containment: Preventing the issue from getting worse.
    • Eradication: Removing the malicious element.
    • Recovery: Utilizing backups and restoring operation.
  • Investigation: The examination of a security incident. This will include forensics, establishing a timeline, determining the objective of the attack, what information or systems were compromised, and any other information that can be ascertained.
  • Eradication: Part of step three in the “Four Stages of Incident Response.” Eradication involves the removal of the malicious code, malware, exploit, or killing of the attacker's connection to the system.
  • Blue Team: A security team responsible for monitoring and protecting an organization’s network and critical assets against various threats, such as malware and cyber-attack.

Governance

Establishing a system for cybersecurity governance guarantees that a company's security programs align with its business goals, adhere to rules and regulations, and meet goals for managing security and risk.

  • Policy: A documented cyber security policy outlines the technical and behavioral standards for each employee to secure the organization from incidents and attacks. An organization's security rules, practices, technical safeguards, and responses to a cybersecurity incident are all covered by the policy.
  • Procedure: An established series of steps or activities to respond to different situations. In cyber security, this could include the steps to take after/during a security breach or removing the privileges and access rights of an employee who is quitting or being terminated.

User Education

Educating end-users on cyber security practices and training individuals in any of the cyber security domains, such as ethical hacking, cyber forensics, and malware analysis.

  • Cyber Security Table-Top Exercise: Meetings used to walk through security incidents, how to prepare and how to respond. Usually, these exercises are the domain of the defensive security team as a way to prepare for, or debrief after, an attack. Table-top exercises can also be done as part of the pentest debrief or as a stand-in for systems too sensitive to risk active testing.

Common Job Titles for Cyber Security Analysts 

Some terms to look out for when seeking a cyber security analyst position include

Career Path for Cyber Security Analysts

Now let’s take a look at the path you can take to become a Cyber Security Analyst.

Cyber Security Analyst Creer Pathway

Feeder roles are entry-level positions that are simpler to get without prior experience but can nonetheless lead to a career in cyber security. They offer sufficient exposure to the sector and work history to facilitate advancement into more challenging positions. As a stepping stone to your dream job, you can frequently start asking for security-related activities or observe someone in the security division at work. An outline of the various feeder roles is provided above:

  • Support Desk is a common entry point for IT professionals. It involves troubleshooting employee or customer desktops, phones, and other systems.
  • IT Roles can include anything related to networking and systems administration. This includes assisting the network administrator, rolling out and configuring new hardware, seting up switches and network devices, etc.
  • Systems Administrator is a bit more technical than the IT roles. You may be setting firewall rules, managing user accounts in Active Directory, etc. Several entry-level roles will provide this hands-on training.
  • Graduating from college or university programs can lead to an entry-level position based on the degree.
  • Internships can offer hands-on experience and training. These sometimes lead to a position within the organization, or at the very least references and industry exposure. 
  • Proven Ability of your skillset through professional certifications, involvement in the infosec community (through blogs/GitHub/YouTube/etc.), competitive CTF (Capture The Flag) events, and more can get you noticed by employers.

What Stage Are You at in Your Journey to Become a Cyber Security Analyst?

Let's examine the illustration below. It serves as a general representation of the steps necessary to become a cyber security analyst. This manual aims to provide you with the Stage Three-level abilities, know-how, and experience.

Let's discuss the stages. Select the stage you are now in by reading the descriptions provided below. Being sincere with yourself will help you decide what to do next. Everything can fall apart without a strong foundation.

StationX Roadmaps Cyber Security Analyst Roadmap

Stage 1 – Essential IT

If you need to start from scratch and have zero (or practically zero) expertise of IT and cyber security, you begin at Stage One. This is where you start to grasp Windows, and possibly Linux and Mac. You get knowledge of PCs, ports, file management, fundamental networking, etc. You gain knowledge on how to install, configure, and troubleshoot operating systems. You might pursue certifications like the ITF or A+ from CompTIA.

Stage 2 - Networking

When you have mastered the fundamentals of IT and need to learn about TCP/IP, routers, switches, and the Internet, move on to Stage Two. Look at certification like CompTIA’s Network+ or Cisco Certified Network Associate.

Stage 3 - General Cyber Security - Cyber Security Analyst

When you have worked with all of the aforementioned subjects and have solid IT, networking, and application skills, move on to Stage Three. You might possess a degree in technology, the CompTIA A+ certification, or IT support experience. 

At the end of Stage Three, you will have knowledge/experience of topics like encryption, authentication, threats and vulnerabilities, basic hacking, OS security, .etc. You might have security qualifications already, like CompTIA’s Security+ or CySA+, EC-Council's CEH, or ISC(2)’s SSCP.

Then you would be ready for a cyber security analyst role.

Don't panic if you haven't reached Stage Three yet. Take a look at some of our foundational courses, such CompTIA A+ Core 1 and Core 2, Network+, and Security+. Continue reading if you're prepared to begin Stage Four.

Stage 4 - Advanced Cyber Security - Senior Security Analyst

After completing Stage Three, you move towards gaining a more advanced knowledge of cyber security. This will involve staying a generalist, knowing a bit about a lot of things. Being able to speak on many topics, even at a high level, will allow you to work with each team and help them coordinate their efforts in a managerial role, such as “Senior Security Analyst.”

Certifications like CISA and CISSP should be on your radar.

Stage 5 - Cyber Security Governance - Chief Information Security Officer

Stage Five is for advanced management positions, such as Chief Information Security Officer. A Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is regarded as one of the highest organizational positions that a cyber security professional can attain. 

The CISO is a high-level organizational position responsible for managing an organization's cyber security strategy and ensuring that digital systems, services, and assets are adequately protected.

It’s time to look at certifications like CISM. Also, be sure to read our “The Best Security Management Certificates for You” article.

What Does a Cyber Security Analyst Do?

A cyber security analyst operates under the broad purview of safeguarding digital landscapes, predominantly within the realm of defensive security or "blue-team" initiatives, often based in a security operations center (SOC). 

Because the role can describe many things, we can say it may encompass a multifaceted array of responsibilities; however, they will all be geared toward fortifying an organization's resilience against cyber threats. 

The core tasks will revolve around continuous network and system vigilance, adeptly spotting potential threats, and dissecting intricate log data. You will be addressing issues directly or escalating them to specialized security divisions. Discerning between genuine security events and false alarms is a pivotal skill. 

In more advanced positions, devising and implementing foundations for a secure network or infrastructure may be your responsibility. Compliance assessments relating to internal policies and external regulations, and preparing proactive response strategies for potential breaches might be part of the position, though unlikely at junior levels.

Incident Response Process

Working with disaster recovery blueprints, incident response plans, researching cyber security trends and new threats, monitoring logs and flagging events, being part of tabletop exercises, and perhaps (in some positions) being involved in cyber forensics can all be part of a cyber security analyst position.

In essence, a cyber security analyst is a digital beat cop, doctor, and strategist rolled into one.

Cyber Analyst Job Descriptions

You can see a few examples of job postings for junior and intermediate cyber analysts from various nations below. Look for recurring themes in the job listings to get a sense of the kinds of abilities and knowledge these employers are seeking. Click the listings to view the respective penetration tester job description.

Job and Salary Prospects

As with any career, the typical pay might change depending on the job's details, where you work, and your own background/experience. But let's gather some data from several sources to create a more comprehensive picture.

Job and Salary Prospects

As of October 31, 2022, ZipRecruiter lists the average salary of a Cyber Security Analyst in the United States as $99,417 per year (or $47.80/hour).

“While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $145,500 and as low as $41,000, the majority of Cyber Security Analyst salaries currently range between $81,500 (25th percentile) to $116,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $135,000 annually across the United States.”

Payscale lists the following statistics

An entry-level Cyber Security Analyst with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $65,841 based on 338 salaries. 

An early career Cyber Security Analyst with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $73,009 based on 1,920 salaries. 

A mid-career Cyber Security Analyst with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $89,533 based on 844 salaries. 

An experienced Cyber Security Analyst with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $102,914 based on 415 salaries. 

In their late career (20 years and higher), employees earn an average total compensation of $110,623.

Are Cyber Security Analysts in Demand?

Yes. That would be a good way to wrap up this part, but let's dig a little deeper anyways.

Are Cyber Security Analysts in Demand

In his Varonis post, "166 Cybersecurity Statistics and Trends," Rob Sobers states that there are around 600,000 job opportunities in cyber security as of February 2022 (only 68% of open positions are filled), and 40% of IT directors claim that cyber security positions are the most challenging to fill. Additionally, there will be 3.5 million open cyber security positions globally by 2025.

The global cyber security market is forecast to reach USD $345.4 billion by 2026, according to a 2022 industry analysis.

Is There a Future for Cyber Security Analysts?

Cyber Security Analyst is a position that will only grow in demand as companies and governments continue to face attacks from cyber criminals. FinancesOnline reveals these troubling cybercrime statistics:

  • The global cost of cybercrime reached over $2 trillion in 2020.
  • Ransomware attacks can cost up to $84,116 to pay.
  • Small businesses lose, on average, $200,000 per ransomware incident when considering downtime and recovery costs.
  • 51% of companies admit they are ill-equipped to respond to a cyber attack.

Similar studies, such as Forbes’ “Alarming Cyber Statistics for Mid-Year 2022 That You Need To Know” and Comparitech’s “300+ Terrifying Cybercrime and Cyber security Statistics (2022 Edition),” show the need for cyber security analysts and blue team roles is only growing.

All of us are part of a global economy completely reliant on the sustained functionality of our modern technology. Cyber criminals, terrorists, and enemy nations are aware of this. 

A ransomware attack on a organization could cause enough downtime to put it out of business. An attack on vital infrastructure like a power station could destroy a huge portion of a country. A hospital's network going down might swiftly result in fatalities. Global networking does not limit breaches and malware to a single location.

In 2016, Maersk, the largest shipping container company in the world, was a victim of a cyber attack that took down almost 50,000 endpoints across 600 sites in 130 countries for ten days. This cost the company more than $300 million and damaged its reputation.

As we become increasingly dependent on technology and conduct more business online, threat actors with agendas (financial, political, or otherwise) have a wider and more alluring attack surface. 

The value of cyber security analysts in maintaining and safeguarding networks cannot be overstated. Having said that, there is an element that we haven't yet covered. Both the defender's and the attacker's sides can benefit from the ongoing technological advancements. Like any technology, the more a process can be automated, the more user-friendly and appealing it is to use.

Artificial intelligence is now being used in areas that we had never thought about before. We have observed A.I. writing fiction, acting as a knowledge resource, creating artwork (much to the chagrin of artists and designers), and being included into various security systems (such as the new Microsoft Security Copilot). 

The big frightening question is, "Will A.I. replace blue team roles?"

We can’t dismiss the possibility completely. In our opinion, Artificial Intelligence will take a bigger role in cyber security, both for attackers and defenders, but the need for human defenders will remain. The aforementioned Microsoft Security Copilot, for example, is designed to assist blue teams in managing and investigating incidents, not replace positions.

Much like the various threat-hunting tools available on the market, A.I. will likely assist in basic detection and response but will require a professional to know what to do with the gathered information. We believe it will become an indispensable tool in a defender’s toolkit, but a tool nonetheless.

Is Becoming a Cyber Security Analyst Right for Me?

We can’t tell you if being a cyber security analyst is a career you will enjoy. What we can do is discuss the personality traits that best suit the cyber security analyst job.

We will talk about important soft skills, including problem-solving, analytical thinking, and attention to detail. Do you fit that description? This job may inspire you if you like riddles, problem-solving, troubleshooting, and breaking challenges down into smaller pieces to work through.

We also talk about cooperation, honesty, and communication skills. It may seem strange that these attributes, which are more emotional than analytical, are equally significant in this sector, even though they are more emotional than intellectual. How come?

Holland Code Assessment for Cyber Security Analysts

This question was examined in the research paper “Exploring the Vocational Interests of Cybersecurity Competition Participants.” It’s an interesting read, but we’ll summarize a key finding.

The paper used “Holland’s RIASEC model” to determine personality types. It assumes six vocational personalities. 

  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional 

After some research, the paper noted that,

“Cyber security competition participants score highest in the investigative, social, and artistic areas, which differs to some extent from other computer science-related groups. The social aspects of group competition and the creative aspects of cyber security problem solving may explain this difference.”

Cyber security's creative problem-solving aspects require more artistic traits than other computer science fields. This makes sense when you compare the role to that of a cloud architect or network administrator, which requires less “outside-the-box” style thinking.

A Cyber Security Analyst works as part of a team, perhaps an entire operations center. Not only that, your team or department may be one cog in the greater defensive structure of the company. You may have those above you to whom you escalate findings. You may need to report to non-technical personnel. These are certainly social skills.

There are several sites online where you can take Holland’s RIASEC assessment to see your vocational code. Try a few and see if you return an ISA or IAS code.

Quick Self-Assessment: Are You Cut Out to Become a Cyber Security Analyst?

Look at your current work (if you are employed) or your classes (if you are still a student) and ask yourself, "What do I like and dislike about what I'm doing?" Imagine yourself now working as a cyber security analyst. How many of your likes and dislikes are shared by this position?

You must stay current with this field's constant changes. It's not exceedingly difficult, but it does require commitment. 

You must continuously learn about new systems, methodologies, technologies, and vulnerabilities. You will have to read a ton of potentially boring and occasionally poorly explained documentation. You may find your hours drastically change, as lunch breaks or long weekends might be put on hold during a major security breach or zero-day discovery.

If these notions scare you off, that’s perfectly fine. It just means that cyber security analyst may not be the career for you. You may have found a calling if this all sounds up your alley.

Answer these questions below. Be honest with yourself. If you are consistently answering "yes," this may be the career for you:

  1. Are you interested in technology and computer systems?
  2. Do you enjoy solving complex puzzles and problems?
  3. Are you patient and persistent when faced with challenges?
  4. Do you have a strong ethical foundation and value online security?
  5. Are you willing to continuously learn and adapt to new technologies and threats?
  6. Do you have good critical thinking skills?
  7. Are you comfortable working with and analyzing data?
  8. Can you stay calm under pressure, especially during security incidents?
  9. Are you a good communicator, both in writing and verbally?
  10. Do you have a high level of integrity and trustworthiness?
  11. Are you capable of working independently and in a team?
  12. Are you willing to work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, if necessary?
  13. Can you handle the responsibility of safeguarding sensitive information?
  14. Are you comfortable with legal and regulatory compliance requirements?
  15. Do you have a strong attention to detail and the ability to spot anomalies?
  16. Are you interested in ethical hacking and vulnerability testing?
  17. Can you keep up with the latest cyber security trends and threats?
  18. Are you prepared to obtain relevant certifications?
  19. Are you open to constantly improving your knowledge and skills in cyber security?
  20. Are you adaptable and open to working in various industries, as cyber security is needed across different sectors?
Steps To Becoming A Cyber Security Analyst

You’ve made it this far and want to know the next steps. 

Let’s create your roadmap to success!

Step 1

Find a Cyber Security Analyst Mentor and Connect With People

Why get a mentor? 

Getting a mentor will be a huge boost to your career development. Even if you are starting with an I.T. background, pursuing something brand new like this can be tricky. What skills do you need? What first steps should you be taking? What should your end goal be? A mentor can help here.

Let’s look at courses and certifications as a great example. There are countless courses available online and offered by colleges and universities. There are almost too many certifications that claim to be the “most realistic” or “the only certification in the industry that *insert incredible claim here*.” Are they worth pursuing? How do you separate the ones of value from the rest? Ask your mentor.

Mentors aren’t necessarily teaching you the hands-on skills, there are courses and books for that. The benefit of a mentor is insight into which skills you should pursue. Ask them what skills are necessary, which have become less important, and which are in the highest demand right now. A great question is, “If you were starting over today, what path would you be taking?”

A Membership at StationX gives you access to a personal dedicated career mentor who can help you on your journey. 

Join a Mastermind Group

What is a Mastermind Group? It’s a small group of people who have come together to offer one another support in their shared goals and, together, reach new levels of personal success.

How do they support each other? By sharing ideas, helping each other understand concepts and study materials, and hold each other accountable to their individual goals and milestones. At StationX you can join a mastermind group or start your own. Develop a schedule setting when you can meet, though once a week is recommended.

Why should you join a mastermind group?

These groups have been proven to help individuals like you establish positive habits, achieve your goals, and increase your ability to learn and retain information.

Establishing a system of good habits to achieve your goals

Whether you are a student or a professional, it’s been observed that those who had written their goals down had an increased chance of achieving them – a 42% vs. 60% success rate.
When you commit publicly to your goals, it creates a sense of personal accountability which bumps the completion percentage to 64%.
In StationX Mastermind groups, we recommend you meet weekly. By doing this, the goal completion rate shoots up to 76%.

Increase your learning retention rates

When you discuss what you’re learning with others, just talking about it can actually increase your retention rate to 50%.
Even better, teaching others what you’ve learned increases your retention rate to 90%.

Network With Other Cyber Security Analyst Students in the StationX Community and Elsewhere

Let’s be clear on this point: you want to network. When it comes to career development, building a professional network has the best return on investment. Don’t think it just means someone you know can get you “in” to a position at their company. There’s so much more to it.

Much like a Mastermind Group, your professional network can support your career development through sharing ideas and resources, introductions to those in the industry “worth knowing,” and can help you reevaluate your skills. It is less formal than a mentor but nonetheless beneficial. 

Every person in your network opens doors to the people in their network. Think of each of these professional connections as resource libraries specific to your career goals.  Watch what they are doing to promote themselves, what skills/jobs/events/goals they pursue, and how they establish a personal brand.

So how do you build a network?

You can join the StationX community and connect with other students, experts, and junior professionals. 

LinkedIn is currently the definitive social network for professional networking. It is a place to advertise yourself, invite others to connect with you and reach out to others in your field. Many professionals write and share articles or blogs about personal success or industry-relevant news. Respond to these, thank them for sharing their experiences, and open a dialogue.

You can connect with Nathan House, founder and CEO of StationX, and share his professional network. You can also follow StationX on LinkedIn. 

Infosec Twitter is a huge community of industry professionals sharing informal commentary (think water-cooler talk) and valuable insights. Liking, retweeting, and replying to these posts (respectfully, of course) can grow your network. Share your insights, successes, and failures too. Let others see what you are working towards and what challenges you’re not afraid of facing. Be sure to follow Nathan House and StationX.

Industry events and meetups happen year-round. See what is happening in your area or online. If you have the means, plan to travel to some of the more well-known events. Our Member’s Section lists the top-recommended conferences to attend.

Step 2

Identify the Capability Gap Between You and a Cyber Security Analyst

It’s time to look at the skills and capabilities required for the role and how they align with the ones you already possess. Once we have our baseline, we can establish a plan of attack to get you those missing skills.

We’ll take this in steps. First, we’ll look at specializations that may interest you, then do a capabilities gap analysis, and finally discuss a plan to fill that gap.

Find a Passion and Specialization

Cyber Security Analyst covers a very wide range of disciplines. It is a position many companies define differently or use as a catch-all when looking for a jack-of-all-trades within defensive cyber security. You can stay generalized (which typically, though not always, means working as a security operations center (SOC) analyst). Consider some of these specializations.

Malware Analyst

Malware Analyst: These analysts examine malicious software, such as viruses, worms, rootkits, and trojan horses. Their goal is to determine how they function, where they came from, the impact, and any other information that can be extracted.

Digital Forensic SpecialistInvestigator

Digital Forensic Specialist/Investigator: Their goal is to identify, preserve, analyze, and document digital evidence. This can be done in both the private and public sectors, whether companies are looking to keep records internally for analysis or for use in criminal cases. The consistent rise in cyber crime makes this career especially in demand.

GRC Analyst

GRC Analyst: Governance, Risk, and Compliance Analyst. This is less of a “technical” role, focusing on assessing and documenting a company/institution’s risk posture, ensuring compliance with industry/regulatory security standards, assessing incidents, and building awareness of security risks and accountability to your company/client.

Incident Responder

Incident Responder: These are the first responders to a breach or security incident. They are tasked with preparing for security breaches, detecting and analyzing incidents, containing the breach, recovering/restoring the system, and documenting the entire process.

Threat Hunter

Threat Hunter: Threat hunters continuously seek out and analyze vulnerabilities and security flaws. This involves combing through logs and security data looking for anything out of place. Incident responders are reactive, but threat hunters and proactive.

Azure Security Engineer

Azure Security Engineer: “Responsibilities for an Azure security engineer include managing the security posture, identifying and remediating vulnerabilities, performing threat modeling, implementing threat protection, and responding to security incident escalations.” (Source: Microsoft)

AWS Security Specialist

AWS Security Specialist: This role involves the hardening and securing of Amazon Web Service infrastructures, including: “...security controls for workloads on AWS; logging and monitoring strategies; cloud security threat models; patch management and security automation; ways to enhance AWS security services with third-party tools and services; and disaster recovery controls, including BCP and backups, encryption, access control, and data retention.” (Source: Amazon)

To see if something specific excites you as a specialty, take a look at: 

If you can’t decide yet, stay general for now.

You can also get to know the cyber security industry and what jobs are offered with.

Identify Your Current Hard, Soft, and Transferable Capabilities

It's time to list your present skills and consider whether they could be applied to this new profession.

After giving your hard skills (like Python or Networking) and soft skills (like multi-tasking and report writing) a long, hard look, compare them to the abilities you see listed on the job listings you want to apply for. Establish a plan to fill up the gaps after determining what is lacking.

You can use whatever method works best for you so long as you can refer back to it as needed. If you want some help keeping it organized, we’ve developed a tool to assist.

To use our “Capabilities Matrix with Gap Analysis,” provide your email and receive it free.

The document is split into two sections: “My Current Capabilities” tab and “Capabilities I Need” tab.

Begin by filling out the Capabilities column in the Current Capabilities tab.

Current Capabilities

The Capabilities section is split into three parts:

  1. Hard capabilities, which are formal technical skills (e.g Python or TCP/IP)
  2. Soft capabilities, which are developed through experience (communication skills, adaptability, etc.)
  3. Transferable skills are skills developed in other pursuits that can translate to this career (a mechanic might have problem-solving skills or attention to detail)

List a maximum of ten for each. Then, move on to the other columns. 

First, you will select the knowledge level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced). This refers to your understanding of the capability.

Next is your skill level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced). This is your ability to apply knowledge to a task or situation.

Lastly, the amount of experience is measured in months or years.

At the bottom, you can list any certifications, degrees, or provable achievements.

The second tab is “Capabilities I Need.” It is laid out the same as the previous table. 

Role Name - Cyber Security Analyst

Review the job descriptions of positions you're interested in and perform a gap analysis based on junior and entry level positions. Consider opportunities at the intermediate and advanced levels as well so you can choose your long-term goals.

Fill in the hard and soft capabilities and any certifications that you regularly find in job postings.

20 - Role Name - Cyber Security Analyst

You're all set! Once finished, you have a list of the hard and soft capabilities you must acquire as well as the credentials needed to become a cyber security analyst. You know how far along you are and where you need to get.

Now, let's discuss how to acquire those capabilities.

Step 3

Gain the Skills & Qualifications Needed to Be a Cyber Security Analyst

Cyber security analysts must know various defensive techniques, security standards, best practices, different security incident and event management (SIEM) tools, effective planning, and report writing.

We will go into detail below.

Hard Skills Needed for a Cyber Security Analyst

Hard skills are the technical abilities you should possess. 

As we’ve discussed, this position can mean many things. As a result, you will want to be familiar with several security concepts. This includes monitoring systems, understanding and interpreting information, and acting on it. This comes in a variety of skills.

When looking at job ads, the most requested hard skills by employers are:

  • Networking
  • Information Security
  • Network Security
  • Linux
  • Security Operations
  • Threat Analysis
  • Intrusion Detection
  • Vulnerability Assessment
  • Project Management

Some of these necessary abilities are very broad and all-encompassing. The term "networking," for instance, has numerous meanings. Cisco's five certification levels (Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Architect) and nine different learning routes serve as an example of this. Even though they are all "Networking," they are not all the same.

A Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) are two very different certifications. Salary alone differs by roughly $50,000 per year between the two. 

Let's dissect and clarify these abilities into more specific, actionable topics.

Networking

Networking

In this context, we define networking as understanding how devices communicate.

This can be done physically through network devices, such as switches and routers. It can also be done virtually through cloud and virtualization technology (of course, physical devices are still required to access the network).

Analyzing network traffic and watching for anomalies will be very difficult if you don’t understand the fundamentals of networking. You may be tasked with looking for spikes in traffic, abnormalities in pcap files, or traffic from unusual ports.

You don’t need to be a networking engineer, but you should understand the fundamentals of enterprise networking. A CompTIA Network+, Cisco CCNA, or Juniper JNCIA equivalent knowledge base is sufficient. Read our Network+ vs CCNA article to help determine which is best suited for you.

Information Security

Information Security

Another necessary fundamental. Understanding of encryption, authentication, OS and application security, threats and vulnerabilities. Knowledge equivalent to CompTIA’s Security+ or (ISC)2’s SSCP (Systems Security Certified Practitioner) is a solid foundation to build your skills upon.

Network Security

Network Security

Network security involves scanning networks to gather data, analyzing traffic, and setting up and maintaining security systems such as firewalls and security information and event management systems.

You may be using tools like Nmap, Wireshark, Snort, pfSense, and more. This is both a proactive and reactive skill.

Linux

Linux

96.3% of the world's top 1 million servers run on Linux. 90% of all cloud infrastructure operates on Linux. You may be using a Linux operating system like Security Onion or Kali Purple. Get used to Linux.

Security Operations

Security Operations

This refers to working and understanding how to operate within a Security Operations Center (SOC). A SOC is a centralized function within an organization employing people, processes, and technology to continuously monitor and improve an organization's security posture while preventing, detecting, analyzing, and responding to cybersecurity incidents.

Threat Analysis

Threat Analysis

“Threat analysis is a cybersecurity strategy that aims to assess an organization’s security protocols, processes and procedures to identify threats, vulnerabilities, and even gather knowledge of a potential attack before they happen…

“Threat analysis is categorized as a reactive strategy in IT cybersecurity since the organization is assessing threats in real-time as they are staged against their security perimeter. Even though this strategy relies on attacks being staged against the organization, when done properly, this strategy can greatly reduce the scope of damages sustained in an unforeseen cyber-attack.” (Source: VMWare)

Intrusion Detection

Intrusion Detection

Intrusion Detection is the process of tracking and analyzing network traffic and system events, as well as user activity, to identify unauthorized or malicious activity within a computer system/network. The primary purpose is to detect security breaches, attacks, or unauthorized access attempts so that corrective action can be taken to reduce the risk of damage and preserve the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the target resources.

Vulnerability Assessment

Vulnerability Assessment

Vulnerability assessment is determining if a vulnerability is a real threat and, if so,  how to mitigate it. Vulnerability scanning tools like Nessus and Qualys can speed up the discovery of vulnerabilities and provide a risk score so you can more easily prioritize which to fix first and which you may consider acceptable risk.

Project Management

Project Management

While you wouldn’t need to pursue PRINCE2 or Project Management Professional certifications, looking at a project or task, breaking it down into reasonable milestones, and seeing it through is important. This is especially true when a team needs to divide tasks and responsibilities during an event.

Some of the top skills that are growing in demand are

Cloud Security
Software Security
Threat Hunting
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
Threat Intelligence & Response

Learning the Hard Skills for a Cyber Security Analyst Career

StationX Roadmaps Cyber Security Analyst Roadmap

You can begin your cyber security analyst training if you already have a strong foundation in IT basics, operating systems, and enterprise networking. We have many courses to help you develop the skills you’re looking for here at StationX.

We recommend taking the following courses in this order:

All our blue team and security operations courses are here. You have full access to them when joining with a StationX membership.

We would also recommend any or all of the following books to learn more about defensive cyber security:

Soft Skills Needed for Cyber Security Analysis

Although soft skill requirements in job listings are typically minimal, they can be just as significant as hard skill requirements, if not more so. These skills allow you to work quickly within a team, keep a sharp eye for trouble, and work smarter, not harder, in a crisis.

These skills include:

  • Interpersonal and communication skills: This will go hand-in-hand with “collaboration/teamwork” below. You can not be afraid to speak to your team, other teams you need to cooperate with, or management. Your job is to search and report. These reports will be written when logging events and verbal when what you discover requires immediate action. You must be capable of correctly and clearly communicating the issue and its severity.
  • Critical/analytical thinking: When you see something out of the ordinary, you must determine if it’s a false positive or a breach. This involves taking a wide range of information and seeing the big picture. You might have a checklist to assist you, but ultimately, it is up to you to analyze what information you have available and decide on your own. 
  • Persuasion: More useful for higher-up roles, such as consulting or management. However, trying to convince management to spend money to solve security-related problems can require this skill.
  • Adaptability: Threat actors are constantly discovering new vulnerabilities and new ways to attack systems. Employees and coworkers can be tricked into clicking that malicious link or handing over a password. When something unexpected happens, you need to possess the ability to adapt.
  • Collaboration/teamwork: As already touched on, you will be working both within your own team and likely with other teams (such as incident responders, forensic analysts, or a red team) day-to-day. While there are careers in cyber security that allow you to fly solo, this is not one of them. The ability to work as part of a team, both supporting and accepting the support of others, gives you value above and beyond other candidates.
  • Attention to detail: Is there anything in this log file that shouldn’t be there? Is this network traffic spike expected, or something malicious? How did this unauthorized user gain access, and what were they doing before their connection was severed? These answers might not leap off the screen, and that’s where your ability to notice small details and evaluate their meaning comes into play.
  • Passion: How do you stay motivated to constantly learn new skills, keep up-to-date with the latest trends, and stay focused when looking at massive amounts of data? You need to have a passion for this work. You also need to demonstrate this passion to employers. In a field as dynamic as this one, a passion for the profession is even more critical.
  • Problem-solving: Whether you are doing monitoring, triage and response, analysis, forensics, or any element of blue team operations, you will, in essence, be performing problem-solving. Even with training and the proper tools, each instance will have its own challenges, which require its own solutions.
  • Honesty and ethics: Let’s face it, you are being given a great amount of access to the most valuable and vulnerable parts of an organization’s infrastructure. You are being entrusted to take care of it, not to abuse this access, and report on any issues. Employers want to know you won’t become complacent and let a potential threat go by uninvestigated, become influenced by a competitor or threat actor, or try to cover up a mistake rather than address it.

Do I Need to Know Programming to Become a Cyber Security Analyst?

No, but some scripting ability will prove a huge boost to your career. 

Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, tweeted one of the most brilliant definitions of intelligence we have ever read. He said, “Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done.”

Put another way, automating tasks will make you more efficient and help you accomplish more in less time and with less effort. Scripting is a great way to get there.

There are three scripting languages to look at: Bash, Powershell, and Python.

Bash is the scripting language used in Linux systems, and Powershell is used in Windows systems. 

Python is a very powerful, yet simple to learn, scripting language that runs natively on Linux and macOS, and can run on Windows if installed. It is extremely versatile and often used by network administrators to push mass changes to a network. It is also the language of choice for Amazon Web Services administration.

If you are working as a cyber security analyst in a network that is primarily Windows (i.e., an Active Directory network), learning some basic Powershell commands will certainly be useful, though that will be more the domain of the Network Administrator. 

If we were only to recommend one, Python is a great place to start and can apply to many cyber security roles you may want to migrate into during your career. We have many Python courses to choose from at StationX.

Getting the Necessary Qualifications to Become a Cyber Security Analyst

With so many certifications available, all claiming to be “the best,” “the most in demand,” or “the most comprehensive” on the market, students can understandably get shellshocked trying to decide which to pursue.

Exams are not inexpensive, and regardless of your choice, they will require a great amount of study and dedication. Let’s look at some of the most in-demand and relevant certifications.

General cyber security certifications

We want to be clear that while these are some of the most popular certifications listed in job advertisements, our suggestions only partially correspond with this list.

Since it covers the essentials of information security, the Security+ certification is a great choice for beginners. The fact that you hold this certification shows potential employers that you are familiar with a wide range of security procedures and terms. Our Security+ Exam Cheat Sheet and 10 Tips to Pass the CompTIA Security+ Exam article can help you with this goal.

CISA and CISSP, by contrast, are NOT entry-level certifications. These are for individuals looking to move from an intermediate to an advanced career level.

You should pursue CISSP as a certification in your career. CISSP is the closest there is to an industry-wide standard certification and should be the goal of anyone wanting a career in information security. That said, it is not for those just starting in cyber security.

It is also worth noting that SANS/GIAC certifications are very expensive, and it is common for those in the industry to request employers pay for the training and exam rather than the individual get it themselves. 

If you were to choose a SANS/GIAC one to pursue, GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC) is an entry-level certification they offer, though its demand in job postings is hit and miss and often can be substituted for the more affordable Security+.

Cyber security analyst certifications

  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA CySA+
  • GIAC Security Essentials Certification

CompTIA Security+ proves strong foundations in cyber security technology and best practices. You can see our full breakdown of this certification in “What Is CompTIA Security+? An Essential Guide.”

CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) proves familiarity with security operations, vulnerability management, incident response, and proper reporting and communication. See the differences between it and Security+ here: CySA+ vs Security+: Which Certification Works Best for You?

GSEC is a sought after general cyber security certification which covers much of the same content as Security+, as well as AWS, container, and macOS security, Windows access controls, and data loss prevention. See how it compares to Security+ here.

Recommended training courses for certifications

Produce a Personal Success Roadmap for Becoming a Cyber Security Analyst

Time to take an inventory of all steps so far.

  • Considered specializations? Check!
  • Analyzed your current hard and soft skills? Check!
  • Gone through job postings to see the requested skills and certifications? Check!
  • Reviewed our recommended courses to learn the skills and prepare for the exams? Check!

You’re making great progress so far!

Now let’s start to bring it all together and create a personal roadmap for success.

Personal Success Roadmap For Becoming a Cyber Security Analyst

We will discuss the last few steps in the coming sections, but you can start working on your roadmap now. Also note that, as a StationX member, a mentor will produce a custom roadmap for you.

Do You Need a Degree to Become a Cyber Security Analyst?

This could be a very long answer, as there is a tremendous amount of debate on the matter. Here is our opinion in a nutshell.

Do you need a degree? No.

Can a degree help? Sometimes. It matters more if you intend to become something like a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

Yes, the traditional attitude from employers has always been a degree of some kind for highly technical roles. This is changing.

Firstly, there is a growing gap between open positions and available candidates. There are countless qualified individuals who do not hold a formal post-secondary degree, and organizations are finding they cannot afford to limit their selection of candidates based on a four-year degree.

Secondly, there simply aren’t many degrees that provide the skills and experience organizations (or students) are looking for. Sure, there are many computer science programs, but that isn’t specifically cyber security. There are some cyber security programs, but they are not available everywhere and employers are left to speculate on the quality of the program.

Consider this:

There is no accepted standard as to what makes a strong and complete cyber security program. If a college or university decides to cover as much ground as possible to be well-rounded, its at the cost of being too high-level to offer any hands-on practical skills. 

Suppose an institution wants to prepare students to jump right into a position. In that case, they need a unique program for almost every specialty. It’s just not feasible.

Certifications are a different story. They are often specialized. Many require real proof of ability, not just memorizing terms and facts. Most importantly, they are standardized. 

The CISSP exam is an equivalent challenge and knowledge pool regardless of whether you sit for it in London, Tokyo, Miami, Mumbai, or Rio de Janeiro. If you have that certification, employers know exactly what skills you have. The same is true for any certification from a respected organization, such as CompTIA, Cisco, OffSec, or (ISC)2.

In short, while a degree will never hold you back in your career, certifications are shown to hold more value in most information security jobs.

Step 4

Gain Practical Hands-On Experience in Cyber Security Analysis 

Practical experience is crucial, but knowing where to begin can be challenging. 

A common feeling among students is that they are caught in the vicious loop of "I can't get a job without experience" and "I can't get experience without a job."  There are, thankfully, a number of techniques to strengthen your resume's experience section.

Here are some of the steps we advise taking to acquire that knowledge:

No matter how small, seek out and request any security task within your current job
If you work in IT, networking, software engineering, or a similar role, count it as experience
Do the StationX practical exercises and virtual labs
Become a teaching assistant at StationX
Join a StationX Mastermind Group
Networking with other security professionals through the StationX community
Answer questions within the StationX community
Write your own security tools, publish them and promote them in the StationX community
Consider Internships
Try volunteering
Go to cyber security clubs and meetups in your area or online
Leverage your degree or college course by doing a practical thesis
Try freelancing - consider bug bounty and sites like Upwork
Enter red v. blue competitions
Attend security conferences
Participate in security conferences and groups
Contribute to open-source projects
Get on GitHub and share any scripts you make
Network on social media
Work on your personal branding - get on social media, get yourself a blog, write articles
If you’re considering a degree, choose one with a placement year in the industry
At university/college, professors often have paid work that you can apply for
CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) - discovering and disclosing security flaws

Can I Get a Job Without Work Experience?

We want to stress that the above section is experience you can count towards positions. Don’t think that because you don’t have much (or any) time in a paid position that you don’t qualify. 

So, will this experience qualify you for cyber analyst positions?

Feeder Roles: Yes. The A+, Network+, or CCNA certifications will go a long way here. Generally, these positions involve a low level of technical understanding. The experience gained from the previous section should be more than sufficient.

Entry Level: Generally, yes. That’s what an entry-level position is supposed to be, a job for those just entering the field without much experience. Certifications and the experience from the previous section will get you noticed here.

Intermediate and Advanced: No. For intermediate positions, you will have to earn your hours at an entry-level position before being trusted with more responsibilities. Advanced levels require not only technical experience but proven managerial skills.

Step 5

Apply for Cyber Security Analyst Jobs

Roadmap to success? Check! 

Developed your hard and soft skills? Check! 

Taken your courses? Check!

Got your certifications? Check!

Now you want to get hired. What do you do?

As hiring practices are changing to match the demand for skilled professionals, we all must adapt in kind to promote ourselves properly.

Develop a Personal Brand

Developing a personal brand means marketing yourself as unique and valuable, particularly when compared to other potential candidates. Companies, agencies, and clients are looking to hire you. In a sense, you are a product, and you need to advertise yourself properly.

A worthwhile employee does three things. You save your employer time, lower their costs, and increase their revenue. It’s easier to say you do all those things, but you must back it up. If you were a product, you would have advertising, reviews, demonstrations, and testimonials. As a person, what is the equivalent?

If you’re not on Twitter and LinkedIn, sign-up now. Share your accomplishments. Every course you finish, every certification you earn, every competition you enter, every event you attend, share it! 

Don’t stop there. Tag the course instructor and thank them. They love retweeting things like that. Same with the organizations that manage certifications. They see your self-advertisement as a testimonial for them. Everybody gets something out of it.

Blogging is a great way to share things beyond your resume. Whatever you choose to blog about, there will be people who can relate to it. Others pursuing the same certifications will want to hear about your successes and failures to learn from them. If you’ve recently learned a technique or software, blog about it. Maybe yours is the post that finally makes sense to another person struggling with the concept.

Blogs also show employers you are interested. It demonstrates the extent of your knowledge and experience. It also shows that you are giving something back to the community. In a way, you are acting as a mentor as well.

On the subject of mentorship, become a teaching assistant at StationX. Not only is there a great personal satisfaction in helping others to succeed, it’s a fantastic networking opportunity. Putting “mentor” or “teaching assistant” on a resume displays leadership skills and a strong understanding of the subject matter.

Review the “Demonstrate your Abilities and Passion” section of our free Career Guide

We have an excellent course in Cyber Security Personal Branding by Ken Underhill available in our member section.

Cybersecurity Personal Branding

Create a Great Resume

Resumes come in three styles. LinkedIn, traditional, and personal websites. Consider all three.

LinkedIn is a standard now for professionals. Whether you think this is a great thing or a necessary evil, it is the number one way to build and demonstrate a network. Many job postings will allow you to automatically fill in the application from your LinkedIn profile, which is a great time saver. Recruiters use LinkedIn to search for candidates, so get yourself out there.

You can learn how to make the most of your LinkedIn account with our “How to Use LinkedIn to Find Jobs” course by Ken Underhill in the Member’s Section.

Traditional resumes may seem antiquated, but many organizations still request them, along with a cover letter. Often, HR departments will use software to search resumes for keywords taken from the job posting and automatically discard ones not tailored to the position, so as annoying as it may be, edit your CV and cover letter for each posting.

There is a chapter dedicated to resumes and cover letters in the Complete Job Search Course.

Personal websites are much easier than they used to be. You can register a domain name and get a WordPress resume template. Even easier is a blogging site like Medium or a GitHub page. Medium allows you to blog for free, and GitHub lets you share any code or scripts you’ve created. 

Each has its own benefits, and every hiring manager will have their own preference. Take the time and set them up. It will pay off in the end.

How to Find Cyber Security Analyst Jobs

There are several places to look for job postings.

  • LinkedIn has a job search function. With a paid membership, you can compare your skills and the job posting and how you stack up against other applicants.
  • Indeed is a popular job posting site. You can upload a resume and allow recruiters to contact you with potential job openings.
  • Cyber Security Jobs is a site designed specifically for our industry. It organizes postings by specialization and certifications. We recommend you sign up here and register for job alerts in your area. 
  • Google search for cyber security companies in your area and watch the job board on their website. Some will allow you to sign up for email notifications when a position is posted.
  • If you are in the US, see the Cyber Security Supply & Demand Heat Map.
  • Be sure to take the Complete IT Job Search Course in the member’s section.
  • Read our Newbie’s Guide to Finding a Cyber Security Job article.

The Cyber Security Analyst Interview

Now that you’re applying for jobs, you’ll need to get your interview skills up to par. Some interview questions are universal regardless of the job. We’ve all heard them before, “do you consider yourself proactive or reactive,” “what’s your greatest weakness,” ect. We have a course on preparing for these interviews.

Common now, we are seeing behavioral interview questions. I recommend reading Akshay Sachdeva’s article, “41 Behavioural Interview Questions You Must Know on The Martec. He goes on to explain,

“The purpose of behavioral interview questions is to understand who you are, how you think, and how you approach real-world dilemmas. Your answers to these behavioural questions can help the interviewer gauge how you may (or may not) complement the current team.”

Some examples he includes in the article are

  1. Describe a time when you disagreed with a team member. How did you resolve the problem?
  2. Tell me about a time when you failed.
  3. Give me an example of when you had to assume leadership for a team.
  4. What is the most difficult/challenging situation you’ve ever had to resolve in the workplace?
  5. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a supervisor.
  6. How do you approach problems? What’s your process?

In our conversation with Joe Stimac of InterviewReady, we asked the best advice to give job seekers early in their cyber career. He told us, 

“My best advice is to think like an employer and be prepared to demonstrate how you meet/exceed the job requirements. Offer specific examples of experiences for each duty/task posted in the job requirements by using P.A.R. (describe the problem, the actions you took, and the result). 

“Employers hire people whose answers are credible and memorable. If you have limited or no employment history, talk about the transferable skills you learned at school or via StationX training.” 

For more advice on how to stand out from the competition in interviews, go to www.InterviewReady.com, select a program, and use the Discount Code STATIONX at checkout to get an instant 67% discount.

Sample Interview Questions

While this list certainly isn’t all-encompassing, consider some of the following questions for your role.

Introduction Questions

  • Where do you go to research the latest news in information security?
  • What is the last script you wrote?
  • What areas of skill are you currently developing or improving?
  • How have you given back to the cyber security community?
  • What individuals or organizations within infosec do you follow on social media? What YouTube channels, podcasts, or blogs do you recommend others in the industry follow and why?

Less Technical

  • Define the CIA Triad.
  • How do an IDS and IPS differ?
  • Why is asset inventory important?
  • A workstation suddenly appears to be infected with ransomware. What do you do immediately?
  • What is risk acceptance?

Moderate Technical

  • What is the difference between symmetric and asymmetric encryption?
  • How are encrypting and hashing different?
  • Name three types of threat actors and define them?
  • What is the difference between third-party risk and fourth-party risk?
  • What is a security monitoring tool you are comfortable using, and what does it do?

Highly Technical

  • What is the difference between a vulnerability and a threat?
  • Define “assumed breach.”
  • Broadly explain what is covered in the ISO 27000 series standard.
  • You see an intruder on the network in real-time. Name a reason you might not want to kill their access immediately.
  • You are responding to an incident. What is the last step in the process?

To Sum Up

Cyber Security Analyst is a stable, well-paying, and challenging profession that can springboard you into many exciting specialties. 

Information technology isn’t going anywhere, and neither are the risks, vulnerabilities, and criminals which threaten the security of our information and systems. So long as you are prepared to keep up with the changing technology and the associated challenges, you will be in high demand by private organizations, law enforcement, and government agencies. 

We hope our article helps you on your journey to becoming a cyber security analyst. If you have any questions, let us know in the comment section below. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Kristopher Morrison

    Kristopher is the Content Manager at StationX. He's a journalist, technology and business blogger, and CNVP who loves all things cyber. Combining his passion for technology with his skills in writing, he wants to bring you the most accurate and valuable information possible. You can always reach him on LinkedIn.

  • Nathan House

    Nathan House is the founder and CEO of StationX. He has over 25 years of experience in cyber security, where he has advised some of the largest companies in the world. Nathan is the author of the popular "The Complete Cyber Security Course", which has been taken by over half a million students in 195 countries. He is the winner of the AI "Cyber Security Educator of the Year 2020" award and finalist for Influencer of the year 2022.

  • Alex says:

    Very good and comprehensive article. Two things I would like to know.
    1. The age factor. How old someone can be to start a carreer as a beginner? Between what ages will be best? I am 33 years old. Would you consider that I could start a carreer in Cybersecurity?
    2. Does typing impact the proficiency of the roles in Cybersecurity?
    Thank you!

    • Kristopher Morrison Kristopher Morrison says:

      Hi Alex, thanks for your questions.

      It is safe to say that there is no age limit to get into cyber security. There are several reasons for this.

      Firstly, the field is constantly changing. This means that even long-time veterans are constantly learning new skills. Unlike some careers where you are refining a particular talent over years, like sales, any cyber security career will expose you to new technologies that the long-time industry professionals are going to be learning at the same time as you.

      There aren’t many “experts” in AI-related security. There is a frightening lack of professionals in cloud security. This doesn’t mean you’re only hope is to jump on the latest tech – it means that you aren’t too far behind to catch up, as every pro is also a lifelong student.

      There are benefits and drawbacks to everything. Consider an employer comparing someone in their early 20s and another in their mid-40s with similar cyber security knowledge and certifications, for example. On one hand, they have a candidate with room to grow and offer a long-term commitment. On the other, they have a candidate with years of experience in other fields that can apply to the new position (such as working in a corporate environment, proven ability to dedicate time to a project, used to working on a team, dealing with clients/customers, etc.).

      Someone in their early 30s, like yourself, is in a perfect position to transition into a new career.

      As for typing, are you referring to skills and speed on a keyboard? Typing is a crucial skill. Fortunately, it’s one that you will develop naturally as you practice different computer skills. Like anything, the more you do it, the better you get at it. If I misunderstood that question, please let me know, and I will try and provide a better answer.

      I hope this helps.

      Kris.

      • Alex says:

        Thank you very much for your response. It is very detailed and that is helpful.
        As for the question about the typing, yes, it was about how fast and not looking at the keyboard. I just use the keyboard for daily, normal typing and most of the time is on the phone. I need to level my game on typing then. Like you said it can be learned and developed if you really want to achieve a certain level of typing.
        Again thank you for your prompt response.
        Kind regards, Alex.

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