Cyber attacks have been on the rise around the globe, with hackers and other criminals targeting businesses large and small to steal valuable information or bring computer networks to a halt. Information security analysts are valued for their ability to protect an organization’s data and information from such attacks.
These information technology (IT) professionals are often employed by IT service providers, banking and financial services, government agencies and healthcare companies.
Job duties typically include planning and implementing security measures to protect computer systems, networks and data. Information security analysts are expected to stay up-to-date on the latest intelligence, including hackers’ methodologies, in order to anticipate security breaches. They also are responsible for preventing data loss and service interruptions by researching new technologies that will effectively protect a network.
Additional duties may include:
- Creating, testing and implementing network disaster recovery plans
- Performing risk assessments and testing of data processing systems
- Installing firewalls, data encryption and other security measures
- Recommending security enhancements and purchases
- Training staff on network and information security procedures
Job Outlook and Salary Range for Information Security Analysts
The job outlook for information security analysts is bright. Employment is projected to grow by 22% nationwide through 2020, which is faster than the average (14%) for all occupations, according to data released in 2012 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Demand is expected to be driven by increasing efforts to fight cyber crime. In addition, a growing need for information protection within the federal government and healthcare industry will spur the need for qualified information security analysts. The BLS expects job prospects to be more robust for applicants with related experience, such as database administration.
According to a BLS nationwide survey, information security analysts earned a median annual wage of $77,990 in 2011. The top 10% earned in excess of $124,860. Those figures represented increases over 2010 of about $2,300 and $5,000, respectively.
Employment opportunities and salary potential generally vary based on work experience, educational level and local market factors.
Education and Training for Information Security Analysts
Most information security analysts have earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming, engineering or a related field, the BLS reports. Some employers prefer candidates with specialized knowledge of information security, which may be obtained through a formal training program. Certain positions require work experience or advanced degrees, such as a Master of Business Administration in Information Systems.
Information security analysts generally have a variety of competencies – creativity, ingenuity, leadership and teamwork, among them.
A number of professional certifications are available to information security analysts, including Certified Information Systems Security Professional and Certified Information Security Manager, as are vendor credentials offered by companies such as Microsoft and Cisco.
Advancement from information security analyst to information security manager or information security officer may be possible with experience and/or advanced educational qualifications.
Military Occupational Specializations
Skills and tasks required of civilian information security analysts are also utilized in certain military occupational roles:
- In the Marine Corps, roles include information security technician and information assurance technician.
- Army roles include cryptologic network warfare specialist and military intelligence systems maintainer.
- In the Air Force, roles include cyber systems operations and cyber surety.
- Navy roles include information warfare, information technology and computer science jobs.