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How to become a cyber security analyst

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

With online criminals showing no signs of slowing, the IT security field continues to face ever-growing demand. In fact, the pandemic has only encouraged further activity from such actors – as most employees are now working from home, typically on devices less secure, monitored, and robustly protected. 

The tech field is thus calling for more security experts than ever, with cyber security analysts among the highest paid and in-demand. Through their thorough knowledge of protective digital measures, along with the skills to mitigate common breach tactics and attack methods, those in this role are only bound to see rising demand in the years to come.

Below, we outline the details of a cyber security analyst career, how to land a job in the field, and how training with Upskilled can help.  

What are the responsibilities of a cyber security analyst? 

A cyber security analyst is responsible for the protection of one’s computer networks, systems, and applications. They’ll often monitor these on a regular basis, building a thorough understanding of the infrastructure and taking note of potential vulnerabilities. 

Any weaknesses found will typically be reported, evaluated, and minimised to the best of their ability. In the case of found threats or malicious attacks, cyber security analysts will often have contingency plans in place to isolate and curb the attempted breach. 

Those in this role commonly use popular cyber security tools such as firewalls, anti-virus software, vulnerability management software, and encryption. A day-to-day routine may consist of constant security testing, breach (or vulnerability) reports, keeping tabs on the latest IT trends, and educating the rest of the workplace on common cybercrime attacks and best security practices.

What are the benefits of a career in cyber security? 

The field of cyber security is a rapidly booming one, as cybercrime remains a top threat among Australian businesses. In the last year alone, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) reported over $33 billion in “self-reported losses” due to digital attacks, with reports increasing by nearly 13% (totalling to a 67,500 cybercrime reports) from the previous financial year.

Yet, the country continues to grapple with a growing skills shortage in cyber security. Nearly 17,000 more workers are needed by 2026, with education providers (such as Upskilled) increasing cyber security training resources to reach this goal. This therefore makes the field one of zero employment and endless opportunity. Alongside the role of cyber security analysts, it also offers plenty of specialties to choose from – including careers in ethical hacking, systems administration, and security engineering. 

Additionally, with high demand and limited available talent comes attractive, competitive pay – as cyber security skills rake in an average of $97,000 AUD per year, according to Payscale. 

How to become a cyber security analyst

  1. Earn a nationally-recognised qualification.
  2. Pursue an internship.
  3. Launch your own projects.
  4. Explore entry-level roles in the field.
  5. Never stop learning. 

1. Earn a nationally-recognised qualification. 

Before diving into the job market, equipping yourself with valuable, nationally recognised certifications is crucial. Studying cyber security not only verifies your skills for potential employers, but also demonstrates initiative and a willingness to learn. Plenty of training courses can also help you build your soft skills for the general workplace – such as the ability to collaborate, communicate, and approach problems with an analytical mindset. 

Upskilled currently offers an ICT50220 - Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security), equipping aspiring security specialists with the fundamentals in best practices, threat analysis, incident response, network testing, and more. Students will additionally learn to manage rising technologies such as cloud platforms and virtual computing environments, as well as broader IT skills in technical documentation, dealing with clients, and ICT business strategies. 

2. Pursue an internship. 

colleagues working together

One of the best ways to build work-ready experience is to challenge your skills on the field. Through an internship, you’ll not only put your training to practice; but you’ll also get the opportunity to learn from industry veterans, expand your network, and truly experience the day-to-day life of a cyber security analyst. 

According to SEEK, internship opportunities in this field will commonly take the form of working as a network, systems or database administrator – and in other cases, as a computer systems analyst. These positions can be found on popular job boards such as Jora or Indeed, as well as listings on LinkedIn. 

3. Launch your own projects.

Of course, pursuing your own projects and cyber security ventures is another effective way of applying your skills – while nurturing your personal passion for the field. 

Plenty of online forums and communities are now available for cyber security professionals to share tips, tricks, and project ideas; these include websites such as HackerOne, Antionline, and Detectify. Subreddits such as “r/cyber” and “r/hackernews” are also popular platforms for experts to connect with one another. 

Some websites may even allow you to contribute to open source projects, helping exercise your newfound skills while taking part in existing ventures. These pursuits demonstrate your initiative and creativity to existing employers, making valuable additions for any cyber security resume. 

4. Explore entry-level roles in the field.

analyst looking at code

Once you’ve built enough skills, experience, and network contacts, you may feel ready to start applying for potential roles. Like any new industry, you may not land a top cyber security analyst role off the bat – though you’ll likely find yourself starting in adjacent, entry-level positions such as those in cyber security assistance and network administration.

Take advantage of these opportunities to build on your skill and experience, which can help you eventually work your way up to higher-paying security analyst positions in the long run. Depending on your performance, internships can also be a career launchpad – eventually leading to a full-time role in the company if you prove to be a good fit.  

5. Never stop learning.

Finally, it’s important to maintain your drive to learn. Even after snagging your dream job in cyber security, be sure to keep building on your skills, knowledge and experience. The field (and the wider IT landscape, in general) is constantly evolving; with emerging new technologies, practices, and methodologies by the day. 

Keep your skills sharp, competitive, and ahead of the curve by staying up to date on the latest security trends and developments – and pursuing new qualifications to “future-proof” your role in the industry. Avoid stagnating; continue broadening your network, attending relevant events, engaging in collaborative projects, and investing in your knowledge for a long, fruitful career as a cyber security analyst.  

As mentioned, Upskilled currently offers an ICT50220 - Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security) to help aspiring professionals build work-ready skills in cyber security fundamentals. You’ll not only equip yourself with the technicalities of the industry, but sharpen your soft skills for the general workplace, too. Best of all, the course is delivered online, helping you train at a time, place, and pace of your choosing.
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