Table of contents
Home > Careers > What Is a Cybersecurity Analyst?

What Is a Cybersecurity Analyst?

What is a cybersecurity analyst?

Forage puts students first. Our blog articles are written independently by our editorial team. They have not been paid for or sponsored by our partners. See our full editorial guidelines.

With so much of our personal information online (think: credit card information, banking details), cybersecurity analysts have become more critical than ever for their vital role in protecting an organization’s network and data from security threats. 

So, what do cybersecurity analysts do?  Cybersecurity analysts are responsible for analyzing the security environment of a company’s computer network and identifying potential vulnerabilities. They also develop and implement security measures to protect networks from cybercriminals. 

If you’re wondering how to become a cybersecurity analyst, this guide tells you everything you need to know about what a cybersecurity analyst does, the average salary you might make, the skills you’ll need as a cybersecurity analyst, and more.

What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do?

Cybersecurity analysts specialize in the security of computer networks, hardware devices, and IT infrastructure. A wide range of industries relies on cybersecurity professionals, with an increasing number of businesses finding themselves vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Some industries that employ cybersecurity analysts include the government, financial services, health care, and IT sectors — although any business with an online presence needs cybersecurity professionals.

“Cybersecurity analysts can work in a variety of roles, such as security engineers, security analysts, security architects, and security consultants,” says Nate Morris, a cybersecurity analyst at a large financial services firm.

commonwealth bank logo

Introduction to Cybersecurity

See what it's like to work in cybersecurity in this free course from Commonwealth Bank. You'll analyze a cyber attack and uncover what kind of attack it is, learn how to prevent future attacks, and more.

Avg. Time: 3-4 hours

Skills you’ll build: Splunk basics, incident triage, password security, data analysis

As a mid-level position on the cybersecurity career path, analysts are responsible for monitoring and responding to security incidents and conducting regular security assessments and audits. These are some of the most common job titles for this role:

  • Compliance analyst
  • Information security analyst
  • Information technology security analyst
  • Security analyst
  • Security operations analyst

Cybersecurity Job Description

So, what does a cybersecurity analyst do on a daily basis? A cybersecurity analyst’s job description includes protecting companies from cyberthreats like malware, trying to prevent cyberattacks, and responding to successful attacks from hackers and other cybercriminals. Without cybersecurity analysts, cybercriminals would have an easier time stealing or damaging an organization’s sensitive data. 

“The profession of a cybersecurity analyst includes a number of possible areas of responsibility and combines a whole class of professions,” explains Maxim Beloenko, vice president of global sales at the network security services company Qrator Labs. “Respectively, such employees can be engaged, for example, in the formation of a company’s information protection policy in accordance with current external threats and with the state of affairs within the company.”

jpmorgan logo


Take your cybersecurity skills to the next level in this free course from JPMorgan Chase. You'll analyze a fraud data set, build an email classifier, and more.

Avg. Time: 5 hours

Skills you’ll build: Access control, email security fundamentals, text-based ML models, application security hygiene

“The specific tasks of a cybersecurity analyst vary depending on the organization they work for,” Morris says. “Generally, their duties include monitoring networks for threats, deploying and configuring security solutions, and conducting risk assessments.”  

Typical tasks include:

  • Analyzing an organization’s current level of threats
  • Investigating phishing methods and malware delivery
  • Adapting the company’s protection mechanisms to evolving threats

Cybersecurity consultant Alessandro Mirani points out that since the root of a cybersecurity analyst’s job consists of securing an operational IT environment, this includes everything from physical perimeters to applications running on servers. “A cybersecurity analyst will deal more often with regulatory compliance, audit readiness, risk/vulnerability assessment, and penetration testing,” Mirani says.

Cybersecurity Analyst Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the average annual salary for information security analysts at $119,860 with the top 10% earning more than $174,540. Self-reported information from Glassdoor indicates that cybersecurity analysts can earn between $83,000 and $134,000 per year, though people with zero to one year of experience will likely have a salary between $60,000 and $97,000 a year.

According to Mirani, higher salary grades require additional experience in coding or regulatory compliance, or relevant professional certifications in cybersecurity or cloud security.

>>MORE: What Is a Cloud Security Engineer?

A cybersecurity analyst’s salary also depends on the size and type of organization they work for. Certain large tech companies often pay cybersecurity analysts higher total pay than the average. Glassdoor notes that the highest-paying companies for this position are Google, with a total average pay of over $183,000 per year; Meta, at over $178,000 per year; and Apple, at over $172,000 per year.

The average advertised salary in cybersecurity analyst job openings for the 12 months ending April 2023 was $107,346, as reported by CyberSeek, a project of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE).

Cybersecurity Analyst Skills

Both technical and general workplace skills are essential for cybersecurity analysts. “Skills can, and should, vary from technical ability, such as implementing secure IT infrastructures, to business ability, such as interacting with stakeholders and understanding business strategy,” Mirani says. “Ability to learn and adapt to emerging technologies is also a must.”

What's the difference: Data science vs. software engineering?


Try your hand at cybersecurity in this free course from Datacom. You'll analyze an attack, conduct a risk assessment, and present your findings.

Avg. Time: 3-4 hours

Skills you’ll build: OSINT, risk management, security analysis, analytical skills

Technical Skills

Cybersecurity analysts must have specific technical skills to perform well in this role. This means being familiar with the latest technologies and security solutions and thoroughly understanding networking, encryption, firewalls, and other security solutions. 

Knowledge of the current cyberthreat landscape and security vulnerabilities is another critical skill. “Cybersecurity analysts should have a deep knowledge of the latest threats, vulnerabilities, and trends in the industry,” Morris says. “They should be able to identify potential security weaknesses and be able to recommend solutions to mitigate them.” 

>>MORE: 10 Common Cybersecurity Interview Questions

Other technical skills and areas of expertise include:

  • Controls and frameworks 
  • Scripting (a form of coding)
  • Intrusion detection software
  • Cloud and network security 
  • Software development and operations
  • Operating systems

“This is certainly an advanced level in technical terms — that is, a deep knowledge of the fundamentals of programming, including secure programming; a detailed understanding of the basics and latest trends in the cybersecurity industry; and the ability to analyze, interpret, and collect information and work with it,” Beloenko explains. “Additional knowledge and skills may be required depending on the industry in which the specialist works.”

Soft Skills

In addition to hard skills, cybersecurity analysts also should have several soft skills common to many industries and workplaces, such as:

  • Problem-solving and analytical skills: Cybersecurity analysts should be able to identify and analyze potential threats and risks and develop and implement solutions to mitigate those risks. 
  • Communication skills: They must be able to communicate technical information to non-technical stakeholders and explain complex security concepts in a way that’s easy to understand. 
  • Attention to detail: Cybersecurity analysts should be detail-oriented and able to notice security vulnerabilities. “They should be able to quickly identify potential security breaches and take the necessary steps to mitigate them,” Morris says. 

This role also often requires collaborating with a larger team, conducting risk management, and using critical thinking skills.

NYC AIG office, working at AIG

Shields Up: Cybersecurity

Build practical cybersecurity skills in this free course from AIG. You'll respond to a zero-day vulnerability and learn how to bypass ransomware.

Avg. Time: 2-3 hours

Skills you’ll build: Python, security advisory, vulnerability triage, software development

How to Become a Cybersecurity Analyst

Fortunately, the job market for cybersecurity analysts is extremely promising. CyberSeek reports that there have been nearly 26,275 job openings in this field over the last 12 months, and the five-year projected growth rate for skills like threat hunting is 105%. In addition, the BLS projects a 32% employment growth rate for information security analysts through 2032.

You can become a cybersecurity analyst through a number of potential entry points. While you can enter the cybersecurity field without a degree or certification, some positions may require specific additional training. 

Cybersecurity Education

In particular, a bachelor’s degree in information technology can provide you with fundamentals that can open doors to this field — particularly if you choose a program specializing in cybersecurity and information assurance. CyberSeek research shows that 70% of online job listings for this title require a bachelor’s degree, and 21% require a graduate degree.

“Becoming a cybersecurity analyst requires a combination of education, experience, and certifications,” Morris says. “Those interested in the field should start by pursuing a degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field.”

>>RELATED: Cybersecurity vs. Computer Science: What’s the Difference?

Cybersecurity Certification

Another more formalized route is to gain certification in cybersecurity by taking online classes or cybersecurity bootcamps through a university, community college, or online course provider. Some in-demand cybersecurity certifications include: 

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) 
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)

Mirani notes that cloud security certifications such as Azure, GCP, and AWS can also help you gain relevant work experience.

>>MORE: 10 Best Cybersecurity Bootcamps of 2024

Cybersecurity Work Experience

Many people become cybersecurity analysts by learning the basics and developing the right skill set through their own study and on-the-job experiences. 

“There is no easy way here due to the requirement of the necessary skills,” Beloenko says. “The easiest way is to get a job in a company where there are relevant vacancies for an internship, and first of all the ability to master or practice on real scenarios.” He adds that cybersecurity analysts are often engineers and experienced managers. An ordinary programmer can develop a path in this direction, even without having any previous connections to the cyber industry, based on a desire to develop in this area.

Mastercard office building in downtown Auckland


Test drive a career in cybersecurity in this free course from Mastercard. You'll design a phishing email simulation then create a security awareness training.

Avg. Time: 1-2 hours

Skills you’ll build: Security awareness training, data analysis, strategy, cybersecurity

Start Your Cybersecurity Career

Mirani advises to “go for it” if you have the option to take on a bachelor’s degree, or even a Master’s of Science degree, en route to a cybersecurity analyst career. But, he recognizes other paths as equally viable. 

“If you are starting from scratch but you already possess IT experience or education, study for the certifications and try to gain relevant work experience,” Mirani says. “If you want to switch from a totally different industry, define a particular set of skills and find a mentor to understand where you fit as a cybersecurity expert — then invest as much as you can on your education and training.” 

Regardless of education and training, Morris emphasizes that having experience in the field is essential. “Those who don’t have professional experience can gain hands-on experience through internships or volunteer work,” Morris says. “This can help them to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to become a successful cybersecurity analyst.”

Cybersecurity Analysts: Threat Protection at Every Level

A cybersecurity analyst protects computer systems and our personal information from being stolen and exploited. And as we live more of our lives online, cybersecurity analysts with top-tier skills will continue to be in demand.

If you’re wondering what it’s like to work in cybersecurity or want to level-up your cybersecurity analyst skills, enroll in one of Forage’s tech virtual job simulations. It’s free and can help you learn more about this growing career field.

Image credit: videoflow /

Robin Madell has spent over two decades as a corporate writer, business journalist, and communications consultant in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Find out which tech career is right for you!

Take the Quiz