Introduction: How to become a cybersecurity analyst

Do you want to be in a role that helps keep an organization’s sensitive information secure? If so, then you might want to look into cybersecurity analyst positions. 

This is actually a great time to enter this profession, which is projected to grow significantly in the next few years. Employers are not necessarily looking for candidates with higher education but are rather searching for technically- and analytically-minded professionals with experience and related qualifications who have a track record of showing competencies that relate to the job.

Listed in this article are a few certifications that can represent a crucial stepping stone towards landing a great job in the analysis-driven cybersecurity sector.


Certifications to start your career progression in the field

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) CySA+ (previously called CSA+) certification focuses on cyberthreat detection tools and analysis to identify vulnerabilities and risks and addresses not only behavioral analytics skills to identify and combat malware, but also advanced persistent threats (APTs). The CompTIA’s CySA+ certification is vendor-neutral and validates the foundation-level knowledge and expertise essential for such a role.

Why CySA+? The credential has received a Certificate of Accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), signifying that it meets ISO/IEC 17024:2012 general requirements for personnel certification.

Certifications such as CySA+, which fills the gap between the entry-level Security+ credential and the master-level CASP, set the benchmark for what a cybersecurity analyst needs to know. They are a great way to acquire specialized knowledge and be guided towards understanding topics that a professional in the field should master; most importantly, though they prove to employers that an applicant with the credential has current, up-to-date skills and education. 

The CompTIA CySA+ cert does impress recruiters making the hiring. Adding this qualification to your resume is sure to help you stand out and get hired — faster.

Best of all, once you pass the exam, the certification qualifies you to become a CompTIA certified cybersecurity analyst (CySA+). If you are ready to get started on the journey toward earning the credential, all you have left to do is buy the test voucher through the CompTIA Marketplace and then schedule the exam through Pearson VUE.

Professionals who are not yet certified can explore CompTIA CySA+ training to prepare for the exam. Another great option is Infosec’s CySA+ Boot Camp, which provides a comprehensive, accelerated learning environment for the CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst exam.

As you grow in your career, you’ll want to consider new role-based certifications to progress in the field as a cybersecurity analyst. Certifications can be especially important in a role where duties, responsibilities and activities may change to include analyzing malware, conducting penetration testing and necessary ethical hacking that prevent attacks and threats to resources. Some certifications to advance your career include:

The EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker Certification

This is a good way to demonstrate ability in assessing the security of information systems and knowledge of penetration testing techniques. The four-hour proctored exam includes 125 multiple-choice questions and is ANSI-compliant. It focuses on vulnerability analysis, possible threats to IoT and cloud computing and malware analysis. 

Preparation for this hands-on certification can be obtained by attending the comprehensive course offered by EC-Council or investigating the online options, including Infosec’s Ethical Hacking Dual Certification Boot Camp that helps prepare for both the CEH and the CompTIA Pentest+. 

As a natural progression after the CEH certification, the E-Council offers the Certified Security Analyst credential. The ECSA is a pentesting-focused credential that tests a candidate’s knowledge and application of penetration testing methodologies. In addition to the multiple-choice exam, there is also an ECSA practical option, which involves a 12-hour hands-on test in which the professional is asked to perform a comprehensive security audit and advanced network scans beyond an organization’s perimeter defenses, vulnerability analysis, threat and exploit research, writing their own exploits, customizing payloads and creating a professional pentesting report. 

The Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC®)

This certification offers great options to start a career in security analysis. The GSEC credential focuses on the ability to fill hands-on roles in IT security and covers many topics, from tools and methods for active defense to hardening and monitoring a network, access control, incident handling, threat hunting, vulnerability scanning and security policies. 

The GCIH focuses on incident handling, understanding common attack techniques, defenses, malicious applications, system analysis and vulnerability scanning. Basically, it covers subjects related to security incidents from detection to resolution. The GCIA covers intrusion detection and traffic analysis and tests on topics like network forensics, tools like IDSes and Wireshark, packet engineering and more.

To advance as a CSA

These days, there is a great demand for cybersecurity analysts (CSAs), especially at the leadership level. Anyone that wishes to advance in their professional role and career in a senior position will need a credential that can help take them to the next step and that will help when competing with other candidates for a high-paying job opportunity.

To climb the CSA career ladder, it might worth considering the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) credential, which provides the knowledge needed to validate a professional’s advanced IT security behavioral analytics skills. This certification has approximately 25-30% content overlapping with the CySA+ (intrusion detection and vulnerability management are shared topics, for example) but differs as it provides an offense/Red Team approach to security analytics rather than the defense/Blue Team approach other certifications focus on. It is, then, a great option for mid-level security analyst job roles.

CASP-certified professionals can benefit from competitive salaries throughout their careers. Earners of the CompTIA Security Analytics Professional (CSAP) or the CompTIA Security Analytics Expert (CSAE) certification are considered professionals or experts in the field. With the CSAP or CSAE stack, certifications can create a sequence of credentials over time to build up your qualifications and show a deeper mastery, opening up more job opportunities for you. 

Other vendor-neutral certifications for IT security analysts

Security analysts are asked to audit the entire network, including desktops, servers, routers, switches and other systems for improvement of security issues. They review logs to gather evidence from computers, networks and data storage devices, as part of the risk assessment and to make recommendations for mitigation. Hence, a Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA) can have similar roles to other jobs such as network analysts.

Therefore, these professionals can also benefit from more generic credentials that can prove they are ready and equipped for the job. For example, CompTIA’s Network+ or Security+ can help build on experience. The CompTIA Security+ certification requires credential holders to be able to perform threat analysis and apply appropriate mitigation techniques and methodologies to provide appropriate resolution to possible attacks against information systems. The CompTIA Network+ certification gives individuals the skills to keep the network resilient.

How will a cybersecurity analyst certification help me in the real world?

Cybersecurity analysts can benefit from achieving certifications, as they are a great way to show an employer proper training and qualification. This is especially true when a professional does not possess an advanced degree and relies on hands-on, professional experience. 

When evaluating prospective cybersecurity analysts to hire, employers frequently look to certification as an important measure of excellence and commitment to the field. Before you decide what security analyst certification to pursue, carefully consider your options and then fit a career around that vision.

The protection of IT resources and data is one of the most important issues for companies and organization. It’s clear how this is one of the most in-demand jobs, since analysts are essential to detect and mitigate threats, risks and vulnerabilities in informational resources. Employment outlook is definitely positive, but competition is also steep and pursuing a certification can be the right tool to have a hiring advantage over other candidates. As for the salary, it ranges widely based on factors such as position, education, skills and experience. However, adding a certification to verify and certify competences is also a great way to improve income potential or justify promotions. 

Conclusion

Whether you are an existing security analyst who desires to advance your career or an IT professional who has expertise in cybersecurity and looking to become an analyst, there are several certifications beneficial to consider. Credentials are able to validate skills and capabilities to perform role-related tasks. A good starting point for many successful cybersecurity analyst careers is the CompTIA CySA+, and to advance is the CompTIA CASP+ or CSAE certification.

This article serves as a roadmap and should help a lot of people starting out to become an entry-level cybersecurity analyst — not only to continue to provide career opportunities as a professional on the road, but to earn a good salary while working in one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S.

 

Sources

  1. CompTIA Unveils Cyberanalyst Certification, Infosecurity Magazine
  2. Cybersecurity Analyst, CompTIA
  3. CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA+) Cert Guide, Pearson Education
  4. The Definitive Guide to Becoming a Cyber Security Analyst, startacybercareer.com
  5. Entry-Level Information Security Analyst with Cyber Security Skills Salary, PayScale
  6. What is a Security Analyst? Responsibilities, Qualifications, and More, Digital Guardian
  7. CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+): Your Questions Answered, CompTIA

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Daniel
Brecht

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Daniel
Brecht

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