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Information Security Analyst

colleges offer programs related to this career near San Mateo, CA

Career Overview

With the number of cybercrimes on the rise, more and more companies are hiring information security analysts for protection. They are responsible for implementing security measures for computer networks and systems, as well as testing their vulnerability to attacks.Being an information security analyst is kind of like being a military strategist in the middle ages. A neighboring kingdom may attack at any time, so you must be ready to counter any threat. But instead of protecting the castle from invading armies, you're protecting information networks from hackers and cybercriminals.Most of the time, you'll be monitoring the computer network and systems for breaches and any potential threats. You'll also spend a lot of time installing new software, including firewalls and data encryption programs, to fortify your organization's digital security. Once you think you have a solid security system, that's when you have to try and break through it. It sounds like a strange thing to do, but it takes more than just believing that you have a solid security system. You have to make sure it can actually withstand a live threat. Once you've finished testing it, you'll have to fix any openings or vulnerabilities you discover.It's all about staying ahead of the game, and being prepared for an attack at any given moment. Though your main goal is to prevent breaches and ward off hackers, not everything is avoidable. In the event your security systems do fail, you need to also come up with countermeasures and recovery plans that you and other IT employees will follow. It's a lot of responsibility, but somebody's got to do it.

Salaries and Job Outlook*

2013 Median Annual Pay
Number of Jobs in 2013
Projected Growth Rate
National
$95,510
105,250
28.4 %
California
$108,390
8,470
 

Education and Training

Degrees Required:
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science, Programming or related field

Earning your bachelor's degree is a must, and it has to be in a relevant field. The more you know about computers the better, so be sure to pursue a well-rounded education. Luckily, more and more schools are offering information security programs in response to the rapid growth of the field. When you do eventually complete your degree program, the learning won't stop there. You will continually have to keep up with the latest technology, hacking methods, and security advancements to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.The only thing more important than your level of education is your previous work experience. Computer knowledge is one thing, but actual experience with them is entirely different. Cybercrime is very unpredictable, so employers prefer applicants who have actual experience preventing and combating these attacks. Even if your background is more computer systems and IT, that can still give you the advantage with potential employers.

 
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Valued Traits & Abilities

Analytical Skills
Problem-Solving Skills
Computer Skills
Detail Oriented
Creativity & Innovative

Work Environment

Like most tech-related positions, a large majority of your work will be done with a computer. Most information security analysts work a standard 40 hour work week, but the job may require extra time in case of emergency. A security breach can occur at any time of day, so you may have to come in during unscheduled work hours. Anticipating these attacks can make the job fairly stressful, and dealing with a successful attack is even worse. If your system becomes compromised, it's your job to come in and fix it.

* Source: BLS Data - 2013