The complete guide to security operations centre analyst jobs

Suppose you’re thinking about making a career move into a cyber security job, or already working in the sector and considering a new role. In that case, you’ll find plenty of positions available within the industry.

The need for talented cyber security experts is higher than ever, with criminals posing an ever-increasing threat to organisations’ confidential information. In fact, the 2023 Cybersecurity Jobs Report estimates there will be more than 3.5 million vacancies in the sector by 2025.

So, if you have the relevant skills and experience to transition into a cyber security career, you’ll be in high demand among firms of all sizes. One of the most popular roles that professionals choose to specialise in is the SOC analyst.


What is an SOC analyst?

The security operations centre (SOC) is the beating heart of an organisation’s cyber security defence strategy. Experts working in this area will perform various roles. Network engineers, incident responders and SOC analysts, to name a few, will collaborate to identify and prevent criminals from trying to access sensitive information. 


What are the key responsibilities of an SOC analyst?

The main role of an SOC analyst is to scrutinise any potential incident and determine whether it’s a genuine attack or just a false positive. 

These experts are vital in upholding the security stance of their organisations by reviewing events, identifying vulnerabilities, escalating incidents and deploying preventative measures. As the volume of cyber crimes continues to grow rapidly, SOC analysts have solidified their position as an integral part of a company’s IT security team.

One responsibility that an SOC analyst must master is implementing and managing security tools. These professionals will be given access to a vast array of technologies which provide insights into the overall security environment. From basic firewalls and intrusion prevention measures to threat management software and data analytics platforms, SOC analysts are confident to deploy technology as required.

With the help of these intelligent tools, SOC analysts delve into IT systems and networks on the lookout for vulnerabilities, suspicious activities or potential threats. However, it’s not a guarantee that once a threat is found, it will be neutralised. 

SOC analysts might not always be able to stop an attack from entering the system or network, but they can block it from spreading any further. Generally, experts will deploy certain controls themselves, whilst also collaborating with the wider IT team to disable accounts, outdated systems or protocols.

A large component of an SOC analyst’s job is to validate alerts to ensure they represent a genuine security threat. This means that professionals need to contextualise events and understand the wider effect a cyber attack will have on the organisation, before coordinating a joint response with key staff, in real time.


What skills are required to become an SOC analyst?

The SOC analyst plays a crucial role in preventing and mitigating cyber attacks. As such, it’s a rewarding and highly varied career, but these professionals must be highly skilled to execute their responsibilities effectively. These are some of the top proficiencies needed to excel as an SOC analyst.

There are lots of technical skills required of an SOC analyst, but the need to know programming languages shouldn’t be overlooked. There are plenty of times when an analyst will work alongside engineers and security experts to formulate defence strategies, so coding and programming skills will be crucial to anyone pursuing a career in this area.

Ethical hacking
SOC analysts will constantly monitor the overall security stance of their organisation, proactively searching for threats and vulnerabilities. As such, ethical hacking and penetration testing skills are essential to the role.

Fundamental IT skills
It might seem obvious at first, but a solid grasp of systems, network protocols and IT infrastructure is a prerequisite for any SOC analyst. Employers value professionals with previous experience and a deep understanding of methodologies and attack vectors.

Simultaneously, organisations require their SOC analysts to be adaptable to the ever-changing threats posed by cyber criminals. These experts demonstrate critical thinking skills that go far beyond textbook knowledge.


The education and qualifications needed to be an SOC analyst

Like many roles within the cyber security industry, a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline, like computer science, is helpful when looking for employment. However, it’s not mandatory. For plenty of employers, a solid grasp of IT networks and systems picked up from other areas will often suffice.

To boost your chances of success, a dedicated cyber security course can be useful. There are several certifications that you could complete to set yourself apart from other candidates. Employers recruiting for SOC analyst jobs will always look positively at these, as they prove your commitment to learning and development in the position.

Some of the top SOC analyst certifications include:


SOC analyst jobs in the UK

A career in the cyber security industry comes with a vast array of benefits. You get the opportunity to work in a varied, interesting and fast-paced area with lots of potential for advancement, as well as higher-than-average salaries and great perks.

Moreover, with a significant skills gap in the sector, the market is highly favouring job seekers over employers right now. There are many vacancies but not enough talented professionals to fill them.

So, if you’re considering a career in cyber security, now could be the perfect time to make the move.


What salary can you make as an SOC analyst?

The amount of compensation you can expect to receive as an SOC analyst can vary significantly depending on the exact role, location and organisation, as well as your particular responsibilities and the experience you have to offer.

Generally, tier 1 positions are advertised as entry-level jobs, commanding salaries around the £25,000 to £30,000 mark. Conversely, tier 3 professionals will likely be some of the most experienced experts in the industry and take home compensation in the region of £75,000 and above. The average salary for an SOC analyst in the UK is approximately £35,000 per year, according to Glassdoor.


Where can you find SOC analyst jobs?

For cyber security roles like SOC analyst, the best place to start your search is with a dedicated jobs board that specialises in these positions, like

Employers look favourably on these sites and trust them to provide a consistent stream of top applicants. You can also register your CV to allow organisations and recruiters to contact you directly if your skills and experiences look like a good fit.

For career advice, why not attend one of our Cyber Security EXPOs? These events take place regularly across the UK and give candidates the chance to network with recruiters from some of Britain’s biggest cyber security employers. You’ll get the chance to listen to industry experts in speaker sessions and expand your knowledge of what companies are looking for.

Browse our latest SOC analyst jobs today to find the perfect next step for your career.