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The information security organization (ISC)2 published a 2021 report estimating a worldwide total of 4.19 million cybersecurity professionals, which includes an increase of 700,000 workers from the previous year. Despite this growth, most organizations still experience cybersecurity workforce shortages. The (ISC)2 study found 27% of companies struggled to keep up with potential network security threats.

Enter vulnerability assessors.

Vulnerability assessors — also called vulnerability analysts — detect system weaknesses. They help companies pinpoint vulnerabilities and improve their network security. These professionals may work in-house on IT teams or as consultants. Many industries hire these professionals, including finance, information, and computer design.

Aspiring vulnerability assessors can pursue multiple paths to this career. Some analysts earn a bachelor's degree. Others pursue a cybersecurity bootcamp or accrue job experience. Whichever path a prospective vulnerability assessor chooses, employers typically expect them to hold industry certifications. Popular certifying organizations include (ISC)2, ISACA, and CompTIA.

This page provides information about responsibilities, career outlook, and necessary skills for vulnerability assessors.

History of Vulnerability Assessors

Demand for vulnerability assessors has recently surged, thanks to the growing prevalence of virtual threats. However, the need for cybersecurity professionals is not new: the field dates back to 1971 with Creeper, the first computer worm. Creeper prompted the development of Reaper, the first cybersecurity program, in 1973.

In the following decades, viruses and cyberattacks only grew more common, eventually leading to the creation of the U.S. government's National Cyber Security Division in 2003.

Today, the Center for Strategic and International Studies tracks significant global cyber incidents. The agency reported over 50 incidents in the first four months of 2022 alone, including DDoS attacks on government websites, phishing attempts on diplomats, and spyware that targeted political activists.

Vulnerability analysts play an important role in preventing these continued data breaches.

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Similar Specializations and Career Paths

A vulnerability assessor is a mid-level cybersecurity position. Similar intermediate positions include cybersecurity analysts and consultants.

The position most similar to vulnerability assessors is the penetration tester. Both professionals identify security system vulnerabilities. Penetration testers — also called white-hat hackers — attempt to ethically hack digital systems. Vulnerability assessors, on the other hand, use automated tools to identify weaknesses.

Vulnerability assessors can advance to higher-level positions with experience and multiple certifications. Managerial positions usually offer significant pay increases. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows information systems managers earned a median annual salary of $159,010 as of 2021, over $50,000 higher than the 2021 median annual salary for information security analysts, a non-managerial role.

Vulnerability analysts may also become cybersecurity engineers or chief information security officers. These positions generally require at least five years of cybersecurity experience. Professionals can facilitate these career shifts with certifications like CompTIA's advanced security practitioner credential. These certifications may require specific career experience.

Explore the chart below for more information on similar career paths.
Career Description Recommended Education Recommended Experience Average Annual Salary, June 2022

Penetration Tester

Penetration testers act as ethical/white-hat hackers. They use simulated cyberattacks to test organizations' security systems and find vulnerabilities.

Bachelor's degree in IT, cybersecurity, or related field

1-4 years

$88,380

Cybersecurity Engineer

Cybersecurity engineers help companies set up security infrastructure. They often work in cybersecurity teams to handle security breaches and find vulnerabilities.

Bachelor's or master's degree in cybersecurity, computer science, or IT

5-10 years

$97,770

Network Security Engineer

These engineers design, maintain, and improve network security systems. They complete risk assessments and help prevent cyberattacks.

Bachelor's or master's degree in software development, computer science, or related field

2-3 years

$92,270

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

CISOs lead cybersecurity teams. They oversee security system design, system maintenance, and disaster recovery protocols. As part of the executive role, CISOs often work alongside company managers or CEOs.

Bachelor's and master's degree in information security, business administration, or related fields. A Ph.D. in information security can also count towards experience

5-10 years

$168,690

Source: Payscale

What Does a Vulnerability Analyst Do?

Vulnerability analysts often work on cybersecurity or IT teams. Companies also hire them as consultants. Vulnerability assessors help businesses improve their operating systems by identifying potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They track these findings and rank them by severity, using this information to develop better security solutions.

Many businesses that handle sensitive data need vulnerability analysts to help prevent cyberattacks. For example, hospitals, banks, and insurance companies all store client data online. These businesses must ensure their networks are secure or risk security breaches and significant losses.

The increased digitization of business means vulnerability analysts are a crucial part of the cybersecurity field. They hold a diverse skill set that requires them to think like a hacker while acting as a digital security force.

The lists below cover a few common characteristics of successful vulnerability assessors.

Key Soft Skills for Vulnerability Assessors

  • Problem-Solving: Finding weaknesses in a system requires problem-solving skills. Vulnerability assessors need innovation to think like hackers and develop creative solutions to prevent intrusions.
  • Research: Investigation is a primary part of vulnerability assessment. In addition to carefully reviewing data to find system weaknesses, these professionals must also know how to research new developments in cybercrime and determine how these might create additional system vulnerabilities.
  • Organization: Working with extensive amounts of data requires organization. Vulnerability assessors track their findings to measure the success of their security changes. They keep their reports organized so they can access necessary information quickly.
  • Communication: Vulnerability assessors' responsibilities are twofold: finding weaknesses, then reporting them. They need stellar written and verbal communication skills to relay their findings to other team members. These professionals may give presentations, host trainings, or share digital reports.

Key Hard Skills for Vulnerability Assessors

  • Computer Science Fundamentals: Vulnerability assessors should be familiar with software and hardware systems. They need a solid foundation in programming languages like Java and C++. They should also be competent with Linux and Windows operating systems.
  • Security Frameworks: Security frameworks help companies implement cybersecurity infrastructure. Vulnerability analysts should familiarize themselves with popular frameworks, including NIST, ISO 27001/27002, and HIPAA.
  • Network Scanning and Security Tools: Vulnerability assessors use multiple tools to run security audits. Popular scanning software includes Fortify, ACAS, Nessus, and AppScan. These professionals also use methods like fuzzing to find system weaknesses.
  • Vulnerability Reports: Assessors must translate their findings into reports that others can understand. These professionals routinely create vulnerability reports and share them with management or the IT team.

A Day in the Life of a Vulnerability Assessor

A vulnerability assessor's responsibilities vary. The hiring company's size and specific needs often determine day-to-day tasks. Some cybersecurity professionals may also perform multiple functions within their role. For example, a vulnerability assessor may need to perform penetration tests.

Other common tasks include:

  • Using network scanning tools to detect system vulnerabilities
  • Completing security audits
  • Tracking vulnerabilities
  • Using findings to develop company procedures and trainings
  • Helping create security solutions
  • Communicating results to team members and other employees

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Salary and Career Outlook for Vulnerability Analysts

The BLS does not provide salary data for vulnerability assessors specifically. Instead, they use the broad career category of information security analysts, which includes vulnerability analysts and other cybersecurity professionals. According to the BLS, information security analysts earned a median salary of $102,600 as of 2021. Specific data about median wages for vulnerability analysts may differ.

The BLS also reports a favorable career outlook for information security analysts, projecting a 33% growth in jobs between 2020 and 2030. As companies rely more on electronic storage methods, the need for cybersecurity professionals increases. The healthcare and financial industries especially need protection against cyberattacks.

$102,600


Annual Median Salary

Source: BLS

How to Become a Vulnerability Assessor

Individuals can pursue several paths to a vulnerability assessor career. For example, prospective analysis can complete a college degree. Applicable majors include cybersecurity, information technology, computer forensics, and computer science.

While some employers prefer a degree, others favor experience. Aspiring vulnerability assessors can start with entry-level tech positions and advance after several years of gaining relevant skills.

Aspiring vulnerability assessors can also pursue cybersecurity certifications like the following:

The time it takes to become a vulnerability assessor also varies. A bachelor's degree in cybersecurity typically takes four years. Entry-level certifications usually do not require a degree or work experience, while more advanced certifications may require previous credentials or specific job experience.

Another educational option is preparatory courses like bootcamps. Cybersecurity bootcamps often teach students marketable skills and prepare them for top certifications in several weeks or months.

Learn more about how to become a vulnerability assessor by exploring the links below.

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Professional Organizations for Vulnerability Assessors

For over three decades, this nonprofit organization has connected cybersecurity professionals and students worldwide. Members enjoy extensive networking opportunities and can participate in local chapter meetings and events. Since its 1989 founding, (ISC)2 has helped develop the modern-day cybersecurity field. The organization offers several popular professional certifications, such as the certified information systems security professional credential. (ISC)2 members enjoy continuing education opportunities, including webinars and free cybersecurity courses. ISACA began in 1967 and now boasts over 165,000 members globally. This organization offers credentialing and training for information security and IT professionals. Members can network at conferences and participate in online or in-person training. IAPP helps its members stay up-to-date on privacy developments. It offers resources like a U.S. privacy legislation tracker. Members also benefit from a global network of members and job boards.

Learn More About the Job of a Vulnerability Assessor

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Salary and Career Outlook for Vulnerability Assessors

Read about how experience and education impact salary expectations for vulnerability assessors. This page also covers the top-paying regions and employment projections for this career.
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How to Become a Vulnerability Assessor

Do you need a cybersecurity degree or certification? Discover the path to becoming a vulnerability assessor.
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Day in the Life of a Vulnerability Assessor

Learn more about the typical duties of a vulnerability assessor in various roles and environments.
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Certifications for Vulnerability Assessors

Vulnerability assessors can use tech industry certifications to enhance their professional credentials. Find out more with this helpful guide.
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Questions About Vulnerability Assessment Analysts


What does a vulnerability assessor do?

A vulnerability assessor uses automated tools to help companies find weak spots in their network. They track and rank weaknesses, then use those findings to create security solutions. Vulnerability analysts may also help businesses implement changes to secure their networks.

How many types of vulnerability assessments are there?

The Global Information Assurance Certification reports two types of vulnerability assessment: host-based (from an internal perspective) and network-based (from an external perspective).

Is a career in vulnerability assessment stressful?

Any career can be stressful. However, many people working in cybersecurity enjoy their job. According to a 2021 study from (ISC)2, 77% of cybersecurity professionals expressed satisfaction or extreme satisfaction with their job.

Is it hard to get a job as a vulnerability analyst?

With the appropriate training and education, individuals can land jobs as vulnerability analysts. Employers may expect a bachelor's degree or a few years of cybersecurity experience. Pursuing industry certifications can also improve your career prospects.

Reviewed by: Monali Mirel Chuatico

Portrait of Monali Mirel Chuatico

Monali Mirel Chuatico

In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuatico graduated with her bachelor's in computer science, which gave her the foundation that she needed to excel in roles such as a data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer, and computer science instructor.
Monali is currently a data engineer at Mission Lane. As a data analytics captain at a nonprofit called COOP Careers, Monali helps new grads and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on their professional development journey.
Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocating for mental health, empowering women, and educating youth. Monali's goal is to gain more experience in her field, expand her skill set, and do meaningful work that will positively impact the world.
Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Page last reviewed Jun 1, 2022

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