Computers are involved in just about every aspect of life these days. As such, they contain a lot of important information that needs to be secured against hackers, viruses, and other potential threats. As an information assurance analyst, your job would entail assessing risks and helping companies and agencies protect their computers from intrusions and destruction. However, this job isn't for everyone. Here's what you need to know about this position to help you determine if it's right for you.

You Need a College Degree

Information assurance analysts are often referred to as ethical hackers, because their job is to test a computer system's defenses and implement changes to enhance security if they find vulnerabilities. As such, people in this position must have a deep understanding of how computers work, computer programming and networking, and a variety of computer languages.

While many companies do want applicants to have some hands-on experience, almost all of them require college degrees in the field as an assurance that applicants at least have the basic skills needed to do the job. Additionally, you may need to have a master's degree to obtain some higher-level positions.

Therefore, if you didn't finish college or got your degree in another field, you will have to go back to school and at least obtain a bachelor's degree in information assurance, computer science, information technology, or similar subject. Since the median pay for an information assurance analyst is around $95,700 per year, it may be worth the expense and effort required to obtain the necessary education.

You Must Be Able to Handle Stress

Most people in this position work the traditional 40 hour work week and, depending on the employer, some may even work from home. However, you will be expected to work some overtime if a project calls for it. You will also be analyzing and working with data the majority of your work time, which may get monotonous after a period of time.

More importantly, though, this position can be high stress if you work for a company where a computer breach can lead to catastrophic consequences. For instance, if you work for the Department of Homeland Security where a breach of government computers may present a national security risk, you may spend every hour of your work day on high alert. Even working in the financial sector where breaches could expose thousands of people to identity or monetary theft can be stressful.

It's critical you have the emotional stability and social support in place to help you deal with a high-stress job; otherwise you can crash and burn pretty quickly if you don't.

You May Need Security Clearance

Since many times you'll be working with sensitive information, you will typically be required to qualify for a security clearance, especially if you get a job working for the federal government. Companies and government agencies want to be sure that the source of the breach in their systems won't be their employees.

How rigorous the company will be with the security clearance will vary. A small e-commerce company that stores minimal customer information may only require you to pass a background and credit check. However, obtaining a security clearance at the Department of Defense may also involve personal interviews with your friends, family members, and neighbors to ensure you are an upstanding person with no connections to nefarious parties who may tempt you into betraying the organization.

It's important to consider where you'll be working and ensure you personal life can withstand the scrutiny required to obtain a position there.

To learn more about information assurance jobs, contact a recruiter in your area.