9 Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs (& How To Land Them)
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analyst employment is projected to increase by 33% from 2020 to 2030, which is higher on average than any other job.
That’s just one of the many jobs in cybersecurity, as New York Times estimates there are 3.5 million vacant cybersecurity jobs. A major reason for this growth is the increasing level of cyber threats, many of which now use advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to often cause irreversible damage. Companies worldwide are stepping up cybersecurity at every layer, which requires manpower with the right cybersecurity skills.
This guide will discuss nine entry-level cybersecurity jobs and how you can learn cybersecurity to get those jobs.
What Does a Cybersecurity Expert Do?
A cybersecurity expert or specialist is responsible for auditing computer hardware and ensuring that information technology (IT) infrastructures are safe from external threats. While the exact duties can vary by cybersecurity job titles, the core of a cybersecurity expert job is making sure everything is running as it should and that systems and data are protected. For this purpose, they monitor, analyze, and inspect systems.
Cybersecurity specialists can also have a leadership role—often delegating tasks, training other employees, or advising on security architecture. They also ensure that networks comply with industry standards and adopt best practices to protect company assets from attacks.
9 Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs
The good news is that you don’t necessarily need a master’s degree to begin in the field of cybersecurity. Many positions readily accept recent graduates with the right cybersecurity qualifications and skills. Here are nine such titles and everything you need to know about them.
1. Information Security Analyst
One of the most sought-after positions in cybersecurity is information security analyst (ISA), which entails protecting business data through risk assessment, network monitoring, and security planning. This may involve placing firewalls through the network and encrypting the data transfer.
$103,590 per year ( U.S. BLS)
Most ISAs study computer science and work with networks and IT systems, to begin with. Knowledge of control frameworks like the ISO 27001, patch management, vulnerability scanning tools, antivirus, and intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) is necessary for this position. They should also be aware of industry policies and standards regarding information security.
ISA positions are projected to have a 37% growth every year for the ongoing decade, so the career prospects are pretty positive. Someone working as an ISA with leadership skills can go on to become an information security manager, which involves overseeing information security infrastructure and architecture.
2. System Administrator
System administrators are in charge of maintaining and securing records of all the user accounts on a network. In addition, it’s their job to keep the organization’s IT infrastructure running properly, which includes both hardware and software. They are also responsible for installing new applications, creating backups, and providing different users with the authorized level of access.
$84,810 per year (U.S. BLS)
You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, including computer science, network administration, or web technology. Certifications can also come in handy in case you have a degree in an unrelated major. The most popular certifications are the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP).
As for skills, you should have a strong foundation in Microsoft, Unix, Linux, and Oracle operating systems. You would be dealing with different operating systems based on the company’s infrastructure and business.
3. IT Support Specialist
IT support specialist is a more customer-facing role with a focus on problem-solving. As an IT support specialist, you may provide support and troubleshoot issues for users within a company or the company’s clients. Routine tasks may include fixing internet connectivity, upgrading systems and applications, and backing up data.
$55,510 per year (U.S. BLS)
Most IT support specialists have a customer support background and some level of education in IT. There’s also an element of project management, especially managing multiple workstreams. It requires knowledge of common IT problems as well as good communication skills.
4. Crime Investigator
Crime investigator is an umbrella term that encompasses many job titles that are similar to something you would hear on a CSI episode. These job titles include:
- Cyber IT/forensic/security incident responder
- Cyber forensics analyst
- Cyber security forensic analyst
- Digital forensics analyst
- Digital forensics expert
- Digital forensics technician
- Information security crime investigator
People with this kind of job investigate cybercrimes—such as data hacks, identity theft, and ransomware. Law enforcement agencies today have special wings for cybercrimes that use investigators to collect evidence and speak to the victims, much like how any real-world investigation takes place.
It also involves a lot of paperwork and even appearing in court.
$89,300 per year (U.S. BLS)
As government agencies hire crime investigators, the requirements may vary depending on the particular agency, city, or state. You would normally need to complete training and get certified for an entry-level position. You may also need to pass a physical exam, psychological test, and drug test.
If you’re working on a state level, with experience, you can go on to work with a federal agency, where you can make up to $40,000 more than what you were making before. As you advance more in your career, you can become a crime consultant or teach cyber forensics at the college level.
Get To Know Other Cybersecurity Students
This is a highly demanding but very interesting job you’ll find with government agencies, law enforcement, and the military. A cryptanalyst uses mathematics and algorithms to crack criminal codes. They can also help encrypt sensitive data.
$76,774 per year
Cryptanalysts can use their experience to become cryptologists who are responsible for writing ciphers, algorithms, and security protocols. Cryptographer jobs are becoming very popular in both the public and private sectors.
6. Junior Penetration Testers
The junior penetration tester job combines the skill of problem-solving with the thrill of hacking. No, you won’t be hacking—only attempting to hack into company systems to detect system vulnerabilities. This can also be referred to as ethical hacking. Penetration testers test if and how outsiders can hack into their systems through testing and simulations.
$85,478 ( PayScale)
Penetration testers require expert coding skills, as well as knowledge of operating systems and network protocols (TCP/IP, UDP, ARP, DNS, and DHCP). They also require teamwork and communication skills as they work in collaboration with developers and project managers. Those working with sensitive information may require a federal security clearance.
7. Source Code Auditor
Source code auditors go deep into the source of the vulnerabilities in code by searching for problems within the code that may allow unauthorized access or give out protected information. Often, hackers exploit vulnerabilities in code that developers and testers have overlooked.
This role requires a detailed line-by-line analysis of the source code of any application or system. They can also help optimize code by detecting issues.
$70,760 per year (Glassdoor)
Source code auditors need advanced coding skills, preferably in multiple programming languages. The role also requires knowledge of networks, databases, cryptography, and digital forensics. Aside from strong observational skills, this cybersecurity job also involves a lot of communication and collaboration with the developer and tester teams.
With experience in source code auditing, you can become a security auditor or security architect. You can also acquire a lead role in the team training incoming source code auditors and cybersecurity analysts.
8. Security Auditor
Security auditors have a similar role to source code auditors, but the scope of analysis and testing is big. Most importantly, they are also responsible for ensuring that security protocols comply with the government and company policies.
They design and develop tests for IT systems that help detect vulnerabilities and non-compliance. Based on the tests and analysis results, they devise recommendations to improve system security.
$84,039 per year ( PayScale)
Security auditors generally have an educational IT background with a solid grasp of core IT security concepts. They also have coding expertise to help design and implement tests for routine audits. IT security auditors also take industry certifications to qualify for the position, especially regarding compliance.
Security auditors can move up the ladder to become information security managers. In government and financial institutions, they can also move on to IT security policy jobs, which involve formulating security compliance policies and regulations.
9. Junior Security Analyst
Junior security analysts play a pivotal role in cybersecurity teams, analyzing systems to detect vulnerabilities and risks. As a junior analyst, you may be responsible for most of the security analysis tasks, including system monitoring, maintaining data, performing tests, and analyzing risks.
A junior analyst may also be responsible for creating reports for senior analysts and executives, who then take decisions based on the outcomes of the analysis. You’ll usually be working under a senior security analyst.
$56,496 per year ( PayScale)
To become a junior security analyst, most people go for a four-year degree in computer science, network security, or a related field. However, you may also be able to get this position with a certification in information security.
This job also requires soft skills like teamwork, communication, and reporting. You would be required to have adequate information about databases, network protocols, the latest cybersecurity threats, as well as some level of coding.
As a junior security analyst, the easiest promotion is to become a senior security analyst, overseeing other juniors. With additional experience and certifications, you may also go on to become an information security architect or manager.
How To Land an Entry-Level Cybersecurity Job
Here’s everything you need to do as you start your cybersecurity job hunt.
Get a Certification
While many people think that a four-year degree is the only thing they need to get started in cybersecurity, it’s actually the certifications that impart the necessary skills and what companies look for. There’s a reason why certification and intensive courses are becoming increasingly popular, with as many as 59% of cybersecurity officials saying they plan on taking a certification.
Certifications in cybersecurity won’t just help you land a job but also advance in your career. But for starters, the CompTIA Security+ is a suitable certification as it covers pretty much all the basics of cybersecurity, including cyber threats and system vulnerabilities; architecture and design; implementation; operations and incident response; and governance, risk, and compliance. While this is more basic, other certifications are more specific, focusing on a certain aspect of cybersecurity. For instance, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) can help you pursue a security analyst, and consequently, security manager position. Prospective system and security auditors can go for Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification, whereas penetration testers can get certified in ethical hacking (Certified Ethical Hacker or CEH).
Before proceeding for certifications, taking boot camps and short courses in a particular area can prepare you even better. Plus, there are even free cybersecurity courses online.
Pursue Junior Roles
Certifications and courses can build your base, but the real learning comes from getting your hands dirty. Starting with junior positions, even something as basic as an internship can provide you with a learning opportunity.
Even if you’ve completed a four-year degree from an expensive college and have taken courses in cybersecurity, don’t walk away from a junior position. Use it to learn more and polish up your resume. Such jobs are easier to get with the right certification. Then, as you gain experience, you can apply for advanced jobs within the same company and elsewhere.
Consider Lateral Moves
One of the many advantages of working in cybersecurity is that the field has many different aspects and many different career paths. Therefore, you can also pursue a lateral move in the same company or another to get a job in cybersecurity you like.
A lateral move at work refers to moving to another job at the same career level. The job may be similar in terms of the level and pay, but the scope and career path are different. For instance, if you’re working as an IT support specialist, you can move to a junior security analyst position as there may be more opportunities for the latter in cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity as a Career FAQs
Can You Learn Cybersecurity on Your Own?
Cybersecurity can be self-taught, thanks in part to the readily available courses and learning material on the internet. With the help of online courses and bootcamps, you can learn the basic concepts of cybersecurity and solidify your knowledge in a particular topic through certifications. Most courses and certifications involve easy teaching mechanisms that don’t take long, so you can complete them in a matter of weeks.
That all said, having a mentor or teacher with expertise in cybersecurity can make the learning experience even better and quicker.
Can You Get a Cybersecurity Job With No Experience?
Although some experience can be beneficial, most entry-level cybersecurity jobs don’t require work experience in the field. As a field growing at exponential rates, many companies choose to train recruits themselves, which improves the chances of newbies landing a job considerably.
While you may not need hands-on experience, most companies looking for cybersecurity professionals look for appropriate certifications to ensure the candidate has ample knowledge of the field.
Is Cybersecurity a Good Career?
With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting double-digit year-on-year growth for cybersecurity careers, it’s safe to say that it’s a promising and lucrative career. Just in the May of 2021, the U.S. had 465,000 cybersecurity job openings.
There’s vertical growth and better career opportunities, as you can move from junior positions to supervisory and managerial positions that pay even higher. Plus, it’s getting very affordable to learn cybersecurity.
Do Cybersecurity Experts Get Paid Well?
Cybersecurity experts get paid very well, with most senior-level positions averaging more than $100,000 a year. Even entry-level cybersecurity jobs pay mostly above $50,000 a year. The expertise in this field is in very high demand, which is why recruiters are willing to pay even more to fill vacancies and hire new as well as experienced talent. The more experience you gain, the higher pay you can ask for.
Related Read: Highest Paying Cybersecurity Jobs
Most importantly, cybersecurity jobs have a low cost to pay ratio, with costs of courses and certifications being affordable and the pay quite higher.
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