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How To Get Into Cybersecurity With No Experience
Cybersecurity

How To Get Into Cybersecurity With No Experience 👨‍💻 [Job Guide]

15 minute read | March 28, 2024
Monica J. White

Written by:
Monica J. White

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As businesses and governments ramp up their defenses against increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals has skyrocketed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics underscores this growth, projecting employment in cybersecurity roles to grow 33% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Yet, despite this growing demand, a significant workforce gap remains, with millions of cybersecurity jobs going unfilled every year. This is a golden opportunity for those looking to break into the field, even without experience.

In this guide, we’ll navigate the pathways to launching a successful career in cybersecurity, leveraging the industry’s demand to your advantage. Whether you’re entirely new to the field or seeking to pivot your career, the journey into cybersecurity starts here.

Can You Get Into Cybersecurity Without Experience?

Yes! When it comes to landing a cybersecurity job, hiring managers in the cybersecurity industry are most concerned with the skills you have and the certifications you’ve completed. If you have the technical skills, the soft skills, a qualification in digital forensics or as a Certified Ethical Hacker or a degree in computer science, and a willingness to learn, you can find entry-level cybersecurity jobs and enter the cybersecurity world.

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How To Get Into Cybersecurity With No Experience

  • Start with an online course

  • Get acquainted with the fundamentals

  • Take advantage of online resources

  • Find a specialization and ideal career path

  • Complete a bootcamp

  • Pursue a certification

  • Gain practical experience

  • Find a mentor

  • Build a strong network

  • Personalize your resume and apply for entry-level roles

You can still get a cybersecurity education without a college degree. Here’s what that looks like.

1. Start with An Online Course

An online course is a great place to start. It’s not nearly as expensive as a college degree and covers everything you need to know about cybersecurity and information security. You will also gain career support and access to mentors who can help you find a job in the field.

2. Get Acquainted with the Fundamentals

If you’re completely new to this field, you’ll need to start at the beginning. This means studying cybersecurity engineers’ techniques to protect their company’s network and data. Here, we’ll list the main areas you’ll need to gain knowledge in the following:

3. Take Advantage of Online Resources

The internet is a treasure trove of resources for students of cybersecurity. The extra knowledge you can gain from self-studying cybersecurity can really set you apart from those who only complete the required coursework.

Courses

Blogs, Podcasts, and YouTube Videos

Online Communities

  • TryHackMe: A Discord server for sharing cybersecurity resources, with over 140,000 members.
  • Netsec Focus: An online community for cybersecurity professionals and enthusiasts to share knowledge and experiences.
  • TrustedSec: A public Slack channel for cybersecurity enthusiasts.

4. Find a Specialization and Ideal Career Path

Technology is used by companies in every country and most industries, which means there are a lot of places you can go as a professional and no shortage of entry-level openings.

Researching the kind of work you want to do and what kind of company you want to do it at is a crucial step in your journey toward entering the industry.

Related Read: 5 Cybersecurity Career Paths Worth Investigating in 2024

5. Complete a Bootcamp

College degrees are not the only accepted form of education when it comes to the tech industry. Everyone has their own learning preferences, and it’s okay to follow the path that works for you as you work your way toward becoming a security specialist.

A popular alternative to the college route is opting for online cybersecurity bootcamps

A good cybersecurity bootcamp for beginners will be taught by industry professionals and can take eager cybersecurity enthusiasts from total beginners to job-ready graduates in a matter of months. You can start an entry-level job after completing a bootcamp, which makes it ideal for beginners.

6. Pursue a Certification

Certifications provide a standard of knowledge about the technical aspects of the job and skills that are very helpful for companies during the hiring process. In the cybersecurity industry, certifications are particularly important, and many high-paying jobs will require certain certifications alongside education, e.g. in information systems, network security management, or cloud computing.

For junior and intermediate roles, we recommend these three certifications:

7. Gain Practical Experience

Practical experience is extremely valuable both for your development as a cybersecurity professional and your resume. However, practical experience does not have to be paid experience. 

  • Volunteer work. There are many other ways to practice your cybersecurity skills in a real-world and collaborative setting. In a world where cybersecurity is needed by many, but not everyone has access to it, volunteer projects are easy to come by. There are even organizations that provide free cybersecurity to charities that can’t afford it for themselves. 
  • Pursue an internship. An internship is an ideal way to gain practical experience before your first job in cybersecurity. They can sometimes be hard to come by, so make sure to check sites like Indeed and Glassdoor frequently as you work through your education.  
  • Work on independent projects. Open-source cybersecurity projects are a great way to practice and develop your skills. High-profile projects can even be included on your resume, as interviewers will likely have experience with them as well.
  • Build a portfolio. A portfolio is a useful tool when it comes to landing interviews without experience. They are best made over time, so we recommend getting started on your cybersecurity portfolio projects as soon as you can. Include case studies that highlight how you would handle security breaches at an organizational level, or showcase your security knowledge with a whitepaper.

8. Find a Mentor

There is no right way to find a mentor, and a valuable mentorship does not need to be official, either.

Whether it’s through an internship or school, finding a skilled professional who is willing to answer your questions will be highly beneficial for your development.$

9. Build a Strong Network

A good network can provide endless value, including future job opportunities.

  • LinkedIn is a crucial tool for network building. Regardless of whom you meet or how you meet them, sending out an invitation to connect on LinkedIn is always appropriate.
  • Communities and conferences. Take advantage of both online and on-site cybersecurity events and conferences where high numbers of professionals will gather. Here’s a list of some of the top online cybersecurity conference platforms to help you get started.
    • Infosec-Conferences offers a comprehensive directory of meticulously updated and spam-checked listings for top cybersecurity events globally. Covering conferences, meetings, seminars, and events for this year and beyond, it serves as a valuable resource for cybersecurity professionals, executives, and enthusiasts alike.
    • Cyber Events provides a curated selection of cybersecurity events, spanning various topics such as digital forensics, malware analysis, and incident response, offering attendees the opportunity to deepen their understanding of cybersecurity challenges and solutions through expert-led sessions and workshops.
    • Security Conference Finder simplifies the process of finding reputable cybersecurity conferences worldwide, empowering attendees to stay informed about industry developments, connect with thought leaders, and exchange insights on critical security issues and solutions.

10. Personalize Your Resume and Apply for Entry-Level Roles

When you begin searching for jobs, a really useful tip is to personalize your resume for each application you make. Read through the job description, research the company, and angle your resume toward its exact needs. This will help your resume stand out, as it will include a high number of keywords and skills that recruiters have been instructed to look for.

How To Launch Your Cybersecurity Career Now

Interested in a cybersecurity career? Here are five tips for budding cybersecurity professionals or newbies looking for entry-level positions.

  • Decide what kind of cybersecurity career you want. The first step is to decide what kind of career you want in the first place! Entry-level cybersecurity positions are generally similar, and you may focus on protecting sensitive information from cyber threats, learning about network security, risk management, or handling access management for your company. Once you gain hands-on experience in entry-level jobs, a broad range of options are available in your new career. Develop your cybersecurity skills accordingly. 
  • Decide where you want to work. The cybersecurity profession opens up a world of possibilities. Do you want to work as a cybersecurity professional in law enforcement agencies or private companies? Do you want to be a pen tester? A certified information systems security professional or other high-paying jobs? Many employers are looking for new talent that meets specific criteria, e.g., the right cybersecurity skills, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, soft skills, hard skills, or more. Make sure you have the right skills you need. 
  • Get a cybersecurity qualification or certification. Having a cybersecurity qualification gives you access to many more high-paying job openings in cybersecurity or a related field. If you have the right work experience, you’ve already taken the first steps towards becoming certified/qualified. You can go the self-study route, acquire a computer science degree, or speak to hiring managers about an internship. One of the best ways to land a full-time job in the field is to attend a bootcamp — some will even introduce you to a potential employer!
  • Find ways to keep learning. Speak to a mentor, join a forum, or go the self-teaching route. It’s important to keep evolving and learning in this field. 
  • Don’t give up. You may not land your first job right away, but there will be other applications, other opportunities, and more choices if you keep working on your cybersecurity career. Remember, cybersecurity engineers are in high demand. You will find something soon!

How To Become a Cybersecurity Specialist With a Non-Technical Background

There are many non-technical cybersecurity roles available. In fact, there is a huge demand within the cybersecurity industry as potential employers are increasingly looking for people with a wide range of skills and backgrounds, including those without a technical background. Some roles you could consider include:

  • Cybersecurity analysts are responsible for identifying, assessing, and managing cybersecurity risks. They may also develop and implement cybersecurity policies and procedures, and conduct cybersecurity audits and assessments.
  • Information Security Officers (ISOs) are responsible for developing and implementing an organization’s overall cybersecurity strategy. They may also oversee the organization’s security team and budget and work with other departments to ensure that security is integrated into all aspects of the organization.
  • Cybersecurity risk managers are responsible for identifying, assessing, and managing cybersecurity risks. They may also develop and implement risk management plans and procedures.
  • Security awareness and training specialists are responsible for developing and delivering cybersecurity awareness and training programs to employees. They may also work with employees to help them identify and mitigate cybersecurity risks.
  • Security consultants provide cybersecurity consulting services to organizations. They may help organizations develop and implement security policies and procedures, conduct security audits and assessments, and train employees on cybersecurity best practices.
  • Security sales engineers are responsible for selling cybersecurity products and services to organizations. They may work with customers to understand their security needs and recommend solutions that meet those needs.
  • Security marketing managers are responsible for developing and executing marketing campaigns for cybersecurity products and services. They may also work to raise awareness of cybersecurity issues and promote best practices.

If you are interested in a career in cybersecurity but you do not have a technical background, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for a non-technical role:

  • Look for cybersecurity certifications

    There are a number of cybersecurity certifications available, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). These certifications can demonstrate your deep understanding of cybersecurity and can serve as an entry point for your career.

  • Network with people in the cybersecurity industry

    Attend cybersecurity conferences and events, and connect with people on LinkedIn. Networking can help you to learn about different cybersecurity roles and companies, and it can also lead to job opportunities.

  • Volunteer your time to a cybersecurity organization

    This is a great way to gain experience in the cybersecurity field and to network with other professionals.

  • Set up job alerts

    To break into the job market, set up alerts for entry-level positions or internships in the field.

  • Attend a cybersecurity bootcamp

    A bootcamp will help you improve your cybersecurity knowledge and provide you with the necessary skills to launch your new career. Many bootcamps have connections within the security field, and can supply you with an entry-level job.

  • Gain hands-on experience

    Experience is often valued higher than a master’s degree. Start doing cybersecurity work as a freelancer if you can’t find work in-house. This will help you hone the hard skills you need for your job search. You will need strong communication skills and a solid understanding of complex systems before you start.

With the right skills and experience, you can land a non-technical cybersecurity role and build a successful career in this growing field.

What Does a Cybersecurity Analyst Do?

A cybersecurity analyst designs information security systems, protocols, and other protective measures to stop cyberattacks before they happen.

In addition to identifying network vulnerabilities through a vulnerability analysis and risk analysis, cybersecurity analysts also train other employees in good security practices. Criminals can target employees and take advantage of their lack of knowledge (e.g., the use of an unpatched open-source operating system) to carry out cyber attacks on computer systems, so it’s important to make sure everyone in the organization understands the fundamentals. Sensitive data is stolen every day, which is why this particular career in cybersecurity is gaining traction. Once a breach occurs, other members of the cybersecurity team will assist with investigation and remediation.

Gerald Auger, PhD

Simply Cyber

As a cybersecurity analyst, you actively monitor and defend against potential cyber threats, analyzing security systems for anomalies and investigating incidents. Collaborating with other teams, you implement security improvements and document incidents for future reference. Your role is vital in maintaining the organization’s security posture and staying ahead of evolving cyber threats. Documentation ensures smooth operations while staying informed of trends, and joining daily threat briefings enhances your proactive approach.

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Essential Skills for a Cybersecurity Specialist

In this section, we’ll provide a list of the fundamental skills you’ll need to cover before you’re ready for your first job. This cybersecurity skills list can also be helpful in writing resumes, personal statements, and cover letters.

Technical skills

A cybersecurity expert must be skilled in the following areas:

  • Programming languages

  • Operating systems

  • Risk management

  • Incident response and handling

  • Security architecture

  • Reverse engineering

  • Cryptography

  • Analytics

  • Programming languages. Software is a critical element in any cybersecurity system. You’ll need to use a programming language like Python in order to write software and identify its vulnerabilities, and automate tasks. Software development knowledge is a plus.
  • Operating systems. The operating system used by a company will greatly influence how its security system is designed and how you will interact with it. In order to maximize the number of job adverts you can respond to, it’s best to gain experience with Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.
  • Risk management. Identifying threats, flaws, and vulnerabilities is one of the day-to-day responsibilities of a cybersecurity professional. You could also work towards becoming an information security specialist focused on risk.
  • Incident response and handling. Knowing how to handle incidents and minimize their negative impact is a key skill that will be useful in any role.
  • Security architecture. The first thing you will need to do when you land your first job is to get familiar with the security protocols of your company. Knowing the industry standards and up-to-date trends in security architecture will be essential for this task. 
  • Reverse engineering. When a security breach happens, it’s sometimes necessary to reverse engineer the malware that was used in order to understand how it works and how you can defend against it.
  • Cryptography. Cryptography refers to the study of secure communication, so you should be well-versed in the ways in which messages and information can be transformed and hidden from anyone but the intended recipients.
  • Analytics. A cybersecurity professional is not simply hired to fix security flaws, but to find them as well. Skills in analytics will enable you to perform tests and functions that detect and mitigate threats to your security network.

Soft skills

Soft skills are the people and practical skills that allow you to navigate and bring value to a professional environment.

  • Problem solving

  • Critical thinking

  • Communication

  • Flexibility and adaptability

  • Accuracy and attention to detail

  • Stress management

  • Persistence

  • Teamwork

  • Problem solving. Many elements of cybersecurity responsibilities, such as risk management, reverse engineering, and analytics, require excellent problem-solving skills.
  • Critical thinking. Everyone has critical thinking capabilities, but what really makes this a skill is the ability to apply it everywhere and at all times. 
  • Communication. Communication is an essential skill within any collaborative work environment. No matter how skilled you are, you won’t be able to maximize the value you bring to a team without good communication skills. 
  • Flexibility and adaptability. Hackers are constantly finding new ways to steal private information, so it’s important that cybersecurity specialists stay up to date on the latest developments. 
  • Accuracy and attention to detail. Producing accurate work is a necessity in cybersecurity, as any mistakes you make may be exploited by cybercriminals.
  • Stress management. When an attack does happen, cybersecurity professionals must work in a high-stress environment to combat the situation. It’s essential to be able to keep a cool head to work efficiently and reduce stress.
  • Persistence. Malware and cyberattacks are created by talented individuals, and defending against them is not always straightforward. A cybersecurity analyst needs to be able to keep chipping away at a complex problem until it’s solved.
  • Teamwork. When you work in a team, no job is indeed done in isolation. Collaboration is a constant. You and your peers will check each other’s work frequently, so teamwork is essential.

Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs You Can Get Without Any Experience

The diverse backgrounds of cybersecurity professionals are encouraging for those entering the field. Many have successfully started their cybersecurity career without prior experience, and formal education in cybersecurity isn’t always a prerequisite. Self-initiated experience, such as participating in penetration testing or working towards becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker, can be invaluable.

Cybersecurity encompasses a variety of niches and roles, often filled by more experienced team members. However, for beginners without experience, starting with general roles that offer a wide scope of responsibilities is ideal. Here are the top job picks for those new to the field:

How To You Earn More When Getting Started in Cybersecurity

Here’s a strategic roadmap to elevate your career trajectory during your first junior role.

  • Invest in education: While a degree is no longer an absolute prerequisite, it still holds considerable value in enhancing one’s earning potential. Possessing a degree not only enhances your credibility but also empowers you to negotiate a more lucrative compensation package.
  • Embrace upskilling and certifications: Cybersecurity courses and certifications not only broaden your skillset but also signal your commitment to professional growth and expertise in specialized areas.
  • Gain practical experience: To drive your career forward, seek opportunities to augment your experience. Consider freelancing projects or undertaking side gigs to bolster your portfolio and deepen your expertise.
  • Network strategically: Cultivate relationships with industry peers, engage in online forums, and actively participate in cybersecurity events and conferences. Leveraging these networking avenues will not only broaden your professional circle but also expose you to invaluable mentorship and career advancement prospects.

FAQs about Getting Into Cybersecurity with No Experience

Here are some FAQs on how to land your first cybersecurity role without experience.

Is Cybersecurity a Good Career?

Yes. Due to the 3.5 million jobs available worldwide, a cybersecurity career will provide you with plenty of work opportunities wherever you go.

There is also ample opportunity to rise through the ranks, with top cybersecurity expert salaries reaching as high as $285,000. There are plenty of entry-level cybersecurity jobs on the market, too.

Does Cybersecurity Require Coding?

Yes. Coding is a big part of a cybersecurity professional’s skill set. In a typical cybersecurity role, you’ll work with and design cybersecurity software to uncover and protect against potential vulnerabilities.

A common programming language used in the cybersecurity field is Python.

Can a Non-Technical Person Learn Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a technical field, but any non-technical person can become technical by learning cybersecurity basics. 

Soft skills are also highly important, and there are project management roles that focus more on management skills than technical skills.

How Do I Know if Cybersecurity Is for Me?

The only way to know is to try it out. From free beginner courses to interesting blogs and fun YouTube channels, there are many easy ways to ease yourself into the field of cybersecurity without initially committing too much time or money.

Since you’re here…
There are hundreds of thousands of vacant cybersecurity jobs, and one of them has your name on it. You can enter the industry in 6 months flat with our Cybersecurity Course. We’ve helped over 10,000 students make huge career changes with our fully flexible mentor-led bootcamps. Explore our free cybersecurity course curriculum today to start your career switch story. 

About Monica J. White

Monica is a journalist with a lifelong interest in technology, from PC hardware to software and programming. She first started writing over ten years ago and has made a career out of it. Now, her focus is centered around technology and explaining complex concepts to a broader audience.