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How To Get Into Cybersecurity With No Experience
Cybersecurity

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

17 minute read | December 15, 2023
Monica J. White

Written by:
Monica J. White

Ready to launch your career?

The COVID-19 pandemic’s push towards teleworking has significantly increased the demand for cybersecurity professionals. In 2021, there were 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity roles globally, a trend expected to continue until 2025. With the shift to cloud computing, cloud security expertise is particularly sought after.

Cybersecurity remains a critical need for businesses and law enforcement, ensuring sustained demand in this field. If you’re new to cybersecurity and lack formal skills or experience, this guide is for you. It will cover essential education, skills, certifications, networking, and industry knowledge to kickstart your cybersecurity career.

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 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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Five Tips To Launching Your Cyber Security Career

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

1. Decide what kind of cyber security career you want. 

The first step is to decide what kind of career you want in the first place! Entry level cybersecurity jobs 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, there is a broad range of options available in your new career. Develop your cybersecurity skills accordingly. 

2. Decide where you want to work

The cybersecurity profession opens up a world of possibilities. Do you want to work as a cyber security 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 meet 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. 

3. Get a cybersecurity qualification or certification

Having a cyber security 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!

4. 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. 

5. 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 at your cyber security career. Remember, cyber security engineers are in high demand. You will find something soon!

How Can I Become a Cybersecurity Specialist With a Non-Technical Background?

There are many non-technical cyber security roles available. In fact, there is a huge demand within the cyber security 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:

  • Cyber Security Analyst: Security analysts are responsible for identifying, assessing, and managing cybersecurity risks. They may also develop and implement cyber security policies and procedures, and conduct cyber security audits and assessments.
  • Information Security Officer (ISO): ISOs are responsible for developing and implementing an organization’s overall cyber security 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.
  • Cyber Security Risk Manager: Security 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 Specialist: 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 Consultant: Security consultants provide cybersecurity consulting services to organizations. They may help organizations to develop and implement security policies and procedures, conduct security audits and assessments, and train employees on cybersecurity best practices.
  • Security Sales Engineer: 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 Manager: 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 cyber security industry. Attend cyber security 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 cyber security organization. This is a great way to gain experience in the cyber security 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 cyber security 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?

Roles of cybersecurity analysts
Source: Quora

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 cyber security team will assist with investigation and remediation.

How Can You Get Into Cybersecurity Without Any Experience?

  1. Start with an Online Course

  2. Get Acquainted With the Fundamentals

  3. Take Advantage of Online Resources

  4. Find a Specialization and Ideal Career Path

  5. Complete a Bootcamp

  6. Pursue a Certification

  7. Gain Some Practical Experience

  8. Find a Mentor

  9. Build a Strong Network

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

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

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 that can help you find a job in the field.

Get Acquainted With the Fundamentals

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

Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability (CIA Triad)

how to get into cybersecurity with no experience- CIA Triad
Source: Wallarm

The CIA triad is a model that outlines the three most fundamental elements of an effective security policy.

Confidentiality refers to the rules that restrict access to information, integrity guarantees the reliability of the information, and availability ensures the people who need the information have access to it.

Risk Management

Weaknesses cannot be dealt with until they are identified. Risk management refers to the process of finding, analyzing, and monitoring potential security risks.

Data and Network Security

A catch-all term for the information technology systems that protect a company’s network and data from potential breaches. This can refer to both software and hardware, plus the protocols put in place to restrict and access data.

Security Control

Security control is the term used to describe a measure that aims to protect the confidentiality and integrity of a set of data.

Threat and Vulnerability Assessment

how to get into cybersecurity with no experience - Threats and vulnerability assessment

This refers to the analysis of a company’s systems to determine vulnerabilities and identify high-threat areas.

Recovery

Recovery refers to the procedures used to restore data that has been lost or compromised during an attack or system failure. Skilled personnel are required for remediation.

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

Here is a small selection of free beginner cybersecurity courses available to you online: 

Many cybersecurity professionals start off with a Degree in Computer Science before embarking on their cybersecurity career.

Blogs, Podcasts, and YouTube Videos

These blogs, podcasts, and videos are a great way to supplement your education:

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.

Get To Know Other Cybersecurity Students

Catherine McKoy

Catherine McKoy

Consumer Compliance Systems Analyst at Alaska USA Credit Union

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Ed Burke

Ed Burke

Cyber Security Career Track Student at Springboard

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Rafael Ayala

Rafael Ayala

Mergers And Acquisitions at Autodesk

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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.

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 towards becoming a security specialist.

A popular alternative to the college route is completing an online cybersecurity bootcamp

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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.

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, security network management or cloud computing.

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

CompTIA Security+

The CompTIA Security+ certification verifies your skills in the foundations of cybersecurity and confirms your capability to thrive in a professional role. It’s recognized globally and is rather well known—you’ll likely see it many times during your job searches. The certification includes a performance section that tests your hands-on skills.

GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)

The GIAC Security Essentials certification requires applicants to demonstrate that they are qualified for a professional role in cybersecurity. The exam uses GIAC’s original testing platform CyberLive, which creates a hands-on, real-world environment for practical tests.

Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate (ISACA)

This Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate by ISACA offers an optional online course that teaches the skills and knowledge required to pass the final exam.

Gain Some 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. Here are some of our recommendations:

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

how to get into cybersecurity with no experience-internship
Source: Glassdoor

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.

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.

Build a Strong Network

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

LinkedIn

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

The online communities mentioned earlier are a perfect place to begin your networking efforts. You can also take advantage of both online and on-site cybersecurity events and conferences where high numbers of professionals will gather.

Personalize Your Resume and Apply for Entry-Level Jobs

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.

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 skills list can also be useful for writing resumes, personal statements, and cover letters.

Technical Skills

A cybersecurity expert must be skilled in the following areas:

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 to 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 a 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

security architecture
Source: Dig8bital

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

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 important to be able to keep a cool head in order 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 difficult problem until it’s solved.

Teamwork

When you work in a team, no job is truly done in isolation. Collaboration is a constant. You and your peers will check each other’s work frequently, so teamwork is an important skill.

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 careers 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:

Information Security Analyst

As an information security analyst, you’ll contribute to the protection of company assets by analyzing data and information systems for current and emerging threats. These cyber security professionals monitor the network for security breaches and may conduct digital forensics following a breach.

Skills you’ll need:

  • Risk management 
  • Analytics 
  • Teamwork and communication
  • Identity and access management
  • Knowledge of cloud security
  • Knowledge of software development and information systems

Salary averages at $76,657 per year in the first year of work.

Information Security Analyst salary in United States
Source: Indeed

Incident Analyst/Responder

Incident responders monitor real-time security alerts and respond to cybersecurity alerts as they happen. After resolving the problem, you’ll also need to create countermeasures to prevent it from happening again.

Skills you’ll need:

  • CompTIA Security+
  • Stress management 
  • Industry tools (e.g Splunk, MS Excel)
  • Knowledge of incident response operations

Salary averages at $61,657 during the first year of work.

Incident Response Analyst salary, New York
Source: Glassdoor

IT Auditor

It’s an IT auditor’s job to prepare companies for the third-party audits they receive, by ensuring they are in compliance with industry standards. There are many cybersecurity jobs in this field.

Skills you’ll need:

  • Analytics
  • Knowledge of security and privacy protocols
  • Communication (with auditors and customers)
  • Report writing

The salary is around $69,715 during the first year of work.

IT Auditor salary, New York
Source: Glassdoor

Junior Penetration Tester

A penetration tester focuses on the ethical hacking or penetration testing of company systems. This involves using the techniques favored by cybercriminals to attack your own network and trying to pinpoint weaknesses. It is one of the most in-demand cybersecurity jobs in the world.

Skills you’ll need:

  • Problem-solving 
  • Reverse engineering
  • Teamwork
  • Accuracy and attention to detail

Salary: $80,406 during the first year on the job.

Penetration Tester salary, New York
Source: Glassdoor

How Can You Earn More When Getting Started in Cybersecurity?

Here are some ways to develop your career during your first junior role.

A Degree

Degrees are not an absolute requirement anymore, but it can still be beneficial to have one, as it’ll help you command a higher salary. 

Upskilling or Certifications

Cybersecurity courses and certifications are great ways to expand your skillset and hone your specialization.

Experience

If you’ve already landed your first cybersecurity job, then try freelancing to gain some more experience. 

Networking

Getting to know your colleagues and attending events will allow you to take advantage of networking opportunities in the industry.

FAQs About Getting Into Cybersecurity Without Any Experience

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

Is Cyber Security a Good Career?

Yes. Due to the 3.5 million jobs available worldwide, 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 Cyber Security 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 I Get Into Cybersecurity Without a Computer Science Degree?

While four-year degrees are undoubtedly still useful in the current climate, they are not an absolute requirement.

You can develop your skills through cybersecurity boot camps, open projects, volunteer work, and portfolio building to land yourself an entry-level position.

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.

What Do You Call Cybersecurity Professionals That Work in Cloud Security?

Cybersecurity professionals that specialize in the cloud are called cloud security engineers and have some of the most sought-after cybersecurity skills in the world right now. If you want a job in this specific cybersecurity field, you’ll work with a variety of cloud security tools and technologies to implement and manage security controls, monitor for threats, and respond to incidents.

What Does a Certified Ethical Hacker Do?

These professionals use their knowledge and skills to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. CEHs are hired by organizations to help them improve their security posture by finding and fixing security vulnerabilities before malicious hackers can exploit them. People in this cybersecurity job may perform vulnerability assessments and penetration testing exercises.

What Do Professionals in the Cybersecurity Industry Do?

Cyber security professionals prevent cyber threats from compromising network security. They oversee cybersecurity systems, are responsible for risk assessment, and protect endpoints. The cybersecurity world is vast, however, and roles can vary.

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.