6 Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs in 2021 and Beyond

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that information security analyst positions are expected to increase by 37 percent by 2021. In this guide, find out if a fresher can opt for a cybersecurity career and how to get into entry-level cybersecurity jobs.

Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs in 2021

As of 2021, The New York Times estimates that there are 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs, making it one of today’s hottest career choices. With more costly data breaches and cyberattacks that employ increasingly advanced methods using artificial intelligence, companies are looking for hires that can ensure data security and privacy and protect their technology and reputation. 

If you’re thinking of making a career switch, now is a perfect time.

Top 6 Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs

Fortunately, you don’t need a master’s degree or experience as a software developer at a high-end company to break into this exciting field. 

Here are some entry-level jobs that are ideal for those with minimal experience. We will go over a brief description of 6 roles, the core skills you need to succeed, and the average salary you can expect.

1. Information Security Analysts 

Arguably the most popular entry-level position, Information Security Analysts strive to protect company data through risk assessment, network monitoring, and defense planning, which can include putting up protective firewalls or rolling out data encryption programs. 

Salary: $103,590 per year (US Bureau of Labor)

Qualifications: Many ISAs begin working with networks and IT systems, while studying computer science, information assurance, or programming. They should have knowledge of control frameworks like ISO 27001, vulnerability scanning tools, patch management, antivirus, and Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS) concepts, and industry policies and standards. 

Career Prospects: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that ISA positions will increase by 37 percent year-over-year. 

For ISAs who enjoy working with others and leading teams, there are opportunities to continue on as an Information Security Manager.

2. System Administrator 

Computer system administrators need to have a record of all the user accounts on a network, in order to protect sensitive information. A systems administrator will make sure that company hardware and software are functioning properly, install new applications, back up important files, and provide users with the right level of access and authentication. 

Salary: $84,810 (US Bureau of Labor)

Qualifications: Having a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, like network administration or web technology, and other certifications can help land you the job. Relevant certifications include the Cisco Certified Network Associate and Cisco Certified Network Professional. In addition, you should try to gain a foundation in the Microsoft, Unix, Linux, and Oracle operating systems.

Career Prospects: With more programming experience, a System Administrator can eventually become a systems engineer or a security architect.

3. IT Support Specialist

As an IT support specialist, you will learn all about the world of IT - whether that be software, hardware or a mix of both. This is a customer-facing role that centers on troubleshooting issues, supporting clients with how to use the technology, fixing Internet connectivity for employees, upgrading systems, and backing up data. 

Salary: $55,510 per year (US Bureau of Labor)

Qualifications: IT support specialists often come with a customer support background, know how to manage projects with multiple work-streams simultaneously, and understand common IT problems that come up in field support tickets. 

Career Prospects: From technical IT support, you can move on to network, database, or systems administration

4. Crime Investigator 

CSI lovers may have dreamed of putting their detective skills to use in a bonafide career. There are many job titles that allow you to do this:

  • Information Security Crime Investigator
  • Digital Forensics Expert 
  • Digital Forensics Analyst
  • Cyber IT/Forensic/Security Incident Responder
  • Cyber Forensics Analyst
  • Digital Forensics Technician
  • Cyber Security Forensic Analyst

At the entry level, crime investigators partner with law enforcement agents to look for crime scene evidence and speak to victims and suspects. This often involves a lot of paperwork and reporting, as well as potentially testifying in court. 

Salary: $89,300 (BLS)

Qualifications: Your state/region will determine any specific qualifications, but you normally need to complete a police training academy and receive state certification. Given the day-to-day level of stress and risk, you may also need to pass a physical fitness and/or psychological examination, lie detector test, and drug test. Most government positions also require US citizenship. 

Career Prospects: Crime investigators at the federal level often earn $30,000-$40,000 more than those employed by state or local agencies. As you progress in your career and earn training in forensics, law, and criminal justice, you can find additional opportunities as a crime consultant and research or teach on criminal behavior. 

5. Cryptanalysts

Ever play with cryptogram puzzles or sudokus? Cryptanalysts service military, government, or law enforcement agencies and use math to decipher criminal codes. Cryptanalysts work to encrypt sensitive data and come up with hard-to-crack algorithms. 

Salary: $76,774 (Economic Research Institute)

Qualifications: Cryptanalysts love numbers and quantitative analysis. In addition to a foundation in linear algebra and calculus, they may need to learn tools like CryptTool, Cryptol, or CryptoBench. It is also helpful to bring in knowledge of coding/scripting languages, C, C++, Python, Java, and JavaScript, which can extend possibilities for code interpretation. 

Career Prospects: With a background in cryptography, you are well-positioned to eventually transition into work as a cryptologist, which involves actually writing ciphers, algorithms, and security protocols. Many jobs are emerging with the Department of Defense and National Security Agency, as well as big tech firms like Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple.

6. Junior Penetration Testers 

Passionate about problem-solving? Dream of becoming a real-world hacker? A junior penetration tester works as a detective-in-training, responsible for finding and fixing different security system vulnerabilities through testing and simulations before outsiders can exploit them. 

Salary: $85,478 (PayScale)

Qualifications: Penetration testers blend soft skills in teamwork and communication, with scripting and coding experience, knowledge of operating systems, and experience with network protocols ( TCP/IP, UDP, ARP, DNS, and DHCP). Oftentimes, you may also need a federal security clearance in order to handle confidential information. 

Career Prospects: Ethical hackers can make up to six figures in major markets after several years of experience and move into more senior roles as penetration testers or as Information Security Managers.

How To Land an Entry-Level Cybersecurity Job in 2021

Here are some ways you can gain a cybersecurity education, enhance your profile, and increase your chances of securing your dream job: 

Number of Cybersecurity Jobs

Source: Coursera

  • Internships. Real-life experience is a great way to decide if cybersecurity is right for you before committing to a long-term job, while also exploring different types of companies and industries. Cybersecurity internships may focus on administrative tasks or real-world projects, like system auditing, security awareness training or policy research. 
  • Bootcamps. Bootcamps are designed to teach cybersecurity fundamentals in a focused way. Springboard is one of several companies that offers a bootcamp filled with practical skill development in a focused 6-month time period (15-20 hours per week). Students complete a capstone project that provides insight into a day in the life of an ISA and receive a job guarantee as part of the package. Boot camps give you the opportunity to create tangible projects that you can display on a resume or talk about in an interview.
  • Courses. From CybraryIT to Udemy, EdX, and Coursera, there are many options for self-paced remote learning. Here are 10 great free online courses that you can use to jumpstart your cybersecurity journey, and you can always enroll in a more traditional university as well. Although a formal degree is not always necessary, College Consensus ranks the degree titles most relevant to cybersecurity, which encompass computer science, engineering, network administration, forensics, cloud computing, and machine learning.

Is cybersecurity the right career for you?

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the cybersecurity industry is expected to have 3.5 million high-paying, unfilled jobs this year. With Springboard’s comprehensive Cyber Security Career Track, you’ll work 1:1 with an industry-mentor to learn key aspects of information technology, security software, security auditing, and finding and fixing malicious code. Learning units include subject-expert approved resources, application-based mini-projects, hands-on labs, and career-search related coursework.

The course will culminate in a multi-part capstone project that you can highlight on your resume for prospective employers or use to demonstrate your technical knowledge in your job interview. The learning materials will also help prepare you to pass the globally-recognized CompTIA Security+  certification so you stand out when applying for cybersecurity roles.

Learn more about Springboard’s Cyber Security Career Track here.

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