5 Entry-Level Cyber Security Jobs for Beginners

Cyber security involves protecting computer systems, networks and data from unauthorized access, damage and theft –– preventing the disruption of digital activities and data access –– while also protecting user assets and privacy. Given the ever-escalating cyber criminal attacks across industries such as utilities, healthcare, finance, as well as the federal government, it’s not surprising that cyber professionals are in high demand. In fact, the demand for entry-level cyber security jobs is projected to increase 33 percent during the coming decade, according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Since cyber security attacks can happen anywhere, at any time, employers hiring for cyber security jobs range from large corporations to small business owners across a variety of industries. Interested in switching to a cyber security career? Read on to learn more about the types of entry-level cyber security jobs that may be right for you.

How to Get an Entry-Level Cyber Security Job

The first step in acquiring an entry-level cyber security job is to consider your current skill set. Be sure to include soft skills, such as communication, adaptability, conflict resolution, time management and organizational skills as well as technical skills when building out your resume.

For those who require some additional training or upskilling, enrolling in a boot camp can provide in-demand skills reinforced in a real-world, project-based learning experience. In addition, these projects can then populate a professional portfolio to share with prospective employers. Further, the relatively short period of time required to complete a boot camp (3 to 6 months), at a significantly lower cost than traditional degree programs, poses an added benefit for many learners as well.

Those learners with the time and financial resources may choose to obtain a traditional degree in computer science with a minor in cyber security. In addition to cyber security theory and practice, these learners will have the opportunity to explore additional interests beyond their major at a more relaxed pace.

As another option, some learners choose independent study as their educational avenue. This not only allows more schedule flexibility as it is self-paced, but also is helpful for those who only wish to learn a few specific skills. However, some employers may require additional certification from independent learners to validate their training and skill set.

Jobs in Cyber Security for Beginners

Anyone with a computer network needs some form of cyber security plan in place. Industries including finance, health care and technology increasingly suffer breaches that affect their clients. Because of this threat, there is more demand for cyber security professionals than ever and demand is outpacing supply.

For those wondering how to start a career in cyber security, here is a list of entry-level cyber security jobs to consider.

In North America alone, over 1.3 million cyber security professionals are needed. However, only 805,000 positions are currently filled. That leaves a sizable workforce gap in the cyber security field. If you want to be one of the half-million needed to fill the gap, choose a job as a cyber security analyst.

A cyber security analyst’s primary role is to understand company IT infrastructure in detail, monitor it at all times and evaluate threats that could potentially harm the network. The cyber security analyst looks for ways to heighten a company’s network security posture to protect data assets, network access and privacy.

Some of a cyber security analyst responsibilities include conducting security assessments and performing security audit reports. These reports should include security strengths and weaknesses, as well as any unusual activity observed in the network. Understanding cloud security and risk management are other requirements of cyber security jobs, which can be attained through a cybersecurity boot camp.

A security specialist, also called an information security specialist, protects companies’ digital information using methods like data encryption, system vulnerability assessments and reports, responses to security threats and development of security strategies. Vulnerable industries like government, transportation and health care need security specialists to be the first line of defense against hackers, malware and viruses. Specialists work on IT teams dedicated to protecting the organization’s network and data integrity. As consistent and reliable access to a secure network is an operational necessity for most organizations, employees dedicated to cyber security full-time have gone from being a luxury to a necessity.

Though the day-to-day may vary depending on the size and sector of an organization, this role requires a person who has keen attention to detail and is highly data-savvy. Many entry-level positions are available in this role, and on-the-job training is often included for those wishing to advance further in this field.

A forensic investigator’s primary responsibility is to collect information from computers and storage devices to aid in prosecuting cybercrime cases. Part cyber detective and part IT professional, digital forensics investigators review computers, phones and other digital devices and comb through the data gathered to build a case.

Depending on the industry, some of the daily tasks required in computer forensics jobs can include retrieving and collecting hardware, software and applications to analyze the events leading up to a cyber breach. In addition, the chain of custody of all this digital evidence must be maintained and technical reports detailing the findings must be written.

Aside from highly technical skills, a digital forensic investigator must have good interpersonal skills since they have to work with law enforcement, lawyers and corporate resources. These interpersonal skills, combined with a calm, pragmatic demeanor, can be crucial if called upon to testify at a trial.

While people with these skills can work in many industries, their aptitude for digging up and presenting digital evidence is often a good fit for computer forensics jobs in law enforcement agencies.

IT auditors must possess a solid understanding of business and system processes. Because IT auditors work with confidential information, various technologies and applications, they must also have outstanding troubleshooting and problem-solving skills, meticulous attention to detail and knowledge of cyber security trends. Candidates for this role are often required to understand firewalls, VPNs and data loss prevention techniques.

IT auditors are constantly testing a network’s vulnerabilities. Other duties may include examining a company’s exposure to security risks while planning, monitoring and upgrading measures based on those risks. IT auditors are expected to present reports and analytics to their team, managers or stakeholders in conjunction with security audits. So, while cyber security does require technical skills, interpersonal skills are often just as important.

Though some jobs require a degree in computer science, computer systems or a related discipline, training through a cyber security boot camp can be helpful in pursuing an IT auditor position.

A penetration tester is another job that requires a candidate to be proactive –– this time as a mock attacker. These cyber security professionals perform attacks on a company’s existing computer systems using the same tools a hacker employs to infiltrate a vulnerable digital system. Penetration testers find the gaps that hackers can exploit to wreak havoc with viruses or information theft. This job requires a strong background in hacker behavior and tools to protect companies from cybercrime incursions.

Before commencing mock cyber attacks, penetration testers evaluate security on applications, network devices and cloud systems while also reviewing code for security vulnerabilities. They then design and simulate reverse-engineering attacks, malware or spam and document security and compliance issues, just to name a few approaches.

Requirements and skills for this role also include communicating findings to the team and executive leadership. Penetration testers’ jobs don’t end with handing over reports; they need to be highly diligent about testing by recreating and mimicking hackers’ attacks and staying up to date with current security trends.

An image highlighting 5 jobs in cyber security for beginners.

Is Cyber Security Right for Me?

You may be asking the question: Is cyber security right for me? One of the first steps to answering that question is to do your research and understand the commitment, the skills and the steps you need to succeed in the field.

It’s also important to decide which arm of cyber security interests you. Cyber security is the general term which many specializations fall under. For this reason, intensive research is an excellent place to start in finding your niche. Look up various cyber security job descriptions to determine which of your skills and interests align with each position.

Next, look into the types of training, credentials and experience you’ll need to become a cyber security analyst, security specialist, digital forensics investigator, IT auditor or penetration tester, to name just a few entry-level cyber security jobs.

As technology continues to grow, so too does the number of hackers who will try to illegally access computer systems. For that reason, cyber security technicians will continue to be in demand. According to the BLS, over 16,000 IT job openings are projected each year over the next decade.

A chart that shows the projected job openings and field growth for Information security analysts through 2032.

If you’re looking for a career that offers flexibility, cyber security may be one to consider. The ability to work from home, as well as lateral moves to other sectors, is somewhat common. In addition, with the option of cybersecurity boot camps that offer certificates in a short period of time, cyber security is a field that may be right for you.

How to Start a Career in Cyber Security

Whether gaining experience on the job, training through a cybersecurity boot camp or studying via a traditional degree, starting a career in cyber security isn’t always a linear path.

Granted, the most linear path toward a cyber security career is through a traditional degree program in computer science, engineering, IT or a related field. In fact, some professionals even opt to go further and get master’s degrees. However, those just starting out and looking for entry-level positions sometimes opt to forgo the traditional degree path for 24-week intensive cybersecurity boot camps. As the appetite for cyber security technicians increases, picking up cyber security skills without a four-year degree has become increasingly popular.

Not all cyber security jobs require degrees or credentials. Though diplomas or certificates can provide a more direct path to gain skills, create a portfolio of work and build a resume, earning skills by working can be invaluable. It should be noted, however, that landing a cyber security job with little to no experience can be challenging.

There is not just one path to starting a career in cyber security. You can choose where you start and where you’re going depending on your needs.

Entry-Level Cyber Security Jobs FAQs

For those considering a job in cyber security, here are some quick answers to your frequently asked questions about entry-level cyber security jobs.

Cyber security (or IT security) refers to the protection of computer systems and networks from information disclosure, data theft and hardware or software damage from attacks through unauthorized access.

Cyber security requires focus and attention to detail, as well as an aptitude for technology. Though it is possible to start a career in cyber security without training, getting an education through a cybersecurity boot camp is an easier route for those looking for a direct, efficient way to pursue an entry-level cyber security job.

Some cyber security professionals work for intelligence or law enforcement agencies, such as the CIA, NSA or FBI. Others travel the world to help solve supply chain issues. Of course, many stay closer to home, helping hospitals keep their patients’ records secure, for example. Cyber security offers many different options and opportunities.

A degree or certificate not only provides valuable training; it is often something employers look for in entry-level position candidates. To understand the options that are right for you, it’s best to research the requirements of the specialty in which you’re interested.

One option is to enroll in an intensive cybersecurity boot camp, which generally takes about 24 weeks. These boot camps can help students develop the skills necessary to enter the field in a short amount of time. Boot camps are also attractive to those with limited time or financial resources.

Earning a degree is an option for those who want a more in-depth knowledge of computer science. Though there is an increase in the time and financial commitment, a bachelor’s degree may stand out to employers.

Cyber security jobs pay well, are in high demand and are available in nearly any industry. And, the need for cyber security professionals isn’t waning anytime soon. In addition, since cyber security trends are constantly changing, a career in cyber security is rarely dull.

Cyber security jobs can often be done remotely. Choosing a role in cyber security carries a lot of responsibility, but there are plenty of perks. For example, for those who want to travel or plan on relocating, choosing a job as a cyber security analyst means they can often work remotely for a company of any size across the globe.

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