10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond (2024)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Find a cybersecurity role that fits your interests.

10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond (1)

Cybersecurity professionals are in demand. Working in the cybersecurity field gives you the chance to work in a fast-paced environment where you continually learn and grow. Cybersecurity might be worth considering if you’re already in the world of information technology (IT) or looking to make a career switch.

This article will look at some of the many roles available to cybersecurity professionals. We’ll also discuss how to get started in cybersecurity and what your career path might look like.

Networking tips from an expert

When starting a new career path, it's helpful to network with industry professionals to learn more about the field and to create mutually beneficial relationships. Steve Graham, Senior Vice President Head of Product at EC-Council, had the following advice during Coursera's virtual panel, "How can online learning accelerate cybersecurity careers and talent?":

"There's a lot of different groups that you can join, whether it's meeting other students or joining special interest groups that get you into this field. It's also figuring out what you're passionate about and finding some mentors in that area that you can connect with to help guide you."

10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond (2)

All salary data represents average annual total pay in the US, according to Glassdoor (March 2024). Total pay includes base salary and additional compensation such as commission, bonuses, and profit sharing.

4 entry-level cybersecurity jobs

In the context of cybersecurity, entry-level positions can be a bit of a misnomer. For some roles, the National Security Agency (NSA) defines entry-level as requiring a bachelor’s degree plus up to three years of relevant experience—less with higher-level degrees. With a high school diploma or GED, you’ll likely need between four and seven years of relevant experience on your resume.

Most cybersecurity professionals enter the field after gaining experience in an entry-level IT role. Here are a few of the most common entry-level jobs within the bigger world of cybersecurity.

1. Information security analyst

Average salary: $102,913

Feeder role: network or systems administrator

As an information security analyst, you help protect an organization’s computer networks and systems by:

  • Monitoring networks for security breaches

  • Investigating, documenting, and reporting security breaches

  • Researching IT security trends

  • Helping computer users with security products and procedures

  • Developing strategies to help their organization remain secure

This is among the most common roles on a cybersecurity team and an excellent entry point into the world of information security.

Common certifications: CompTIA Security+, GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA), GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)

Related job titles: cybersecurity analyst, IT security analyst

If you're just starting your career as a cybersecurity analyst, you might consider earning a Professional Certificate to help you break into the field. You can build job-ready skills with an industry leader by enrolling in Microsoft's Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate program:

2. Information security specialist

Average salary: $124,739

Feeder role: networking, IT support, systems engineering

In this role, you’re the company’s point person for security, ensuring that data remains secure against unauthorized access and cyberattacks. Responsibilities for security specialists vary from organization to organization but may include:

  • Testing and maintaining firewalls and antivirus software

  • Implementing security training

  • Researching new security risks

  • Suggesting improvements for security weaknesses

Common certifications: CompTIA Security+, Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP), GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

Related job titles: cybersecurity specialist, information security specialist

3. Digital forensic examiner

Average salary: $93,251

Feeder role: IT support, risk analyst

If you enjoy seeking clues to solve a puzzle, this role might be for you. Digital forensic investigators retrieve information from computers and other digital devices to discover how an unauthorized person accessed a system or to gather evidence for legal purposes. Day-to-day tasks might include:

Common certifications: GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst, EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE), AccessData Certified Examiner (ACE)

Related job titles: computer forensic specialist, cyber forensic specialist, digital forensics analyst

Interested in transitioning into a forensic role? You can find out if this career path is right for you risk-free with a seven-day trial of InfoSec's online program, Cyber Incident Response Specialization. You can audit the program for free or switch to a paid option to earn career credentials:

4. IT auditor

Average salary: $79,289

Feeder role: network administrator, risk analyst, IT support

As an IT auditor, you’ll assess your organization’s technology for potential issues with security, efficiency, and compliance. Some of your regular tasks might include:

  • Planning and performing audits

  • Documenting and presenting audit findings

  • Providing guidance on recommended and mandatory security measures

  • Designing plans to fix any security risks

  • Identifying opportunities for better efficiency

Common certifications: Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Related job titles: internal IT auditor, security auditor

Moving up: 6 mid-level and advanced cybersecurity jobs

As you gain experience in cybersecurity, several paths can open up for advancement into more specialized roles. These are just a few options for mid-level and advanced cybersecurity professionals.

1. Security systems administrator

Average salary: $132,472

Feeder role: systems administrator, information security analyst

In this role, you’re typically put in charge of the day-to-day operations of an organization’s cybersecurity systems. Your responsibilities might include:

  • Monitoring systems and running regular backups

  • Managing individual user accounts

  • Developing and documenting security procedures for the organization

  • Collaborating with security teams to respond to unwanted intrusions

  • Participating in company-wide security audits

Common certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Related job titles: security administrator, cybersecurity administrator, information security officer

2. Penetration tester

Average salary: $103,566

Feeder role: information security analyst, incident responder

As a penetration tester (pen tester for short), you’ll help businesses identify their security weaknesses before malicious hackers can do the same. You do this by attempting to breach computer networks with the company’s permission. Penetration testing tasks might include:

  • Planning, designing, and carrying out penetration tests

  • Creating reports on test results and offering recommendations to security decision-makers

  • Developing scripts to automate parts of the testing process

  • Conducting social engineering exercises (attempting to get company employees to disclose confidential information)

  • Providing technical support during incident handling

Common certifications: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), CompTIA PenTest+, GIAC Certified Penetration Tester (GPEN)

Related job titles: white hat hacker, ethical hacker, vulnerability assessor

3. Security engineer

Average salary: $124,101

Feeder role: information security analyst, penetration tester

In this role, you design the systems to keep a company’s computers, networks, and data safe from cyberattacks to natural disasters. These security systems might include elements like firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Day-to-day tasks might include:

  • Developing security standards and best practices

  • Recommending security enhancements to management

  • Ensuring new security systems are installed and configured correctly

  • Testing security solutions

  • Leading incident response teams

  • Develop programs to automate vulnerability detection

Common certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

Related job titles: cybersecurity engineer, network security engineer, information security engineer

4. Security architect

Average salary: $158,445

Feeder role: security engineer, information security analyst

As a security architect, you set the vision for a company’s security systems. This role combines programming, threat research, and policy development to keep an organization a step ahead of threats. Your responsibilities might include:

  • Building and maintaining security networks and systems

  • Preparing budgets and overseeing security expenses

  • Coordinating security operations across IT and engineering departments

  • Improving systems in response to security incidents or vulnerabilities

  • Conducting breach of security drills

Common certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), CSA Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK)

Related job titles: cybersecurity architect, information security architect

5. Cryptography engineer

Average salary: $159,297

Feeder role: computer programmer, information security analyst, systems administrator

Working in cryptography involves securing data for communication and information exchange. Cryptologists create encryption algorithms, ciphers, and other security protocols to encrypt data. Cryptanalysts decrypt information that has been coded. Common tasks in this role include:

  • Developing new cryptographic algorithms

  • Analyzing existing algorithms for vulnerabilities

  • Implementing encryption solutions

  • Testing new encryption techniques and tools

Common certifications: EC-Council Certified Encryption Specialist (ECES)

Related job titles: cryptologist, cryptanalyst, cryptography engineer

6. Cybersecurity manager

Average salary: $179,605

Feeder role: information security analyst, security administrator

In this cybersecurity leadership position, you’re responsible for overseeing the security infrastructure at your organization. This might include:

  • Managing human and technological resources

  • Tracking changes to internal and external security policy

  • Ensuring compliance with security rules and regulations

  • Sourcing cybersecurity tools for the organization

  • Leading risk mitigation efforts

Common certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Related job titles: information security (InfoSec) manager

How to get a job in cybersecurity

While requirements for cybersecurity jobs vary widely from company to company, you might notice some common trends. Let’s take a closer look at some of the requirements and how you can go about meeting them to get your first cybersecurity job.

Educational requirements

Many jobs in security list a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field as a requirement. According to Zippia, 56 percent of cybersecurity specialists have a bachelor's and 23 percent have an associate degree [1]. While degrees are common among professionals in the cybersecurity industry, they’re not always required.

That said, having a bachelor’s or master’s degree can often create more job opportunities, make you a more competitive candidate in the cybersecurity job market, or help you advance in your career. Some degree programs, like the Online Master of Computer Science from Arizona State University (available on Coursera), let you concentrate your studies in cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity certifications

Typically cybersecurity job postings may request at least one certification. You’ll find more than 300 different certifications, and the quality isn’t always the same.

If you’re new to cybersecurity, consider starting with a more foundational certification, like the CompTIA Security+. From there, you can begin gaining the necessary work experience to earn more advanced certifications.

Read more: 10 Popular Cybersecurity Certifications

In-demand cybersecurity skills

With so many cybersecurity positions to fill, having the right skills can go a long way toward securing you a job. To prepare for a cybersecurity career, start building your workplace and technical skills through online courses, boot camps, or self-study. These skills are a good place to start:

  • Cloud security

  • Programming (especially scripting) languages

  • Encryption

  • Knowledge of cyber threats

  • Risk assessment and threat analysis

  • Intrusion detection

  • Problem solving

  • Analytical thinking

Read more: Is Cybersecurity Hard to Learn? 9 Tips for Success

Not ready to take classes or jump into a project yet? Consider subscribing to our weekly newsletter, Career Chat. It's a low-commitment way to stay current with industry trends and skills you can use to guide your career path.

10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond (3)

Finding entry-level opportunities

Getting started as an IT support technician or network administrator allows you to establish yourself within an organization and build up your technical skills before taking on the added responsibilities of a security role.

The National Security Agency (NSA) also offers Development Programs in Cybersecurity Operations and Cybersecurity Engineering. These three-year, full-time, paid roles help participants build their skills or switch to a new career.

When you’re ready to start looking for jobs in cybersecurity, expand your search beyond the usual job sites (LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc.). You’ll find a couple of sites that specialize in cybersecurity and tech job postings, including:

Start building cybersecurity skills today on Coursera.

Ready to develop both technical and workplace skills for a career in cybersecurity? The Microsoft Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate and Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera are your gateways to exploring job titles like security analyst, SOC (security operations center) analyst, and more. Upon completion, you’ll have exclusive access to career resources like resume review and interview prep that will support you in your job search.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Demand for cybersecurity professionals has been consistently high in recent years. This is good news for qualified cybersecurity job seekers, as it means that getting a job in their chosen field might not be as difficult as it might be for someone facing a job market with fewer openings than qualified job seekers.

However, while there are millions of career opportunities for qualified cybersecurity professionals, gaining the necessary job skills can be challenging. Many cybersecurity professionals gain entry into the field by working in an entry-level IT position and elevating their credentials with certifications. You can also consider a professional certificate, such as the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate, available on Coursera, designed to help learners become job-ready.‎

Cybersecurity is a concern for any company that utilizes computer systems, so there are opportunities for cybersecurity professionals to find jobs across a wide range of industries. One major employer of cybersecurity specialists is the government. Every federal agency in the US employs cybersecurity professionals, including and especially the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Outside of the government, cybersecurity professionals might look for jobs at technology companies such as Apple and Intel; software companies such as Cisco; banks such as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Capital One; and health centers such as Patient First; manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin and General Motors.‎

Remote work is becoming more common, and cybersecurity roles are well positioned for it. Most job descriptions will state whether remote work is an option.

If working from home is a priority for you, you can find listings on Dice and NinjaJobs. Dice refers to this option as “remote,” while NinjaJobs uses “telework” and “telecommute.” Both terms have the same meaning.‎

While you may be able to enter the field of cybersecurity without knowledge of programming languages, it is considered a valuable skill set, particularly as you seek to advance your career. Research shows that Python is among the key skills needed for a career in cybersecurity [3].

Browse job descriptions to determine whether programming will be necessary to obtain your desired role. If you are able to secure an entry-level position without programming skills, you may want to consider gaining that knowledge over time.‎

10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond (2024)
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