10 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Find a cybersecurity role that fits your interests.

[Featured image] A cybersecurity engineer is working from home on his laptop.

Cybersecurity professionals are in demand. According to a study by the cybersecurity professional organization (ISC)², there are some 3.1 million unfilled positions worldwide [1].

Working in the cybersecurity field also 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.

All salary data represents average annual salaries in the US, according to Glassdoor (September 2022).

4 entry-level cybersecurity jobs 

In the context of cybersecurity, “entry-level” 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: $89,795

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

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IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity

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2. Information security specialist

Average salary: $93,885

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

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(ISC)² Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)

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Average time: 6 month(s)

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Asset, Risk Management, Access Control, Security Software, Cloud Computing Security, Wireless Security, Incident Detection and Response

3. Digital forensic examiner

Average salary: $92,565

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:

  • Collecting, preserving, and analyzing digital evidence

  • Recovering data from erased or damaged hard drives

  • Documenting the data retrieval process and maintaining chain of custody

  • Assisting law enforcement in criminal investigations

  • Providing expert testimony in court proceedings

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

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Cyber Incident Response

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Average time: 4 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

analysis, incident response handling, CSIH, Network Forensics, Computer Security Incident Management, Malware Analysis, Memory Forensics, Traffic Analysis, Continuous Function, Verification And Validation (V&V), Ordered Pair, Representational State Transfer (REST), Domain Name System (DNS), Image Resolution, Breach (Security Exploit), Packet Analyzer

4. IT auditor

Average salary: $79,427

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

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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: $73,398

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

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Cybersecurity Compliance Framework & System Administration

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2. Penetration tester

Average salary: $97,383

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. 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

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3. Security engineer

Average salary: $128,893

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 cyber attacks 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

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4. Security architect

Average salary: $195,333

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

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Average time: 9 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

Security Management, Network Security, Risk Management, Security Governance, Computer Security Incident Management, Security vulnerabilities and treatments, Threats to cybersecurity, Cybersecurity terminology, cybersecurity program elements, Cybersecurity planning, Cybersecurity performance measurement, Risk identification, Risk treatment, Wireless Security, Intrusion Detection System, Firewall (Computing), Computer Network, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Incident response planning, Cyber-Security Regulation, Cybersecurity Staffing, Contingency Plan, Cybersecurity Governance

5. Cryptography engineer

Average salary: $117,862

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

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6. Cybersecurity manager

Average salary: $151,954

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 manager 

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IBM Cybersecurity Analyst

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BEGINNER level

Average time: 3 month(s)

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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. While degrees are common among professionals in the cybersecurity industry, they’re not always required. An (ISC)² survey of 1,024 cybersecurity professionals in the US and Canada found that more than half felt that an education in cybersecurity is “nice to have” but not “critical.” About 20 percent of those surveyed with less than three years of experience had only an associate or technical degree [1].

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 role, start building your technical and workplace skills through online courses, boot camps, or self-study. These skills are a good place to start:

  • Cloud security

  • Programming (especially scripting) languages

  • Encryption

  • Risk assessment

  • Intrusion detection

  • Problem solving

  • Analytical thinking

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

Finding entry-level opportunities

More than half of the security professionals surveyed by (ISC)² got their start in cybersecurity through an entry-level role in IT. 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:

Get started in cybersecurity

If you’re interested in a high-demand career in cybersecurity, start building the skills you need with the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera. Get hands-on experience through virtual labs and real-world case studies. Learn from industry experts, and earn a credential for your resume in less than six months.

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IBM Cybersecurity Analyst

Get ready to launch your career in cybersecurity. Build job-ready skills for an in-demand role in the field, no degree or prior experience required.

4.6

(8,794 ratings)

113,632 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 3 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

information security analyst, IT security analyst, security analyst, Junior cybersecurity analyst, Information Security (INFOSEC), IBM New Collar, Malware, Cybersecurity, Cyber Attacks, database vulnerabilities, Network Security, Sql Injection, networking basics, scripting, forensics, Penetration Test, Computer Security Incident Management, Application Security, threat intelligence, network defensive tactics, cyber attack, Breach (Security Exploit), professional certificate, cybersecurity analyst

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Article sources

1

(ISC)². “A Roadmap to Building Resilient Cybersecurity Teams, https://www.isc2.org/Research/CareerPursuers.” Accessed September 20, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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