10 Cyber Security Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Cybersecurity jobs are plentiful in Canada. Find out how to get a cybersecurity job and the types of opportunities available in this helpful article.

[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 ISC2, some 3.1 million unfilled positions exist worldwide [1]. 

The Canadian government also labels the “need for cyber talent in all sectors” as “urgent” noting your skills “will be highly transferable, enabling you to move anywhere in the world and to any industry” [2].

Working in cybersecurity allows you to work in a fast-paced environment where you continually learn and grow. You can choose from many different roles in cybersecurity, even if you don't have a technical background. You might take a policy, research, data analysis, or law enforcement role. However, if you have a strong interest in technology and enjoy tackling complex challenges, you might enjoy the job opportunities in cybersecurity. 

This article examines some of the many roles available to cybersecurity professionals and discusses potential career paths.

Entry-level cybersecurity jobs (certificate only)

You might be able to start your cybersecurity career with a certificate. However, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s or extensive experience to move into a more senior role. 

IT support specialist

Average salary: $55,401

As an IT support specialist, you’ll help troubleshoot problems related to cybersecurity, mobile devices, operating systems, virtualization, the cloud, software, or other related areas. 

As an IT support specialist, your day-to-day responsibilities could include:

  • Computer assembly

  • Wireless networking

  • Program installation

  • Customer service

  • Security fundamentals

Common credentials: CompTIA A+ and Network+ certifications, Google IT Support Professional Certificate

Related job titles: Help desk technician, computer network support specialist, customer support specialist

Junior cybersecurity analyst

Average salary: $71,554

As a junior cybersecurity analyst, you work to identify security vulnerabilities and prevent cyber threats. Your regular tasks might include:

  • Monitoring network access

  • Performing security tests

  • Reviewing security alerts

  • Risk analysis

  • Establishing threat plans 

Common certifications: CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, GIAC Security Essentials

Related job titles: Security analyst, information analyst

Entry-level cybersecurity jobs (college diploma) 

Junior penetration tester

Average salary: $64,223

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

Information security specialist

Average salary: $55,008 [3]

In this role, you’re the company’s point person for security, ensuring 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

Vulnerability analyst

Average salary: $58,046 [4]

As a vulnerability analyst, you will analyse your organization’s systems security and help make risk-based decisions. Regular tasks might include:

  • Ensure data compliance with regulations.

  • Recommend policy and procedure improvements

  • Perform risk assessments

  • Use automated tools and manual testing techniques in security audits

  • Create and maintain training programs

  • Run custom scripts and applications

Common certifications: Certified Ethical Hacker, GIAC Certified Incident Handler, Certified Information Systems Security Professional 

Related job titles: Ethical hacker, vulnerability manager, reverse engineer, network security engineer

Mid-level cybersecurity roles

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.

Security systems administrator

Average salary: $72,600 [5]

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

Security engineer

Average salary: $105,881 [6]

In this role, you design the systems to keep a company’s computers, networks, and data safe from cyber-attacks and 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

Cryptography engineer

Average salary: $87,083 [7]

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

Lead security architect

Average salary: $129,246 [8]

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 secure 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

Feeder role: Security engineer, information security analyst

Cybersecurity manager

Average salary: $138,242 [9]

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 

Feeder role: Information security analyst, security administrator

Explore data on cybersecurity jobs across Canada using Tech Nation Canada’s interactive heat map tool.  

Starting your career in cybersecurity

While cybersecurity job requirements 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 meet 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 ISC2 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 per cent of those surveyed with less than three years of experience had only an associate or technical degree [1].

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 let you concentrate your studies on cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity internship opportunities

The Canadian federal government offers student internship opportunities through the Federal Student Work Exchange Program. The following departments and agencies offer roles:

  • Communications Security Establishment

  • Canadian Security Intelligence Service

  • Public Safety Canada

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police 

Cybersecurity certifications

Cybersecurity job postings may request at least one certification. You’ll find multiple 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 gain the necessary work experience to earn more advanced certifications. 

In-demand cybersecurity skills

With so many cybersecurity positions to fill, having the right skills can go a long way toward helping you secure 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

Get started in cybersecurity.

Over half of the security professionals surveyed by ISC2 got their start in cybersecurity through an entry-level role in IT. 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. 

Article sources


ISC2. “A Roadmap to Building Resilient Cybersecurity Teams, https://www.isc2.org/Research/CareerPursuers/." Accessed May 14, 2024.

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