9 Cybersecurity Jobs: Entry-Level and Beyond

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

With the world going increasingly digital there are many different cybersecurity jobs to select from. This article helps you narrow your options by describing what’s expected of nine top opportunities.

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

Cybersecurity talent is in-demand worldwide. According to a study by the cybersecurity professional organisation (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 UK, according to IT Jobs Watch (July 2023).

5 entry-level cybersecurity jobs 

In the context of cybersecurity, “entry-level” can be a bit of a misnomer. Most cybersecurity professionals enter the field after first gaining experience in an entry-level IT role. Here are a few common entry-level jobs within cybersecurity.

1. Information security analyst

Average salary: £50,000

Feeder role: Network or systems administrator 

Information security analysts help protect an organisation’s IT infrastructure. In this role you will likely be:

  • 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 secure the organisation

Common qualifications: (ISC)² Certified Information Systems Security Professional (ISC2 CISSP), ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Related job titles: Cybersecurity analyst, IT security analyst

2. Security administrator

Average salary: £62,500

Feeder role: Systems administrator, information security analyst

As a security administrator, you’re typically in charge of the day-to-day cybersecurity operations. Responsibilities for security administrators vary from organisation to organisation but may include:

  • Monitoring systems and running regular backups

  • Managing individual user accounts

  • Developing and documenting security procedures for the organisation

  • Collaborating with security teams to respond to unwanted intrusions

  • Participating in company-wide security audits

Common certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), CompTIA Security+

Related job titles: Cybersecurity administrator, information security officer

3. Information security specialist

Average salary: £65,000

Feeder role: Networking, IT support, systems engineering

As an information security specialist, you’ll serve as your company’s go-to person for security. You’ll also be: 

  • Ensuring data remains secure against unauthorised access and cyber attack

  • Testing and maintaining firewalls and antivirus software

  • Developing and leading security training

  • Researching new security risks

  • Suggesting improvements for security weaknesses

Common certifications: (ISC)² Certified Information Systems Security Professional (ISC2 CISSP), ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Related job titles: Cybersecurity specialist, information security specialist

4. Digital forensic examiner

Average salary: £70,000

Feeder role: IT support, risk analyst

Digital forensic investigators are the ones who puzzle out how an unauthorised person gained system access. The role involves:

  • Gathering evidence for legal purposes 

  • Collecting, preserving, and analysing 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: EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), (ISC)² Certified Information Systems Security Professional (ISC2 CISSP), ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) 

Related job titles: Incident analyst, security analyst, forensics analyst

5. IT auditor

Annual salary: £47,500

Feeder role: Network administrator, risk analyst, IT support

IT auditors evaluate and assess the IT infrastructure for potential security, efficiency, and compliance issues. 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: (ISC)² Certified Information Systems Security Professional (ISC2 CISSP), ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), ISACA 

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Related job titles: Internal IT auditor, security auditor

Moving up: 4 mid-level and advanced cybersecurity jobs

As you gain experience, you may advance into a more specialised cybersecurity role. The following are a few possible mid-level and advanced cybersecurity opportunities.

Security tester

Average salary: £87,500

Feeder role: Security engineer, information security analyst

As a security tester, you work to keep an organisation a step ahead of threats. Your responsibilities might include:

  • Carrying out penetration testing to identify threats

  • Improving systems in response to security incidents or vulnerabilities

  • Conducting breach of security drills

Common certifications: CREST, Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), Cyber Scheme

Related job titles: Application security tester, Information security tester

Penetration tester

Average salary: £67,500

Feeder role: Information security analyst, incident responder

As a penetration tester (a.k.a. pen tester) you’ll work to find weaknesses before the malicious actor can do so. That means your job involves attempting to breach the organisation. Although you do it with permission. Your responsibilities can 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: CREST Certified, Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), Cyber Scheme

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

Principal security engineer

Average salary: £87,500

Feeder role: Information security analyst, penetration tester

As the principal security engineer, it’s typically your job to design the systems to keep out cyber attacks and cut risks from other events or natural disasters. Your job generally involves:

  • 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

  • Developing programs to automate vulnerability detection 

Common certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) 

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

Cryptography engineer

Average salary: £70,000

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

This is a fairly technical role that requires a deep understanding of maths and information technology. The role can include:

  • Developing, testing, and improving algorithms, key handling procedures, and security protocols

  • Maintaining and testing existing security protocols

  • Managing distribution and retirement of keys

  • Investigating security incidents were cryptographic elements were compromised

  • Securing your organisation across many business areas

  • Analysing and producing reports on threats and security protocols

  • Keeping up with the latest cryptographic techniques

Common certifications: (ISC)² Certified Information Systems Security Professional (ISC2 CISSP), Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK),  ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Related job titles: Cryptologist, cryptanalyst, cryptography engineer

Getting a job in cybersecurity

Requirements for cybersecurity jobs will vary widely from company to company and depend on the role. Still, there are some typical requirements you can expect to need to qualify for a cybersecurity role. Employers also have a positive attitude towards apprenticeships in their cyber teams, according to the U.K. Cybersecurity Council [2].

In-demand cybersecurity skills

Having the right skills can go a long way toward securing you a job. To start, you may want to develop skills in:

  • Cloud security

  • Programming (especially scripting) languages

  • Encryption

  • Risk assessment

  • Intrusion detection

  • Problem-solving

  • Analytical thinking

Get started in cybersecurity

Ready to develop both technical and workplace skills for a career in cybersecurity? The Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera is your gateway to exploring job titles like security analyst SOC (security operations center) analyst, and more. Upon completion, you’ll have exclusive access to a job platform with over 150 employees hiring for entry-level cybersecurity roles and other resources that will support you in your job search. 

Article sources


(ISC)². "Build Resilient Cybersecurity Teams, https://www.isc2.org/-/media/ISC2/Research/2021/CybersecurityCareerPursuers-Study.” Accessed July 31, 2023.

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