Cybersecurity beginner essentials: Your first steps

Entry-level cybersecurity careers 

Have you ever dreamt of safeguarding the digital world from cyberattacks? Cybersecurity professionals are in high demand, with a massive gap between available talent and the number needed to secure networks. According to CyberSeek, there are only 82 cybersecurity professionals for every 100 open positions in the United States. This translates to a significant career opportunity. 

You can start learning now, even if you have zero experience. This guide is your introduction to cybersecurity careers. We'll explore the diverse paths you can take, the foundational skills you need to build and how to land your first cybersecurity role. 

Career paths for cybersecurity beginners

The world of cybersecurity offers opportunities for professionals looking to start their first career and seasoned professionals looking to transition into a new career. Although there are many potential career paths, it’s useful for everyone to start by building a strong foundation of core cybersecurity concepts. 


Cybersecurity: Where to start 

The "bread and butter gigs" for many new cybersecurity professionals involve administrative tasks, explains Infosec Skills author Mike Meyers. These positions allow individuals to understand how systems work before diving into the specifics of securing them.    

Many careers begin in roles such as system administration, help desk or networking. These types of roles provide a launchpad for various cybersecurity specialties and allow you to build a solid foundation of skills.  

Entry-level cybersecurity roles

The cybersecurity field offers numerous career paths, each with a unique set of responsibilities and skill requirements. If you're transitioning from another field, don't underestimate the value of your current skillset. It may prove invaluable in your new cybersecurity career. Common entry-level roles in cybersecurity include: 

  • IT help desk: Gain a frontline view of user issues. 
  • Security administrator: Maintain and configure security systems. 
  • Entry-level SOC analyst: Monitor networks for suspicious activities. 
  • Junior information risk analyst: Mitigate risks before they become problems. 
  • Junior digital forensics analyst: Collect and analyze evidence from cybersecurity incidents. 

Remember, cybersecurity encompasses non-technical roles, such as project managers, technical writers, and sales engineers, offering career opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds. 


Entry-level cybersecurity career FAQs

Cybersecurity beginners often have questions about starting their careers in this field. Below are some common FAQs related to entry-level cybersecurity roles. 

Can a beginner get into cybersecurity?

Definitely! It’s common to transition from IT to cybersecurity. As the saying goes, it’s important to understand how the systems work before you can secure them. However, many people transition from other fields, such as an auditor moving into IT audit or law enforcement transitioning to digital forensics). 

For those new to cybersecurity, we have a cybersecurity beginners program to help build the skills needed for an entry-level job in as little as 26 weeks. 

How to get a job in cybersecurity with no experience?

The short answer: Get experience. Employers want to assess your ability to perform the job, but that doesn't always require formal experience. Consider personal projects, completed security labs from training courses or certifications that validate your skills as valuable stepping stones. 

You could even consider volunteering or joining a local group to get other ideas to help build your resume.  

What is the easiest job in cybersecurity?

The difficulty of a cybersecurity role is subjective. What one person finds fascinating, another might find challenging. For example, some might enjoy the methodical nature of security auditing, while others might find penetration testing, which involves simulating cyberattacks, more engaging. You may also enjoy the role of a cyber defender, digging through logs to find signs of cyber threats. 

There is no "easiest" path. The key is to find a role that aligns with your interests and strengths. 

Where should a beginner start in cybersecurity?

If you're unsure of your specific path, the best first step is to build a foundation in core cybersecurity concepts. This involves understanding how devices and networks function. Stay curious and explore different areas. Early in your career is the perfect time to discover your passion within the cybersecurity landscape. 

You can start exploring on your own in various online communities or by subscribing to a platform like Infosec Skills, where you can explore 1,400+ courses and try to find your interests. 

What's a good entry-level cybersecurity salary?

Salaries in cybersecurity can vary widely depending on the specific role, location and experience level. For instance, the average salary for a Security+ certification holder, which often aligns with an entry-level security administrator role, is around $86,885. However, it's important to note that compensation can fluctuate significantly based on your particular circumstances. 

How to get an entry-level cybersecurity job?

Embarking on your cybersecurity career starts with action. Whether you dive into self-learning, enroll in a certification boot camp, find a mentor or gain hands-on experience, the key is discovering what captivates you and lays the groundwork for your future career. Here are some resources to explore that will help guide your new career. 


Entry-level job requirements 

While formal experience is a plus and a degree can help, employers ultimately want to hire someone who can perform the job effectively. Even if your background isn't in technology, transferable skills can give you a leg up. The most important thing is to gain practical experience, even if it's not through a traditional job. Consider: 

Cybersecurity certifications for beginners 

According to ISACA, 87% of employers consider an IT or cybersecurity credential a key factor when hiring. Here are some popular entry-level certifications to consider: 

Vendor-specific technology certifications can also enhance your resume. For instance, the Cisco CCNA validates your understanding of Cisco networking products, while certifications from cloud providers like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud demonstrate expertise in securing their respective cloud platforms. 


Entry-level cybersecurity interview tips 

Preparing for your interview will require technical knowledge, communication skills and confidence. Here are some common entry-level questions: 

  • What are the key principles of information security? 
  • Explain the difference between a vulnerability, threat and risk. 
  • What is the purpose of encryption, and how does it work? 
  • Describe the importance of access control and authentication methods. 
  • What steps would you take to respond to a potential security incident? 

Highlight soft skills like communication, teamwork and critical thinking in your answers. Download our free interview tips ebook for more information. 

Free & self-study cybersecurity beginner resources

Cybersecurity needs more skilled professionals to help keep data and organizations secure. Check out the additional free resources below to help get your cybersecurity career started.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity careers and how to get started