Top Entry Level Cyber Security Jobs in 2024

Entry Level Cyber Security Jobs: A Must-Read Beginner’s Guide

Entry level cyber security jobs offer numerous opportunities for those aspiring to build a successful career in the field. However, navigating the vast array of cyber security roles, especially for beginners, can be overwhelming.

This article delves into the most common entry level positions, potential salaries, and the essential skills and certifications you need. We also discuss our cyber security career path, which presents the different professional stages in the field.

Beyond mere information, we provide valuable insights and guidance to help you navigate the intricate world of cyber security.

Join us as we explore the tools needed for a fulfilling and impactful start in this dynamic field.

Understanding Cyber Security Career Path

Embarking on a career in cyber security is both enjoyable and fulfilling, offering excitement and challenges equally. Yet, figuring out where to begin can be stressful for those eager to enter this rapidly evolving field.

We broke down the cyber security career path into five stages designed to guide you from entry level enthusiasts to seasoned professionals. Each stage equips you with the essential skills, knowledge, and certifications to progress to the next level seamlessly.

These five stages are as follows:

  • Stage 1 - Essential IT Knowledge: Here, you learn the basics of computer systems and their functionality.
  • Stage 2 - Networking: Once you know how systems work, you can learn how systems connect to form enterprise networks.
  • Stage 3 - General Cyber Security: At this stage, you use the foundational knowledge acquired in Stage 1 and Stage 2 to understand how to secure systems, networks, and data.
  • Stage 4 - Advanced General or Speciality Skills: Here, you learn key cyber security skills and knowledge that will help you progress to advanced generalist or security specialist roles in cyber security.
  • Stage 5 - Expert Level: With skills, expertise, and knowledge acquired from many years of experience in the field, you can progress to Stage 5 and find a career in cyber security governance or as a specialist expert.

Cyber security starts at Stage 3 of the career path. At this level, you’ve already acquired a strong general IT and networking foundation and can start learning cyber security-specific skills and launch your cyber security career.

Cyber Security Roadmap

Starting in Cyber Security

Starting a cyber security career requires a combination of education, practical experience, and industry-recognized certifications. A foundational understanding of information technology and computer networks is essential.

While a bachelor's degree in a related field is beneficial, it's not always mandatory. Entry level cyber security certifications such as CompTIA Security+, SSCP, or even Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) are widely recognized and can give you a competitive edge with prospective employers. Having a cloud security certificate, in addition, is valuable as it shows your ability to work with cloud technologies.

Feeder roles like IT support or network administration can be stepping stones to a cyber security career. These roles provide hands-on experience with technology and a chance to develop skills that are directly applicable to cyber security.

Entry Level Cyber Security Jobs

Here's an overview of the most common entry level cyber security jobs.

Cyber Security Analyst

Cyber Security Analysts are security specialists on the frontline of defense, monitoring organizations’ network traffic and analyzing system logs to identify, detect, report, protect, respond, and recover from security threats and breaches. They primarily focus on keeping data and crucial and complex systems intact.

Responsibilities:

  • Monitoring networks and computer systems
  • Detecting threats
  • Analyzing logs and raw packet data
  • Perform network traffic analysis
  • Investigate alerts
  • Determining real “events” from false alarms
  • Either resolving the issues or escalating them to another security department
  • Designing and implementing secure networks and infrastructures
  • Collecting digital evidence

Skills:

  • Essential IT, networking, Linux, and cyber security knowledge
  • Network security
  • Security operations (blue team) skills (e.g., threat analysis, intrusion detection, and vulnerability assessment)
  • Software and Cloud Security
  • Project management
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
  • Threat Intelligence & Response
  • Knowledge of security tools and systems such as Splunk, Snort, Wireshark, Elastic, ArcSight, or QRadar is common

Certifications:

Salary range $45K-$130K USD or higher
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a Cyber Security Analyst in the United States is $93,519 USD

For more information, read our detailed article on How to Become a Cyber Security Analyst: A Career Guide.

Junior Penetration Tester

Frequently referred to as ethical hackers, penetration testers simulate real-world cyber attacks on systems, networks, and applications to discover vulnerabilities before malicious actors can exploit them in order to protect companies. In other words, they look for weak spots in security controls using their skills and tools. They then inform the targeted organizations so that they can strengthen their security posture.

As a junior penetration tester, you will work under the supervision of more experienced penetration testers or security professionals. You will assist in conducting security assessments, identifying vulnerabilities, testing the effectiveness of security controls, and preparing detailed reports.

Responsibilities:

  • Use ethical hacking techniques to identify and exploit vulnerabilities, gaining insights into potential security risks
  • Assess the security of web applications by identifying common vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS)
  • Evaluate the security of network configurations, including firewalls, routers, and switches, to identify misconfigurations and potential vulnerabilities
  • Assess the security of wireless networks by identifying weaknesses in encryption, authentication mechanisms, and other wireless security controls
  • Data collection

Skills:

  • Essential IT, networking, and security systems
  • Familiarity with Windows, Linux, and Unix operation systems
  • Network and application security
  • Cloud architecture
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Ethical hacking and penetration testing concepts and methods
  • Time management and research skills
  • Proficiency in using penetration testing and offensive security tools such as Metasploit, Burp Suite, Nessus, Nmap, Wireshark, and others

Certifications:

Salary range $50K-$140K USD or higher
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a Junior Penetration Tester in the United States is $116,104 USD

Aspiring to be a penetration tester? Check out our featured articles, How to Become a Penetration Tester: The Ultimate Guide, and  Penetration Tester Career Path: Key Steps and Opportunities.

Security Auditor

Security auditors focus on evaluating and assessing the effectiveness of an organization's security controls and policies using interviews, observations, inspections, and investigations. They ensure compliance with industry regulations and help identify areas for improvement.

To ensure impartiality (independence) and objectivity, security auditors don’t implement security controls or perform routine security operations.

Responsibilities:

  • Perform security policy and procedures review
  • Conduct compliance assessment
  • Evaluate security awareness training programs, incident response plans, business continuity, and disaster recovery plans to ensure their effectiveness
  • Evaluate the security of applications, network, and cloud infrastructures and propose mitigations to address potential vulnerabilities
  • Assess the implementation and effectiveness of security controls, including firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, access controls, and physical security measures
  • Prepare comprehensive audit reports that document findings, including identified risks, non-compliance issues, and recommendations for improvement.

Skills:

  • Cyber Security knowledge (security principles, controls, best practices, and emerging threats)
  • Networking (network security concepts, protocols, and technologies)
  • Compliance and regulatory understanding
  • Risk management
  • Analytical, interpersonal, and communication skills
  • Proficient at communicating technical details
  • Knowledge of audit methodologies and best practices
  • Project management
  • Continuous learning

Certifications:

Salary range $35K-$140K USD or higher
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a Security Auditor in the United States is $114,282 USD

Other Common Entry Level Positions

Many other entry level positions can help you break into cyber security. These include:

  • Vulnerability Tester or  Vulnerability Assessment Analyst identifies and evaluates security weaknesses in computer systems, networks, and applications. This professional assesses potential risks (usually with the use of Vulnerability assessment tools) and provides actionable recommendations for organizations to enhance their overall cyber security.
  • Cyber Security Sales Engineer engages with businesses to understand their security needs, provide product demonstrations, and articulate how specific cyber security products or services can address and mitigate potential threats.
  • Security Administrators oversee an organization's security solutions installation, management, and troubleshooting. They develop security guidelines, establish procedures, run security audits, investigate security breaches, and conduct training sessions on security protocols and best practices.

Keep in mind that the average salaries listed above are just estimates. As someone starting their career, your salary might be below these averages, which is typical for entry level positions.

Building a Career from an Entry Level Position

Securing an entry level position is just the beginning. To build a thriving career in cyber security, you must take deliberate steps to enhance your skills, network with industry professionals, and establish a strong personal brand.

These valuable tools, readily accessible through the StationX Accelerator Program, will help you achieve your milestones.

Mentors

Seasoned professionals serve as mentors, giving personalized advice, answering specific queries, and helping you navigate the dynamic cyber security field.

Custom roadmap

Based on your goals, experts assist you in creating a customized career roadmap. This roadmap outlines the necessary skills, certifications, and recommended courses essential for acquiring the knowledge required to advance and navigate through your cyber security career.

Mastermind Groups

Mastermind groups connect individuals with shared goals, fostering collective brainstorming and knowledge exchange. It provides a space for diverse perspectives, helps you improve your understanding, cultivate accountability, and achieve your goal.

Did you know keeping personal accountability towards your goals can boost your success rate to 64%? Add the weekly meetings with StationX mastermind groups, and watch your goal completion reach an impressive 76%.

Focus Groups

Immersing yourself in discussions with motivated learners and individuals with similar interests or objectives makes delving into complex subjects much easier. Focus groups offer opportunities for thorough conversations on diverse cyber security topics, addressing any uncertainties you may have.

Teaching others

We all know that the best way to understand something is to teach it. StationX promotes peer-to-peer teaching and provides a platform to do so. Explaining concepts to your peers reinforces your knowledge and highlights areas for clarity.

It's been observed that simply discussing what you're learning can increase your memory retention by 50%. By teaching someone else, that retention jumps to a remarkable 90%!

StationX Community

This community provides connections with peers and experts, creating an environment driven by guidance and camaraderie. This significantly alleviates the overwhelming aspects of starting in cyber security.

Self Branding

Via the accelerator program, you can access exclusive classes on personal branding led by industry experts. Building a unique professional brand elevates your professional identity and helps you stand out.

Active participation in cyber security communities, forums, and events can also contribute to establishing a strong personal brand.

Blogging, Recording Videos, and Sharing Resources

You are encouraged to write about your journey in cyber security and share your experiences within the StationX community. Not only does this create a space for personal reflection, but it also serves as a shared resource for those on a similar road.

Another approach is to produce explanatory videos. Visual learners find substantial benefits in videos that simplify difficult subjects.

StationX Accelerator Program

Conclusion

Starting a career in cyber security is an exciting journey. Entry level positions give you direct access to this dynamic field, and the opportunity to make a real impact. With the right combination of education, certifications, mentoring, and a proactive approach to skill development, anyone can break into cyber security and become a valuable contributor to the ongoing battle against cyber threats.

This article has provided insights into essential tools required for success in various entry level cyber security jobs, such as security analysts, security auditors, and penetration testers.

The decision is now yours: What entry level positions suit you best? Where will you shine the brightest?

For tailored career guidance and support in crafting your ideal career roadmap, join our Accelerator Program!

Frequently Asked Questions

Level Up in Cyber Security: Join Our Membership Today!

vip cta image
vip cta details
  • Michel-Ange Dagrain

    Michel-Ange is an experienced IT auditor driven by a passion for cyber security governance, threat intelligence, data privacy, and emerging technologies. She enjoys volunteering, writing, reading, learning new tools, and staying updated on cyber security news. She aims to share her expertise and insights through her engaging blog articles. Want to explore the intricate world of IT auditing and cyber security? Connect with her on LinkedIn.

>