As the world turns almost entirely virtual, cybersecurity is becoming as important as physical security. This means the need for cybersecurity professionals is also increasing. A career in cybersecurity almost often begins with IT or computer-related skills and moves into different specialization directions.
If you’re just starting in cybersecurity, there are many opportunities you can start or advance with various transition sources. Here are nine entry-level cyber security career paths you top job roles you can pursue.
What Do Cybersecurity Experts Do?
Cybersecurity is an umbrella term for people responsible for ensuring that an organization’s information technology (IT) infrastructure is safe from cyber threats — internal or external. This implies that there are different roles, tools, and software to monitor, audit, analyze, and inspect IT infrastructure and systems.
A cybersecurity professional, specialist or expert will also ensure that IT infrastructure and networks comply with industry standards and work within best practices to prevent attacks. If you’re wondering how to get into cybersecurity, a career in this field needs a diploma or degree in computing and other related fields such as:
- Data analysis
- Systems engineering
- Security intelligence
You’ll also need technical skills in these fields, such as:
- Routing protocols
- Languages (Jave, PHP, HTML)
- Database management
- Certification in cybersecurity
Entry Level Cybersecurity Career Paths
If you’re just getting started or new to cybersecurity, it’s important to start in entry-level IT roles. These may include a help desk technician, software developer, or network administrator. This will give you the experience you need to understand the cyber field and what’s involved in its security. Once you gain enough experience in IT, you can start in the following cybersecurity roles or paths:
Junior Information Security Analyst
A Junior information security analyst (Junior ISA) is one of the most sought-after cybersecurity positions. It involves protecting a business’s data through network monitoring, risk assessment, and security planning by placing firewalls through the network or encrypting the data transfer.
To be a Junior ISA, you need a background in computer science and networking and experience working with networks and IT systems. You also need knowledge of control frameworks such as ISO 27001, vulnerability scanning tools, antivirus, patch management, and intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS). It’s also important to have knowledge of industry policies and standards on information security. A junior ISA can become a cybersecurity analyst or information security manager.
A company systems administrator is in charge of creating, maintaining, and securing user account records on a network and keeping the organization’s IT infrastructure secure and running properly. These roles include both hardware and software accounts. Systems administrators also install new applications, create backups, and provide authorized access levels to different users.
A role in systems administration needs a bachelor’s degree in a computer-relevant field, such as computer science, software engineering, network administration, and web technology. You can also use certification courses such as Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). System administrators can improve their skills and experience to become systems engineers or company security architects.
IT Support Specialist
IT specialists can also be customer support individuals to have a major role in solving customers’ problems. In that case, they’ll be called IT support specialists. This role involves providing support and troubleshooting user or customer issues such as fixing internet connectivity, backing up data, upgrading systems and applications, and more.
Being an IT support specialist requires a customer support background combined with education in IT and computer-related fields. You may also need a background in project management to manage multiple work streams and soft skills like communication and teamwork. IT support specialists can advance their skills to become network admins, database admins, or systems admins.
Cybercrime analysts or investigators are responsible for investigating digital or cybercrimes such as ransomware, data hacks, systems overrides, and identity theft. This role is more connected to law enforcement agencies because of related guidance and criminal activities to investigate. Typically, cybercrime analysts or investigator is an umbrella term for many cybersecurity roles and titles that include
- Cyber forensics analyst
- Cyber IT/security/forensic incident responder
- Cyber security or digital forensic analyst
- Digital forensics expert or technician
- IT security crime investigator and
- IT/Cybersecurity auditor
The qualifications of a cybercrime analyst or investigator vary depending on the particular files, Government agency, city, state, or country. A professional in this field would normally need training and certification in IT and systems security as well as crime investigation techniques. A cybercrime analyst or investigator can go on to become a federal cybercrime agent, crime consultant, or educator.
Junior Penetration Tester (Ethical Hacking)
Penetration testers (ethical hacking) are network security auditors or consultants with hacking skills who identify and exploit the organization’s system vulnerabilities to help find solutions. While hackers hack to steal data, ethical hackers attempt to hack systems using simulations to find and seal vulnerabilities.
Penetration testers need expert skills in coding, network protocols (TCP/IP, DNS, UDP, ARP, and DHCP), programming, and knowledge of operating systems. A junior penetration tester can advance their skills and move to a senior developer or security role, such as security auditors or information security managers.
As the digital world get’s established fast, the need for cybersecurity and demand for cybersecurity professionals continues to grow. These jobs will continue to evolve as digitization expands across the world, industries, and professions.