Securing Entry-Level Roles in Cyber Security
Getting started in cyber security can feel like a huge wall to climb, but it shouldn't have to be!
The soaring demand for cyber jobs coupled with the high earning potential and fantastic job satisfaction ensures an attractive employment package for prospective cyber professionals.
With an estimated global cyber skill shortage of 3.5 million professionals, there are many career routes entry-level candidates can take. Anyone with technical knowledge and the desire to learn can launch themselves into this exciting career path!
As with any job, getting started in cyber security can feel like a huge wall to climb. We’ve gathered our top tips for achieving an entry-level career in cyber security. Let’s dive in!
Learning and Upskilling
While it is possible to enter the cyber security field without qualifications, your journey will likely differ from aspiring professionals with a technical background. Fortunately, the most sought-after skill in cyber security is a technical mindset, followed by the ability to problem solve and a strong understanding of the technical fundamentals.
The following topics are required to build a strong understanding of fundamental technologies required to become a great security practitioner:
- Network Fundamentals - the core concepts of how computers communicate with each other are important to understand before learning how to attack and defend networks
- Web Application Technologies - learn the building blocks of the world wide web to understand how to attack web applications
- Linux Fundamentals - Many servers and security tools use Linux. Learn how to use the Linux operating system, a critical skill in cyber security
- Windows Fundamentals - Get hands-on access to Windows and its security controls. These basics will help you in identifying, exploiting and defending Windows
To ensure you have these strong fundamentals, the Introduction to Cyber Security learning path gives you a hands-on introduction to different areas within cyber, while the Pre-Security Training learning path teaches you the pre-requisite technical knowledge to get started in cyber security!
Taking the time to build a strong technical foundation that will underpin your cyber career can make the world of difference when applying for relevant roles. Entry-level cyber security training can be invaluable for learning and upskilling! The accessibility and ease of learning cyber security online enable you to learn at your own pace, focusing on areas most suited to your chosen cyber security career path.
With hands-on, interactive cyber security learning, TryHackMe makes it easier to launch into the industry and continually upskill based on new threats and trends. TryHackMe courses are suited to all students - from the complete beginner through to the seasoned hacker - making learning engaging, entertaining, accessible, and affordable.
Stay Updated on Threats and Advances
Keeping well-informed and aware of emerging threats and advances is vital in preparing for tomorrow and arming defences against the growing risk of attacks. In an ever-evolving industry, a great way to keep up is through ongoing development, research, and upskilling. As this is crucial, you’ll most likely be asked in interviews how you like to keep up with threats and advances!
The internet is full of cyber security news reports and key updates. At TryHackMe, you can stay updated through our cyber security blog, alongside monthly updates from the industry, where we report on crucial developments, breaches, and news from the month.
There are a number of researchers, influencers, and key content creators in the field that share the very latest in cyber security, including John Hammond, Cybersecurity Meg, HuskyHacks, Tib3rius, and Tyler Ramsbey.
In addition, attending conferences, listening to podcasts, and engaging in webinars can help in following the rapid changes in the industry. We also recommend making a note of the ways in which you keep up with the industry, as this is a great point to mention in a job interview!
Top tip! Discover upcoming cyber security conferences, events, meetings, and seminars through Infosec Conferences. Security BSides and DEF CON are two conferences providing a cyber security community-driven framework around the world. You can also find relevant cyber security podcasts through a variety of channels, including iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and YouTube.
Choosing High-Demand Areas
While all areas of cyber security are in high demand for new recruits, some areas are experiencing a greater skill gap due to advancements and growth within the industry. To help understand some of the most lucrative areas to learn and upskill in, we’ve compiled a list of skills we recommend focusing on according to an Ipsos findings report:
Penetration testing is a critical skill to have, with 20% of employers reporting penetration testing as ‘hard to fill’. Using hacking techniques, Penetration Testers legally test the security posture of organisations for weaknesses and are therefore crucial in fixing vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit them.
Get started with our Introduction to Pentesting to understand the various methodologies and testing techniques, Junior Penetration Testing to learn core technical skills, and Red Teaming pathway to cover more advanced penetration testing concepts.
Security operations, also known as SecOps, refers to a team that protects an organisation’s assets by monitoring, preventing, detecting, investigating, and responding to cyber threats around the clock.
Get started with Introduction to Defensive Security to learn the basics of threat intelligence and malware analysis, before progressing to our Security Operations & Monitoring training, giving you a baseline of the different tools used to monitor and detect threats on the network and endpoints.
Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR)
Computer forensic skills are crucial, with computer forensic professionals responsible for identifying, preserving, recovering, and analysing data and findings. With computer forensics recorded as one of the top three areas with a technical skills gap, it’s a great area to upskill in!
Get started with our Pre-Security pathway to learn the pre-requisite technical knowledge to get started in cyber security, and upskill with our SOC Level 1 learning path to gain the skills needed to monitor endpoints for threats and handle incidents.
Networking is often an overlooked element of strengthening your career. Often, who you know, the connections you have, and the circles you run in can be used to your advantage when securing an entry-level position in cyber security.
Attending and networking through tech conferences and job fairs allows you to meet like-minded security professionals, strengthen business connections, build confidence, and most importantly, advance your cyber security career. You’ll also get the opportunity to meet business leaders and recruiters who can offer career advice and support.
Meetup is a platform for finding and building local communities with shared interests, and can be used to meet professionals actively working in the industry and those seeking similar opportunities.
Similarly, Discord is another invaluable tool enabling you to discover and build connections with like-minded individuals. TryHackMe’s Discord Server is a dedicated community, with a channel for recruiters to post cyber security vacancies, remote and in-person, with positions popping up all over the world.
Top tip! When networking, think about how you can help others and try to see the value in every contact. Be open, friendly and honest, and listen to others to have yourself heard!
Cyber Security Certifications
Preparing for your first cyber security role is crucial in standing out from the crowd! Demonstrating the valuable skills you have acquired can really help give you a foot in the door at interviews, therefore it’s worth taking the time to gain the expertise and skills, and in some cases, gain entry-level cyber security certifications.
Similar to cyber security degrees, it may be easier to land a role, however, there are alternative routes when searching for entry-level cyber security positions.
For many, obtaining cyber security certifications can be the doorway into the industry. Some of the most popular entry-level cyber security certifications include OSCP: Offensive Security Certified Professional, CompTIA Security+, and the CompTIA Pentest+.
When evaluating the certification options available to you, it’s worth remembering that cyber security certifications are not required across all fields of cyber security. Cyber security certifications are entirely optional. As an alternative, upskilling and searching for cyber security careers without qualifications may be a great way of entering the field!
If you choose to undergo certifications, get started with our certification paths to gain the expertise, skills and certification to achieve your dream career in cyber security.
Internships and Industry Opportunities
When applying for cyber security roles, you may often notice recruiters and employers searching for candidates with work experience and in many cases, several years' worth of practical experience under your belt.
We know this can be hard as a beginner, but anyone and everyone can start by first acquiring hands-on skills.
Some rewarding ways of gaining experience in cyber security are through volunteering, paid internships, and work placements. Alternatively, many cyber security professionals begin in technology-adjacent roles (such as roles in system administration, helpdesks, and IT management) to build an all-around technical knowledge, before transitioning to an entry-level cyber security role.
As we mentioned above, recruiters regularly post cyber security vacancies on TryHackMe’s Discord Server, so you may find a suitable role or opportunity here!
Top tip! Check out this GitHub repository to discover available internship opportunities near you.
Preparing for Interviews
Interviews can seem daunting - it’s something that we don’t do very often, and it may be a role you’re keen to secure. There’s no great secret to performing well in a job interview, but preparing for a cyber security interview can effectively increase your chances of succeeding.
From the offset, take the time to research the company and find as much information as possible on its motivations, missions, service offerings, and company culture. They want to get to know you just as much as they want to ensure you are the perfect fit for the role, so be yourself!
You may also expect role-specific technical questions that we advise preparing for, just in case! Some of these questions include:
- What is Cryptography?
- What is the difference between Symmetric and Asymmetric encryption?
- What is the difference between IDS and IPS?
- How is Encryption different from Hashing?
- What is a Firewall and why is it used?
- What is the difference between VA(Vulnerability Assessment) and PT(Penetration Testing)?
- What is a three-way handshake?
- What are the response codes that can be received from a Web Application?
- What is traceroute, and why is it used?
Interviews should be two-way, so one of our cyber security interview preparation tips is to prepare questions to ask at the end of your interview to show your interest in the role. Some examples of questions to ask include:
- What would my average day entail at this company?
- What sort of technologies would I be utilising in this role?
- Are there progression opportunities?
- Can I upskill and develop in the role?
- How many people are working in the team?
- Are there certifications/training budgets offered?
- Is there an opportunity to attend cyber conferences?
- How would you describe the ideal candidate for this position?
- What would be some of the biggest challenges in the role if I was successful?
After the interview, take the time to follow up by sending an email to thank the interviewer for their time. If you haven’t been successful, don’t let it hinder your confidence and determination - take it as an opportunity to review and reflect!
We Can Help!
There are many reasons to choose a career in cyber security! TryHackMe simplifies the steps to achieve an entry-level cyber security role with hands-on, interactive cyber security learning.
Our training labs grow with you, so you can launch into the industry and continually upskill based on new threats and trends.
TryHackMe experience is a brilliant addition to CVs and experience to help you stand out from the crowd, which is why many employers actively search for candidates with TryHackMe experience.