How to Secure an Entry-Level Cybersecurity Job

“Cybersecurity is a subject that requires logic, knowledge, thought, and commitment.” ― Ian R. McAndrew, PhD

Finding an entry-level or a first job is the goal of many college graduates; unfortunately, many students don’t aware or understand the cybersecurity industry and what skills employers are looking for. This guide discusses the steps that will lead you to the entry-level cybersecurity job, and it also explores the techniques and skills to excel in your cybersecurity career.

Understand Cybersecurity Workforce

There are several cybersecurity positions, and the list of work roles and responsibilities varies depending on the role and the company. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) project named National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) solve the cybersecurity skill shortages that is a valuable resource for those looking for work in the security sector. NIST’s NICE list divides cybersecurity positions into seven distinct workforce groups.

Understand Cybersecurity WorkforceWays to Secure Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs

Know Your Foundations

If you’ve already graduated in a computer-related field, this will be a breeze for you. But if not, it is still simple as peeling onions with a bit of tear. Information to learn about cybersecurity, such as network security, the NIST framework, various port numbers and what they do, which ones are accessible, and so on, is helpful. I strongly advise you to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals such as:

  • Basics of computer science.
  • Network Security.
  • Operating System.
  • OWASP Top10.
  • OSI Layers.
  • CIA Triads.

Every foundation coursework you can have your eyes on would be enormously beneficial; Particularly if you’re heading into interviews. During the interview, we worry about advanced level questions; But all interviewers ask the basics.

Cybersecurity Certifications

I highly suggest certifications as a preliminary step, If you want to have your foot through the gate. As per the State of Cybersecurity Hiring Report, “cybersecurity is largely defined by certifications. Nearly six in 10 (59%) of all cybersecurity positions request at least one certification.”

CompTIA offers a range of entry-level certs. So, if they are suitable for your position, I suggest looking into them. Also, Having the following entry-level certifications is crucial;

  • CCNA Security
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Cisco Certs
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA IT Fundamentals

Learn About the Tools

One other simple approach to begin is to know about cybersecurity tools. Many tools have community versions that users use for free and install. There are many popular tools like Burpsuite, Wireshark, Nmap, LDAP domain dump, etc. When it comes to pen-testing or red teaming, having a good understanding of tools is highly advantageous.

Using tools on CTFs challenges where you can utilize them legally is beneficial. If you head for a job interview for a cybersecurity job, you’ll already be familiar with the concept of tools that are helpful to you.

Get Experience

The initial step is to gain experience, and I do not mean having an internship; I mean to do your proper research and learning skills on your own. Capture the flag competitions are the easiest way to give kickstart. CTFs are easily accessible environments or challenges. CTFs need users to compromise a machine/website, which already has security vulnerabilities. CTFs offer a range of challenges, including web applications that you can easily hack.

I suggest CTFs because that is where I first got my feet wet in cybersecurity. It is also essential to have your Kali Linux machine. Kali Linux is freely available and is vital if you are planning to be a web-app pen-tester or a red team, you will need more practice.

Use Professional Websites

Initiate establishing links with cybersecurity experts. Connections on LinkedIn are helpful to secure entry-level jobs. One positive link could lead to your first cybersecurity role. You need to put your identity out and hunt for opportunities.

Document Training and Skills

Try to ensure that your portfolio demonstrates the work you have done to prove for cybersecurity positions. You can entice employers with your credentials and your online talent, like having CTFs experience.

Final Thoughts

Since cybersecurity careers are still so fresh and complex, they will inevitably evolve with time. It’s difficult to predict how you’ll change into each position you’ll get in your life, but setting goal enables you to start your path.

“You are an essential ingredient in our ongoing effort to reduce Security Risk.”

― Kirsten Manthorne

Sana Qazi
Sana Qazi is a technical writer specialized in Information Security. She enjoys writing about technology and reading multiple genres like suspense. When not writing, she can be found traveling, dinning out, watching series etc. She manages her medium blog as well.

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