Do You Need a Degree for Cyber Security? Top Entry-Level Cyber Security Jobs
With job opportunities poised to grow at a rate of 35 percent, the field of cyber security represents one of the safest career paths you can take. Couple this with well above-average salaries, and it is easy to see why so many people are itching to join the cyber security industry. But, do you need a degree to enter this fast-growing and lucrative field?
The answer is “no.” There are a growing number of training alternatives to acquire the skills you need to enter the field, including top-rated cyber security bootcamps. In this article, we tell you all about these non-traditional education options and show you the entry-level cyber security jobs they can unlock.
Top Entry-Level Cyber Security: No Degree Required
Here is our pick for the best cyber security careers that do not require a degree. Although having a degree in your resume will improve your candidacy, it is not a requirement for the positions below. Employers hiring for these roles tend to prioritize skills and expertise over academic credentials.
|Position||Responsibilities||Work-Life Balance (Out of 5)|
|Security Analyst||Monitoring and analysis
|SOC Analyst||Monitoring and incident response
Threat detection and analysis
Security incident management
|Incident Response Analyst||Incident triage and response
Forensic analysis and investigation
Incident documentation and reporting
|Network Security Administrator||Network security management
Vulnerability assessment and remediation
Incident response and investigation
|Penetration Tester||Vulnerability assessment
Reporting and remediation
|Security Engineer||Security infrastructure design and implementation
Incident response and management
Security monitoring and auditing
|Cyber Security Consultant||Risk assessment and management
Security strategy and planning
Security audits and compliance
|Security Software Engineer||Writing code
Testing and analysis of software systems
Security architecture and design
The Best Entry-Level Cyber Security Jobs: A Deeper Look
Below, we dive deeper into each of the entry-level cyber security jobs highlighted in the previous section. We show you the average salary you can expect for each role if you have no experience and give you a range of what people are earning.
Salary with no experience: $75,301
Salary range: $67,00 – $108,000
A security analyst is responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and responding to security incidents and threats within an organization’s network. They assess vulnerabilities, conduct risk assessments, and implement security measures. Their role involves identifying and mitigating security breaches, maintaining security systems, and ensuring compliance with industry standards and best practices.
Salary with no experience: $59,503
Salary range: $51,00 – $79,000
The Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst position involves monitoring and responding to security incidents within an organization’s network. While a degree is not mandatory, practical experience, relevant certifications, and technical skills are crucial. Demonstrating expertise through certifications and hands-on experience can help secure entry-level opportunities in SOC operations.
Incident Response Analyst
Salary with no experience: $59,402
Salary range: $55,00 – $86,000
Incident response analysts are responsible for detecting, investigating, and responding to security incidents within a company. They assess incidents, conduct forensic analysis, and collaborate with teams to contain and mitigate threats. For this position, practical experience and industry certification are more valuable than a degree. This means that you can become an incident response analyst through various alternative paths such as coding bootcamps.
Network Security Administrator
Salary with no experience: $68,090
Salary range: $60,00 – $99,000
Network administrators with a focus on security manage and secure the network infrastructure of organizations. When it comes to becoming a network administrator, more important than having a degree is having practical experience, industry certifications, and technical skills. Some common certifications pursued by these professionals include CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).
Salary with no experience: $82,490
Salary range: $63,00 – $108,000
The penetration tester position is a great career choice if you are passionate about cyber security and problem-solving. As a penetration tester, you have the opportunity to help organizations identify and address vulnerabilities, protect sensitive data, and enhance their security defenses. A great way to train for this position is to attend ethical hacking bootcamps.
Salary with no experience: $110,119
Salary range: $103,000 – $175,000
This is an excellent career choice for those seeking job satisfaction in the cyber security field. As a security engineer, you have the opportunity to protect organizations from cyber threats and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical systems and data. The constant challenge of staying one step ahead of evolving threats makes becoming a security engineer an intellectually rewarding endeavor.
Cyber Security Consultant
Salary with no experience: $100,834
Salary range: $85,000 – $147,000
This job involves providing expert guidance and support to organizations in managing their cyber security risks. Consultants assess vulnerabilities, develop strategies, and implement solutions to safeguard systems and data. The cyber security consultant position can be carried out remotely, as these professionals can provide expert guidance and support from anywhere.
Security Software Engineer
Salary with no experience: $113,901
Salary range: $102,00 – $169,000
Software engineers specializing in security develop and implement secure code and practices to protect software systems from cyber threats. They analyze and address vulnerabilities, conduct security testing, and contribute to the design of secure software architecture. Attending a coding bootcamp is an excellent choice to become a software engineer.
Do You Need a Degree for Cyber Security Jobs?
No, you do not necessarily need a degree for cyber security jobs, not even for the highest-paying network security careers. Alternative education pathways, such as coding bootcamps, online courses, and industry certifications, have become increasingly popular for individuals looking to enter the cyber security field without a degree.
What matters most to employers is your practical knowledge, problem-solving abilities, and relevant skillset. Building hands-on experience through internships, entry-level positions, or personal projects can demonstrate your competence and dedication to the field. Focus on honing your abilities, staying updated with the latest industry trends, and highlighting your practical expertise to make yourself a competitive candidate in the cyber security field.
Cyber Security Requirements and Qualifications
There are certain qualities that most successful cyber security professionals have. And, no, having an academic degree is not one of them. While the traits below are not absolute requirements to enter the cyber security field, they do indicate promise. Keep in mind that most of the traits and skills below can be developed with practice.
- Technical background. Possessing a strong foundation in networking, operating systems, programming languages, and security technologies is essential for a career in cyber security. Likewise, familiarity with information security concepts, such as risk assessment, incident response, access controls, and cryptography is important.
- Problem-solving and analysis. Cyber security professionals need strong problem-solving skills to identify and resolve complex security issues. They must be able to think critically, analyze security incidents, and develop innovative solutions to mitigate risks effectively.
- Ethical standards. Ethical behavior is fundamental in cyber security. Professionals must adhere to ethical guidelines, maintain confidentiality, and act with integrity. An understanding of legal and regulatory frameworks helps ensure compliance while protecting the privacy and security of individuals and organizations.
- Attention to detail. In a field like cyber security, small oversights can have huge consequences. Because of this, cyber security professionals must be extremely meticulous in their work.
- Willingness to learn and update one’s skillset. The cyber security field is ever-evolving, with new threats emerging regularly. Being committed to continuous learning and staying updated with the latest security trends, technologies, and best practices is vital to ensure you can adapt to new challenges.
What Do Cyber Security Jobs Pay?
Cyber security careers offer a level of compensation well beyond the average salary. The median annual wage for information security analysts is $102,600, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry in which they operate can have a big impact on their salary, with information, finance and insurance, and management of companies and enterprises offering the highest wages.
Even at an entry level and with little experience, you can bring home a substantial paycheck. Glassdoor estimates that the average salary for an entry-level cyber security role is $69,049. However, this figure is part of a range, with the lowest earners earning $53,000 and the highest-paid grossing over $114,000 a year.
How to Get a Cyber Security Job Without a Degree
There are many paths to a successful cyber security career and many of them do not involve getting a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related fields. Getting a job in tech without a degree is possible, even in a field as competitive as cyber security. Below, we take a look at the most common steps people take to land a cyber security job without a degree.
Step 1: Research the Field
Start by understanding the different roles and specialties within the cyber security field. This will help you identify the specific area you want to pursue and the skills required for that role. Research salaries, perks, responsibilities, and work-life balance and look for roles that align with your goals. A good place to start is platforms like LinkedIn where professionals share their work history and where you can start building a network.
Step 2: Start Building a Foundation
Before signing up for a full-fledged bootcamp or certification course, we recommend doing some more exploratory work to see if this field is really a good match. Look for introductory courses online where you can begin to familiarize yourself with the basics. Online coding courses can help you explore your affinity for the subject while keeping the financial investment to a minimum.
Step 3: Committee to a More Rigorous Learning Path
If you’ve enjoyed learning about cyber security and want to continue your learning journey, it is time to find longer, more demanding programs to start developing a solid foundation. Seek programs that tackle technical skills that are currently in demand, such as network security, incident response, vulnerability assessment, or penetration testing.
Step 4: Further Your Skills Through Practice
Getting hands-on experience is critical to not only expand your skillset, but also to solidify what you’ve already learned. Look for projects that seem fun to you and that would allow you to practice particular skills. You may also consider participating in Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions. At this stage, you can also start looking for internships, apprenticeships, or volunteer opportunities.
Step 5: Acquire Relevant Certifications
Seek industry-recognized certifications to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. The best cyber security certifications can boost your credibility and make you stand out to employers. Great certifications to pursue in this field include CompTIA Security+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Step 6: Create a Strong Online Presence
Next, start curating your professional image by creating a strong profile on LinkedIn where you showcase your experience and expertise. It is also important that you join cyber security forums and communities and become an active member. Sharing your knowledge and engaging in discussions will help you connect with people in similar career paths and expand your network.
Step 7: Continue Growing Your Network
Networking can provide valuable connections, mentorship opportunities, and insights into job openings. Aside from the forums and online communities that we have already mentioned, you can also network in the real world. Make sure to attend as many industry events, conferences, and local meetups as possible to connect with interesting professionals.
Step 8: Prepare for Interviews
Research common interview questions for cyber security positions and practice your responses. A good place to start is by practicing your answers to basic questions you could be asked during an interview for a computer science job. Practice discussing your certifications, practical experience, and any personal projects or challenges you have undertaken.
Step 9: Update Your Resume and Write a Cover Letter
Customize your resume to highlight your relevant certifications, technical skills, and practical experience. Emphasize your ability to solve problems, work in teams, and adapt to evolving security threats. As you complete your resume, make sure to also work on creating a basic cover letter that you can adapt to each opening.
Step 10: Start Applying for Jobs
Begin looking for openings that match your qualifications. LinkedIn can be a great place to start as are other job platforms like Indeed and Glassdoor. Use keywords like “entry-level cyber security” or “junior cyber security” when searching for positions. If you already know a particular company that you’d like to work for, go directly to its website and see if they have any openings.
Alternative Pathways to Enter Cyber Security
Any of the entry-level cyber security jobs we’ve highlighted in this article can be obtained without a degree by pursuing an alternative training path. From coding bootcamps to cyber security certificates, these are the most common alternatives to a cyber security degree for those looking to enter the field.
Coding bootcamps entered the education scene no more than a decade ago, but they have already become a popular alternative to a degree in computer science to kickstart a career in tech. In a recent report, Hired.com found that the number of people learning to code via non-traditional methods, such as coding bootcamps, is growing.
Bootcamps allow the student to acquire the skills needed to enter a particular tech field in a short period of time. Most bootcamps last from five or six months up to a year. During this time, the students partake in a rigorous course of study based on the principle of “learning by doing”. The best coding bootcamps employ teams of career advisors to guide students through the job search process, connect them to potential employers, and prepare them for job interviews.
Internships and Apprenticeships
Cyber security internships can play a crucial role in kickstarting a career in the field by providing practical experience, exposure to real-world scenarios, and networking opportunities. They offer the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge gained from coursework in real-world situations. Cyber security interns often work on security projects, conduct vulnerability assessments, and participate in incident response activities.
Additionally, internships allow young professionals to connect with well-established figures in the cyber security industry. Interns have the opportunity to build relationships with mentors, supervisors, and colleagues, who can provide invaluable guidance, references, and potential job opportunities. If you are unable to find an internship in the field of cyber security, you can still benefit immensely from a computer science internship.
Military service can be an effective launching pad for a career in cyber security. The military offers comprehensive training programs in cyber security and information technology. Recruits can benefit from specialized training in areas such as information security, cyber warfare, and network defense.
Serving in the military not only builds technical expertise. It also cultivates discipline, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities essential for a successful cyber security career. Many ex-military end up pursuing a career in cyber security. An increasing number of them choose coding bootcamps that accept the GI Bill to get the training they need for free or at a very low cost.
Getting a cyber security certification can be a direct pathway to a career in the field, especially for individuals without a degree. Certifications validate one’s knowledge and skills in specific areas of cyber security, demonstrating expertise to potential employers. They provide a tangible credential that showcases dedication and commitment to the profession.
Certifications like CompTIA Security+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) are highly regarded in the industry. Obtaining these certifications can open doors to entry-level positions and provide opportunities for career advancement.
Where to Find Cyber Security Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
There are many online job boards that you can use during your job search. Some focus specifically on cyber security jobs while others have openings in all industries. Below, we give you our recommendations for the best places to look for entry-level cyber security positions.
Dice is a great platform for finding entry-level cyber security jobs. With its focus on technology roles, Dice provides a wide range of job listings specifically tailored to the cyber security field. Job seekers can explore various opportunities, apply filters, and connect with employers seeking candidates for entry-level positions in cyber security.
Monster.com offers a vast database of job listings across different industries, including cyber security. Job seekers can easily search for entry-level positions, refine their search based on location and desired criteria, and explore various job opportunities. This platform provides a user-friendly interface, allowing candidates to create profiles, upload resumes, and apply directly to job postings.
LinkedIn is also a powerful platform for finding entry-level cyber security jobs. It serves as a professional networking platform where job seekers can connect with recruiters, hiring managers, and professionals in the cyber security field. LinkedIn’s job search feature allows users to filter and search for entry-level positions specifically in the cyber security industry.
Should I Pursue a Career in Cyber Security Even if I Don’t Have a Degree?
Yes, you should consider a career in cyber security even if you don’t have a degree. A degree is not a mandatory requirement for entering the field of cyber security. In fact, employers tend to place a higher value on skills and experience than on academic credentials.
Instead of spending four years and tens of thousands of dollars attending college, you can acquire the skills and experience needed to enter the field of cyber security via alternative training options. One such option is coding bootcamps, which last only a few months and prepare the student for entry-level roles in the field. Pursuing certification or completing an internship are other effective options to start a cyber security career.
Cyber Security Jobs Without a Degree FAQ
Some entry-level remote cyber security jobs include cyber security analyst, security operations center (SOC) analyst, incident response analyst, vulnerability analyst, and cyber security consultant.
Some of the best cyber security certifications include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), CompTIA Security+, and Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP).
Some companies that regularly hire for entry-level cyber security roles include large organizations like IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Additionally, cyber security consulting firms like Deloitte, PwC, and Accenture, as well as government agencies and defense contractors, often have entry-level positions available for cyber security professionals.
Cyber security does not necessarily require extensive coding skills, but having a basic understanding of programming and scripting languages can be beneficial. Knowledge of programming languages like Python, C++, and Java allows cyber security professionals to analyze and develop tools, conduct vulnerability assessments, and understand the technical aspects of security threats.