How to Start a Career in Cybersecurity [+ Jobs List]

Cybersecurity experts are in high demand as the private, public and government sectors make great efforts to secure data against widespread cyberattacks. Industry analysts project that cybercrime will cost the world $13.8 trillion annually by 2028.

This has led to such demand for cybersecurity professionals that the U.S. News & World Report listed Information Security Analyst as the third best technology job in 2024 based on salary, employment rate, growth, stress, work-life balance and job prospects.
And it’s no wonder why — the information security analyst position pays a median salary of $98,350 and the industry as a whole boasts an unemployment rate of “zero percent.” Due to this demand and the many benefits available to professionals with the right combination of education and experience, there has never been a better time to start a career in cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Career Paths

Cybersecurity Career Paths

The first step in launching a career in cybersecurity is deciding which path is right for you. There are two primary career paths to consider before investing in education and training. Once you decide, however, there are multiple career options and an array of jobs to choose from, depending on your specific interests and skills.

Leadership and Operations Route

The first option is to take the leadership and operations route, which requires a diverse skill set and a propensity for lifelong learning. To succeed in this role, you must possess strong leadership capabilities and have a thorough understanding of information technology systems and processes, as well as advanced cybersecurity skills and knowledge.

Top job options for information security experts who have obtained a substantial level of schooling and have experience in the field include:

Engineering Route

The second option is to pursue cybersecurity engineering. This career path is best suited to those who have engineering experience and are interested in learning how to build secure systems and mitigate threats.

Information security engineers with a thorough understanding of what it means to build a secure system may find employment as a:

[FREE GUIDE] How to Secure an Entry-Level Cybersecurity Job >>

How to Start a Career in Cybersecurity

How to Start a Career in Cybersecurity

Invest in Your Education

Earning a degree in cybersecurity is often the first step toward starting a career in this lucrative and in-demand field. And if you have a degree and experience in information security, the options are plentiful and diverse.

Most prospective cybersecurity leaders start with an undergraduate degree in information technology, information systems and/or computer science. After gaining experience in the field, a master’s degree in cybersecurity operations and leadership or information technology is the next step toward expanding your career opportunities and increasing your appeal to employers.

If you are pursuing a cybersecurity engineering role, you should start with an undergraduate degree in engineering and then obtain specialized experience in cybersecurity through a master’s degree program.

Regardless of the path you choose, education is key. One of the primary reasons for the many unfilled cybersecurity jobs is that employers continue to have trouble finding talented professionals with the advanced education and high-level skills required to succeed.
In this landscape, where so many jobs remain unfilled due to the lack of qualified candidates, those with a cybersecurity degree have a great advantage. Not only are job options vast for information security degree holders, salaries are high due to the lack of supply and the urgent demand.

See What a Cyber Security Masters Program Looks Like for Working Professionals

Get Certified

In order to land a job in cybersecurity, you will also want to consider earning industry certification in a specific area or subject matter that you are interested in. Some of the most popular and sought-after cybersecurity industry certifications include:

  • CompTIA Security+
  • CISSP — Certified Information Systems Security Professional
  • CISM — Certified Information Security Manager
  • CISA — Certified Information Systems Auditor
  • GIAC — Global Information Assurance Certification
  • CEH — Certified Ethical Hacker

There are also many vendor-specific certifications that are attractive to employers, such as those offered through Cisco, RSA and Symantec. Of course, what you will need and what employers will require depends upon the role you are targeting.


Networking is important in almost every industry, and cybersecurity is no exception. Take advantage of the following in order to expand your professional network:

  • Join local cybersecurity orgs such as the San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence. Many cities have their own cybersecurity associations, which can be excellent venues not only for learning but also for networking with professionals in the industry.
  • Volunteer with a cybersecurity organization. There are many organizations that seek to spread the word about cybersecurity and attract people to the field. Getting involved is great for networking and for boosting your resume. 
  • Go back to school. One of the greatest benefits of a graduate degree is the opportunities it presents for networking and connecting with professors, employers and peers in the field. Additionally, most reputable cybersecurity schools will have a career center with close ties to employers. The career center at your school can help identify potential employers and counsel you on strategies for getting your foot in the door.

[FREE GUIDE] How to Secure an Entry-Level Cybersecurity Job >>

How to Transition from IT to Cybersecurity

How to Transition from IT to Cybersecurity

Here are a few tips to help you transition from IT to cybersecurity.

Consider Your Future Career Goals

Brainstorm what a perfect (or close-to-perfect) career looks like for you. Think about possible daily tasks, projects and challenges. Are you more interested in the leadership and operations path or the engineering route? Where will your skills make the biggest impact?

Gain Industry Experience

Gaining industry experience will help you understand what you’re looking for in a cybersecurity career. Networking is a great place to start. You can look for local networking groups or events, or network virtually with Linkedin. In addition to creating new professional relationships and connecting with old IT colleagues, this will also create awareness that you’re looking for a career change and new job opportunities.

Another way to gain industry experience is to intern or volunteer. These types of hands-on learning experiences will give you an advantage.

Advance Your Education

Perhaps the most important step is to pursue higher education. Although some jobs only require a bachelor’s degree, many prefer a master’s degree and industry certifications. A master’s degree will qualify you for more job opportunities and position you to earn a higher salary. When considering master’s degree programs, look for a program that includes lab work and hands-on learning in addition to intensive academics.

How to Make a Career Change to Cybersecurity

Your prior work experience, regardless of job title, helped you cultivate skills that will serve you well in cybersecurity. It’s true that switching sectors can seem daunting, but start by assessing the strengths you already possess. Do you have experience with working on a team, adapting to industry trends and solving problems? These are just a few examples of useful, universal skills. Having a strong sense of self will only help as you explore the many opportunities in the field of cybersecurity.

Once you have an idea of what you want your future in cybersecurity to look like, consider these helpful tips:

  • Research and learn as much as you can about your new pursuit. Familiarize yourself with industry jargon, learn expectations and prioritize skills to enhance.
  • Create as many opportunities as you can to gain experience and make professional connections, whether it’s independently at home, in online forums or at conferences. This will enable you to make valuable connections and open doors to future opportunities.
  • Seek mentorship and continue learning as much as you can. Education is key in a field that changes as quickly as cybersecurity.

Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs

Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs

In the cybersecurity field, “entry-level” is not synonymous with “inexperienced.”Many entry-level candidates have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree and usually have some industry experience. Here are a few resources to consult when searching for an entry-level cybersecurity job:

Build Your Cybersecurity Resume

Build Your Cybersecurity Resume

Hiring managers are looking for a mix of education and hands-on experience. Your resume should be easy to read, with your most recent experience at the top of the page. Here are some ways to help you get started building your cybersecurity resume:

General Resume Tips

  • Be specific in your accomplishments, adding specific data points whenever possible
  • Write a brief career summary
  • Include current contact information
  • Proofread everything twice

Cybersecurity Resume Tips

  • Include relevant education experience, including self-paced courses and certifications
  • List your pertinent IT and cybersecurity skills
  • Highlight any IT-related accomplishments

There has truly never been a better time to start a career in cybersecurity. Almost every company in the world requires experts who know how to build and maintain systems to mitigate ongoing and potentially catastrophic cyberthreats. If you are skilled in information security and have the education and experience to prove it, there are immediate cybersecurity job opportunities all around the world, across all sectors and industries.
The University of San Diego has created two modern master’s degree programs for those interested in the most common cybersecurity paths — the Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering (online and on campus) and the Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership (online). Both programs are academically rigorous and focused entirely on cybersecurity mitigation with an emphasis on teaching students how to become effective, lifelong learners.


Your Guide to Entry-Level Cybersecurity Jobs

Looking for even more information? In this free guide, we detail everything you need to know to get your foot in the door.