“You are more qualified than you may think.”
When looking for a career path, many people examine areas of interest that have 2 key factors: available jobs and good pay. The United States Department of Labor’s occupational employment statistics are updated every spring to highlight trends in these factors.
There has been a lot of talk about the need for healthcare workers due to the aging of our population, but there’s a new kid on the block: Cybersecurity. Positions in the cyber community are plentiful and continue to grow. Search for “cybersecurity” on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and hundreds of results are returned outlining the work performed, skills and education needed, pay, and outlook for the field’s demand. One encouraging statistic using the job of information security analyst as an example is that between 2018 and 2028 this position is projected to grow thirty-two percent. This is twenty-seven percent over the average job growth of 5 percent.
How do I learn more?
While there are many cybersecurity certifications and educational programs now available, the formalization of this field of study has taken place in the last 2 decades. This makes information security degrees and certifications new relative to other specialties.
The Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity was created in 1999 by the National Security Agency (NSA) to set standards for academic curriculum and programs. There are over 270 institutions that have achieved these requirements. CAE-designated schools are located across 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
In addition to college and university settings, the NICCS (National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies) has a wealth of information related to training and development, events, and scholarships. Entry-level certifications include CompTIA Security+ and the (ISC)2 for core infosec skills, and EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) for penetration testing.
You are more qualified than you may think.
If you already have a degree or career experience in a different discipline, transitioning to a new area can be intimidating, but according to Abel and Deitz, just over a quarter of college graduates work in their degree field. Employers of cybersecurity professionals value candidates with diverse backgrounds due to the nature of the work requiring unique ways of thinking, technology constantly changing, and creative problem solving, necessitating a passion for growth and innate curiosity.
Soft skills, a set of personality traits, are also needed for successful cyber workers. Cengage conducted a 2018 survey that found 73 percent of employers were challenged to find candidates who possess those behaviors most in-demand.
- Listening skills (74 percent)
- Attention to detail and attentiveness (70 percent)
- Effective communication (69 percent)
- Critical thinking (67 percent)
- Interpersonal skills (65 percent)
- Active learning/Learning new skills (65 percent)
Military service is also an attractive qualification for those looking to work in cybersecurity. Not only do veterans typically have experience in the defense and auditing skills many cyber jobs require, but they also have many resources available to help bridge any knowledge gaps. Free online training for government employees, federal contractors and vets is provided though FedVTE. Onward to Opportunity is another no-cost training option for transitioning service members, active duty, and military spouses.
What else drives the need for cybersecurity professionals?
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) authored a whitepaper outlining some of the contributing factors for the workforce gap. Two of the biggest influences are:
- Emerging technologies that open new horizons for cyber attacks – analysts are needed to stay ahead to identify vulnerabilities and detect threats.
- Government and industry regulations are increasingly stringent and copious, requiring individuals who can create solutions and validate compliance.
Taking all of this into consideration, now is the time to enter the field of cybersecurity. Whether you decide to pursue a role directly relating to information security or not, you will find that cybersecurity is the responsibility of each person in an organization. The sooner we embrace this fact, the safer we can keep our data and privacy.