This is a sponsored post from Digi-Key.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month in the U.S. Here’s something to be aware of: the workforce for cyber security is staggeringly small. Young professionals are overlooking cyber security career opportunities, which weakens the industry and also puts companies at risk.
Here are five reasons to consider helping to buck that trend.
- It’s not as if cyber security jobs are lacking. A look at CyberSeek, a data visualization tool funded by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), shows a heat map replete with U.S. job openings—currently more than 300,000. For information security analysts, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) 2018-28 forecast sees a 32 percent growth rate, much higher than the national average job growth rate of 5 percent. And a 2017 worldwide survey, conducted by the nonprofit Center for Cyber Safety and Education, forecasts a shortage of 1.8 million information security workers by 2022.
- Cyber security can be a lucrative career. The DOL forecast mentioned above also reports 2018 median pay for cyber security positions in the U.S. at just under six figures. CyberSeek breaks down various career paths, identifying five “feeder roles” that are likely stepping stones to cyber security positions. It maps these feeder roles—networking, software development, systems engineering, financial and risk analysis, and security intelligence—to various entry-level, mid-level and advanced-level jobs, with stats such as average salaries, education requirements and top employer requests for skills and certifications listed for each.
Here’s one example: Someone with a background in networking might enter the cyber security field as an IT auditor, with an average annual salary of $86,000 USD. Eventually, this could lead to a mid-level position as a penetration and vulnerability tester, with an average $102,000 USD salary. A future promotion to an advanced role as a cyber security architect carries an average salary of $129,000 USD.
- There are many resources to help you get started. The nonprofit International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) offers professional development courses and certifications, including the top-shelf Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Springboard, an education provider with offices in San Francisco and Bengaluru, India, offers a long list of free tools and resources, plus an online boot camp leading to certification. There are also online master’s degrees programs offered at a handful of U.S. colleges that require no prior work experience in the cyber security field.
- Because women are underrepresented in STEM fields, employers looking to build a diverse workforce have extra incentive to hire women. Traction has been growing in this regard. According to a 2018 ICS2 study, higher percentages of women are forging paths into management and leadership roles in the field. However, men still continue to outnumber women in cyber security by three to one.
- You’re needed. Technology is advancing rapidly, and cyber attacks are growing more sophisticated to keep up the pace. A 2019 global study of cyber security professionals, conducted jointly by the nonprofit Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) and the independent industry analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), reported a whopping 74 percent of organizations as being negatively impacted by the shortage of cyber security professionals. Meanwhile, research firm Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that cyber crime will cost the world $6 trillion USD annually by 2021, a 200 percent gain over the impact reported in 2015.
A survey of recent articles on the cyber security industry points to a recurring theme: a lack of hands-on experience in the field, a low awareness of job opportunities, and the vulnerability of an increasingly interconnected world have created a widening workforce gap. However, people willing to explore the road less traveled are apt to find cyber security to be a solid career path with a bright future.