Cybersecurity is now a global priority as cybercrime and digital threats grow in frequency and complexity. However, one of the major setbacks preventing a handle on cybercrime is the cybersecurity workforce shortage and lack of new professionals funneling into this industry. Let’s take a look at a few of the biggest topics facing the cybersecurity and intelligence workforce:
1. Unfilled Jobs
Anyone looking for a stable and successful career may want to consider the cybersecurity and intelligence industry. According to the Cybersecurity Jobs Report, there will be approximately 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021, against that backdrop, global cybercrime is expected to climb to 6 trillion annually that same year.
As you can imagine, the cybersecurity industry is turning to businesses and higher education institutions to educate and prepare the next generation of cyber professionals. Currently, the unemployment rate in this industry stands at a mere 0% and is expected to remain there for the next several years.
This issue spans across industries, as organizations of all sizes and types, ranging from Fortune 500 and Global 2000 corporations to small-to-midsize businesses, governments, and schools globally, are scrambling to hire qualified professionals.
2. Lack of Awareness
The cybersecurity labor crisis may be due in part to a lack of awareness in the field so expanding the pipeline of candidates is critical for improving workforce shortages.
Similar to the web programming and web development industry in the 1990’s and 2000’s, students looking for stable and lucrative careers just weren’t aware of web development careers and the path to take until the tech bubble burst. Encouraging students to pursue a degree or training program in cybersecurity as the job market expands will help prepare them for successful and futureproof careers. We need to educate incoming college students, high schoolers, and even K-12 on these job possibilities.
Other data suggests there’s growing interest from students entering college, and IT workers thinking about cybersecurity as an upgrade to their current positions. There are more than 125 colleges and universities in the US alone offering a master’s degree in cybersecurity. Dozens of those programs offer online-only classes and degrees, so even students who can’t attend in person can get a degree.
3. Hands-On Skills Are Critical
One of the reasons companies are struggling to hire recent graduates and professionals in computer science and cybersecurity, is because they do not possess the necessary hands-on skills required for the position. Even Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security holders are often not prepared to handle even minor on-the-job cyber incidents. Beyond technical skills, which are very important, cybersecurity analysts and incident responders need to understand how to hone in on their soft skills such as communicating and collaborating with other departments and team members to resolve issues.
4. Rethinking Education
Due to this skills gap, higher education must re-think their traditional methods of lecturing and theories. While developing a foundation and understanding is important, experience is critical. Experts recommend that universities begin incorporating this on-the-job training in their current programs to really prepare future professionals and earn them better jobs with higher salaries, and the confidence to approach those jobs.
One avenue of collaboration is to offer lab simulation to enrich existing security curricula or to enable security courses to be offered with a lab component. Unlike traditional labs, simulators utilize virtual equipment and space, and is accessed through a geographically distant computer (virtual machine). Through proper lab settings, students can work on the same network environment simultaneously as part of a team. Additionally, lab simulation removes the time and space limitations of traditional labs, thereby allowing more users overall to share the resources and access anytime, from anywhere. Cybint Solutions, among other vendors, offers a suite of simulated labs, the CSA Simu-Labs. These labs are unique in that they are based on real-life cyber scenarios and offers both theoretical and applied learning vectors.
5. Salary Outlook
Developing skill sets in specific technical domains is the best way to boost one’s salary. Threat intelligence, security software development, cloud, auditing, and big data analysis are some of the hot skills that may lead to a pay raise, as reported by (ISC)².
According to CyberSeek, entry-level positions start as high as $78,000 on average and are said to be increasing due to the few qualified applicants and the mass number of employers looking to fill these positions.
6. Career Paths
Estimates from various sources suggest somewhere between 50% to 70% of large companies globally have a dedicated CISO (chief information security officer) today. The most recent “Annual Cybersecurity Jobs Report” (2017 edition) from Cybersecurity Ventures posits that 100% of large companies globally will have a CISO by 2021.
Additional career paths such as Cybercrime Analyst and Incident Responder are growing in the field of cyber. While these positions still require a bachelor’s degree, education providers are developing focused degree programs for those eager to get into the workforce.
All of this research adds up to a lucrative field that desperately needs more people. So when you’re considering a career pathway or new direction, consider this futureproof industry and all it has to offer. For more information about cybersecurity and education, check out our resources page at www.cybintsolutions.com.