Demand Continues to Rise for Cybersecurity Professionals

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Similar to analog crimes like theft and assault, cybercrimes can have lasting implications for unassuming victims. Even the most reputable companies are susceptible to vicious cyber-attacks. For example, cyber-attacks on healthcare institutions in the U.S. affected 17.3 million people in 436 breaches tracked by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Breach Portal in 2020. More often than not, cyber crimes expose valuable personal data to dubious actors. If you study computer science or use digital tools in any capacity, chances are you’ve heard the term ‘cybersecurity’.

Cybersecurity is the implementation of network, device, data and program protection protocols. Cybersecurity professionals prevent unauthorized access and cybercrimes to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of critical systems. As more and more data are collected and shared, securing vital information has pivotal implications for various consumers, workers and businesses.

1. Is Cybersecurity in High Demand?

When gauging the demand of any sector, it’s essential to consider the particular industry’s recent growth. The US Bureau of Statistics’ Information Security Analyst’s Outlook claims the cybersecurity field is one of the fastest-growing industries nationally. Cybersecurity Ventures reported a 0% unemployment rate in cybersecurity in 2016, and projects this figure to remain consistent for years to come. 

Cybersecurity roles have extended throughout different industries. As more and more businesses, institutions and organizations are reliant on networks, the higher the demand for cybersecurity professionals. Additionally, as networks and digital technologies are increasingly integrated across industries, team members in roles other than data protection are more and more expected to have some sort of cybersecurity expertise.

Though several cybersecurity jobs are available, the demands of these roles vary. One’s ability to successfully pursue and carry out specific cybersecurity roles is determined by a few factors, such as educational qualifications, professional work histories, interest areas, relevant certifications and notable achievements.  

2. What Skills are In-Demand in the Cybersecurity Field?

Though certain fundamental computer science skillsets are continually required to excel in the cybersecurity world, specific cybersecurity abilities are increasingly sought after. According to a 2020 report by Burning Glass Technologies, cloud security skills are the leading in demand and growth. Cloud security is a specific expertise of cybersecurity that requires protecting data in a third-party provider’s network storage system.

Other needed skills in the field include application development security, risk management, threat intelligence, incident response, compliance and controls, and data security. Application development security entails reinforcing applications by identifying and repairing vulnerabilities. As the world becomes increasingly mobile, demand for app security specialists has grown exponentially. 

Risk management involves calculating the greatest cyber threats to an organization and ranking priority strategies for protecting systems. Threat intelligence refers to the detective work implemented to identify threat actors, breach motivations and cyberattack patterns. Incident response involves crafting action plans to tackle cybersecurity crises and mitigate damages. Compliance refers to measures enacted to prevent cyber crimes while following current protection regulations. Lastly, data security revolves around securing vital organization and stakeholder information throughout the data lifecycle (e.g., from storage to sharing). 

The aforementioned skills typically require extensive experience and education. Reviewing the requirements of different cybersecurity roles while studying this field may give you an edge when entering the workforce.   

3. Are Cybersecurity Jobs Available?

The current cybersecurity job outlook is dependent mostly on the available jobs in this sector. The New York Times projected 3.5 million new cybersecurity jobs across the globe in 2021. A variety of opportunities exist for those pursuing cybersecurity positions. These include: 

  • C-Level Cybersecurity Positions- These higher-level roles are relegated to higher-skilled cybersecurity professionals. Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) are especially required by reputable companies, and typically work alongside the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to secure data assets.
  • Information Security Analysts- Any forward-thinking brand will require data to inform critical security decisions. Analysts review data in order to identify key threats to an organization and how to avoid security breaches.  
  • Cybersecurity Project Managers- Relying on insights derived by CISOs and information security analysts, cybersecurity project managers determine the best strategies to address cybersecurity threats and delegate team members to carry out specific protection measures.

Other common cybersecurity positions include systems engineers, cybersecurity engineers, penetration testers, malware analysts and cybersecurity consultants. There are various resources online that highlight vital statistics on average salaries, typical work schedules and common position requirements. It would be best to research the different attributes of each role to identify overlapping areas of interest, expertise and career aspirations.   

4. What Industries Require Cybersecurity Professionals?

As every company is now at least somewhat reliant on digital and network technologies, cybersecurity is an essential factor across industries. Some sectors particularly require strong cybersecurity measures: energy and utilities, healthcare, small business, government, and financial. 

With power grids going online, energy entities are increasingly concerned about hacking vulnerabilities. The implications of a violated power grid could cost money, time and even human life. Hospitals now mostly rely on digital technology to store patient histories and share sensitive information. Authentication steps are vital to protect confidentiality. 

When it comes to business, small enterprises have more to lose than larger companies. After a major data breach, it’s projected 60% of small businesses completely shut down after 6 months due to customer loss. Local and national government bodies are susceptible to cyber attacks since they gather and store wide swaths of data. Financial institutions are some of the highest-risk players when it comes to cybersecurity. For instance, Equifax inadvertently exposed 150 million Americans’ personal information due to a cyber breach in 2019, forcing the credit agency to pay around $700 million to settle consequent regulator probes.

As with any career path, it’s vital to identify your key interest areas and passions before deciding in which sectors you would like to operate. For instance, if you aspire to help global startups with cybersecurity needs, you may want to consider contacting a non-profit that works with small enterprises that usually can not afford digital protection services. Though the salaries at non-profits are usually less promising, you will most likely end up more fulfilled by your work. Benefits may also vary from sector to sector, so it’s important to discuss potential job perks with each employer prior to accepting an offer. For example, a government position may provide attractive retirement options that organizations in other sectors wouldn’t be able to extend to their employees.    

5. Where are These Job Openings?

With the global pandemic, job openings in cybersecurity have expanded throughout the world at a rapid rate. Although companies can execute cybersecurity projects remotely, it’s important to note many employers require occasional office appearances. In-person meetings, project summaries and collaborative operations may entail traveling to a company headquarters. You may be expected to deliver vital presentations to organization executives and attend office social gatherings.

When looking for potential cybersecurity roles, it’s best to research tech hubs close to your desired living area. Some hot spots include California, Texas, New York, Virginia and North Carolina. Globally, the Asia-Pacific region is witnessing increasing demand, reaching over 2 million vacant security opportunities. Throughout Europe, 400,000 positions are available. If you do not live close to any reputable companies hiring cybersecurity professionals, being willing to relocate may help you nab your dream job.   

6. What is the Job Outlook for Cyber Security?

Cybersecurity has outperformed itself ever since 2011 and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The estimated cost of cybercrime is $6 trillion annually worldwide, so it’s logical to presume companies will continue to invest in cybersecurity to protect vital assets. Cybersecurity jobs promise ample rewards. A Chief Information Security Officer averages a $240,000 annual salary, and even less lucrative positions provide six-figure yearly payouts. 

Non-US-headquartered cybersecurity company funding is projected to increase by 20% in 2021, according to Forrester's 2021 cybersecurity predictions. 55% of company executives plan to increase their cybersecurity budgets in 2021 and 51% are adding full-time cyber staff in 2021, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Global Digital Trust Insights 2021. 

If you are pursuing or entering a cybersecurity field, be rest assured employment opportunities abound. With more and more non-tech-related company leaders seeking cybersecurity professionals, the cybersecurity jobs outlook looks promising for at least the next decade. Lastly, as the rules of the game change, cyber attackers will undoubtedly innovate breaching techniques. As cyber crimes become more nuanced, the cybersecurity industry will need to adapt, requiring more diverse skillsets and niched protection roles. 

Develop Your Skills and Embrace a Cybersecurity Future

Cybersecurity continues to be a lucrative field. A vital component to securing a lucrative and sustainable cybersecurity job is to develop your skills and continue learning new computer science methods. Application security and cloud protection are two expertise areas exponentially growing in global demand. Higher C-level positions bring impressive salary increases, however, it’s important to research the education and experience requirements needed to earn these roles. As all industries are reliant on digital tech, every company can benefit from cybersecurity. However, energy and utilities, healthcare, small business, government, and financial sectors are in extraordinary need of cybersecurity professionals. With job openings surging and expanding across the globe, this sector is only projected to continue growing. 

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