Global threats to cybersecurity are on the rise. Whether these threats are to private corporations or nation-states, experts agree that they are becoming more sophisticated with every day. Cybersecurity is often a back and forth between black-hat hackers and information security workers. Unfortunately, current trends could tip the scales in favor of the hackers.
Some graduate schools are offering specializations in cybersecurity to fill the gap, and graduates from those programs will find a thriving industry with lucrative salaries for years to come. Those with management experience will be in even higher demand and the open nature of the industry to a variety of undergraduate concentrations means the time is right to enter this growing field. The amount of data stored is growing exponentially. Without a surge in workers willing to protect this data, entire industries will be negatively affected.
Global data shows that cybersecurity workers are in high demand. According to a report by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, the majority of information security offices worldwide say that there are not enough workers to fill vacancies. The European Union's Commissioner for the Security Union, Julian King, predicts that Europe will experience a shortfall of at least 350,000 by the year 2022. Thus, companies across the globe are ramping up their employee pool: "70% of hiring managers will increase their workforce this year: 30% wish to expand by 20% or more."
Cybersecurity in the US
The cybersecurity situation in the United States is not much better. Current data shows that there is "a talent shortfall of 40,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs per year in the United States," with that number expected to increase. In May of 2017, President Trump signed an executive order funneling support to critical infrastructure at greatest risk. With private industry offering the largest salaries to the already-stretched worker pool, small businesses and government offices will bear the brunt of the shortage.
Currently, the U.S. confers around 60,000 degrees in computer science per year. However, as cybersecurity researcher Laura K. Bate points out, "…university courses are unlikely to teach the practical, applied skills and tools needed to hit the ground running in a cybersecurity job." So, even new graduates in computer science will not be the ones pursued most by recruiters. Instead, hiring managers look to other degreed professionals.
Because of this shortage, companies are looking outside of computer science to staff their cybersecurity units. In the same Center for Cyber Safety and Education study, researchers found that the vast majority of cybersecurity workers (87 percent) began their careers on a different path. Employees come from a variety of backgrounds, including business, marketing, finance, accounting, or military and defense. For these reasons, those with advanced degrees who can manage others will be in a prime position to negotiate higher salaries.
While the situation may sound dire, it happens to present the right conditions for a booming cybersecurity job market. As online publication Cybersecurity Ventures reports, the worker shortage means a zero percent unemployment rate for information security workers. In fact, for every candidate in the field, there are two jobs available. So, now is the right time to pursue this career.
Data is the currency of the 21st century. As 2017 has shown, cybersecurity is essential in both government and industry. Large data breaches such as the Experian hack in September 2017 highlight the need for better protection of consumer data. Breaches of credit card data occur daily, and the situation is a cat-and-mouse game of hackers finding vulnerabilities and cybersecurity personnel patching the holes. If the shortage continues, the protectors of this sensitive data will be overwhelmed.
Not Just for Computer Science Majors
Fortunately, cybersecurity companies are looking to nontraditional pools of candidates to fill positions. From cybersecurity boot camps to online graduate degrees, new avenues for producing the next wave of defenders are opening up. It is no wonder that the U.S. Department of Labor projects that cybersecurity jobs will grow 28 percent over the next 10 years, much faster than the national average for all other jobs.
Although we currently are experiencing a shortfall of qualified cybersecurity professionals worldwide, the coming years will determine who will win the battle -- information security workers or black-hat hackers.
Learn more about the UT Tyler online MBA program with a Concentration in Cyber Security.
Sources:U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Information Security Analysts
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