If you’ve paid any attention to cybersecurity jobs, you’ve probably seen that nothing has changed: Opportunities in cybersecurity are still growing like crazy. It’s no surprise, every year the numbers go up and up. That’s good news. A quick look at any of the job stats (like the ones below) will tell you everything you need to know about positions in information and computer security. In addition to defense, industries like finance, healthcare, trade, and manufacturing are demanding more qualified employees.
And it’s no wonder. As cybersecurity threats increase, businesses and government agencies are more focused on defending themselves. Cyber breaches don’t discriminate and many companies face daily attacks. Headline news about a breach can be a major brand’s worst nightmare. Hackers can go after customer data, proprietary information, or steal money. Now, employers are behind the curve and have more job openings than candidates. One of the reasons they’ve fallen so far behind is because requirements for these positions can be strict. Often employers require a few years of experience and higher education such as certifications and degrees. That makes getting qualified a longer and more rigorous process. But once you’re on the other side of it, the opportunities for cybersecurity jobs are great. Median salaries in the field range from $87k to over $135k per year.
If you’re thinking about your career as a data security administrator, cyber intelligence analyst, or information security officer, keep reading to see why now is the right time to start.
Cybersecurity jobs: same old story
According to job market technology company Burning Glass, from 2007 to 2013, postings for cybersecurity jobs grew 74%. That was a big surge back then, and it only continued to grow. From 2010 to 2014, postings grew 91%. They say that this growth rate is faster than IT jobs generally. Also, compared to IT, cybersecurity salaries are almost $6,500 more per year.
If you look at the DC, Maryland, Virginia region, the market has always been promising both statewide and locally. As of 2014, in Maryland, the number of postings for cybersecurity jobs were more than double the rest of the country. In Virginia, it was more than triple. Baltimore had the 10th highest number of postings, over 4,600 of them. Washington, DC had the most postings nationwide with over 27,000 jobs. Wow.
But that was 2014. Didn’t everyone already get those cybersecurity jobs? Nope! It takes a long time to get the skills needed to fill these positions and demand has continued to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the amount of many cybersecurity related jobs are projected to grow 28% between 2016 and 2026. That means that over the next few years there will be tens of thousands of new jobs.
Maryland and Virginia stand out as leaders today and the future. According to Burning Glass, Virginia is rated #2 in terms of the total number of available jobs. However, BLS rates it as #1. Maryland sits a bit further down at #6 (or fifth according to BLS). In total, these 2 states account for over 30,000 cybersecurity jobs.
What it takes: the skills gap
Like with anything else, you can’t just wake up one day and go get a job in cybersecurity. Also, there are experience and education requirements that many industries don’t require. This is part of the reason that there are so many available positions. In order to conquer the skills and abilities required for a cybersecurity job, there are a few recommended paths.
Most cybersecurity jobs (over 80%) require at least a bachelor’s degree and/or 3 years of experience. 23% require a Master’s degree. On top of the degree, certifications are very popular. Some certifications are entry-level and typically require less than 3 years of experience like Security+ and GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC). Other certifications are more advanced, requiring 3-5 years of experience such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).
In order to get the years of experience required for certifications or to get hired, you will need to cut your teeth in the IT industry. You’ll have to work on tasks like encrypting data transmissions, erecting firewalls, developing plans to guard computer files, reviewing computer security violations, monitor virus reports and updates, perform risk assessments, and much more. Hands-on proficiency with information security, network setup, core database coding and scripting, auditing, network protocols and systems administration are all required expertise. You’ll add hybrid understanding with specific industries like healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and defense.
But, once you’ve got that experience and those certifications, you’re likely in good shape. After completing an entry-level certification like Safeguard+, your average salary is over $75k per year. After an advanced certification like CISSP, your salary would be $93k on average.
Write your own story
What are you waiting for? Employers posted 285,681 cybersecurity jobs in the last year and demand is only increasing. If you’ve got the critical thinking and complex problem solving required for this lucrative industry, throw your hat in! No matter how much IT experience you have, there are programs, trainings, and certifications that can propel you into a cybersecurity career.
Professionals from all backgrounds are part of UMBC’s cybersecurity program. UMBC offers a variety of educational tools designed to meet the needs of new and experienced cybersecurity professionals. Courses are available in flexible evening, hybrid, and/or weekend classes to accommodate working professionals. If you would like to learn more, contact us to see how other professionals like you are preparing to take advantage of this growing field.