Cybersecurity Job Demand: The Growing Need for Cyber Professionals
By The Fullstack Academy Team
Cybersecurity Job Demand: The Growing Need for Cyber Professionals
If cybercriminals were a country, it would have the world’s third-largest economy, according to the data firm Cybersecurity Ventures. At $6 trillion in 2021, cybercrime would rank behind only the gross domestic products (GDPs) of the United States and China. The amount lost to cybercrime is projected to swell to $10.5 trillion by 2025.
It’s no surprise, then, that cybersecurity job demand is booming. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists information security analyst as one of the 20 fastest-growing professions, projected to add 33% more jobs between 2020 and 2030, compared with an 8% average for all occupations.
With cybersecurity jobs in high demand, the necessary education and certifications can open the door to lasting and rewarding careers—ranked among the top jobs for pay, flexibility, and employee satisfaction.
Why Cyberattacks Are Expanding in Scope
Over the past decade, cybersecurity attacks have escalated in both size and scope. Cybercrimes spiked even further after the COVID pandemic resulted in millions of workers moving to their home computers, which were more vulnerable than office computers. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported 1.4 million cases of identity theft in 2020, double the year before.
Here are some common, high-profile instances of cybercrime:
Individuals—not companies—are often the victims when hackers gather massive amounts of data from large sites. By exposing personal information like birth dates and passwords, cybercriminals can steal everything from identities to bank deposits. The biggest such breach came in 2013 at Yahoo, when 3 billion accounts were compromised.
In recent years, criminals have increasingly broken into corporate systems and encrypted their data, demanding money to release it. A 2021 attack shut down the Colonial Pipeline and spiked gasoline prices in the Southeast until the company paid $4.4 million in ransom.
In 2020, Russian hackers broke into the information systems of nine federal agencies after finding a vulnerability in the SolarWinds software. Up to 18,000 other customers were potentially affected.
Not Enough Workers for Cybersecurity Jobs
The explosion of cybercrime has left companies struggling to keep up with attacks. In a 2021 survey by information technology (IT) services firm Insight, 78% of corporate IT professionals expressed a lack of confidence in their firms’ cybersecurity defenses.
A key part of the problem is a shortage of trained professionals. Although 1,053,468 people worked in the field in the United States in 2021, 597,767 job openings were still available (Cyberseek, 2021). Worldwide, 3.5 million positions remain unfilled.
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In 2019, an official of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) called the shortage of cybersecurity talent a national security risk. “We don’t have the talent regardless of whether it’s in the government or the private sector,” Jeanette Manfra, assistant director for cybersecurity for the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), told a conference of the technology news site TechCrunch. “We have a massive shortage that is expected to grow larger.”
The technology industry has begun working to fill those gaps. IBM plans to train 150,000 cybersecurity workers by 2025, while Google has announced plans to train 100,000 for jobs in data privacy and security.
There are also multiple initiatives in place to make the cybersecurity workforce more diverse. Cybersecurity Ventures reports that women made up 25% of workers in the field in 2021 and should represent 35% by 2031.
What Cybersecurity Jobs Involve
Not only are cybersecurity jobs in demand, but they also often pay six figures.
The median annual salary for information security analysts was $103,590 in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The median annual salary for cyber security analysts is approximately $77,100, with the top 10% earning more than $116,000, as of March 2022, according to Payscale.
The BLS reports that the largest employers are computer systems design and service companies, accounting for 26% of cybersecurity jobs. Finance and insurance are the next biggest industries, at 18%. In most firms, cybersecurity professionals are part of IT departments, working closely with network administrators and computer systems analysts.
Typically, these roles are responsible for:
Looking for cybersecurity breaches and taking corrective action when they happen
Protecting against breaches by checking for system flaws and maintaining security software, such as firewalls and encryption programs
Creating security standards and best practices and training users in how to implement them
Writing reports on cybersecurity measures taken, attempted attacks, and breaches that occur
Helping to develop and test disaster recovery plans for emergencies such as successful attacks
Monitoring developments in cybersecurity hardware and software, new vulnerabilities, and new methods for hackers to exploit them
How to Get Hired as a Cybersecurity Analyst
The most common path to cybersecurity begins with a bachelor’s degree in computer and IT or a related subject, like engineering or math, according to the BLS. Many workers start as IT workers before learning cybersecurity skills.
However, because of the soaring demand for cybersecurity jobs, many people are entering the field with a combination of a high school diploma and relevant work experience. Bootcamps can equip students for cybersecurity jobs in as little as three to six months.
In cybersecurity, professional certifications can be as important as degrees. Many entry-level jobs require Security+ certification, which CompTIA offers.
More experienced workers can earn various certifications from ISC2, a membership organization of cybersecurity professionals. The highest regarded is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, which is often required for upper-level jobs like a chief information security officer.
Prepare for a Career in Cybersecurity
The surging demand for cybersecurity jobs has prompted a demand for programs that can prepare workers for the field quickly. To meet this demand, education providers are accelerating their programs and making them more flexible.
Ready to jumpstart a career in cybersecurity?
Learn the skills you need to fight cybercrime with our part-time and full-time bootcamp offerings
The Virginia Tech Cybersecurity Bootcamp can help prepare you for a future fighting cybercrimes. After learning the foundations of networking and security, students get hands-on experience uncovering system vulnerabilities and hardening systems to prevent intrusions, along with a final team project. Explore how the program can help lead to a career that’s crucial to protecting the nation’s businesses and infrastructure.
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CNN, “Biden Administration Says Investigation into SolarWinds Hack Is Likely to Take ‘Several Months’”
Cybersecurity Ventures, “Cybersecurity Jobs Report: 3.5 Million Openings in 2025”
Cybersecurity Ventures, “2022 Cybersecurity Almanac: 100 Facts, Figures, Predictions and Statistics”