In this technology-driven society, we all rely on cybersecurity professionals to help protect our financial and social information. Over 60% of U.S. businesses across all industries have experienced a cybersecurity breach, increasing the demand for cybersecurity professionals. By 2019, the number of job openings in this field, including jobs in network communication, engineering, IT, and auditing, is expected to increase by 1.5 million.

With so many job openings, it’s a challenge to find qualified people to fill these positions. Women are underrepresented in tech jobs, filling only 20% of information security industry positions. Out of those, only 11% work in the cybersecurity field. One factor could be a lack of female role models to draw attention to this career.

Millennials are also needed to fill cybersecurity jobs but seem to have an overall lack of interest in the career. This is surprising since millennials tend to be experienced with technology, and 48% have participated in a STEM program during their time in school. Although 23% said they want to major in computer science, only 9%have an interest in a cybersecurity career. This seems to be due to a lack of knowledge about the cybersecurity field and the fact that most students don't know anyone with this type of job. About 65% of millennials also said that their schools had never offered a class on cybersecurity. Possible solutions for filling the need for cybersecurity analysts include drawing more female millennials into this career and creating opportunities to educate students about cybersecurity.

There are a lot of good reasons to consider a career in cybersecurity. This field offers great job security, is experiencing rapid growth, and pays well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual pay is $95,510, and the career is growing at a rate of 28%, which is much higher than the average 7% growth rate for all careers. Students interested in a cybersecurity career should be able to communicate well with customers as well as employees at different levels of a corporation and have good presentation skills. Most cybersecurity professionals enjoy finding solutions for the variety of problems they encounter and expanding their knowledge base.

Cybersecurity professionals do face some challenges. Working with companies that resist changing their security processes can be very difficult. Also, IT security professionals often have long hours. A cybersecurity specialist must determine what happened, how it happened, and how to protect the client or company. Criminals are always looking for ways to access and exploit database vulnerabilities. The attacks are constantly changing, so cybersecurity professionals have to continue learning and adapting to combat the problems.

To pursue a career in cybersecurity, certifications are essential. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a Network Administrator, Systems Administrator, or Security Administrator, you should earn your CompTIA Security+ certification. This will give you a basic understanding of cybersecurity, including intrusion detection and risk management. The next step is to earn a CISSP certification, which includes cryptography and access control. This can prepare you for a position as a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). After you have five years of security experience under your belt, you can earn the CISM certification, which includes information security management. This certification can lead to high-level positions.

Keep in mind that the U.S. Government is constantly hiring cybersecurity specialists across many departments. The NSA and DHS started the Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity program to promote research, cultivate talent, and provide expertise needed in cyber defense. More than 200 colleges participate in this program. The CAE designation indicates that the degree program has met the core standards set by the NSA. If you plan to work for the government, we recommend finding a recognized CAE program.

Feel free to contact your CAA Coaches if you have any questions about your career options. We’re here to help!