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Addressing the Demand for Cyber Security Talent

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On a daily basis, new innovations are appearing, both furthering human capabilities and enhancing daily life and communications. With increased technological capacity, the potential for misuse and malicious activity is constantly present, which is where cyber security enters the equation. Cyber security is a field that becomes increasingly relevant, due to the daily advancement in technologies.  Cyber security is defined as “measures taken to protect a computer or computer system (as on the Internet) against unauthorized access or attack.” This definition extends to all aspects of technology, whether it is in regards to software protecting a phone from an intrusion, or individuals monitoring government facilities in order to maintain the integrity of information. Cyber security measures require skilled workers in order to keep systems running, however the U.S. is currently experiencing talent gaps in cyber security positions, per Cyber Seek. This interactive heat map highlights a wealth of information about cyber security positions throughout the country, which will be reviewed throughout the following post.

Cyber Security Job Availability 

In 2016, over 740,000 employees were working in cyber security throughout the nation. In comparison, the number of retail workers in the United States is just shy of 5 million, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This contrast highlights the scarcity of cyber security employees, as they are just a fraction of those in other industries. According to the heat map, the supply of cyber security workers is “very low” in relation to the demand. Currently, there are almost 300,000 openings in cyber security and the demand will only grow in the coming years. The need to secure new and emerging systems is ever-present, along with the need to reinforce existing technologies and systems. Proof that such measure are required can be traced to large scale data breaches, such as Target’s 2013 ordeal, that resulted in compromising the personal and financial information of millions of patrons. With a strong cyber security work force, attacks such as these are more likely to be identified and contained with less impact on the population.

According to CyberSeek, the top three sought after positions in cyber security are: Cyber Security Engineer, Cyber Security Analyst, and Network Engineer/ Architect. These positions are the most frequently requested by employers throughout the nation. With skilled individuals filling these roles, the potential to combat unprecedented cyber attacks grows tremendously.

Attaining a Cyber Security Job

Many positions in cyber security require certifications, ranging from CompTIA Security+ certification to becoming a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). For certain certifications such as Security+, there are far more certification holders in comparison to openings requesting certification, having a 5.08 ratio. On the other hand, there are over 10,400 individuals holding CISM certifications as opposed to about 25,000 openings requesting this certification. In addition to varying certifications, jobs and experience in cyber security can be attained through college and university programs. Majoring in a cyber security-related field can allow networking opportunities and beneficial educational experiences for potential workers in the field, reinforcing the efficiency which it expands with.

The heat map also indicates the amount of cyber security positions based on location. Metro areas such as the D.C. and New York-New Jersey areas are more dense with cyber security workers; having upwards of 50,000 each as opposed to areas such as Victoria, Texas, with only 23 workers in the field. By analyzing the map, it is evident that there are gaps across the country in terms of worker population. The East Coast as well as California are “hot zones” for cyber security workers, which may be due to activity in both D.C. and Silicon Valley.

The Direction of Cyber Security

According to the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), there will be a global shortage of two million cyber security workers in the next two years. This emphasizes the need for an increased cyber security workforce. As technologies becomes more complex and our population grows increasingly reliant on such advances, cyber security measures and the growing workforce will be put to the test.

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