Cybersecurity professionals are among the most sought-after workers in the United States – across government agencies, industry, and the big tech firms – the competition for qualified candidates is fierce. However, there is a critical nationwide shortage of trained applicants. Perhaps you have heard about these cool high-paying jobs and wondered if a cybersecurity career is right for you, but you don’t know where to begin. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) can show you the rewards of choosing a career in cybersecurity and how to close your skills gap.
According to CyberSeek.org, which is funded by NIST, there are more than 301,000 job vacancies in cybersecurity in the U.S. The ISC2 Global Information Security study projects 1.8 million open jobs in cybersecurity worldwide by 2022. NIST says the greatest challenge is defining cybersecurity jobs and making sure it is effectively communicating the variety of jobs or work roles that exist in cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is cool, fun and intellectually stimulating
The NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework provides a taxonomy by which to describe cybersecurity work and breaks down the career field into seven broad categories, 33 specialty areas and 52 work roles. The NICE Framework also describes the knowledge, skills and abilities that are needed to perform certain tasks that are associated with work roles. The most common knowledge areas that cut across all cybersecurity jobs include knowledge of: risk management processes; cyber threats and vulnerabilities; laws, regulations, policies, and ethics; cybersecurity and privacy principles; computer networking concepts and protocols; and specific operational impacts of cybersecurity lapses.
The variety of cybersecurity jobs run the gamut from chief information officer and network administrator to legal advisor. Your day may include writing or reviewing legal agreements, developing organizational policies, or responding to a security breach of personal information. Or, you might be a software developer coding new applications that are “secure by design.” Or, you might be a security architect who is designing and deploying technical and policy architecture that secures the enterprise and your day is spent researching, designing and integrating solutions, according to NIST. The position possibilities are diverse and the opportunities for creativity are limitless.
Best ways to get into cyber and find a job
NIST recommends that you first, prepare. Use resources, such as CyberSeek.org, the interactive jobs heat map and career pathway portal, to investigate cybersecurity career opportunities. Second, network. Identify people who can describe cybersecurity work and open doors or serve as a mentor to guide you. Third, acquire skills. Pursue hands-on learning opportunities through education and training that provide the necessary KSAs identified in the NICE Framework, ideally validated through an academic degree, certificate of study or certification.
Lastly, gain experience. Nothing impresses employers more than real-world cyber experience acquired through participating in cybersecurity competitions, volunteer activities, internships or part-time or full-time employment.
NIST suggests that even though cybersecurity jobs pay very well and provide a financially gratifying career, the real reward is that cybersecurity professionals enjoy the really exciting and rewarding work they perform. There are new challenges every day and there is an inherent satisfaction in solving a problem or developing a solution.
There is fulfillment in being part of protecting and advancing an organization’s mission and being part of its success – not to mention cybersecurity’s cool factor.
Cybersecurity Career Pathway
There are many opportunities for workers to start and advance their careers within cybersecurity. This interactive career pathway shows key jobs within cybersecurity, common transition opportunities between them, and detailed information about the salaries, credentials, and skillsets associated with each role.