Given the “Great Resignation” or “Great Shake-up” that the United States is experiencing, many people are now rethinking their current careers. Cybersecurity is a career path that is gaining a lot of attention among job changers.
The cybersecurity industry has long been synonymous with a talent shortage. According to at least one analysis, the number of available cybersecurity professionals should grow by 145% just to meet the demands of the global market. With 3.5 million cyber jobs openIt’s no surprise that job changers are giving serious consideration to a field with so many opportunities. Despite this promise of job security, however, outdated stereotypes and preconceptions can leave some wondering whether to enter the cybersecurity workforce.
With that in mind, here are a few reasons why a career in cyber could be the perfect match for you, as well as what you can potentially expect as you enter the field.
1. Cyber security jobs are among the fastest growing career areas nationwide.
Unfortunately, the number of cyber breaches is increasing every year as hackers get smarter and cybersecurity professionals need to keep up. The cyber job offers are is expected to grow 31% through 2029, more than seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4%, and the size of the global cybersecurity market is estimated to skyrocket $345.4 billion by 2026. This amazing growth should really grab the attention of job seekers.
With that said, they should also be aware of the requirements they need to meet before entering the field. For example, some roles may require technical expertise or on-the-job training. But don’t let this discourage you: the most important thing is your willingness to learn and your interest in the cybersecurity space.
Security leaders realize that they can teach the right people, with the right training and knowledge, the ins and outs of some technical functions. What they cannot teach are the intangibles. So don’t be afraid to experiment on your own, show your home lab and just ask questions. This kind of drive to succeed can go a long way.
2. There is space for people of any kind of career.
Unlike other jobs that require specific training, cyber is very open to diverse professional backgrounds. Although some companies require a number of certifications, professionals do not need any specific college or graduate degree to do the job well. While a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree in cyber security can help, neither is necessary for most jobs in the field. Some recommended careers for those intending to go into cyber for ethical hacking or penetration testing include computer science, IT, and engineering. Humanities majors may also consider specializations such as cybersecurity education. It is this versatility that makes the field of cybersecurity truly unique.
Those with a business background, for example, may consider various non-technical roles. If you have a background in marketing and communications, cybersecurity awareness and training is a large area that is not immediately apparent. Almost all large organizations employ training and awareness professionals to educate their workforce and keep them thinking about cybersecurity on a regular basis. End users are the greatest risk and the first line of defense against most breaches and attacks.
If you have an accounting or project management background, you might consider global risk and compliance with a security approach. SOC2, HITRUST, HIPAA, NIST, ISO, and several other certifications are highly desirable for companies dealing with any amount of sensitive data. Getting that evidence and ensuring compliance aligned with those frameworks is a full-time job. And these are just a few areas to consider.
3. There is room for upward potential and career growth.
The hallmark of any good job is the ability to move up. Given the youth of the cyber industry, there are plenty of opportunities for people to explore new areas, gain new skills and move up the corporate ladder.
Of course, as with any career, figuring out exactly “how to grow” can be a challenge. Fortunately, cybersecurity has several easy-to-follow steps that can help you better position yourself for professional growth.
First, regardless of whether you’re interested in a technical or non-technical career, working to increase your understanding of cybersecurity concepts and control frameworks is a great way to lay the foundation for professional growth. From there, it’s all about adding to your existing skills. For example, technical people might attend boot camps to brush up on new techniques, while non-technical professionals might shadow someone who runs a different type of training and awareness course. Once these two steps are in place, you can combine this knowledge with the practical business experience you gain every day in your current role. This will put you in a strong position to move up the organizational ladder or move into a more specialized area.
Also, if you really want to get into a technical role but don’t have a technical background, don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up. Although it may not be the “sexiest” job, taking on a role in tech support can do wonders for building and refining your technical knowledge, as well as greatly speeding up your tech-based learning curve.
4. There are endless possibilities for specialization within cybersecurity.
The cyber world is made up of cyber security engineers, security analysts, cyber security testers, responders, and more. This leaves plenty of room to explore different directions. The cybersecurity skills projected to grow fastest over the next five years are application development security (164%), cloud security (115%), risk management (60%), threat intelligence (41%), incident response (37%), compliance and controls (36%), privacy and data security (36 %), access management (32%), security strategy and governance (20%) and health information security (20%). And those are not the only ways.
5. You can enjoy rewarding work.
A cyber career could be an inspiring way to give back while building a lifelong learning journey with many opportunities along the way. How many people can say, at the end of the day, that they played an active role in the protection of people and the security of organizations? Every day, cybersecurity professionals keep our private information safe from bad actors, thereby protecting our society and critical infrastructure. Those who can call cybersecurity their career go to sleep at night knowing that their work is helping people and organizations stay safe online.
Despite the misconceptions about putting out fires every day, the day-to-day of cybersecurity work is actually much more nuanced. While it is true that the first six months of 2021 saw a 93% increase in ransomware attacks, organizations, employees and the public can work together to protect our nation. Average people can lower their risk of being victimized by implementing simple measures like password managers and MFA, but those who work in the field have the added benefit of helping others deal with cybersecurity challenges.
Whether you’re interested in joining the field as an engineer or an educator, there are opportunities in cyber that anyone looking for a significant career change can consider.