Cybersecurity Careers

Jennifer A. Kurtz, MBA

Anchors aweigh…see the world! Cybersecurity headhunters should adapt this classic pitch from US Navy recruitment poster to help meet the projected demand for qualified cybersec professional: six million globally by 2019, thus 1.5 million more than are now in that elite labor pool, according to Symantec CEO Michael Brown.i

And as with any force with a mission to protect and defend, there is not just one path for making a contribution to promoting the responsible use of technology (and indulging in constant learning). Cybersecurity is a team sport in which both individual and group effort is needed, valued, and rewarded. It takes programming whizzes, networking gurus, RF specialists, policy wonks, and business translators.

So, how do you recognize whether that person in the mirror has the right stuff to pursue a cybersecurity career?

  • You love technology but despair over flawed deployment or sloppy coding.
  • You believe individual intellectual property is an asset to be protected.
  • You reserve the right to have your publicly visible information forgotten.
  • You see opportunities for increasing certainty and decreasing risk.
  • You enjoy negotiating complex issues that affect multiple stakeholders.
  • You seek "aha" moments of discovery and learning.
  • You are passionate about doing something that matters.

Of course, the earning potential for cybersec professionals could be another factor. Suffice it to say that your ROI for formal education, graduate degree, or certification will be appreciable. In its 2015 report on Best Jobs 2015, US News and World Report ranked "information security analyst"ii #3 for best technology jobs, #3 for best STEM jobs, #8 for 100 best jobs, and #15 for best paying jobs. The table below shows current relevant Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting for this position. BLS anticipates employment growth in the security field of 36.5% by 2022. Of course, security information analyst is just one possible title. Job board Dice reports that security software engineers can command an average $233,333 a year, more than Dice reports for a CSO ($225,000).iii

Salary Most Highly Concentrated Industries Highest Employment Sates (rank by #jobs)
90th Percentile $138,700 Monetary authorities-Central Bank Virginia
75th Percentile $113,100 Computer systems design and related California
Median $88,590 Data processing, hosting, and related Texas
25th Percentile $67,120 Securities and commodities contracts intermediation and brokerage New York
10th Percentile $50,430 Wireless telecoms carriers (not satellite) Florida

BLS Salary Statistics for Information Security Analyst
(Source: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151122.htm)

The Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) devoted its entire October 2015 to the discussion of "Improving Cybersecurity Workforce Capacity and Capability." In addition to articles describing the US Department of Defense cybersecurity workforce categories—IA technical, IA management, IA systems architecture and engineering, and computer network defense service provider—the journal also offers useful observations from those in the field, several of whom have not followed a "traditional" (what does that mean for such a new profession?) academic/career preparation path.

The two most persistent recommendations from practitioners are to pursue at least one security professional certification (join or form an extracurricular study group) and to participate in cyber competitions like the Rocky Mountain Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (RMCCDC). Options for participating go beyond being a competitor: attack scenario planner/script writer, judge, logistics support, red team, white team.

For those who are still uncertain about where they can most happily play (uh, work) in cybersecurity, student (and other) ISSA members can explore the Cybersecurity Career Lifecycle program (CSCL) to assess their own knowledge, skills, and attributes, and join virtual job-shadowing sessions for "A Day in the Life of . . ." a computer forensic specialist (November 19 at 6:30 pm/ET) and a network security analyst (December 15 at 8:00 am/ET).iv

So, want to see the world? Want to make the world a safer place for technology use . . . or make technology a safer place for users around the world? All hands on deck!

Learn more about the cybersecurity specialization within Regis’ online MS in information assurance degree by requesting more information or calling 877-820-0581.


iSteve Morgan (28 July 2015), "Cybersecurity job market to suffer severe workforce shortage," CSO. Retrieved from http://www.csoonline.com/article/2953258/it-careers/cybersecurity-job-market-figures-2015-to-2019-indicate-severe-workforce-shortage.html
iiUS News and World Report. "100 best jobs 2015." Retrieved from http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/information-security-analyst
iiiSteven Morgan, op cit.
ivFor additional information, see <https://www.issa.org/?page=CSCL>