January is a time for new beginnings, and for many people, that means exploring new job opportunities, or even embarking on an entirely different career path. If you fall into the latter category, then cybersecurity is worth looking into. Cybersecurity jobs are exciting, lucrative, and in extremely high demand. The US Department of Labor projects a 28 percent increase in cybersecurity jobs by 2026. That is a well above the average of other jobs.
There’s a reason cybersecurity is among the hottest careers around. If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the news the past few years, you know that cybercrime has been on the rise, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. Moreover, as the number of attacks is increasing, so is the severity. Damages from cybercrime are expected to cost the world $6 trillion by 2021. Yet employers have been unable to keep pace with the growing demand for cybersecurity workers. In a 2017 study conducted by the Global Information Security Workforce (GISW), two-thirds of nearly 20,000 respondents revealed that their organizations lack the number cybersecurity professionals needed in today’s high threat environment. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021.
Because of the dire need to fill these jobs, employers are offering attractive salaries to lure people into the field. Depending on job title, average salaries for cybersecurity professionals can range from $80,000 to $150,000, while application security engineers can make as much as $220,000 or more a year.
But compensation is only part of what makes cybersecurity an attractive field in which to work. This is a career where you can make a difference – where you’re entrusted with helping protect people and organizations from bad actors bent on fraud, theft of personal and financial data, and mass disruptions of corporate and governmental systems. Cybersecurity professionals also get to work with some of the most cutting-edge technologies around, including artificial intelligence, IoT, mobile and cloud computing. That’s because the bad guys are using these same technologies for nefarious purposes, and it’s our job to say one step ahead.
Not surprisingly, cybersecurity jobs tend to be most prevalent in industries where sensitive information is handled. This includes banking/finance/insurance, information technology/management, government/defense, and consulting/professional services. Because of the need to protect data for the federal government and defense industry, the most jobs can be found in Washington, DC, followed by New York City, Dallas-Fort Worth, Baltimore and Chicago. But opportunities abound in cities across every geographic region in the country.
With so many jobs available, more and more colleges and universities are offering degrees in cybersecurity, though it is far from mainstream. Instead, most people currently in the profession learned the necessary skills through certificate programs and on-the-job training. While most cybersecurity professionals have a technology background, it is not necessarily a prerequisite. So if you feel unqualified for a career in cybersecurity because you think you lack technical skills, don’t fret. According to the 2017 GISW study, about three in 10 came to the field from a background outside of information technology. Most hiring managers put a higher priority on communications and analytical skills and understand that most new employees will be able to rapidly acquire technical knowledge and skills as they gain more experience. Military veterans, in particular, are a natural fit for the profession, as much of their situational experience translates well to the cybersecurity battlefield.
Whatever your background, if you’re thinking of starting the year in a new profession, cybersecurity could be a great choice. One thing is certain: the need for these jobs is not going away.