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Unfilled Jobs in Cyber Security


People & Culture @ WhiteHat Security


Cyber crime is expected to cost the world $6 trillion by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015!

As the pace of cyber crime continues unabated, the demand is far outstripping the supply of security professionals who can help us combat this ever-increasing threat. 

  • Exactly what cyber security competencies does our society need over the next 5-10-20 years? 
  • Are open positions being filled; and if not, why not? 
  • How big is the gap, and what can we do to close it? 
  • Is the problem training, education, geography, demographics, technical competencies, or some combination of these?

Labor crunch estimated to hit 3.5 million unfilled jobs in Cyber Security by 2021

Virtually every organization has confidential information stored on computer systems and networks. Companies all over the globe are scrambling to fill jobs in Cyber Security positions and competing with each other for available talent to ensure a safe digital life. 

In 2017, the U.S. employs nearly 780,000 people in cyber security positions, with approximately 350,000 unfilled jobs in Cyber Security

In a recent survey of CIOs, 41 percent say that cyber security is the skillset in greatest demand in their organizations. And many are asking that candidates have levels of security experience, education, and competencies that are exceedingly hard to come by. How many people in today’s job market have 8-10 years of solid cyber security experience, for example? 

A missed opportunity

In the face of rising demand and a limited supply, organizations need to think more creatively about their cyber defense and cyber warrior strategies. Aiming too high is creating missed opportunities to fill positions with outside talent and also cultivate inside talent who may lack experience but already know the business and have the fundamental skills (and motivation) to succeed.


“It’s about being a little more realistic about the availability of talent in the marketplace (and in your own organization). We don’t have to create perfection. What we need is a huge number of people that are a good deal better than they are today.”

4 strategies for increasing your cyber security pool 

  1. Training & Education: Evaluate the skills and interest in your employees and find those who are willing and eager to learn. Give your IT staff a chance to apply for cyber security roles, and then help them train in missing skills.

  1. Consider mid- and late-career employees: Many seasoned IT professionals have been siloed in their current positions, even though they have highly valuable skillsets that can be applied to cyber security work. This represents a rich source of talent just waiting to be recognized and tapped.

  1. Mentor women: Women make up only 10-11% of the security workforce today, but they represent a large and talented labor pool for cyber security positions. Half of women in the profession have master’s degree or higher. Professional support, sponsorships, and mentorships can help women thrive in security and risk management positions.

  1. Leverage intern aptitude and interest: Typically brimming with energy and motivation, interns are another great way to develop cyber security talent. When you find the right person and the right fit, consider adding a fresh resource for your pool of cyber security experts, one who is willing to start at the bottom, learn from your experts, and eventually join your team.

4 reasons to consider cyber security as a profession

From an employee’s perspective, cyber security is a growth industry that offers exciting challenges, generous salaries, and the chance to make a real difference. 

  1. Cyber security professionals are in high demand.
  2. Job opportunities are everywhere and growing. 
  3. Opportunities increase with experience and education level.
  4. Advancement opportunities are bountiful.

FACT: More than 80% of U.S. companies have been hacked.

FACT: Jobs in Cyber Security are expected to increase 37% through 2022.

FACT: Average yearly salary of cyber professionals was $60,000 to $116,000 according to a 2016 Forbes study.

If you want to be a cyber security professional, first become the best computer professional you can be. Hone every skill and figure out how to build security into everything you do. Also remember that nearly everyone you will compete against is going to have a degree, so if you don’t, you’re hobbled right at the start.

"For top talent, cybersecurity isn't about just a job and a paycheck. It is about the hottest technology, deployed by honorable organizations, for a purpose that is inherently important."

The Bottom Line

The pace of cyber threats is relentless, and the pipeline of security talent isn’t where it needs to be to help organizations fight back. As the threat landscape continues to evolve over time, highly skilled professionals will be needed to keep a safe digital life. Jobs in Cyber Security are already in high demand, and the need is far outstripping available resources. To stay ahead of the curve, organizations need to think creatively. And IT professionals who want to move into cyber security need to take the necessary steps to prepare themselves for the extreme challenges ahead. 

We should also remember that many of our future cyber warriors are currently hiding in plain sight. 

“There is a zero-percent unemployment rate in cyber security and the opportunities in this field are endless. Gone are the days of siloed IT and security teams. All IT professionals need to know security – full stop. Given the complexity of today’s interconnected world, we all have to work together to support the protection of the enterprise.”