Given the “Great Resignation” or “Great Reshuffle” that America is experiencing, many people are now reconsidering their current careers. Cybersecurity is one professional path gaining tremendous attention among job switchers.
The cybersecurity industry has long been synonymous with a shortage of talent. By at least one analysis, the number of available cybersecurity professionals needs to grow by 145% just to meet the global market’s demands. With 3.5 million open cyber jobs, it isn’t surprising that job switchers are seriously considering a field with so much opportunity. Yet despite this promise of job security, outdated stereotypes and preconceptions may have some wondering about jumping into the cybersecurity workforce.
With that in mind, here are a few reasons why a career in cyber could be a perfect match for you, as well as what you can potentially expect as you get into the field.
1. Cybersecurity jobs are among the fastest-growing career areas nationally.
Unfortunately, the number of cyber breaches increases each year as hackers get smarter, and cybersecurity professionals have to keep up. Cyber job openings are expected to grow by 31% through 2029 — over seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4% — and the global cybersecurity market size is estimated to balloon to $345.4 billion by 2026. This eye-popping growth should really capture jobseekers’ attention.
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 experience or on-the-job training. But don’t let this deter you — what’s most important is your willingness to learn and interest in the cybersecurity space.
Security leaders realize that they can teach the right people, with the right background and knowledge, the ins and outs of some technical roles. What they can’t teach are the intangibles. Therefore, don’t be afraid to experiment on your own, showcase your home lab and just ask questions. This kind of drive to succeed can go a very long way.
2. There is room for people from any kind of career background.
Unlike other jobs that require specific training, cyber is very open to diverse career backgrounds. Although some companies require a number of certifications, professionals don’t need any specific undergraduate or graduate degree to do the job well. While a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree in cybersecurity can help, neither is necessary for most of the field’s jobs. Some recommended majors for those intending to go into cyber for ethical hacking or penetration testing include computer science, IT and engineering. Humanities majors can also consider specialties like cybersecurity education. It’s this versatility that makes the cybersecurity field truly unique.
Those with a business background, for example, can consider various nontechnical roles. If you have a marketing and communications background, 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 both the biggest risk and the first line of defense against most breaches and attacks.
If you have accounting or project management experience, you could consider global risk and compliance with a security focus. SOC2, HITRUST, HIPAA, NIST, ISO and several other certifications are highly desirable for companies that handle any amount of sensitive data. Pulling that evidence and ensuring compliance aligned to those frameworks is a full-time job. And these are only 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 cyber industry’s youth, there are a ton of opportunities for individuals to explore new areas, gain new skills and move up the corporate ladder.
Of course, as with any career, it can be challenging to figure out exactly “how to grow.” Fortunately, cybersecurity boasts several easy-to-follow steps that can help best position professional growth.
First, regardless of whether you are interested in a technical or nontechnical career, working to grow your understanding of cybersecurity concepts and control frameworks is a great way to lay career growth foundations. From there, it is all about adding to your existing skills. For instance, technical folks could attend boot camps to brush up on new techniques, while nontechnical professionals can job-shadow someone who handles 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 acquire each day in your current role. This will put you in a strong position to climb the organizational ladder or move into a more specialized area.
Additionally, if you really want to get into a technical role but have a nontechnical 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 work wonders for building and refining your technical knowledge, as well as expedite your tech-based learning curve immensely.
4. There are endless possibilities for specialization within cybersecurity.
The cyber world consists of cybersecurity engineers, security analysts, cybersecurity testers, responders and more. This leaves much room to explore different directions. The cybersecurity skills projected to grow the fastest in 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%), data privacy and security (36%), access management (32%), security strategy and governance (20%), and health information security (20%). And those aren’t the only avenues.
5. You can enjoy rewarding work.
A cyber career could be an inspiring way to give back while forming a life-long learning journey with lots of opportunity along the way. How many people can say, at the end of the day, that they played an active role in protecting people and keeping organizations safe? Every day, cybersecurity professionals keep our private information secure from bad actors and thus protect our society and critical infrastructure. Those who can call cybersecurity their career go to sleep at night knowing that their work is helping individuals and organizations stay safe online.
Despite misconceptions about putting out fires every day, the day-to-day of working in cybersecurity is actually much more nuanced. While it’s 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 decrease their risk of being victimized by implementing simple measures such as password managers and MFA, but those who work in the field have the added benefit of helping others tackle cybersecurity challenges.
Whether you are interested in joining the field as an engineer or educator, there are opportunities in cyber that anyone looking for a meaningful career change can consider.