Career change? Cybersecurity companies are hiring.
If you’re thinking career change or career shift, there’s a field that has an estimated 4 million jobs open. Cybersecurity.
According to survey and research data from the International Cybersecurity Organization (ICS)2, there’s a cybersecurity workforce gap—a terrifically high volume of jobs left unfilled. Published in 2019, the gap they identified looked like this:
- Nearly 500,000 jobs unfilled in the U.S.
- Globally, a gap of 4 million jobs was reported.
- 65% of the respondents say they’re short on cybersecurity staff.
Needless to say, there’s opportunity in the field for both technical and non-technical roles.
Here’s an important thing to keep in mind about cybersecurity:, it’s not solely about understanding technology. It’s about understanding people too and how people and technology interact.
The moment you see cybersecurity through that broader lens, you can see how the field opens widely to encompass a range of roles. Of course, there are analysts and engineers, yet it also includes other roles like digital forensics and cyber investigation, healthcare information security, cryptography, and even cyber law. Additionally, there’s needed expertise in the realms of privacy, governance, ethics, and even digital ethics. And if you take a role with a security company such as ours, the opportunity further extends to positions in account management, marketing, and operations. (In fact, you can drop by our careers page for a look at our current openings and what workday life is like around here.)
Why now’s a great time to consider a cybersecurity career
There are plenty of reasons. Above that data published in 2019, our unprecedented reliance on the internet to work, learn, and stay connected in 2020, demand for cybersecurity jobs is yet more so on the rise. As so many of us turned increasingly to the internet to get through our day, the same is true for hackers and crooks.
With that, let’s take a quick look at several of the factors working in your favor as you consider a change.
There’s demand for cybersecurity jobs.
We’ve all seen the news stories of major breaches at big retailers, credit reporting agencies, hotels, and even healthcare providers. It’s not just the private sector that’s been grappling with cybersecurity concerns, there’s need in the public sector as well—like municipalities. In all, every organization needs cybersecurity (just as we all need cybersecurity for our homes), and thus there’s plenty of opportunity out there. Using just one of the many possible cybersecurity roles as an example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 32% increase in demand for information security analysts through 2028—which is far higher than the average of other professions.
You don’t need a specific degree in cybersecurity to get a job.
In fact, the same (ICS)2 survey discovered that only 42% of current cybersecurity pros said that their first job after higher education was in the field of cybersecurity. In other words, the majority of cybersecurity pros ended up that way by some means of career shift or change. And they got there through certifications and training rather than by way of a degree from a college or university.
Transferrable skills absolutely apply.
Our own Chief Human Resources Officer, Chatelle Lynch, put it quite well in an interview with Business Insider just a few weeks ago: “It’s no secret that the demand for cybersecurity staff has steadily grown over the past decade,” she says. “This means opportunity, so if you don’t have a degree, don’t let that slow you down. You may have unique work experience or relevant certifications, alternative learning, or transferable skills that you need to make sure you highlight when applying and interviewing.”
For example, she goes on to say that prior military service, IT experience, and volunteer or hobbyist activities (even online gaming) are a good foundation for cybersecurity roles.
Cybersecurity employers seek candidates with non-technical soft skills.
These skills absolutely apply, and they’re sought after skills as well. The ability to work independently, lead projects, write and document well, and particularly strong people skills are vital for a role where you’ll be interfacing with numerous individuals, departments, and business units. Likewise, as called out above, certain roles focus more on the non-technical side of security solutions.
Getting trained in cybersecurity
The beauty of making a career change to cybersecurity is that there are plenty of ways you can get it done at home and on your time.
If you’re just getting started, you can test the waters for free or at relatively low cost with a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) that gives you the basics on cybersecurity. Future Learn’s “Introduction to Cybersecurity” from The Open University is one example of an intro program, as is the University of Michigan’s “Securing Digital Democracy” class that’s offered through Coursera.
If you’re already an IT pro or have a strong technical background, there are similar MOOC courses available that cater to your current level of knowledge and skill. The University of Maryland’s “Cybersecurity Specialization” and “Usable Security” are geared accordingly.
For a list of cybersecurity programs available online, drop by CyberDegrees.org. Their listing is one of many good places to start.
Other free and low-cost avenues out there include subscribing to some security bloggers, grabbing some hands-on work with coding and IT networking fundamentals from online learning companies like Udemy, Codecademy, and Khan Academy, or joining some online cybersecurity groups for a little professional networking. In all, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn from others, both in structured class settings and in more unstructured peer and mentorship relationships.
Prepare for that online interview
When you’re ready to start your job search, there’s a good chance that your interview will be conducted online. Online interviews have been part of the job-hunting landscape for a few years now, yet with many employers enacting work from home measures, it’s the way hiring gets done right now. I expect this to continue, as employers have embraced its many benefits, particularly in the early stages of interviews. If the prospect of an online interview is new to you, I put together a pair of articles this spring that can help.
Your cybersecurity career
As you make the jump, here’s the most important thing you’ll need: a love of technology and a desire to protect the people who use it. If you can combine a drive to understand both technology and people better with the further drive to see it all through, you’ll be well on your way. Like any career shift or change, there’s work ahead, yet it’s my impression that our field is a welcoming and supportive one—and very much on a keen lookout for new talent.
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