Serious lack of infosec professionals a key risk to national security

The unprecedented demand for well-trained cybersecurity workers continues to grow. Some experts predict that there will be a global shortage of two million cybersecurity professionals by next year. Enlisting the next generation of skilled cybersecurity workers and training existing employees will help build stronger defenses and restore confidence among digital citizens.

infosec professionals shortage

According to Harvard Business Review, important attributes of accomplished cybersecurity professionals include curiosity and a passion for learning, problem solving skills, strong ethics and a keen understanding of risks. In addition, job seekers with nontraditional backgrounds may bring new experience and perspectives to the position. And, a variety of industries ‒ ranging from education, financial institutions and banks to fashion, design and retail – are hiring. The bottom line is that the profession is dedicated to helping make our borderless online world safer and more secure for everyone.

Although they are often behind the scenes, these experts are truly on the front lines and have a measurable impact in our digital lives. One leading example of a company that prioritizes security and has long invested in hiring top cybersecurity talent is Intel. Security engineers and researchers at Intel not only strengthen the security of its own products, but also learn and share with the broader community to help collectively develop and accelerate the adoption of more secure technologies across the entire computing industry. The bottom line is that the profession is dedicated to helping make our borderless online world safer and more secure for everyone.

Parents, caregivers, counselors and teachers can play a significant role in paving the way for children to pursue cybersecurity careers. It’s important for these influencers to learn about and have conversations with kids about the breadth of opportunities available. In addition to a focus on STEM ‒ a curriculum based on educating students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics ‒ there are quite a few interesting and fun options to explore.

“A highly skilled, motivated and passionate cybersecurity workforce is just as critical to the internet’s security as everyone’s role in helping to protect it,” said Russ Schrader, NCSA’s executive director. “Inspiring kids when they’re young can propel them into a gratifying career that matches their interests in a specific sector like education, finance or health. In addition, jobs in cybersecurity are highly portable and pay well while doing something good.”

For adults thinking about a new career or re-entering the job force, consider re-inventing yourself and pursuing various positions in cybersecurity. Technical skills can be acquired through a number of ways, including traditional college courses, vocational training, industry certifications and on-the-job experience. Experts acknowledge that a workforce with diverse expertise and backgrounds has a greater chance of defending our assets.

Top tips for the cybersecurity job seeker

  • Get credentialed: Four out of five cybersecurity jobs require a college degree.
  • Get experience: Test the waters through volunteer work and internships; offer to help IT professors at your local college/university or employer to gain insight and experience. Think about becoming a white hat hacker and help top tech companies find bugs within their software.
  • Get smart: Keep up with the latest on internet security; follow top cybersecurity personalities on Facebook or Twitter and stay on top of the headlines. Join the conversation #CyberAware on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Get ready: A great place to find out if a cybersecurity career is right for you is to start at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS). From career resources to learning more about jobs in the field, NICCS is a go-to-guide to learning about and joining the ranks of a cybersecurity professional.

Advice for parents, teachers counselors

  • Volunteer at school, an after-school program, boys and girls clubs and community workshops to teach kids about online safety and cybersecurity careers.
  • Expose students to opportunities in the field of cybersecurity by hosting an open house at your company to talk about what your cybersecurity department does.
  • Inspire students to learn about cybersecurity by mentoring a team in a cyber challenge or hosting events and afterschool programs.
  • Work with your schools or community-based organizations to create an internship program for hands-on learning.
  • As a parent, learn about the “educational steps” to a career in cybersecurity and about community organizations that host cyber camps to educate kids about internet safety and security.