As part of Google’s commitment to building a strong cybersecurity workforce, the Google Cybersecurity Certificate offers an affordable and accessible pathway to a career in cybersecurity.
In this Help Net Security interview, Phil Venables, CISO at Google Cloud, sheds light on how this initiative will create greater opportunities for individuals worldwide and contribute to meeting the increasing demand for cybersecurity professionals.
What inspired Google to launch the Cybersecurity Certificate, and what is its role in its broader commitment to developing the cybersecurity workforce?
Cyber attacks increased globally by 38% last year, placing critical infrastructure such as governments, hospitals, and electrical grids at greater risk. Despite the urgent need to address this threat, there are currently more than 750,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. We launched the new Cybersecurity Certificate to help employers fill critical roles, and to level the playing field for people of all backgrounds to enter the cybersecurity workforce.
Our aim is to make the employment landscape more equitable and inclusive. We’re working with the entire workforce development ecosystem to accomplish this – partnering with school systems including Purdue University, the University of Texas and Northern Virginia Community College, nonprofits including Cyversity, Raices Cyber and Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS), workforce development boards, state governments and employers to improve the pipeline of skilled talent and remove barriers to employment. We’re proud to further this work through our new Cybersecurity Certificate.
Can you describe the structure and content of the Google Cybersecurity Certificate? What skills and knowledge will learners acquire upon completion?
The new Cybersecurity Certificate was built by cybersecurity experts at Google, with input from leading employers. Like all Google Career Certificates, the content is designed based on skills needed for the job and scenarios graduates will encounter. We conducted a job-task and skills analysis to create a deep understanding of what’s needed for an entry-level role in cybersecurity—reviewing hundreds of entry-level job descriptions, interviewing employers and hiring managers, and speaking with experts in the field to determine what skills are necessary to be successful in the job.
We then develop and vet the material with subject matter experts inside and outside Google. To ensure that our certificate curriculum helps learners get entry-level roles, we also worked with our employer consortium to understand what’s most critical and the biggest gaps in skills when hiring.
Ultimately, we identified key skills that went into the Certificate. From conducting a security audit to automating security tasks, learners will also gain hands-on experience using Python, Linux, SQL, and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools, like Chronicle and Splunk. The Google Cybersecurity Certificate will also help prepare people for the CompTIA Security+ exam, the industry-leading certification for cybersecurity roles.
How does the Google Cybersecurity Certificate differ from other cybersecurity certifications and training programs?
We’re proud that the Google Cybersecurity Certificate offers more than just training — we’re directly connecting certificate graduates to jobs. It’s a rigorous program that provides learners with a credential that will prepare people for entry-level jobs like cybersecurity analysts and information security analysts.
An employer consortium of over 150 companies including American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, T-Mobile, Walmart and Google including Mandiant, are committed to considering these graduates for entry level positions.
How is Google working to ensure that the Cybersecurity Certificate program is accessible and affordable to a diverse range of learners? What steps is the company taking to promote diversity and inclusion in the cybersecurity industry broadly?
We’re removing barriers to entry into the cybersecurity workforce in two ways:
- We’ve built a program that anyone can complete—with no experience or degree required to enroll. The certificates are affordable and accessible—available online, on-demand, they can be completed in under 6 months, costing $150-$300 on average.
- We’re working directly with leading employers to hire talent from this program—regardless of whether they have a degree. Rallying employers together to hire skilled talent regardless of their background is crucial to addressing the cybersecurity workforce skills gap.
Google at large continues to focus on sustaining our progress and actions to build greater inclusion and equity. We recently announced the SANS Cloud Diversity Academy in partnership with SANS Institute, which provides training and certifications to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), women, and other underrepresented groups who are passionate about pursuing a technical career in cybersecurity. We also have strong partnerships with organizations like Be Internet Awesome and WiCyS to help reduce the skills gap in the industry while also creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
How does the Google Career Certificates Employer Consortium work, and what role does it play in connecting graduates of Google Career Certificates with entry-level job opportunities?
We created the Google Career Certificates Employer Consortium when the program launched in 2018 to help solve critical skills gaps across industries. The consortium includes more than 150 employers including American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, Mandiant (now part of Google Cloud), T-Mobile, Walmart and Google.
Members of the Employer Consortium consider those who have earned our Certificates for entry-level jobs. To ensure job seekers who have completed the Cybersecurity Certificate can meet the needs of employers with open entry-level roles, the cybersecurity teams of several members of the Consortium beta tested the content and provided feedback.
How can educational institutions and employers get involved in the Google Career Certificates program, and what benefits can they expect?
Businesses of all sizes are using the Google Career Certificate program to bring the latest skills and talent to their workforce. Whether it’s helping employees upskill or reskill into fast-growing fields or hiring from our diverse talent pool of recent graduates, Google Career Certificates can help fill skills gaps and fuel business growth. The program connects employers directly with skilled graduates, deepens and diversifies their talent pipeline, and promotes their employer brand.
What impact have Google Career Certificates had on graduates’ career trajectories, and how does the company measure and evaluate that impact?
The certificates are proven, industry-recognized credentials. Over 300,000 people have graduated from the program globally since 2018 (150,000 in the U.S.), and 75% of graduates report a positive career impact, such as a new job, higher pay, or a promotion, within six months of completion.
The program is also helping people from all backgrounds qualify for well-paying jobs. 55% of U.S. graduates identify as Asian, Black, or Latino, and 35% of U.S. certificate graduates come from the lowest income strata in the country, earning under $30K. Through the certificate program, they are able to qualify for jobs in fields with median entry-level salaries of $76k, with potential for growth.