There can be few areas of employment in the USA more topical and relevant than cybersecurity. With cyber-attacks constantly on the rise and business data breaches happening almost weekly (over 60 percent of US companies have been victims) the need to secure networks has never been more imperative or pressing. Perhaps the most high-profile recent case being the ongoing investigations into the server hacking related to the US presidential election. The fact that investigations are nowhere near concluding, with new data and evidence being unearthed on a regular basis demonstrates just how complex and forensically detailed the work is. Cybersecurity professionals have never been in more demand and the trend is only going to continue as more bad actors enter the space.
So, what can a newly minted Cybersecurity professional expect in the work place?
- First and foremost - excellent compensation for their efforts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median pay for the sector as $95,510 per year, or $45.92 per hour. This is substantially above the US average and illustrates the worth of specialists in this area to the private and public sectors.
- Qualified cybersecurity graduates can also be confident of an assured and secure career path, as the most recent 10-year outlook for the industry projects the job growth as 26% - far outstripping the 7% average growth rate for other occupations. In addition to the multitude of opportunities in the private sector, the US government is a major employer and is constantly upping hiring targets in IT security across a number of its major departments. Reflecting this, there have been numerous governmental initiatives that have been introduced to nurture a good supply of talent in the area - one being the ‘Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity’ program, which is jointly sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The goal of the program, as stated by the NSA, is to reduce vulnerability in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and producing professionals with the relevant expertise for the nation. There are currently more than two hundred higher education institutions, universities and colleges that participate in the program.
- The ability to grow and develop professionally over the span of your career. In parallel with coding and platform creation, cyberwarfare is evolving rapidly as criminals seek to exploit loopholes and vulnerabilities in the databases, programs and apps that are so interwoven with our professional and personal lives. The knowledge and experience needed to counteract and guard against malicious code, attacks, and data breaches will look very different 5 years down the line, let alone a decade hence. Cybersecurity specialists will have to adapt and evolve in order to provide effective reinforcements and countermeasures on this ever-morphing battlefield.
If you are considering a career in cybersecurity, you can be assured that you will be entering one of most dynamic, rapidly growing and financially rewarding professions in existence today. The reality is that all of us, irrespective of our walks of life, rely on the work of cybersecurity professionals to help safeguard our social and financial information and transactions. It’s a sad fact that a large percentage of the people reading this piece have either been directly touched by cybercrime or know someone who has (just last week Twitter was imploring me to change my password after a potential breach). So, step forward and join the fray! The schools to the right are good places to start your training.
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