Supporting Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week: Explore, Experience, Share
It’s a bit strange to think that jobs in cybersecurity have suddenly gone trendy. Several years ago, few people even knew what “cyber” was and that it needed securing. But after an eye-popping record first half of 2021 for ransomware and other nefarious cybercrimes, the field is in hyperdrive.
According to data gathered under a U.S. Commerce Department grant, there are currently nearly 465,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs all across the nation. The bulk of those jobs are in the private sector — securing networks for SMB, enterprises, MSSPs and beyond. About 8% of the projected shortage, or 36,000 positions, are for federal, state and local government agencies.
And the shortage is getting worse. According to jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics, the demand for cybersecurity professionals (a category that includes programmers and analysts) will jump from 1.8 million in 2020 to more than 2.3 million by 2030. That’s a 10-year growth rate of more than 22%. In addition, the mean income for this category – currently $111,000 – is among the top five highest salaries in the country.
Why the rush for jobs in cybersecurity?
When you think about it, the above-average growth in jobs in this area makes a lot of sense. Technology is so intertwined with our day-to-day living that the thought of NOT having qualified and experienced cybersecurity professionals on the job to protect scares a lot of people.
To illustrate that point, our mid-year update to the 2021 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report showed everyone that there is reason to be concerned. After soaring to 304.6 million in 2020 (an increase of 62% over 2019), ransomware attacks hit 226.3 million through May this year, up 116% over last year.
The detailed report was so eye-popping that it became a widely quoted source by the news media, including CNN, PBS News Hour and the Wall Street Journal. Some of our threat data even found its way into a Senate proposal for legislation. Hard to ignore this trend when so many people see the threat and expect more attacks are on the horizon.
Options and Career Pathway
While the future cybersecurity jobs projections forecast greater demand, the fact is, there are not enough well-qualified candidates – anywhere. This enviable situation means qualified candidates have many options for exciting positions with good salaries and benefits packages.
The traditional career path may start at a NOC or SOC (network operations center, security operations center, respectively). You find entry-level positions for security analysts, compliance coordinators, and field technicians. More advanced functions spread out to supervisory, management and executive placements.
Outside the operations center, there are positions for software design and development, project management, and implementation specialists. In law enforcement, there is a growing need for forensic analysts and specialists to help investigate cases. In addition, there is an increasing need for traditional support staff and management but for people familiar with cybersecurity concepts and terminology.
Explore. Experience. Share
Keith Trottier, SonicWall’s Chief Customer Success Officer, has been the company since 2016. He started in the high-tech industry in 1998 and migrated into cybersecurity in 2004. While his work is deeply involved with cybersecurity, he sees familiar patterns.
“Customer success – whether you’re engaging with customers, partners, or internal teams – is engaging with everyone and reducing the effort to build customer loyalty and trust,” says Trottier. “Through my career, there’s always been this methodology: if you make it easy for customers to engage and work with you, they’re going to engage and build loyalty with satisfaction.”
For the future, he notes that the cybersecurity space is constantly evolving. He weighs the significant changes of the last five years, like the COVID pandemic and how that change caused the remote workforce to increase dramatically. “Here we are now with our Boundless Security marketing, and it resonates; it’s really compelling,” he says. And as the whole industry continues to expand and grow, it’ll do so without borders. “That’s how you’re going to see the cybersecurity space genuinely evolve.”
Hyperbole or Reality?
It may feel like a bit of hyperbole to say, “America needs you,” but maybe not. Cybersecurity professionals are the new frontline of a growing battle against fraud, theft, and other criminal activities that present a real danger to our way of life. For example, during that surge in crime activity last May, we saw a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline that triggered a massive regional gasoline shortage and panic-buying that lasted several days. In addition, a group of “ruthless” hackers attacked 235 U.S. hospitals earlier this year, raking in more than $100 million. The new reality for cybersecurity means everything is at risk.
Ready to launch your career in cybersecurity? Check out SonicWall’s career center. Our attention to innovation and integrity has helped launch hundreds of successful careers [like Keith Trottier]. However, if your search is just beginning, check out the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) career awareness page, where you’ll find tools to help you map your new career pathway.