Thousands of information security jobs are currently going unfilled in the U.S. at such a rapid pace that by the year 2025 it is estimated that the demand for security workers will outstrip the supply by 265,000 jobs, according to consultants at market research firm Frost & Sullivan. Considering the high pay offered in the field (about $10,000 per month for a data-security analyst), that’s surprising.
Companies in the field are even willing to provide training and educational assistance to people with the right mix of ambition and talent, says John Simons, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Degrees aren’t what are required to get a foot in the door, according to insiders. What matters more is whether candidates can demonstrate knowledge of computer networks, programming and critical thinking, according to Ryan Sutton, a tech recruiter for Robert Half. He notes a lack of certified professionals in the field compared to the need out there today. Oh, and contacts help too.
The Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) has three I.T. security certificates recognized by hiring managers, and it offers a general course on its website for “would-be cybersecurity analysts” that covers some of the basics like network security, compliance, threats and vulnerabilities and the like. More advanced credentials, worthy of endorsements by the U.S. Dept. of Defense and the NSA include the CISSP, or Certified Information Systems Security Professional.
But certifications aren’t everything. Job candidates who draw the most attention are those who can demonstrate an ability “to think like malicious hackers” according to Dan Miessler of IOActive Inc. a Seattle-based cybersecurity company. Instead of making claims of what you can do, show examples of your work online, suggests Miessler.
Many interviewed firms indicated that they include extensive training as part of their offerings.
Of course, while jobs may be plentiful, it still often comes down to who you know. Anna Friedley is a cyber risk analyst who found her job not because of her degrees in math and later library science or even her master’s degree in high-tech crime investigation. No, instead she says it came from her love of knitting, where a friend who shared her love of knitting happened to ask her to meet for coffee and mentioned that her office had an opening, and could she come take their test and submit her resume.
Still, the skill set probably didn’t hurt.