Are Cybersecurity Skills In Demand?
As millions of students head back to university this fall, a substantial chunk of them will do so without knowing what they’re actually going to end up studying.
For most undeclared majors, the final decision is going to come down to career prospects: whether or not they’ll be able to find a job after graduation.
Of course, nobody knows exactly what the economy is going to be doing (or not doing) in four years, but the best hedge against uncertainty has always been to figure out what skills are in demand—and learn them.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a two-part look at the study of cybersecurity as a potential career path for students who have the interest and aptitude to pursue it.
The overall market
Before looking at jobs in cybersecurity, it makes sense to consider how the industry itself is doing on the whole. Are companies investing in cybersecurity, and are cybersecurity firms well-positioned for growth? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding “yes”.
Global spending on cybersecurity is predicted to hit an impressive $124 billion this year. And believe it or not, that might be a bargain: The cost of cybercrime to the world’s economy is estimated at a staggering $2 trillion.
So companies are obviously spending serious money on cybersecurity in response to a very real threat landscape—and this isn’t likely to change any time soon.
The cybersecurity skills shortage
But does strong spending on cybersecurity translate into actual employment opportunities, or is the job market already flooded with candidates?
The good news (for students) is also the bad news (for enterprise): There is a massive shortage of skilled security personnel, which has now reached “crisis” levels in the eyes of some observers.
So how bad is it out there? In terms of raw numbers, some forecasters estimate that by 2021 there will be around 1.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions worldwide, while other studies put the figure even higher, predicting a shortfall of up to 3.5 million security professionals.
The future of cybersecurity
There’s obviously an urgent need for people with cybersecurity skills. But what are the medium and long-term career prospects in the field?
Forecasts for the next several years are extremely promising. To offer one example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 28% growth for information security analyst positions all the way through 2026—a significantly faster rate of growth than the average for all professions.
And while it’s obviously impossible to say exactly what will happen to a given field over a lifetime, especially in an area as volatile as technology, there is every reason to think that cybersecurity is a good long-term career path.
For one thing, the changeable nature of tech itself may itself provide job security. Historically, as new technologies have emerged, they have brought new and unpredictable security challenges—challenges which require skilled cybersecurity professionals to address. Perhaps the most recent example of this is the Internet of Things, which is already creating job opportunities for cybersecurity professionals and malicious actors alike!
Additionally, the skills required to succeed in cybersecurity are extremely transferrable. It’s difficult to imagine a future which won’t reward tech savvy people skilled in problem-solving, deductive reasoning, and proactive thinking.
So what sorts of jobs are there in cybersecurity? That’s what we’ll look at in part 2 of this piece.