The week two theme of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), “Millions of Rewarding Jobs: Educating for a Career in Cyber Security,” focuses on ways to motivate parents, teachers and counselors to learn more about this field, and how to best inspire students and others to seek careers in it. In today’s blog, I’ll discuss the top reasons to consider a career in cyber security and some resources to get students involved and interested.
Top Reasons to Become a Cyber Security Professional
It’s no secret that cyber attacks are growing in number and complexity, and that there is a significant skills gap in the workforce. Information technology experts, chief information security officers (CISOs), security architects, and information security analysts are just some of the cyber security jobs in high demand. As cyber security professionals, we need to spread the word on the benefits of a career in this field, and help others understand the pathway to success.
Here are some of the reasons I love being in this career:
- Meaningful Work – In today’s connected world there is an urgent need to protect our critical infrastructure, personal data, and organizational integrity. Cyber security professionals are highly respected for their efforts to defend our lives in both the digital and physical realms as the two become increasingly intertwined. It’s an exciting career that involves many layers of complexity, and one that requires an understanding of technology, people, and processes. You won’t get bored – there’s a new challenge every day.
- Job Security – Cyber security positions exist in every industry around the world. If you keep up your certifications and continuing education, you won’t have a hard time staying employed or finding new opportunities. Many cyber security professionals enjoy the opportunity to work with a variety of organizations during their career, whether in retail, financial services, public sector, healthcare, tech, or hundreds of others.
- Compensation – Cyber security professionals often make six-figure incomes, with an average of $115,000 a year salary in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s not uncommon for information security salaries to have nearly three times the national median income for full-time wage and salary workers.
Opportunities for Students
There are some excellent programs available to get young people interested in cyber security. These programs help students get a feel for the type of skills required and for the types of daily adventures they will be involved with if they choose to pursue this as a career.
Many local high schools and middle schools now offer CyberPatriot programs. CyberPatriot is a national program created by the Air Force Association (AFA),and it’s designed to inspire K-12 students to consider careers in cyber security or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Most major urban areas now offer CyberPatriot programs or something similar, along with events and competitions for students to show off their skills and meet practicing cyber security professionals and future employers.
At the college level, many schools have teams participating in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) program. The CCDC provides schools with curriculum for information assurance and computer security programs, along with structured programs to measure how well students can understand and manage corporate network infrastructure and business information systems challenges.
When I was in high school, careers in cyber security weren’t very well-known or defined. I wasn’t drawn into the profession until I was out of college and in the technology workforce for many years. It is exciting to see how things have changed, and I can’t wait to see what the next generation of cyber security defenders bring to table.