Today, consumers expect to access information and transact with a company when and where they want. This has fueled innovations in digital technology providing financial, healthcare and other critical information at the touch of a button through online, mobile and virtual channels.
Each new technology innovation brings increased exposure to risk, and at the front line of combating this threat is a cybersecurity professional.
As a chief information security officer, I rely on a backbone of talented individuals who do the network monitoring, security analysis and administration, intrusion detection, risk analysis and other activities required to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or creating problems for computer networks. Yet, just as the demand for talented cybersecurity professionals is growing, so is the talent gap.
In 2017, Cyberseek reported that there were nearly 780,000 people working in cybersecurity positions in the United States. But, it also reported 350,000 job openings. So, for every two people working in the field, there was one job that remained unfilled. While this has caused challenges for organizations who seek to hire and retain good talent, it creates an opportunity for job seekers.
Prospects for new and tenured job seekers
The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau reported that the projected change in employment for cybersecurity positions 2016-2026 is 28 percent. This is much faster than the average growth rate of 7 percent for all occupations. And, median pay is an attractive $95,510 for those with a bachelor’s degree and five years of work experience. This is good news for high school students choosing a major or college students seeking their first job. But, it doesn’t stop there.
Cybersecurity isn’t just a career for young technology specialists. This is an occupation that requires skilled professionals with strategic and analytic skills to find common themes and anomalies, creative thinkers who can look outside of the box to identify solutions and curious problem solvers who have the tenacity to follow an unexplored path to a potential security gap. For this reason, it is a popular second career option for established professionals.
This is especially true for military veterans. As a veteran myself, I know that as a result of military training, veterans tend to be mission-oriented and have an appetite for continued learning; they don’t like to lose and are calm during a crisis. In addition, there is an esprit de corps and camaraderie among members of the military that is necessary for the collaborative environment required of a high-functioning cybersecurity team.
Training and education for all ages
At Wells Fargo, we focus on ongoing education to attract and retain talented cybersecurity professionals. A curriculum based on SANS cybersecurity training is offered to team members who want to advance their current skill set or learn about other job functions within information security. Through a partnership with the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Wells Fargo team members accepted into the Cyber Security Master’s Program are eligible for a scholarship covering 75 percent of tuition. The remainder can be covered through Wells Fargo’s tuition reimbursement program.
In higher education, an increasing number of universities offer degree programs in the field. In addition, there are numerous online information security courses and industry certifications available. Like Wells Fargo, there are many organizations that offer tuition reimbursement as incentive for continued learning or as an opportunity to explore a new career path.
Educational programs are being added to the curriculum for elementary, middle and high school students that focus on understanding and managing cybersecurity risks. Learning can happen outside of the classroom as well. Last year, the Girl Scouts embraced STEM education by introducing a cybersecurity badge. The focus of the badge ranges from data privacy, cyber bullying and protecting oneself online to education about coding, becoming a white hat (ethical) hacker and creating firewalls.
But, the focus on skilled cybersecurity talent isn’t limited to the private sector.
The United States government recognizes a highly-skilled cybersecurity workforce as a strategic national security advantage. The National Cybersecurity Strategy released in September 2018 outlines priorities to develop the American talent pool: building and sustaining a talent pipeline, expanding educational and training opportunities, enhancing the Federal cybersecurity workforce and cybersecurity excellence by promoting and highlighting cybersecurity educators and professionals. Much of this will be accomplished through the use of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework which provides cybersecurity education, training and workforce development. There are also CyberCorps® scholarships offered through the U.S. government designed to increase and strengthen the team that protects the government’s critical information infrastructure.
In a culture that values online speed and convenience, cybersecurity is one profession that is only going to grow. There are multiple opportunities to become educated and take advantage of this trend at any age. Don’t get left behind.
Rich Baich is Wells Fargo’s chief information security officer. In this role, he oversees information security strategy and governance, identity and access management, security engineering, line-of business engagement and cyber defense and monitoring.