There’s a Projected Shortage in the Cyber Sec Workforce


There’s about to be an emergency in the cyber security field, and it’s a lack of skilled workers. That must be music to the ears of many college graduates in the field, as higher demand means higher wages and a higher probability of getting the job.

According to some analyses which took a look at data in the cyber security field from 2014 and the first half of 2015, projecting to 2019, a security software engineer will be resting comfortably with a $233,333 average salary.

Surprisingly, this is even higher than the salary of a Chief Security Officer, who is supposedly the higher-up of the engineer position. The average salary of the CSO is only $225,000.

Those high and surprising numbers aren’t all that surprising if you take a look at what is happening in the cyber security field. The workforce is expected to rise to about 6 million globally, while only 4.5 million workers will be expected to have the skills for the position.  The field is going to be competitive for businesses, and that means higher wages will be a given.

The current level of skillfulness in the field is an obvious issue. A 451 Research study in North America and EMEA which surveyed IT professionals said a lack of staff expertise (34.5%) and lack of staff (26.4%) were making it impossible to complete ideal security projects.

For the next seven years, cyber security is expected to be the field with the best jobs. The profession is projected by the U.S. News and World Report to be growing at a rate of 36.5% through 2022.

As for the CSO who are currently making less than the people they are working above, they may expect a considerable pay increase as well. Many companies are moving to require CSOs to report directly to CEOs, and positions which work so closely with the head of company tend to be higher paying.

Employers are scrambling to offer the best deals to potential cyber security employees. They want the best in the field, and they’re going to have to fight to get them. With such a lack of workers, it’s no doubt that the professionals will not have a hard time finding work.

Read here why a cyber security degree is a smart choice

Some companies are taking an indirect approach to finding security experts. They’re cross training their existing IT staff who may be experts in different areas. By hiring a few cyber security experts and having them train other staff members, companies such as Herjavec Group have been able to create a successful team.

For other companies, the solution to the workforce shortage is in automated security. Some vendors have been able to design and distribute security solutions which are automated and based on machine learning, behavioral analysis and programmed algorithms.

Some, such as Brett Helm, Chairman and CEO of DB Networks, believe automated security “frees up skilled professionals to focus on more critical issues”.

The ultimate solution is for more college students to choose to pursue degrees in the cyber security field. As news spreads that the field is itching for new expertise, many students may begin looking in this direction. 
Many U.S. colleges and universities offer excellent programs in the practice and there is room for more students getting into graduate programs.

One solution which could catch fire is one that Symantec is going after. Nasscom (The National Association of Software and Service Companies), which is a non-profit trade association in the Indian information technology and business process outsourcing industry, signed a pact with Symantec which would create more cyber security professionals. It focuses on developing five highly sought after positions and offering scholarships for women in the cyber security field who are underrepresented.

The government has gotten involved with trying to help fill the gap in cyber security workers as well. A 2014 federal job training grant which went into helping community colleges and educational firms offer more and better quality IT and cybersecurity career field programs.  Out of seventy-one grant recipients around the country, twenty-five focused their programs on IT and cybersecurity according to the White House.

The entire $450 million grant is part of a larger grant program: the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Initiative. Community colleges are a heavy focus for many efforts to develop the IT workforce.

Read more: How to become a cyber security specialist

In the United States alone, while there will be 1.4 million new IT jobs, there is only going to be an expected 400,000 new graduates of computer science. Businesses are keen to this looming lack in the workforce, and many technology and defense firms are now partnering with community colleges to help develop the training programs and outreach.

Part of the grant, about $15 million, is going to fourteen community colleges throughout Maryland. Technology and defense firms Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon will be working with these colleges to create programs which train low income workers who have little experience in the IT field.

The goal is for them to graduate 2,000 students by 2017

While the coming shortage in cyber security professionals is sure to impact the field, the good news, is there, are many different organizations who are leading in efforts to alleviate this shortage before it fully comes on.

Unless U.S. citizens begin getting trained with the skills necessary to fill the job vacancies which will be appearing in the coming years, those jobs will have to be outsources to people from other countries.