Cyber security may be one of the best occupations to consider for those with a knack for technology and the ambition to be in law enforcement. This surging market is expected to grow from $75 billion in 2016 to $170 billion in 2020. According to a January 2016 article in Forbes magazine, there are 209,000 cybersecurity jobs in the United States that are unfilled. The global number of openings may exceed one million. Headlines of recent cyber breaches of major consumer companies like Chase and Target have magnified the need for better security measures. Furthermore, there were nearly 50,000 postings for workers with a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification in 2014, the primary credential in cybersecurity work. That amounts to three-quarters of all the people who hold that certification in the United States.
If you are contemplating a degree in law enforcement, the most appropriate is to start with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, of which there are many online degree programs. Those who have decided on a career in the law enforcement arena may also consider a degree in cybersecurity. Again, there are campus and online Bachelor degree programs in this field. To tailor your curriculum accordingly, this is where cybersecurity jobs are in demand:
- The Professional Services, Finance, and Manufacturing/Defense sectors have the highest demand for cybersecurity jobs.
- The fastest increases in demand for cybersecurity workers are in industries managing increasing volumes of consumer data such as Finance (+137% over the last five years), Health Care (+121%), and Retail Trade (+89%).
- The hardest-to-fill cybersecurity jobs call for financial skills, such as Accounting or knowledge of regulations associated with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, alongside traditional networking and IT security skills. Because finance and IT skills are rarely trained for together, there is a skills gap for workers who meet the requirements of the “hybrid jobs.”
- Regarding education, 84% of cybersecurity postings specify at least a bachelor’s degree, and 83% require at least three years of experience. Because of the high education and experience requirements for these roles, skills gaps cannot easily be resolved through short-term solutions. In addition to the experience and education, as mentioned above, CISSP certification is paramount. Candidates must have a minimum of 5 years cumulative paid full-time work experience in 2 or more of the 8 domains as designated by the (ISC2). For those starting out in cybersecurity, there’s an Associate of (ISC)2.
In addition to public corporations in need of IT security specialists, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced in early 2016 that it was hiring 1,000 new cybersecurity professionals. The hiring frenzy was created after government agencies suffered the largest cyber attack over the 2015 year. This resulted in the theft of contact records on more than twenty million people including those who applied for government security clearances and had gone through background checks. In addition, nearly two million spouses and domestic partners of those applicants had their records compromised. Hence the necessity for The Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI to have cybersecurity professionals. Many government postings for cybersecurity careers can be found at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies website.
Do not be deterred by the experience requirements for positions in government and corporations, as there are entry level jobs available. From the job site indeed.com, Lockheed Martin has posted an opening seeking an entry level Cyber Analyst Code Developer. Another posting seeks an entry level Cyber Security Analyst at an engineering firm. With experience and proficiency, you’ll be on your way towards the median wage of $92,000 for an Information Security Analyst (US News & World Report 2014). More importantly, according to the referenced statistics, employment appears to be assured in this burgeoning field.