Students and Recent Grads Are Unaware of Job Opportunities in Cybersecurity

Posted By Terri Williams on November 18, 2015 at 4:45 pm
Students and Recent Grads Are Unaware of Job Opportunities in Cybersecurity

Cybercrimes are rampant – and expected to increase as digital criminals become more adept at hacking computers and systems. The first line of defense lies with cybersecurity professionals. However, there are not enough people currently entering this field to meet the demand, and according to a recent survey, students are unaware of growing job opportunities in cybersecurity.

Keep reading to discover the current state of cybersecurity as a profession, along with educational requirements, the fastest-growing industries, and various types of jobs in this field.

The talent gap

To gauge the awareness and interest levels of millennials, Raytheon and the National Cyber Security Alliance commissioned a survey, “Securing Our Future: Closing the Cybersecurity Talent Gap.” Although the survey was global, in this article, GoodCall will focus primarily on U.S. responses.

The survey revealed that there is a low level of awareness regarding the profession of cybersecurity:

  • 64% said no teacher or guidance or career counselor ever mentioned the idea of a cybersecurity career
  • 43% said no cybersecurity programs or activities were available to them
  • 61% were unaware or unsure of the duties involved in a cyber career
  • 51% had no formal training on how to remain safe when they’re online
  • 62% did not hear about last year’s cyber attacks in the news

When the numbers are examined by gender, the lack of awareness is much more pronounced among females:

  • 69% of females vs. 55% of males said no teacher or guidance or career counselor ever mentioned the idea of a cybersecurity career
  • 33% of females vs. 24% of males felt that they were not qualified for cybersecurity activities and programs

However, millennials appear to have an interest in this field:

  • 28% said they are more likely (than they were a year ago) to choose a career to make the Internet safer
  • 38% have either participated in or looked for opportunities in competitions, job fairs, scholarships and mentoring programs related to cybersecurity
  • 41% would like more information on cybersecurity careers

In addition, respondents said they want jobs requiring the types of skills cybersecurity professionals use:

Percentage Skill
44% Problem-solving
36% Data Analytics
27% Programming
42% Management
47% Communications


Raising awareness and addressing educational deficits

Jack Harrington, Vice President of Cybersecurity and Special Missions at Raytheon, tells GoodCall, “Education is critical in fostering the next generation of cybersecurity professionals – we need to invest in cyber programs starting the day students are exposed to computers in the classroom.”

Harrington also says the emphasis on STEM education and cyber programs should continue through college. For example, Harrington says Raytheon has partnered with the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) to provide students from across the country the opportunity test their skills at protecting a network against cyber threats. He says these types of events allow students to practice their skills in real-life business scenarios – and they also serve as recruiting events for companies like his to hire the best talent available.

The company also realizes the need to close the gender gap in this field. Valecia Maclin, Program Director of Cybersecurity and Special Missions at Raytheon, tells GoodCall, “It’s critical that public and private partnerships focus on encouraging young girls to foster an interest in science, technology, engineering and math, so that more women are prepared to enter the burgeoning cybersecurity field and help create a diverse, talented workforce.”

Jobs in cybersecurity

Some industries have a greater demand for cyber experts than others. A report by Burning Glass Technologies identifies the industries with the most cybersecurity jobs, along with specific examples of various types of jobs.

The industries with the most demand are as follows:

# of Job Postings in 2014 Industry Sector
49,765 Professional Services
17,873 Finance and Insurance
15,968 Manufacturing and Defense
9,725 Public Administration
8,522 Information
7,915 Health Care and Social Assistance
3,505 Retail Trade
19,983 Other


Those numbers are a lot higher than expected. This is because it takes a lot more than one person to handle cybersecurity for an organization. Cybersecurity requires a variety of different positions, and Burning Glass identified some of them below:

• Engineer (Security Engineer, Information Assurance Engineer)
• Manager/Admin (Data Security Administrators, Information Security Manager)
• Analyst (IT Security Analyst, Cyber Intelligence Analyst)
• Specialist/Technician (IT Security Specialist, Infosec Technician)
• Architect (Security and Privacy Architect, Network Security Architect)
• Auditor (IT Auditor)
• Consultant (Network Security Consultant, Infrastructure Security Consultant)

Specific education requirements

The majority of cybersecurity jobs require a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of three years of experience, according to Burning Glass. In addition to a computer science, programming, or related degree, candidates are expected to be knowledgeable in their specific field. For example, Burning Glass notes than an IT Auditor should know about risk management, risk assessment, legal compliance, and audit planning.

At least one-third of cybersecurity jobs also require some sort of certification, and these certifications can greatly increase salaries. For example, the average cybersecurity worker with an entry-level certification can earn $75,484. However, someone who has an advanced certification (like a Certified Information Security Professional), can earn $93,010 – which is $17,526 more than they would earn without this specific certification.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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