We read the data daily about the need for cybersecurity professionals and how that demand is constantly going to grow in the future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth in cybersecurity to be about 31% over the next several years. The essential question then becomes what area of cybersecurity is in demand and more importantly, what is right for you? There is a multitude of choices out there and as you shift to or enter the career fields, it is wise to weigh all of your options.
Where to Look for Options
One word of caution while you are trying to decide what specialty may be your golden ticket: beware of the Google casual search of this subject. Those sites that say how one field is more important than others are usually offering training in that area for a price and tend to end up at the top of the page for a reason.
Both entry-level security and IT analysts are in high demand and at the other end, security development engineers are such a hot commodity, companies often get into bidding wars over them. If neither of those tracks suit you, there are multitudes of others that still have plenty of positions open.
A site I highly recommend to my students is the National Initiative For Cybersecurity Careers and Studies Pathways Guide. NICCS is a product of the federal government’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA), which oversees and provides guidance on the nation’s critical infrastructure. The site is incredibly detailed, interactive, and fun to play around with.
Super Cybersecurity Categories
The NICCS site breaks down the areas in the following super categories: IT, Cybersecurity, Cyber Effects and Cyber Intel. From that point you can decide from positions solely within those categories or those that are cross functional and overlap multiple fields such as Lifecycle Management, Talent Management, Strategic Management, and Legal/Law Enforcement.
Some examples of each category are as follows:
- IT-Technical Support Specialist
- Cybersecurity-Defense Incident Responder
- Cyber Effects-Target Developer
- Cyber Intel-All Source Analyst
- Lifecycle Management-IT Project Manager
- Talent Management-Cyber Curriculum Developer
- Strategic Management-Cyber Policy Planner
- Legal/Law Enforcement-Forensics Investigator
The above is just a very short list of the choices you may have. Within each subject, a list of job functions gives more detail to include tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities, capability indicators, common relationships (how you fit into the cybersecurity universe), and federal data (list of occupational series that match the field). I urge those seeking employment in the industry or exploring your educational opportunities to look at this wonderful tool. After looking at this for the first time last year, it is no wonder academia has continued debates over where in a university setting cybersecurity fits in, whether it be engineering, business, criminal justice, computer science or a new category altogether. This debate doesn’t even include the overlapping areas of psychology, health care, and digital arts, which all have a role in the field.
Find Your Talent and You Will Find Your Cyber Lane
There are people that enjoy the technical aspects of cybersecurity such as defense analysts and cyber operators. Then there are others that prefer intelligence collection from such techniques as Social Engineering and Google dorking. Finally, there are people that write well and want to make a difference drafting policy and law. If you do not have the aptitude or interest in one area, another may suit your talents quite well.