In order to qualify for most federal government jobs, a candidate must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. However, the specific degree requirements may vary depending on the agency or position being applied for.

The National Cyber Director, Harry Coker, who made his first public statements since taking office in December, announced that the White House has plans to minimize unnecessary obstacles many hiring teams face when they try to fill cyber jobs in particular, like the long time college degree requirement.

“To secure our nation’s cyberspace, we need to make cyber jobs more available and attainable for groups that traditionally haven’t been recruited,” he said in remarks at the Community College of Baltimore County.

How eliminating degree requirements for contractors will help recruiting

Some positions may require a degree in a specific field such as accounting, engineering, or computer science. Other positions may accept a degree in any field as long as it meets the general education requirements. Then, we have other certification requirements like Information Assurance (AI) baseline certs, a requirement for many government jobs, particularly those in the cybersecurity and IT fields. Let’s add in a security clearance requirement and other parameters like location an pay bands to find the right candidate.

We’ve discussed how cleared recruiting is hard, and it’s just going to continue to get harder.

In addition to the degree requirement, many federal jobs also require candidates to have relevant work experience or specialized skills. Some positions may also require a security clearance or other background check. With a shrinking talent pool, it’s time to get new faces in the national security door, and that means opening up nontraditional hiring pools and processes (like skills based hiring).

In today’s world, where technology is rapidly advancing, it’s important to have a baseline for what talent you need for the problems you are trying to solve, but if that leaves positions and billets remain vacant, what’s the point of the requirement in the first place? Many technologist leaders have noted that they care more about personality traits or curiosity when it comes to cyber candidates, instead of checking the boxes on education.

Looking ahead at the future of federal government and contractor recruiting, we need to switch up the way we attract and onboard talent… and that means changing up some of the rules, too.



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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸