There’s a Bidding War For People With Good Cyber Security Skills

Linda Musthaler
By | October 16, 2013

Posted in: Network Security Trends

If you are a cyber security expert – or you are on your way to becoming one – you’d better stock up on Ray-Bans. Your future is so bright, you’re going to need them.

According to an article published by NBC News, there is a global shortage of skilled cyber security professionals.

  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the number of Information Technology security roles in the U.S. will increase by some 22 percent in the decade to 2020, creating 65,700 new jobs. Experts say it is a similar situation globally, with salaries often rising 5-7 percent a year.

It seems that every major employer from the public and private sector to the military is looking for people with the ability to detect and prevent cyber attacks, detect bugs in software, or reverse engineer viruses and other malware. This competition for good people is driving up salaries.

  A graduate with a good computer studies degree can walk into a $100,000 salary with a similar amount upfront as a golden handshake, several times what the U.S. National Security Agency would be likely to offer.Those who have "very good" skills in the most-needed areas can earn $110,000 to $140,000, while the very top get paid as much as $200,000 in private sector jobs.

Colleges and tech schools aren’t the only place where employers are hanging out to find good employees. The Def Con hacker conference is a good place to recruit people with admirable skills. The NetWars tournaments, run by SANS Institute, are also great places to find people with a penchant for cyber security.

I spoke with the CISO for a major regional bank a few weeks ago, and she said she snaps up interns from a local university’s Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research. “I’ll take all the interns they can give me,” she said. “If I can’t find enough qualified people to hire, I’ll grow my own, starting with these interns.”

It almost reminds me of college football players who enter the NFL draft in their junior year. Why spend one more year in the classroom when employers are clamoring for new-hires now and they are willing to train you?

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