A Sailor stands watch.
Credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery/CC BY 2.0 with Attribution

Over the years as society progresses, some jobs evolve and others become obsolete. In some cases, entirely new fields and positions are created. Cybersecurity is one of those industries. Due to the rapid development occurring in the tech industry and society's dependency on the Internet and networks, having secured data is critical.

Companies today can no longer afford to ignore information security and, it's not just the private sector where it is a concern. Public facilities, such as government and schools, also must invest in security. As a result, information security is a rapidly growing field for job opportunities.

Data is a Commodity

Over the past several years data has evolved to become a hot commodity. Information is bought and sold like any other type of product, through both legal and illegal channels. Many privacy advocates have been vocal about the way information is used these days. Not to mention, all too often news reports speak of identity theft, malware, credit card fraud and data breaches.  

The information stored on company and agency servers is valuable stuff, so much that data/information has become an attractive gold mine for exploiters. Cyber criminals routinely swipe and sell data all the time, creating a massive underground black market.

Cybersecurity Trends

According to American News Report, Kentucky State Auditor, Adam Edelen said, "It's not a matter of if an agency will be hacked, but when." 1 Statistics seem to support this statement, IBM noted there were 1.5 million monitored cyberattacks a year in the U.S. (2013), and "many of those attacks result in a quantifiable data breach." 2

Credit Card TheftCredit: Don Hankins/Creative Commons-Attribution http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Credit_card_theft.jpg

One only has to look to massive data breaches that have occurred over the past year or two. Breaches, such as those that occurred with Home Depot, Target and the more recent massive breaches at Anthem (a U.S.-based health insurance company), illustrate just how much potential damage can be done when systems are exploited. In June 2015 it was reported even the U.S. Government's Office of Personnel Management was also hacked, with 4 million employees affected, many of which hold/held security clearances. 7

The fallout from these and other breaches remains to be seen. In order to keep up with the proverbial bad guys, good guys have to be hired to combat these digital threats. And even then it is often fighting an uphill battle; these trends leave the field wide open for job growth. American News Report indicated Congress approved $6.7 billion in cybersecurity protection for 2014, and the private sector is also heavily investing in boosting security.

H.R. 756--113th Congress: Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2013
Credit: Braydon Fuller/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

A 2014 bill was passed, which also saw increases, and it appears as if private sector security reform is on the schedule for 2015.6 All of which will equate to more jobs in this incredibly fast growing field.

Growth of Job Opportunities

While many job markets are dire, cybersecurity career opportunities continue to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field is projected to grow at a rapid rate.For instance, employment for information security analysts are anticipated to grow 37 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is designated by the agency as "much faster than average." Workers in these positions can earn, on average, $86K per year ($41 per hour) with a bachelor's degree in this area of expertise, with work experience in a related occupation (2012 stats).

In March 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported that a study conducted by Burning Glass International found cybersecurity opportunities were "soaring", growing at a rate 3.5 times faster than the entire IT job market. When all types of jobs were factored in, the rate was 12 times faster.4 This trend has continued, between 2007 and 2013 cybersecurity jobs grew by a whopping 74 percent. 5 At this time there are no indicators suggesting 2014 saw a decrease and odds are good 2015 will see positive growth in this field.

Education Paths

Over the past several years, a number of college degree programs have also been supporting the growth of cybersecurity with newly designed and/or updated IT programs to encompass a variety of information security, privacy and tech-related ethics courses (I took many of all of these types of courses myself). Universities are offering these options through both undergrad and graduate degree programs to prepare students for the level of expertise that will be needed to fill these jobs.

If you are seeking a career that is not going to fall stagnant any time soon, like to continuously learn new things and if technology is your strength and interest, cybersecurity is a good way to go.  You probably won't be lacking in opportunity anytime soon, as there is currently a huge shortage of workers in the cybersecurity industry. Experts say there is also present a huge skills gap. More qualified expertise is consistently needed.

If you are starting on your career path or looking for a change, if the idea of cybersecurity is appealing to you, now is probably a good time to explore your options.