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Cybersecurity: A career that will stay in-demand for decades to come

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Recent cyber attacks suggest that it's not just the number of breaches going up, these breaches are increasing in severity as well. Source: Philippe Huguen / AFP

There are many reasons why a master’s degree in cybersecurity is worth investing in. In fact, you could say there are 3.5 million reasons — that’s the estimated number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs in this year alone, according to the New York Times.

You could even say there are 420,000 more reason to get a master’s degree in cybersecurity. That figure — US$420,000 — is the upper end of the salary spectrum for a Chief Information Security Officer in San Francisco, with the overall average being US$240,000, according to Forbes. If you were wondering: yes, a master’s degree is a prerequisite.

Organisations need qualified cybersecurity experts

Today, more than ever, companies need to prioritise developing and maintaining a team of technologists and cybersecurity experts who understand how perpetrators think. Security research by Varonis suggests that most companies have unprotected data and poor cybersecurity practices in place, making them vulnerable to data loss. 

With cybercrimes only increasing, all businesses are potential prey, regardless of growth rate, structure and reputation. Many have suffered costly cyber-attacks, leading to revenue loss and a decrease in customer trust. 

Capital One’s breach of more than 100 million past, present, and prospective customers made headlines worldwide with records, social security numbers, credit card applications and more being stolen, affecting the company’s long-held reputation for digital prowess. The  accused hacker, a former employee of Amazon Web Services Inc., got through the company’s firewall, accessing data the bank had stored on Amazon’s cloud service. 

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A nurse checks a computer following a cyber-attack at the Villefranche-sur-Saone’s hospital on Feb. 16, 2021. Source: Philippe Desmazes / AFP

Cybercrime is estimated to cost the world US$6 trillion annually by 2021, an increase of 50% just a year ago. In the first half of last year alone, there were 301 known breaches that exposed more than five million sensitive records, many of which were related to hacking and malware.

The fight against malicious cyber intent begins with professional expertise. It is imperative that companies make cybersecurity awareness, prevention, and practices a crucial part of their culture for the cyber battle to be won.

The fastest-growing cybersecurity skills for 2021 and beyond

According to Burning Glass Technologies, a leading labour market analytics firm, the top 10 fastest-growing cybersecurity skills show employers are ready to pay more for workers who are equipped to prevent attacks before they occur. These professionals are expected to build a secure digital ecosystem from the ground up.

The two fastest-growing skills — application development security and cloud security — both involve proactively building secure systems from the start rather than responding to attacks. These skills also represent crucial infrastructure for the modern economy, covering the apps on smartphones and the cloud storage businesses depend upon. Demand for these skills over the next five years is projected to grow 164% and 115%, respectively. These skills also carry significant salary premiums of up to US$15,000 for workers who have them.

According to The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Information Security Analyst’s Outlook, cybersecurity jobs are among the fastest-growing career areas nationally. The BLS predicts cybersecurity jobs will grow 31% through 2029, over seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4%. 

With COVID-19 driving a worldwide shift to remote work and online learning; and an increase in concerns around election security, cybersecurity is an increasingly critical topic. Burning Glass has been tracking demand for cybersecurity skills based on its database of more than one billion current and historical job postings. The Cyberseek.org website, built by Burning Glass in partnership with CompTIA, offers a look at cybersecurity demand by region and job titles.

Based on the Burning Glass analysis of employer demand in postings, the skills projected to grow the fastest in the next five years are: application development security (164%), cloud security (115%), risk management (60%), threat intelligence (41%), incident response (37%), compliance and controls (36%), data privacy and security (36%), access management (32%), security strategy and governance (20%), and health information security (20%).

Although these jobs are highly technical, the demand is not limited to the information technology sector. For example, an increasing number of job postings for attorneys requires expertise in data privacy and security.

Jobs requesting health information and security skills include not just cybersecurity engineers, but also healthcare administrators and insurance sales agents. This demand across sectors creates hybrid roles that blend cybersecurity skills within existing responsibilities.