Skills Shortage

Cybersecurity Experts in High Demand as Market Faces Skill Shortages

As cyberattacks become more commonplace, demand for cybersecurity experts grows.

The growing threat of cyberattacks has created a robust demand for cybersecurity experts in a short-staffed IT jobs market. Just consider that the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, estimated in an October 2014 report that cyberattacks cause damages of $445 billion a year worldwide. In 2015, enterprises must constantly be on guard for these costly and disruptive digital intrusions.

Skills ShortageAnd the exponential growth of data, fueled by rising mobile device penetration in the developing world along with the emerging Internet of Things, will only result in a larger jackpot for hackers to target. Moreover, recent high-profile attacks against major corporations like, Target, Home Depot, JPMorgan Chase, Anthem and Sony, have elevated the issue of cybersecurity to the pulpit of everyday discussion.

The intrusion-risk is so compelling that JPMorgan Chase, who announced a data breach that compromised 84-million customer accounts last fall, plans to double their cybersecurity budget to $500 million in the next five years, according to bank CEO Jamie Dimon. Venture capital firms are also investing heavily in the cybersecurity sector. In 2014, VC funding for cybersecurity startups swelled to a record $2.4 billion, up 156 percent from 2011.

But where do these enhanced budgets and investments dollars ultimately trickle down? The beneficiaries of this spending and investment wave are information security personnel – the human capital commanding big money in a scarce cybersecurity expert pool.

Market research firm Gartner forecasts that the cybersecurity market will grow from $76.9 billion this year to $93 billion in 2019. The problem is the current dearth of qualified cybersecurity professionals to meet the current labor needs, not to mention those, which will accompany the market’s furious growth. One Rand Corporation study estimates that there are approximately 1,000 skilled cybersecurity experts globally, while the market needs 10,000 to 30,000 to satisfy demand.

Offering slightly better numbers, Alex Stamos, Yahoo’s chief information officer, told United Press International in March, “There are maybe four or five thousand people in North America I can hire right now who have the technical skills keen to us.”

Data from Burning Glass, a Boston-based labor analytics firm, indicates that cybersecurity job postings grew 74 percent from 2007 to 2013, or more than twice the growth rate of all other information technology jobs. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasted that demand for information security analysts is bound to grow by another 37 percent between 2012 and 2022.

But, in order to properly accommodate this demand, American cybersecurity experts like, U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit CEO Scott Borg and others have called for greater emphasis on and investment in cybersecurity education.

While enterprises wait with bated breath for more skilled cybersecurity personnel to enter the talent pool, competent security specialists can leverage scarcity to command top dollar. According to Network World, security-related positions are among fifteen job titles projected to experience significant salary upgrades this year. All of the jobs presently offer compensation packages ranging from at least $100,000, all the way up to $190,000 for chief security officers.

But in 2015, salaries for these security positions are expected to rise between 6.6-and-7.4 percent, depending on the exact role. So by 2016, some chief security officers could make a base exceeding $200,000.

The cybersecurity market is as lucrative as it short-staffed. Skilled information technologists would be wise to capitalize on the opportunity before the sector gets crowded and the laws of supply start trimming their income prospects.

Learn about 5 hiring trends for the cybersecurity industry in 2016.