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Cybersecurity Professionals in High Demand, Survey Finds

August 12, 2013

Of the various technology professionals, cybersecurity experts are the most in demand today in the U.S., according to a new survey released by Semper Secure. This public-private partnership located in Virginia was created earlier this year by the state's Gov. Bob McDonnell to help attract more of these workers to jobs in the state, and to help advance the profession, according to Modern Healthcare.

"Current staffing shortages (of cybersecurity professionals) are estimated between 20,000 and 40,000, and, unfortunately, that trend is continuing," said Diane Miller, who directs information security and cyber initiatives at Northrop Grumman, a defense and national security contractor based in Falls Church, Va.

For the study, the organization surveyed 500 cybersecurity employees in 40 industries across 43 states, as well as in Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The mix was 81 percent male and 19 percent female. Survey findings revealed cybersecurity workers had diverse educational backgrounds. Forty-four percent of respondents had a bachelor's degree in computer science, mathematics or electrical engineering, CIO indicated. About 34 percent had a master's degree and 5 percent had a doctoral degree in one of those subjects. Additionally, 85 percent held a professional cybersecurity certification; among the most common credentials were the Certified Information Systems Security Professional, Cisco Certified Network Professional Security and Certified Ethical Hacker certifications.

Cybersecurity workers earned an average salary of $116,000 ($55.77 per hour), which is nearly three times the national median income for full-time wage and salary workers as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wrote Modern Healthcare. Entry-level workers with an associate degree, no certifications and less than a year of experience earned an average annual salary of $91,000. Top-level employees, with an advanced degree and 15 to 19 years' experience, garnered about $143,000 per year on average. As far as an industry breakdown, 14 percent of survey respondents worked in government, 14 percent in manufacturing, 13 percent in defense and aerospace, and 11 percent in health care. The other 48 percent had jobs in various other industries.

Most cybersecurity professionals, or 43 percent, were drawn to the sector sometime in their career whereas 36 percent became interested in it during college. The top three elements these professionals said was most compelling about their work were: that it was interesting and challenging (56 percent), that it was important and meaningful (44 percent) and that they loved the technology (39 percent), CIO reported.

Qualities they sought in an employer were, from most to least: a reputation for integrity or a code of honor (44 percent), a reputation as a cybersecurity leader (34 percent) and a reputation for addressing significant cybersecurity challenges (33 percent). The two perceived cybersecurity geographical hotspots were Washington (44 percent) and California (33 percent), the Los Angeles Times pointed out. Other states mentioned with growing cybersecurity employment opportunities were Texas, New York, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Louisiana.


Compiled by Doresa Banning

Sources:

"Cybersecurity Pros in High Demand, Highly Paid and Highly Selective," cio.com.au, Aug. 8, 2013, Kenneth Corbin

"Cybersecurity salaries average $116,000; D.C. seen as center," latimes.com, Aug. 6, 2013, Paresh Dave

"Survey reveals short supply of cybersecurity professionals," modernhealthcare.com, Aug. 9, 2013, Joseph Conn

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