Why a career in cybersecurity is more exciting than you might think

In 2019, I wrote an article on the tech and cybersecurity talent shortage. Unfortunately, since the pandemic and because of Brexit, that gap, particularly here in the UK, has only widened. As of 2021, the global talent shortage already amounts to 40 million skilled workers worldwide. By 2030, the global talent shortage is projected to reach 85.2 million workers.

This means that companies around the world are at risk of losing $ 8.4 trillion in revenue due to a lack of skilled talent. This gap is deeply felt in security and there is again a shortage of more than 350,000 cybersecurity specialists in Europe alone.

I firmly believe that the future of safety will be as strong as the talent of tomorrow. And as the talent gap continues, companies must get creative about how and where to find the next cyber expert.

Cybersecurity as a career option

While the cybersecurity industry is a fantastic and dynamic place to work, unfortunately, many are unaware that the industry exists as a career option. Therefore, suppliers must do more to attract talent to the sector. This industry has very low unemployment and, as mentioned above, many countries have an employee deficit. It is a very dynamic and exciting industry, but sometimes I feel like a lone crusader when I talk about the benefits of this industry for new talent.

I think many don’t know it because there are no specific college degrees in cybersecurity, so it is overlooked as a natural career to pursue. That being said, the NCSC has just started offering Cybersecurity Bachelor Internships, but it is the only certified Bachelor Apprenticeship in England and Wales. Scholarship and Degree Learning – NCSC.GOV.UK.

The NCSC CyberFirst program is designed to help young people explore their passion for technology by introducing them to cybersecurity. CyberFirst covers a wide range of activities and offers a scholarship to financially support university students in a subject of their choice, in addition to a cybersecurity degree learning program.

This is great, but the industry needs to do more, like partner with local schools and fund more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. We need to create more internship and apprenticeship opportunities for top talent, like the NCSC program. In addition, suppliers should consider launching robust skills improvement or retraining initiatives internally.

Passionate problem solvers

Those seeking a career in cybersecurity must be able to thrive in a fast-moving and dynamic environment. It is a sector that is critical to the UK economy and to the everyday lives of people across the country.

Key attributes include being able to be calm under pressure, being lateral thinkers, versatile and dedicated problem solvers. It is the same as any industry; Police officers have chosen that career path out of the desire to protect the public. Cybersecurity professionals are passionate about protecting the infrastructure of nations and businesses. This is important work, but also challenging. Without a second thought, individuals, businesses and institutions across the UK rely on the cybersecurity team to defend our digital world.

Cybersecurity professionals also need to be able to simplify complex problems and communicate in simple terms. This means that anyone in the organization, from the board to the receptionist, can understand how to protect the business.

Big stakes, big rewards

Today, we live in a world where our phones are rarely out of our hands and our laptops are critical to our ability to get work done. Since the pandemic, we have been online for almost everything and this means that we are exposing more data than ever. This dependence on technology makes the protection of our devices, networks and data essential. This is an industry where the stakes are high. Data breaches, exfiltration, and high bailouts are making headlines on a daily basis, and the costs to organizations, their brand reputation, and their customers have become astronomically high. But there are also great rewards for working in the industry, cybersecurity professionals have the opportunity, not only to solve critical problems, but to use technology forever.

The pandemic has shed light on the landscape of growing threats across all industries. The implications of a compromised credit card or unsuspecting phishing link are great. Hackers can make more money with minimal effort than ever before. Cybersecurity industry professionals must respond with speed and innovation and think like a cybercriminal. The more hackers we face, the smarter security professionals need to be. Clearly, there are endless opportunities for professional growth.

Explore the possibilities

Where should someone interested in a career in cybersecurity start?

Get as much varied experience as possible. In today’s work environment, the days of working for a company for your entire career are over. If you are offered an assignment abroad, grab it with both hands. It can result in gaining more experience in how different cultures address cybersecurity and data protection needs.

Resources like the NCSC provide insights into cybersecurity learnings, and hopefully in the short term, we’ll start to see similar initiatives. Similarly, people in the cybersecurity industry must do a better job educating and informing those entering the workforce about career opportunities.

Cybersecurity is a profession that requires constant learning and the acquisition of new skills. There are a multitude of resources, including online learning, cybersecurity books, and security-related news available for those who want to learn more and eventually enter the profession. Be a passionate practitioner.

I have no doubt that smart people applying innovative technology will always find a way to solve a cybersecurity problem.

Author of the photo: Alexander Kirch/Shutterstock

Anthony Webb is Vice President International, A10 Networks

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