Cybersecurity for high school students. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

Cybersecurity: No Kid Left Behind; Are Parents The Problem?

Why aren’t more high school students and college graduates becoming cybercrime fighters?

Steve Morgan, Editor-in-Chief

Northport, N.Y. — Mar. 6, 2019

If parents are out of the cybersecurity loop, then their kids may miss out on a career in one of the fastest growing markets.

Hey, Mom and Dad, how many unfilled positions are there in the cybersecurity field?

What’s the salary for an entry-level cybersecurity professional? And what’s the earning potential with 5-10 years’ experience, or more?

How about the unemployment rate in the cybersecurity field, and job security?

What types of cybersecurity positions are there? Is the field just for computer science grads and coders?

Is the cybersecurity field growing, and how quickly?

If you’re a parent and can’t answer these questions, then you may be the reason why your child gets left behind — and left out of — a burgeoning industry with opportunities to serve and protect the community.

Growing Awareness In High Schools

Cybercrime will be one of the greatest threats to humanity over the next two decades.

Hacks and data breaches are front page news. Cybercrime damages are predicted to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015. As a result, the world is expected to spend more than $1 trillion on cybersecurity globally over the 5-year period from 2017 to 2021, and the market will grow by 15-20 percent year over year during that time.

High schools across the country are adding cybersecurity to their curriculum. Some students are more interested than others in learning about this segment of technology.

But the big question is how many students are talking to Mom and Dad about a career in cybersecurity? If cyber isn’t part of the dinner talk, then it’s not likely to become a career path for your child.

Teenagers are exposed to many career possibilities by their peers, teachers, and the media. Once their interest takes hold of a possible vocation, they inevitably discuss it with their parents.

So, what do you have to say to your child about a potential career in cybersecurity? Listen up, because there’s some valuable information you need to share with your offspring.

Cybersecurity Careers, By The Numbers

Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally by 2021, up from 1 million openings in 2014.

The cybersecurity unemployment rate has been at zero percent since 2016, and it’s expected to remain there for the foreseeable future.

U.S. News and World Report stated that the information security profession is growing at a rate of 36.5 percent through 2022. That bodes well for newbies, much the same as more experienced cyber fighters.

The U.S. has a total employed cybersecurity workforce consisting of nearly 715,000 people, and there are currently almost 314,000 unfilled positions, according to Cyber Seek, a project supported by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Entry-level information security analyst positions with cybersecurity skills range from salaries of around $67,500 to more than $90,000.

New data indicates that of all IT jobs, cybersecurity engineers — with an average annual salary of $140,000 — are projected to be the highest paying and most recruited heading into 2019.

For the top coders with leadership and cybersecurity skills, salaries exceed $225,000.

The second-highest paying tech job in 2019 is a chief information security officer (CISO), with a salary range of $175,000 to $275,000. Fortune 500 corporations in big cities pay as much as $380,000 to $420,000 annually, and more, to their CISOs, much higher than the average range for the position in mid-sized companies, government agencies, and academia.

Not Just For Boys

If you think technology and cybersecurity is for boys, then you’d better think again. Don’t shortchange your daughters by buying into a negative mentality that’s been perpetuated by some old surveys suggesting “women not wanted” in this hot market.

The number of women in cybersecurity has been recalculated from a six-year-old figure of 11 percent, to a new role call predicting that women currently hold more than 20 percent of the positions in our field.

Research firm Forrester predicts that the number of women CISOs at Fortune 500 companies will rise to 20 percent in 2019, compared with 13 percent in 2017. This is consistent with new research from Boardroom Insiders which states that 20 percent of Fortune 500 global chief information officers (CIOs) are now women — the largest percentage ever.

The top thought leaders in the cybersecurity industry are working alongside women in cybersecurity associations to get the message out — that women are in fact very much wanted in a field which desperately needs them. Women are 50 percent of the population, and 50 percent of the brainpower, on planet earth. To optimize our cybercrime combat forces, we need 50 percent of them to fill our open positions.

There’s a growing number of women in cybersecurity associations, events, lists, media stories, blogs, women-owned companies, and new programs that are creating more momentum than ever for gender equality in our field.

50 Cybersecurity Jobs

A career in cybersecurity doesn’t mean sitting behind a computer all day. And it’s definitely not just for programmers and techies.

So, exactly what types of jobs are out there for cyber wannabes? Cybersecurity Ventures publishes a list of 50 different positions in the field. While there are certainly a good number of hard-core tech titles, there’s quite a few that lend themselves to soft skills and for students with a knack for cat and mouse play.

Robert Herjavec, a Shark on ABC’s Emmy Award winning TV show Shark Tank, and CEO of his $300 million cybersecurity firm, Herjavec Group, says that he starts crying like a little child if you put a math equation on the board. Even still, Herjavec describes himself as being incredibly technical — although he’s not a programmer. He connects with high school kids by explaining that he’s Batman at work.

If your child is open to cyber — but not necessarily coding or computer science — then talk to them about careers in cybercrime investigation, forensics, or even sales and marketing. There’s something for everyone in the cybersecurity field. A human resources (HR) worker is more valuable with an understanding of cybersecurity — especially for corporations struggling to fill positions in a highly competitive market.

Post High-School Education

There’s something for every high school graduate interested in cybersecurity.

Online learning platforms such as Cybrary offer free online cybersecurity training. And for a modest fee they also offer exams for certain cybersecurity certifications. For young people undecided about college, or those that have decided against it, online learning is a worthy consideration and may lead to an entry-level position in cyber.

Vocational schools abound with a concentration on cybersecurity. In fact, the author of the story you’re reading attended a tech trade school in the early 1980s and it led to a career in cybersecurity, research, and journalism.

Community colleges offering cybersecurity courseware and certificate programs have become increasingly popular. Employers are struggling to recruit and retain cybersecurity workers, and often look at any degree or certificate in cybersecurity as a good one. Add in the candidate’s personality and ambition, and there’s nothing holding back a community college grad from climbing the ladder in our industry.

A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity is a hot commodity. The number of universities offering 4-year programs in cybersecurity has grown dramatically. And courses in cybersecurity have become more common as part of their computer science curriculum.

At the top of the food chain, there are the master’s degree programs in cybersecurity. Hundreds of schools now offer an M.S. in cybersecurity. Many of them are online programs that work well for full-time cybersecurity professionals who are dedicated to pursuing more education.

Cybersecurity Ventures publishes a list of 10 hot cybersecurity certifications. The list may be a valuable piece of cross-reference material for parents and students to use for any type of program they’re looking into.

Family Meeting

OK, parents — it’s time for a family meeting about cybersecurity. You’ve got some solid facts, figures, predictions and statistics to share with your high schooler.

There’s no need to force-feed cybersecurity on a kid that’s not interested. But you don’t want to leave your kid behind if the door is cracked and they’re even mildly interested.

If you’d like to learn more about our industry, then we recommend that you read the 2019 Cybersecurity Almanac, published by Cisco and Cybersecurity Ventures. You can also go to the Cybercrime Magazine channel on YouTube to watch interviews on cybersecurity with celebrities, top experts, women, and educators.

What’s on TV tonight, Mom? Cybersecurity.

Steve Morgan is founder and Editor-in-Chief at Cybersecurity Ventures.

Go here to read all of my blogs and articles covering cybersecurity. Go here to send me story tips, feedback and suggestions.