The Exciting Challenges of a Career in Cyber Security
Cyberattacks like the hacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment and Target have put serious cybercrime on the radar of the American public and government alike, so it’s no surprise that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the cyber security industry will grow 37 percent by 2022.
The hack on Anthem Inc., a leading U.S. health insurer, in early 2015 involved a massive breach of data containing nearly 80 million personal records, prompting investigations by state and federal authorities. During his January State of the Union Address, President Obama warned that cyberattacks are among the most serious economic and national security challenges facing our nation, and urged Congress to pass legislation in response to their evolving threat.
Cyber security experts, also known as information security analysts, plan and activate security measures to protect a company’s computer networks and systems. These professionals are in high demand to protect the nation. Employment in the field will reach 102,500 jobs by 2022, the BLS predicts.
In the past, cyber security jobs were restricted to technology companies and financial institutions. Today, they are available in all fields because businesses in all industries rely on computers and the Internet to function, from providing customers a product, online services, or entertainment, to managing a viral marketing campaign.
This rising demand is outpacing the number of cyber security experts qualified for the role. The U.S. must develop a pipeline of future employees who are technologically-skilled and cyber-savvy to maintain a technical advantage over cyber attackers.
A variety of academic options are available for those looking to jump-start a career in cyber security. Most companies require cyber security professionals to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming or a related field. Colleges like DeVry University offer a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems with hands-on learning opportunities built into the curriculum. According to job search engine Monster, hands-on experience like this is a necessary first step in making you qualified for cyber security positions.
“Our security landscape is constantly evolving, so the tools and tactics taught in educational courses need to evolve as well,” says Dr. Rajin Koonjbearry, professor in DeVry University’s College of Engineering & Information Sciences. “It is imperative that educational programs use the same tools that security professionals use to defend their environment. This experiential learning is vital to prepare students for the real-life cybercrimes they will defend against.”
When considering which program to enroll in, you should look for schools that partner with leading technology companies. Accessibility to these industry leaders can offer access to career development, lectures and events, and competitions to test and enhance your skills, preparing you to stand out in the job market once you graduate. DeVry University’s partnership with Cisco, for example, brings students insider access to Cisco Networking Academy NetRiders competitions.
“The NetRiders competition provides students with hands-on experience that is vital to a well-rounded education and preparation for IT roles,” says Renee Patton, U.S. public sector director of education, Cisco. “Conducted in a practical, competitive environment, the NetRiders competition gives students a chance to test their skills, showcase their knowledge, identify areas for improvement, and develop interactive networking skills.”
Security experts warn that 2015 will be the “Year of the Healthcare Hack.” Now, more than ever, analysts must provide innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information and weakening computer networks.
With open positions in the field ranging from intelligence and threat analysis to operations management and development or customer service and technical support, the possibilities for job seekers are endless. Accessible, state-of-the-art computer science programs and experiential learning opportunities strengthen students’ skill sets in advanced technologies and prepare them for the exciting challenges of a career in cyber security.