As a tech worker, you probably already know there are many directions you can go. Are you looking for a change? If so, have you thought about cyber security? Traditional skill sets, such as programming, network administration and database management are still needed to create and manage data, but the requirements to secure, protect and store these valuable assets are steadily increasing.
All organizations need cyber security, be it in the private or the public sector. As a result, this field has become a rapidly expanding one with skilled talent being needed to not only provide security solutions, but to proactively counter growing threats. A large number of these positions, in various capacities, are with companies contracted by the U.S. government to provide its security solutions.
"There are a broad range of openings from entry level to senior level positions available with unique requirements. With regard to 'cyber' technical backgrounds, we find that degrees in computer science, software development or systems administration are generally helpful," says Guy Delp, director of Cyber security and Advanced Analytics for Lockheed Martin, a leading cybersecurity provider in both government and commercial markets.
What else would you need?
Delp notes having knowledge of computer software languages such as JAVA, PHYTHON, Ruby-on-Rails, Linux, Hadoop, and cloud are skills sought. Hands-on experience is a plus, and if you have certifications, such as CISSP and Security+, these are also attractive credentials to possess.
Having the right tech skills to land a cyber security job is important, but employers are looking for personal traits as well.
"Technical skills are only part of the story," says Delp. "We look for applicants that have motivation and curiosity to drive them forward in this ever-changing domain as well [as] a strong ability to perform as part of a team."
One obstacle people encounter, or perceive to be a barrier, in preventing them from applying for a government contracting job is lacking a security clearance. But this may not be the case.
"Each specific job posting will state whether a clearance is needed. Applicants can apply regardless of their current security clearance status," shares Delp. "When possible, and by working closely with our government customers, we can work to get un-cleared candidates cleared. There are very specific criteria to be met for this to occur."
Want to boost your chances in landing a cyber security job?
Some steps you can take include obtaining the prerequisite skill sets and experience, suggests Delp. Also, attending industry events, joining associations, taking additional classes and networking with others in the field are other good initiatives to build your resume.
"We look for candidates that have a balance of solid technical skills and a strong desire to continue growing in the domain," says Delp.
According to job forecasts, cyber security is one of the fastest growing occupations. Burning Glass Technologies indicates staffing shortages are currently estimated to be between 20,000 and 40,000. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates cyber security jobs pay about three times the national average. According to Indeed.com, depending on the type of security position, the estimated salary range in cyber security for the D.C. region is $70K - $150K and up.
People with the right skills, attributes and a passion for this type of work are likely to find a solid career in cyber security. The first step is to decide if this type of work is for you. If so, get your proverbial ducks in a row. This tech path is definitely a good option to pursue. If you're looking to take your technical skills to a new level, there is definitely a need. Opportunities won't be lacking.
Leigh Goessl is a freelance writer who covers topics about business, technology, careers, education and travel. Reach her @LeighGoessl.