Cyber-attacks are costing businesses $400 to $500 billion a year.  That figure, from Forbes, does not include the large number of cyber-attacks left unreported.  As businesses and governments realize the best defense against hacking headaches is a skilled cyber security team, budgets and headcounts are rising exponentially.  For IT professionals, entering the cyber security field has never been a more attractive and promising career move.

On April 1, 2015, President Obama responded to the increasing cyber security threat: “I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with this threat.”  By the end of 2015, the President included $14 billion for cyber security spending in his 2016 budget.

A Gartner report revealed worldwide information security spending will grow almost 4.7% to reach over $75 billion in 2015, and $170 billion in 2020.  Much of that money will be spent hiring new talent to stay ahead of the bad guys.

According to job market analyst Burning Glass, the number of job postings for cyber security grew by 91% from 2010-2014, compared to 28% for overall IT job postings.  If the IT career is booming, the cyber security career is exploding.  

For example, Burning Glass reports that in the U.S., employers posted 49,493 jobs that requested certification of CISSP (advertising an average salary of $93,010).  Yet the total number of CISSP holders is only 65,362, most of whom are likely already employed.

The urgent demand, and the specialized skills that cyber security requires explains why cyber security workers command an average salary premium of almost $6,500, which is 9% more than other IT workers.

Bigger pay is not just from bigger demand.  According to Victor Alhadeff, CEO of Boost eLearning, “the best defense is a team of skilled and experienced IT pros, with the credentials to prove it.”  Employers are seeking very educated and experienced individuals.  Some 84% of job postings requested a bachelor’s degree or higher.  And an almost equal 83% require at least 3 years of experience, with an average request of 5.4 years.  

IT certifications are also a more common requirement in cyber security jobs than other IT jobs.  “It makes sense that certification plays a bigger part in the hiring process for cyber security,” explains Alhadeff, whose IT certification training has left students with a 98.4% pass rate on their exams.  “We’re talking about a specialization within a technical field.  And it’s a specialization that cannot succeed without up-to-date knowledge and skills.  That goes for the individual and the team as a whole.”

Those best positioned for the cyber security gold rush are workers already in the IT profession, especially if they have some security experience.  A bachelor’s degree makes a big difference, and certification is key.  According to the Burning Glass report, “the cyber security job market is shaped by certifications, and job seekers of all experience levels can improve their employment opportunities by obtaining the relevant credentials.”  Those who get the training and certifications will make up the cyber security teams that businesses need to win against this $500 billion threat.

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