Cybersecurity: a Secure Field for Career Advancement

Cybersecurity

America has a massive shortage in cybersecurity experts, and demand for training programs is growing according to a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Intel Security. “The demand for cybersecurity professionals is outpacing the supply of qualified workers, with highly technical skills the most in need across all countries surveyed,” they explained.

The report revealed that in several countries on different continents 82% percent of IT leaders suffer from a shortage of cybersecurity experts at their individual organizations. 25% of study participants said, even more importantly, that they’d had proprietary data stolen due to the lack of qualified specialists to prevent it. If you consult the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you find the same conclusion: they predict that the demand for cybersecurity jobs will jump an astonishing 53% over the next two years.

If you or someone you know has been hacked, then you know firsthand that we live in an age with heightened needs for cybersecurity. An example from my own experience includes several attempts in 2016 by a hacker to access my bank account after successfully infiltrating my network and reading my emails and who knows what else. In this case, the hacker got into my personal computer in my home office, where sole access should have made this computer less vulnerable.  But as I learned, working with a global technology fix-it company, no device anywhere is ever completely safe. Scary. I did not know I was being hacked until this company notified me; they had been monitoring me ever since they worked on a different issue with me two years earlier! So you may not know if you have been interfered with until real damage has been done.

Is it any wonder that cybersecurity is a growing field with opportunities for great careers? What happened to me can happen to anyone, and it has happened to millions of individuals and thousands of organizations who now must now hire Cybersecurity professionals to protect themselves.

College graduates who are interested in pursuing a career in this field can take advantage of the Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate program offered jointly by the College of Charleston and The Citadel, with evening classes on the Lowcountry Graduate Center’s convenient North Charleston campus.  In as few as 12 months, a student can complete the certificate. The Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity is geared toward giving students hands-on knowledge, not just abstract or theoretical information. Institutions report that hands-on experience is the best way to prepare for the challenges that will come up on the job. According to the international skills shortage report, more than 60% of respondents said they believe that “hacking competitions are the best way to learn and polish skills.” This point is not lost on the College of Charleston and The Citadel.

Academic credits earned in the Graduate Certificate also count towards a Master’s Degree in Computer and Information Sciences from the two schools.  In the aggregate, the MS degree can take a few years to obtain, if a student is also working full time. So you could first pursue the Certificate and then decide if you still want to continue studying to earn the MS degree.  The Master’s Degree is sure to open doors for the highest levels of employment in the field, with the possibility of working here in Charleston, anywhere in the U.S. or even overseas, as shortages are everywhere.

A bright and secure future awaits any college graduate with an intense interest in cybersecurity. Truthfully, who among us is not concerned about a security breach of some kind, losing our money or our personal privacy or both? One only has to recall how the Russians hacked government emails, and what happened to Wells Fargo customers and Target shoppers, all recent examples. Cybersecurity and the career it offers are here to stay.

By Stancy Merwin