Unlike doctors or engineers, most cybersecurity professionals didn’t set out to work in their chosen field. In fact, more than half started their careers elsewhere and eventually made the move to cybersecurity. But once they make the move, most decide to stay.
Nearly two thirds of cybersecurity professionals (65%) intend to stay in the field until they retire, thanks to high demand for their skills and the challenging nature of the work, according to the (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, 2019.
The desire to stay indicates most are finding fulfillment in the field, even if working in cybersecurity wasn’t their original plan. Regardless of their beginnings, a solid majority (84%) say they are where they expected to be in their careers, given their skills and experience. Only 7% say they are nowhere close to where they expected to be, with another 8% saying they are “not that close.”
The study, which polled 3,237 individuals responsible for security/cybersecurity, paints a picture of how cybersecurity careers evolve over the years. It shows that more than half of respondents (58%) didn’t start out in security. They made the move because they were attracted to a field that is constantly evolving, challenges them to constantly solve puzzles and never gets boring.
And of course because of high demand, cybersecurity careers provide the kind of job security that is hard to find in most other fields. Currently, there is a shortage of about 4 million cybersecurity professionals, the study found.
The study’s findings underline the need for organizations to develop strategies for cross-training, career development through certifications and mentorship, and initiatives to attract professionals from other disciplines. There is a payoff for organizations that make these investments, since most cyber professionals decide to remain in the field once they’re in it.
Nearly half of cybersecurity professionals (49%) have a good idea of their desired career path. Building that kind of confidence takes some work, and the study provides strong clues about the importance of relevant experience. Workers can parlay that experience into developing cybersecurity skills with the help of robust training and career development, supportive management and strong mentorship.
Once cybersecurity workers develop the necessary skills and get comfortable in their jobs, there are rewards for those who succeed. Many become the go-to sources of information for colleagues, serving as mentors and as project leaders – all of which raises their profiles within their organizations.
So it’s clear the cybersecurity career path can be rewarding, but success requires some help from employers to develop the necessary skills – especially for those who migrate from other fields. And with a current skills shortage of about 4 million, helping to create cybersecurity career paths has never been more important.