Cybersecurity Talent Outlook for 2016

January 2016 Talent Market Commentary

The cybersecurity hiring market is tight, and while it will open up in the future, supply and demand are unlikely to reach parity anytime soon.

As governance, risk and compliance becomes a greater concern for many companies, the cybersecurity professional is in high demand. From entry level positions to the C-Suite the cybersecurity hiring market reflects that fact, and applicant shortages for new positions in the field are increasingly common. However, while shortages remain the name of the game, quickly swelling ranks for entry level cybersecurity applicants point to an ultimately optimistic outlook.

The Cybersecurity Bottleneck

IT professionals with a cybersecurity focus remain the biggest bottleneck for companies seeking to expand their governance, risk and compliance operations. Indeed, more than 34 percent of companies say they've struggled to implement cybersecurity initiatives because they can't find the necessary expertise, and more than 26 percent say they've struggled with the same due to staffing shortages at every organizational tier, from entry-level to expert.

More than 1,000,000 job positions related to cybersecurity are expected to be open in 2016, so it seems likely that the more than 200,000 such positions that were open in 2015 are just the beginning of a new wave of demand for talent. This is especially true when it comes to cybersecurity professionals with Linux qualifications, as expertise with that operating system remains a top priority for many companies. Indeed, more than 97 percent of hiring managers expect to hire more Linux-qualified professionals than non-Linux professionals in the near future.

Additionally, job listings for IT professionals with Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certifications continue to outstrip the supply of those applicants. More than 50,000 such postings remained open from 2014 into 2015, representing nearly 75 percent of the total number of CISSP holders. Given the five-year time frame required to secure CISSP certification, hiring managers are going to continue to face strong headwinds to attract the best and brightest candidates with that certification.

Looking Ahead to the Future of Cybersecurity Hiring Markets

Analysts expect demand for cybersecurity IT professionals to rise by 6 million new positions by 2019, with a projected shortfall of more than 1.5 million professionals. Job postings for cybersecurity professionals are growing 300 percent faster than those for other IT professionals, and have increased by more than 74 percent in the last five years. The demand for cybersecurity professionals is projected to continue growing by more than 50 percent into 2018.

Reflecting this fact, entry level IT professionals, often the first step on a career track into cybersecurity, rank near the top occupations expected to create new positions by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with nearly 120,000 new positions created by 2024. Positions for network and computer administrators are expected to grow by eight percent in the same time frame, up from 382,000 positions currently.

While the booming ranks of entry level professionals are a positive sign for the coming decades, it will take some time for the wave of new entrants to progress up the ranks of experience and qualification. Given the current state of the cybersecurity hiring market, top-level candidates with top-level qualifications are relatively few and far between, and should be recruited accordingly. Fortunately, as candidates continue to funnel into systems analysts positions and other entry-level titles, they will begin progressing up the ranks of qualification and experience to relieve pressure further up the organizational chain.

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