The National Security Agency (NSA) one of our nation’s foremost super sleuth agencies recently announced (see references below) that it is planning to hire at least a thousand cyber-security professionals over the course of the next year. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is also expected to be hiring somewhere near the same amount, as is the Department of Homeland Security. The big daddy of cyber-security hires, the Depart of Defense, (DoD) is mum on figures, but it’s rumored that anyone that even walks near the pentagon is asked to come in and interview. All this in a time when so many Americans cannot find a job. What gives?
The fact is, American colleges are not keeping up with the demand. According to Science Magazine, (see references) the number of people graduating with degrees that might be applicable to cyber-security (math, computer science, cryptology, etc.) is lagging far behind the demand. This is because virtually every governmental agency, and every company of any size in this country finds itself under almost constant attack from cyber-criminals intent or gaining access to sensitive information. The need is doubly dire due to the fact that most jobs in this area that involve the government require a security clearance and American citizenship.
To get a feel for the magnitude of the problem, one need only spend a few minutes browsing CareerBuilder.com or even the back pages of the Washington Post. Companies and governmental institutions are hard-up for well qualified individuals to fill these positions. And that can only mean one thing; as need rises, so do big pay rates. Many of those currently in the field are finding their income doubling or even tripling over the course of just one or two years. They’re finding that once word gets out that they are really good at what they do, companies start calling trying to lure them away with offers and perks that are normally unheard of anywhere outside of Wall Street.
The government isn’t sitting still waiting either, the NSA and DHS have together designated over 125 University programs as Centers of Academic Excellence, which means that there are scholarships galore and those that complete the program are virtually guaranteed employment the moment they walk across a stage with a diploma in hand.
There are many in government who are pessimistic about the chances of our country producing enough qualified candidates over the next few years to meet demand. They see cyber-crime and other security breaches, such as the current problems with Wikileaks as becoming the norm and wonder what it might do to not only our reputation in the world, but our ability to defend ourselves.