Career Advice? One Word. Are You Listening? … Cybersecurity

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“I just want to say one word to you,” the adult says. “One word. Are you listening?”

After pausing for dramatic effect he blurts out the secret to the kid’s future: “Plastics!”

The advice might not have been completely off the mark, as plenty of plastic came out of the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond.

But, on a more serious note, the one-word advice I’d give to someone starting out today—or to someone re-starting their career today—would be: “Cybersecurity!”

Late last year the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a report called “A Human Capital Crisis in Cybersecurity” describing the nation’s need to substantially increase the number of highly skilled cybersecurity professionals.

The report notes that there is a severe shortage of cybersecurity professionals on the government side: “While the Obama administration has made cybersecurity a national priority and put forth efforts to hire more than 1,000 cyber security experts at the DHS, Air Force and other government agencies, the question has been where will the government find these professionals.”

The report sees the same shortage for the private sector: “‘There is a growing shortage of cybersecurity professionals which hinders the ability of public and private sectors to adequately defend their portions of an increasingly vital information infrastructure,’ said Claudine Farrell, manager, NGIS Talent Acquisition - Cyber Security and Ground System at Northrop Grumman.”

How bad is the projected shortfall?

CSIS sees the demand as being perhaps 30 times greater than supply: “According to interviews conducted with Jim Gosler, NSA Visiting Scientist and founding director of the CIA’s Clandestine Information Technology Office, there are only about 1,000 security specialists in the United States who have the specialized skills to operate effectively in cyberspace; however, the United States needs about 10,000 to 30,000 such individuals.”

The door is open for universities, community colleges, enterprise training groups, and others to provide the high-quality training and education that will be required to fill such a huge and presumably growing gap.

Add to government needs and enterprise needs, those of the rest of the business world—and of individuals. The Wall Street Journal recently carried a front pager story about how cybercriminals are shifting focus to small firms with less security.

So for the young person starting out in a career—or for those looking to focus on something new—forget about plastics. Think cybersecurity.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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