So, you want to be a security pro? Read this first

Of all the high-demand areas in IT, security stands out at the top. According to DICE, the number of security jobs skyrocketed by more than 40% from 2014 to 2015, to 50,000 openings, compared with 16.8% growth the year before.

“Security jobs are growing at a far more rapid pace than other areas of technology, which are also growing rapidly,” says Bob Melk, president at DICE.

Meanwhile, in a 2015 survey by ISC2, 62% of respondents said they lacked adequate security staff, and 45% cannot find qualified candidates. In five years, the organization says, the shortfall in the global information security workforce will reach 1.5 million.

The inability of many companies to fill these jobs is only driving up salaries – as well as IT professionals’ interest in developing the skills to fill these jobs. “It pays well and is in high demand,” says Julie Oates, senior technical recruiter at Mondo. “There are so many jobs out there, and there will be more and more.”

Here are some insights to help IT professionals take advantage of the shortage – as well as some reasons it might not be the right move for you.

• Don’t worry if you don’t have specific security experience.

Much of the demand today is focused on roles that require several years of experience, such as senior security software engineers, Oates says. Such roles can demand upwards of $200,000, she says. The ISC2 study also reports that the highest job growth will be for security engineers and architects.

At the same time, there is still a wide array of security needs, says Julien Bellanger, co-founder and CEO at Prevoty, an application security monitoring and protection company. “So many different types of skillsets are in demand for security, and no single person can field all these roles,” he says. “You need a very large team to cover all the bases,” including people who understand what’s going on with the network and network traffic, the hardware appliances, the applications and the business logic of the applications.”

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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