It may be a “virtual” realm of activity on the Internet, but the criminal activity out there is real. Fraud, identity theft, and trafficking in child pornography have all been identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as serious crimes, and trained experts are needed to track down perpetrators and prevent illegal activities.
The field of cybersecurity is still evolving right along with technology, generating jobs at a much faster pace than the national average. In fact, information security jobs are projected to grow by 40 percent or more over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The federal government is projecting a shortage of skilled tech workers, with some 1.4 million additional IT jobs created by 2020, and only 400,000 computer science graduates ready to fill them.
The pay is way ahead of the national average, too; cybersecurity agents earn a median wage of nearly $90,000 a year.
Wide range of applications
Because technology spans all industries, being skilled in computer forensics and data analysis opens up dozens of career doors beyond the criminal justice or government-related fields you might associate with cybersecurity.
Many cybersecurity experts work in the corporate world, where they protect social security and credit card information and financial transactions, or prevent leaks of products still in development.
Businesses employing cybersecurity workers can include banks, healthcare providers, tech and retail firms, “or any small business connected via the internet,” according to the BLS. These employees may be focused on upgrading computer networks and regulating data access, or responding to breaches and viruses. The technology needs of businesses, large and small, are growing every day.
On the forensics side, computer analysts may track down criminals like money-launderers or drug dealers by following electronic trails and tracing cell phone calls.
– Naomi Sheehan
Information Security Analysts
Median wages (2013) $42.59 hourly $88,590 annually
Employment (2012) 75,000
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 39,200
Security Management Specialists
Median wages (2013) $31.78 hourly $66,090 annually
Employment (2012) 992,000
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 209,400
Median wages (2013) $37.75 hourly $78,520 annually
Employment (2012) 119,000
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 340,300
Computer Systems Analysts
Median wages (2013) $39.03 hourly $81,190 annually
Employment (2012) 521,000
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 209,600