Bottom Line Up Front: There are more high-paying cybersecurity job openings than there are qualified applicants to fill them. That’s a massive problem for industries in need of cyber professionals, and a huge opportunity for Veterans looking to transition into new civilian careers.
Let’s take a brief glimpse at the history of the issue and then examine why Veterans are often perfect for cybersecurity jobs, even if it means going back to school to get qualified.
A History of Hacking
It never fails. Throughout history, whenever someone invents something, someone else finds a way to screw it up for everyone. This is certainly true with the introduction of the computer, and along with it, the first hackers. It wouldn’t be long until ARPANET and its offspring the Internet came along, providing the latticework for a “vague but exciting” information medium known as the World Wide Web.
Here at last hackers could sit in the comfort of their own homes and discover (and exploit) unknown chinks in the digital armor of networks and servers, accessing information they had no rights to… often just for fun! As awareness of the threat grew, the threat itself grew even more, leading to a new field in the information security arena—cybersecurity.
The Military and Cybersecurity
Today’s military networks contain so much sensitive information they are often classified as weapons systems in order to ensure the utmost level of protection. As Vice Admiral Jan Tighe put it back in 2015, “We know that our operational network is under fire every day; we have to defend it.”
Military members in all branches and across nearly every career field work on computers linked to these very same weaponized networks. Often, most don’t realize the behind-the-scenes war being fought between military cyber experts and the global enemies which are trying every trick in the book to gain access.
Having a military background, even if it was not specifically in information technology, gives you an advantage because you’ve worked in such an environment and have a general familiarity of the need to maintain information security.
Every military member receives mandatory ancillary training, including courses on information security. It becomes almost second nature to be on the lookout for suspicious emails, to be cautious when using external storage devices, to have situational awareness when discussing sensitive information. This is the exact mindset needed to be a successful cybersecurity professional in the civilian world!
Other traits which the military either instills or enhances includes being proactive and offensive, development of analytical thinking and problem-solving, getting to the core issue underlying any given issue and maintaining diligence in pursuing resolutions so that work can continue unimpeded. Having this “mission-driven” orientation is critical to working within the cybersecurity field.
The Growing Threat to Corporate Data
It’s not just the military which must take data security seriously. Civilian cybersecurity jobs are big business because nearly every large company now requires in-house, dedicated experts to help ward off the multitude of attacks they also receive every day.
Every month headlines are made of some massive corporate data breach, with the personal data of millions of people being lost to hackers. Some resulted in the loss of financial information, such as the hack of Capital One’s credit card data for 100 million Americans and 6 million Canadians. Others are more embarrassing, like the 412 million users of AdultFriendFinder whose identities were exposed during a hack.
Resources to Learn More
The demand for skilled cybersecurity experts is so great there are sites devoted to helping guide interested candidates on their career options, making it as easy as possible for interested people to learn more.
Cyberseek maintains an interactive career pathway featuring common cyber jobs and details on related salaries and the necessary educational credentials and skills to get started.
The National Initiative For Cybersecurity Education (NICE) is a unique “partnership between government, academia, and the private sector focused on cybersecurity education, training, and workforce development.”
Cyberdegrees.org is a massive information site featuring a directory of colleges and universities with cybersecurity programs. The site also offers data on common career paths, such as:
- Chief Infosec Officer
- Forensics Expert
- Incident Responder
- Penetration Tester
- Security Administrator
- Security Analyst
- Security Architect
- Security Auditor
- Security Consultant
- Security Director
- Security Engineer
- Security Manager
- Security Software Developer
- Security Specialist
- Security Code Auditor
- Vulnerability Assessor
Another very exciting option to consider, for active duty personnel about to transition out soon, is DoD SkillBridge. This program partners with various companies which feature internship programs in different areas, including cybersecurity.
You may find some of these opportunities by visiting their Locations page, scrolling down under the Map Legend, and then typing ‘cyber’ into the search block on the right side of the screen.
This will pop up results such as:
Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA)
MCB Camp Pendleton
Jobs vary depending on the skill level of the individual, track attended, and education and experience. Most common jobs are Service Technician, Network Controller, Maintenance Technician, Cloud Support Associate, and Cyber Security
SkillBridge is made for members within their final 180 days of duty, so you still receive military pay. But of course permission to apply depends on your unit commander first.
Good luck on your quest to explore cybersecurity opportunities. The jobs are out there waiting!