San Diego Business Journal

There is a tremendous need in the cybersecurity field. With so many bad actors on the internet, employers want cybersecurity specialists, and that need is growing.

The good news during this time of economic challenge is that cybersecurity provides potential work — and not just for certain types of people.

Cybersecurity is a male-dominated profession with a good percentage of retired military. Only 25% of the workforce is women, minorities or other underrepresented communities. However, Lisa Easterly, chief operating officer of the San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence, sees that changing.

Demand for people is making managers think more inclusively. “You’re starting to see the industry open the aperture,” Easterly said.

That can only be good. “Bad actors take advantage of homogeneity. The more diverse this industry gets, the more perspectives we get, the better off we are.”

A State Full of Open Jobs

San Diego has thousands of cybersecurity jobs. Many are in private industry, but a good number are at NAVWAR, the U.S. Navy command that oversees cybersecurity for the military.

The supply of cybersecurity workers is low in the Golden State. California has 102,000 people employed in the specialty. There are 66,700 cybersecurity job openings, the most of any state in the union, according to the Cyber Seek website run by the U.S. Department of Commerce through its National Institute for Cybersecurity Education (abbreviated NICE).

Part of the nonprofit Cyber Center of Excellence’s job is economic development, and spreading the word. One portion of its website (www.sdccoe.org/careermap) is a career map — a tool that can inform a person what sort of cybersecurity job they can get with their interests, current background and some training. “It’s just like a Google Map — here’s where I am, here’s where I want to be,” Easterly said.

Would-be employees prepare for work by getting a certification such as CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) or CCNP (Cisco Certified Networking Professional). Local colleges — public, private and for-profit — offer entire cybersecurity programs.

The industry provides a lot of flexibility for women, including flexibility in how they get their work done. “It’s a job you can do remotely,” Easterly said.

People with autism make excellent cybersecurity workers, with their attention to detail and their ability to spot anomalies, Easterly added. Special training is available for that population.

Cybersecurity is a great career, Easterly said. And there will be a need for such professionals as long as criminals and nation-states prowl the internet.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “the bad actors just keep coming.”