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Is cybersecurity right for me? It is nearly impossible to read, hear, or listen to the news or scroll through your social media feeds without hearing about a new cyber threat, computer hack or data breach. Almost half of all U.S. adults have had their personal information exposed by cyberattacks. As a result, cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field and one of the most attractive, lucrative and rewarding careers around. Have you been considering attending Pikes Peak Community College to pursue your cybersecurity education?

Several Factors to Consider When Deciding If This is the Right Field for You

1. Cybersecurity jobs are on the rise.

If you are going to invest your time, energy and money in a degree, you want to be sure that there will be a job waiting for you at the end of your journey, correct? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects cybersecurity jobs to increase 18 percent through 2024, which is more than twice the average for all occupations. One report is estimating that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021.

2. Cybersecurity professionals are needed in all industries.

Nearly every company in every industry has a need for some level of cybersecurity services. This means that you will not be restricted to certain types of companies when it comes time to find a job. You can put your skills to work in any field, from education to law enforcement.

3. Employers are seeking candidates with cybersecurity training/education.

Now that you know there is a shortage of qualified candidates, what does “qualified” mean, exactly? Employers are seeking candidates with a variety of education and experience.

4. Cybersecurity professionals can expect above-average earnings.

Employers are willing to make significant investments in qualified candidates. The BLS reports the median annual salary for cybersecurity analysts in 2016 was $92,600. This is more than twice the national average for all occupations.

5. The cybersecurity field offers room for career advancement.

Earning a Bachelor’s Degree makes you eligible for 13 times as many jobs as an individual with no degree. Just as education boosts job opportunities, so does experience. While your short-term goal is to land an entry-level position, it is important to know there is room for career advancement down the road. As you gain more experience, you will continue to develop as a professional, increasing your value to potential employers.

6. Are you collaborative and cooperative?

Much of cybersecurity’s success is predicated on continually sharing information about attacks and solutions with others—even those outside your organization. It is important to check your personal ego at the door.

7. Are you a hacker or a helper?

Ethics is a huge topic in security, so if you are more into hacking than helping, then a cybersecurity program probably is not for you. It is of the utmost importance to learn how to use information technology security tools responsibly.

8. Are you logical, dependable and calm?

When it comes to cybersecurity, it is not a matter of if you are going to be breached, but when—and what you are going to do about it. This career requires people who can remain calm in the face of chaos, while thinking critically and communicating clearly.

What Can Keep Me from Working in Cybersecurity?

Many cybersecurity positions require you to hold a security clearance. The process of obtaining a security clearance can be a lengthy and complicated one. However, there are several key factors that can and will keep you from obtaining a security clearance. Be aware of these as you consider if cybersecurity is the right field for you:

What can disqualify you?
  • You are not a U.S. citizen.
  • You were dishonorably discharged from the military.
  • You are currently involved in illegal drug use.
  • You have been judged as mentally incompetent or mentally incapacitated by a mental health professional.
  • You have had a clearance revoked for security reasons (note: after one year reapplication can be completed).
  • You are considered a dual citizen AND you are currently holding a passport from a country other than the U.S.

What may not disqualify you but may delay the receipt of a DoD clearance?

  • You have significant foreign national contacts (immediate family members living in other countries).
  • You own property in another country.
  • You have been convicted of a felony within the past 10 years.
  • You have a history of illegal drug use or alcohol abuse.
  • You have a significant history of financial problems with heavy indebtedness and late payments (over 180 days), bad debts, fairly current tax liens, repossessions and garnishments.