Want a Recession-Proof Career? Here’s the Case for a Job in Cybersecurity

Want a Recession-Proof Career? Here’s the Case for a Job in Cybersecurity
Want a Recession-Proof Career? Here’s the Case for a Job in Cybersecurity

The cyber threat landscape continues to evolve rapidly, but with more than 760,000 open positions in the US, the gap between supply and demand remains wide.
It’s an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic upended the world of work. On an individual level, the pandemic gave people the time to reflect and evaluate their careers and decide whether or not they were satisfied. On a macro level, businesses were required to change everything about how they managed and supported employees.
While the current job market is robust, with a 2:1 ratio of open positions to candidates, the pandemic, global geopolitical instability, and rapid and sustained inflation have put that ratio in danger. While economists are divided on the specifics, indicators point to a recession. This is the last thing employees and corporate leaders want to think about in the aftermath of a global pandemic, in the midst of a mass reshuffling of the labor market, and unprecedented cybercrime.
Rapid digital transformation and digital reliance necessitated that companies have a strong team in charge of their cybersecurity needs. The cyber threat landscape continues to evolve rapidly, but with more than 769,000 open positions in the United States, the gap between supply and demand remains wide.

Recessions are usually most difficult for those entering the workforce for the first time and other so-called “low-skilled” workers. However, the lack of talent in cybersecurity, coupled with the increased demand, means that it is a recession-proof industry. There are many opportunities for people without technical backgrounds to gain the skills, education, and experience necessary to succeed in IT by using cybersecurity as a starting point.
Workers have changed, and companies need to as well.
In 2021, 47 million people voluntarily left their positions in the U.S. in search of better pay, benefits, or personal and professional fulfillment. This mass exodus forced organizations to reconfigure their recruitment and retention strategies to better align with the changed needs and expectations of workers. Gen Z, in particular, is demanding better compensation and greater personalization in their job experiences. Organizational flexibility and agility are especially attractive to today’s job seekers.
The demographics of tech job seekers are changing as well. Traditional college enrollment is decreasing, and while there will always be degreed engineers and computer scientists, applicants with cross-functional skills or non-traditional education credentials are increasingly attractive. The need for talent in this area is so pressing that concessions are being made to give people experience and training more rapidly. Companies are responding to this urgent need for talent by reducing degree and experience requirements to attract more entry-level workers. Second, there has been a marked increase in skills-based educational programs that can teach non-technical workers the basics of coding and other IT skills more quickly than a four-year degree program.
To encourage growth in the tech sector, the White House, in partnership with the Departments of Labor and Commerce, launched the Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint Campaign. This national campaign encourages employers, industry associations, labor unions, and training providers to explore the Registered Apprenticeship model for cybersecurity recruitment, training, and retention strategy. The campaign offers new pathways for workers to pursue opportunities in cybersecurity through partnerships with educational institutions, infrastructure leaders, and public and private entities.
As more professionals look for meaning in their jobs—it’s a key priority for workers—careers in cybersecurity offer a wealth of options. Not only do cybersecurity jobs impact a variety of sectors, but they also impact people directly in the contexts of international online data collection, privacy, and digital threats. Workers can derive both personal meaning and professional meaning from cybersecurity careers. On a personal level, more than ever, cybersecurity can be seen as a public service. It directly ties to a nation’s strength and stability. Cybersecurity professionals contribute to creating a safer world for all people by setting new standards, implementing new techniques, and holding companies to higher standards. With the rapid growth the industry is experiencing, professionals have the opportunity to get in on the ground level and build a new standard in security. Cybersecurity careers give workers meaning as they strive to create safer digital spaces to protect individuals and organizations.

Companies are investing heavily in cybersecurity careers, affording entry-level workers opportunities to develop new skills.

My company, Ascent Solutions, offers an apprenticeship program that trains, develops and mentors individuals passionate about cybersecurity and learning. Apprentices get valuable, paid, on-the-job experience and training with field experts. The credentials earned through the program are nationally recognized and allow us to do our part in building a truly modern cybersecurity workforce. 
As there is a significant skills gap contributing to the cybersecurity staffing shortage, the apprenticeship model is an excellent way for workers with or without a technical background to gain in-demand skills. Cybersecurity workers need real-world experience to tackle the constantly evolving nature of the threat landscape. It’s less about having the perfect technical background and more about having the desire to learn and gain practical experience. Even within an organization, there may be non-technical workers who are interested in pivoting into a cybersecurity role. Developing an internally focused mentorship or professional development pathway for these types of individuals can be one means of creating a homegrown security workforce.

Cybersecurity is a rapidly changing and increasingly interesting field.

Cybersecurity is constantly evolving. Attacks are more prevalent and sophisticated now, coming from well-organized groups. In order to meet this challenge, public and private entities need to develop more diverse strategies and resources to ensure both national and personal digital security. As a result, there is an opportunity to explore multiple avenues for career growth and enrichment within the field.
The fast pace of the industry means that individual roles are constantly evolving. An entry-level analyst may find themselves supporting multiple teams within an organization, giving them a chance to gain valuable insight and develop useful cross-functional skills. New workers can leverage these skills to gain promotions and even create new roles within an organization. The CISO/CSO role was first introduced in 1994 and, since then, has evolved into a critical seat in the C-suite. As the threat landscape and cybersecurity industry continue to grow, more roles will likely surface to address the common and often very specific vulnerabilities that exist within the widened digital landscape.
Securing and modernizing our most critical digital assets is needed to assure growth and stability in uncertain times. Every industry and individual is still recalibrating to the massive changes and challenges of the last two years. Cybersecurity is an ideal starting point for workers eager to explore new career paths in the tech industry. For seasoned professionals looking to switch careers or join a new industry, cybersecurity presents a unique and exciting opportunity to build from the ground up.
With further upheavals on the horizon, workers are seeking out recession-proof careers that will offer stability and ensure employment. Cybersecurity has become essential work—companies need cybersecurity professionals to function, and individuals need cybersecurity protection at both the private and public levels. These jobs will only become more critical to the function of society. This is what makes cybersecurity a recession-proof industry.
The world needs a self-sustaining ecosystem of skilled workers to combat the varied cyber threats we face today. New career seekers can explore the wealth of opportunities available within the cybersecurity world and find careers that are interesting, fulfilling and recession-proof.

About The Author

JD Harris is Chairman and CEO of Ascent Solutions, the partner to solve the most challenging cybersecurity problems. He leads the overall company as both chief strategist and visionary. JD works with outside parties, banks, partners and customers on a frequent basis.

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