Eighty percent of U.S. adults have never considered a cybersecurity job, a new survey finds. Here’s why so few women have jobs in the industry
It pays to protect online privacy.
While cybersecurity attacks are becoming more apparent, 80% of Americans have never even considered a job in guarding online information from hackers, and more than 20% of U.S. adults haven’t even heard of cybersecurity job titles such as security auditor or security engineer, according to a new survey from the University of Phoenix. And with the continued high demand for experienced job seekers, some base salaries pay upwards of $100k.
“These job titles are a little bit nebulous and foreign to a lot of people because they’re not your typical web developer or programmer,” Dennis Bonilla, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Phoenix, told Moneyish of jobs that require navigating hardware, firewalls and encryptions to ward off viruses and hackers, versus building a website or writing code to develop a software program.
“A lot of people think that cybersecurity is like what they see on TV: this ominous wizard behind the curtain that’s mysterious and alarming; but if you’re not actually writing the programs or doing the math to develop algorithms, you’re just applying these tools like any other job,” he added, compared to jobs that require just using the software rather than creating it.
To work in cybersecurity, a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science is preferred for employment — and while 51% of women hold a master’s degree or higher, compared to 45% of men, there is still a great gender disparity in the field. Women make up just 14% of the industry, and 89% of women polled said that they have never even considered a career in cybersecurity. What’s more, 44% of women have experienced a personal security breach in the past three years, emphasizing the need for more female representation industry wide.
The notable absence of women in cybersecurity is alarming, and could stem from their educational backgrounds. In 2015, women earned only 18% of all computer science degrees in the nation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In the workforce, however, females fill just 24% of STEM jobs. What’s more, 51% of women in the cybersecurity industry in the U.S., Latin America and the U.K. have experienced some form of discrimination at work, compared to only 15% of men.
The survey polled adults aged 18 and older who work full-time, part-time or are self-employed, of which 859 had been hacked in the past three years. It found that only about one in 10 respondents was familiar with the cybersecurity job titles mentioned. Only 10% of people could define what a penetration tester — or someone who is given the authority to legally break into the network to evaluate the security of the company — does. And 52% of respondents had never even heard of the job, which pays a base level salary of at least $55,000, according to career site Glassdoor.com. Just 8% knew that a security architect is responsible for building firewalls and maintaining the protection of a company’s computer system, and only another 8% could define a security engineer as someone who safeguards and monitors a company’s private data.
Some of these cybersecurity jobs pay more than $100,000. A security architect, for example, can make a base pay of $125,000 a year. A security auditor — or someone who tests how strong a security system is — can make a base pay of $135,000, while a security engineer can make an average base pay of $138,000, according to Glassdoor.com. A minimum of an associate’s degree in computer science is preferred for all.
These jobs are crucial now more than ever, considering cyber attacks reached record highs last year, with a reported 5,207 total breaches and 7.89 billion information records compromised, according to the Risk Based Security Data Breach Quick View Report for year-end 2017. Since January 2017, at least 15 retailers were hacked, including Macy’s, Sears, Kmart and Adidas, and they likely had customers’ private information stolen from them, a separate report from Shape Security found.
Getting hacked can cost big money: A single data breach is now $7.35 million in the U.S., according to IBM. And if your website or server gets hacked, it could cost between $300 to more than $10,000 to replace or repair the system with a backup.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved