Cybersecurity Job Hunting May Come Down to Certifications

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An Ego Wall, a collection of awards, diplomas, and certificates

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In the United States, current cybersecurity professionals can meet only 85% of the employer demand — leaving almost half a million (469,930) positions open. That's according to CyberSeek, a joint project between tech certification organization CompTIA, labor market analyst Lightcast, and NICE, a US federal program focused on cybersecurity.

NICE (formerly an acronym for National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education), which is under the National Institute of Standards and Technology umbrella, gave a grant to CompTIA and Lightcast to develop a cybersecurity career "heat map" that became CyberSeek. Visitors can see the gap between available cybersecurity workers and employer demand as a percentage, drilling down to metropolitan areas to see where the jobs are more abundant. For example, if you were job-hunting in California, you would be better off checking San Diego, where only 87% of the jobs demand is met, than Fresno, where the ratio tips the other way, at 120% of jobs demand met.

CyberSeek's interactive map provides an interesting clue as to why experienced professionals may feel overlooked by hiring managers. At the bottom of the page, you can compare the number of professionals who hold various certifications against how many job listings ask for those certifications – and they don't match up very well. For example, the most popular certification by far among practitioners is CompTIA Security+; 265,992 people hold that certificate. However, only 69,906 job listings ask for that certification. On the other hand, 47,230 ads ask for Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and 36,162 ask for Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). Among the potential applicants are 35,812 CISAs and 20,300 CISMs, which is not enough to meet employer demand. Aligning the training and certifications with what hiring managers are actually looking for could help address hiring and recruiting challenges.

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