There are few industries that have experienced uninterrupted growth in the last 20 years. Cybersecurity is one of the few. Much the same as how data volumes never decrease, and security threats never go away or diminish in risk. As business and society commits more day-to-day business to digital processes, builds more data centers around the world and holds more of our information assets electronically, so the risk of cybercrime, inadvertent disclosure and other forms of misuse grows.
This risk must be mitigated, and this is best done by employing skilled cybersecurity professionals that can use their considerable knowledge and skillset to defend and protect data and systems using the latest technologies and tactics, as well as ensuring cybersecurity regulatory compliance.
It is therefore no surprise that these skills are in significant demand, and that there is not enough supply to meet that demand. Our recent independent research confirmed that the cybersecurity workforce gap has increased to more than 2.9 million globally, and around 150,000 in EMEA alone. Furthermore, almost two thirds of cybersecurity professionals said that the widening workforce gap is putting their organizations at risk, as key cybersecurity positions and functions are going unstaffed, and incident response is delayed due to a lack of qualified people to work on the task.
While that is a concerning state of affairs, it also represents a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking to career switch into cybersecurity, or anyone already working in IT or IT security and wanting to progress to a more senior, more critical and more fulfilling role. The vacancies and the opportunities are there, the industry just needs qualified professionals to fill them.
It is more than just meeting the needs of the private and public sector. A qualified, certified cybersecurity professional has significantly improved earning and employment potential over a professional that is just experienced. Global Knowledge recently published the 15 top-paying IT certifications in 2019 based on the results of its 2019 IT Skills & Salary Report research. Over a third of that list is comprised of cybersecurity certifications. As an example, the data revealed that a holder of our own CISSP certification can earn a global average of $116,900 in a role. Of course, that figure will vary by country, and in key markets such as the UK and across Europe, the earning opportunity for a certified cybersecurity professional will be even higher.
The cybersecurity skills gap is also illustrative of the diversity gap in the sector. Only a quarter of the cybersecurity workforce is female for example, meaning there is a huge untapped pool of potential that has yet to enter the sector. Qualifying more female cybersecurity professionals is both a chance to make even greater inroads into the diversity challenge, while addressing a large part of the overall skilled workforce shortage.
Finally, there is the issue of continuous learning. Anyone who suggests that undertaking a training program, sitting and exam and successfully passing it is the end of the journey is very wrong and doing you a disservice. Yes, this is the route to recognition and verification of your skills. However, such is the fast-moving nature of the sector in terms of technology, regulation and tactics, that even the most respected, developed and topical qualification will quickly become out-of-date without continuous skills development and learning. This is why Continuing Professional Education (CPE) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) components of a cybersecurity qualification and certification are so important to you. They exist as a framework to ensure your skills are kept sharp and relevant, and that the considerable time and cost investment you have made in becoming a qualified and recognized professional does not diminish in value over time.
There are other initiatives too. The recent launch of the Professional Development Institute (PDI) came about to help combat the skills shortage and to simplify the process of continuous education for certified cybersecurity professionals. An online video resource that professionals can pick up and use as they need to and as time allows, it will feature up to 30 new courses by the end of 2019. Current courses included GDPR for Security Professionals, DevSecOps and Building a Strong Culture of Security. All examples of the continuous learning that cybersecurity professionals need to keep pace with.
Cybersecurity challenges do not present themselves only within standard office hours. And so, neither should the career development opportunities. The industry is making it easier and more effective for people to learn, develop their skillset and increase their career opportunities, so that the cybersecurity workforce gap can close and so that we can all benefit from a safer and more secure cyber-world.
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