Cybersecurity Job Seekers: Go West (or South)

Job seekers looking to get into the cybersecurity field: Now is the time. Talented cybersecurity candidates are in such high demand that hiring managers are having trouble closing the deal when they present job offers. Unemployment is so low that if companies aren’t willing to offer raises, employees will quit and move on to those companies willing to pay for the talent they desperately need.

Given that cybersecurity talent gaps exist across the country, it’s a job seeker’s wonderland out there. Job posting site Indeed.com has “… seen a 261% increase in job postings for data protection officers on Indeed since May 2017 (and an 829% increase since May 2016).” Other frequently posted cybersecurity roles include IT security specialist, information security analyst, network security engineer, security engineer and application security engineer.

While there is no one geographic region that dominates the demand within industry, cities along the East Coast and West coast have the highest number of job opportunities available.

So, where does one go to find a job in cybersecurity? Unlike most questions asked in the industry, the answer is not “It depends.”

Right now, Washington, D.C., ranks Indeed’s top city where cybersecurity job are in abundance.

Seven of the top 10 cities are located on either coast, but other regions of the country are burgeoning as well. Though not often thought of as tech hubs, Dallas-Fort Worth ranked third on the list, Chicago ranked No. 5 and Atlanta came in sixth.

Cybersecurity’s Westward Expansion

Over the last decade, Colorado has grown into a metropolis of tech and most recently, cybersecurity. The May 2017 U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) ranked Colorado No. 6 for the states with the highest concentration of jobs in information security and No. 4 for the metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of jobs in the field.

“Colorado is home to multiple four-year colleges and universities including the United States Air Force Academy,” said Gene Stevens, CTO/co-founder of ProtectWise, which is based in Denver. “Startups and high-growth stage companies in security—of which there are many in Colorado—tend to offer young talent a fantastic opportunity for career development through hands-on roles. As a result, employees stay longer and grow with the company.”

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the state will see a 40 percent job increase for information security analysts from 2015 to 2025, a growth rate more than double the national average. By comparison, data from the BLS shows growth nationwide for information security analysts careers at a rate of only 18 percent.

Of the 301,873 cybersecurity jobs currently open across the United States, 10,338 are in Colorado, according to Cyber Seek. Colorado has 3X the rate of security jobs per capita than California, putting the state in a good position to evolve into a security Mecca.

Take into consideration the cost of living, and Colorado also offers the appeal of being one of the top states for highest paying cybersecurity jobs. Using the average salary for an information security specialist role, Indeed calculated for price differentials in goods, rent and other services and found that Denver ranked No. 5 on the top 10 list of Metros that pay the most. 

Charlotte’s Royal Earning Potential

No, we’re not talking about Princess Charlotte, but cybersecurity professionals that land a job in Charlotte, N.C., have the potential to live like royalty. According to Forbes, Charlotte ranked seventh among the country’s best places for businesses and careers in 2018.

With nearly as many cybersecurity job openings as Colorado (10,726), Charlotte also holds great promise for job seekers. The cost of living in Charlotte is reportedly 2 percent to 5 percent below the national average. When adjusted for cost of living, Indeed ranked Charlotte as the top earning city for information security analysts who could eat like kings and queens on an income of $125,173. That’s more than twice the median household income of $56,731 in a city where the median home price is $219,000.

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Kacy Zurkus

Kacy Zurkus

Kacy Zurkus is a cybersecurity and InfoSec freelance writer who has contributed to several publications including Medium, CSO Online, The Parallax, InfoSec Magazine and K12 Tech Decisions. She covers a variety of security and risk topics. She has also self-published a memoir, "Finding My Way Home: A Memoir about Life, Love, and Family" under the pseudonym "C.K. O'Neil." Zurkus has nearly 20 years experience as a high school teacher on English and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University (2011). She earned a Master's in Education from University of Massachusetts (1999) and a BA in English from Regis College (1996). In addition, she's also spoken on a range of cybersecurity topics at conferences and universities, including SecureWorld Denver and the University of Southern California.

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