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Tons of $80,000 entry-level cybersecurity jobs are sitting empty.
BY Gary Robbins.
The nation’s colleges and universities are scrambling to add courses to prepare students to fill the huge number of cybersecurity jobs that have arisen because of the exponential growth in hacking worldwide.
The extent of the problem isn’t clear; analysts say the number of job vacancies ranges from 100,000 to 350,000, with as many as 45,000 positions in California.
Ashton Mozano, a cybersecurity professor at the University of San Diego, says there are thousands of $80,000 entry-level jobs available to applicants who have nothing more than an undergraduate degree in computer science or computer engineering.
Analysts are trying to nail down the actual number of openings. But the shortfall is real.
A lot of the blame has been placed on academia for failing to train large numbers of students with targeted skills. Industry and government officials also are being criticized for failing to define their needs more clearly — a key component for helping colleges solve the labor shortage.
Several vocational schools, such as Hack Reactor and General Assembly, have popped up in Los Angeles in recent years to train people for variety of computer programming jobs, and they teach skills that would be beneficial in cybersecurity. UCLA Extension, USC, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State San Bernardino and Loyola Law School, among others, have cybersecurity programs.
The University of San Diego works closely with Circadence Corp., a San Diego company led by Mozano that specializes in the “gamification” of cybersecurity training. Students are exposed to high-resolution videos and graphics that give them a sense of what a real “hack attack” is like. They also use the immersive software to learn how to spot and prevent digital assaults.
Mozano is trying to change the way that students are taught in hopes of drawing larger numbers of people into the field quickly. “Certain academic fields in mathematics and engineering are infamous for presenting material in drab, monotonic, esoteric, non-interactive manners,” he said.
To make matters worse, cybersecurity suffers from an image problem.
The field pays well, but many computer science students would rather create new products and technologies for Apple or Google.
“Computer science is sexy. Cyber isn’t,” said P.K. Agarwal, regional dean of Northeastern University’s Silicon Valley campuses, which teach cybersecurity. The field offers high-stress jobs “where you can get fired if things go wrong, and no one pats you on the back if there were no problems overnight,” he added.
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