Report: Cybersecurity Workforce Needs to Grow by Two-Thirds to Protect Assets

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A report puts numbers to a perceived shortage of cyber talent worldwide.

An analysis from (ISC)² indicates the worldwide cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 65% to adequately protect enterprises’ critical assets.

The Cybersecurity Workforce Study, which surveyed more than 4,700 cyber professionals working across North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia, attempted to measure the pool of available cyber talent in comparison to the need for such talent over 2021.

“For 2021, our study estimates there are 4.19 million cybersecurity professionals worldwide, which is an increase of more than 700,000 compared to last year,” the study states. “By contrast, the Cybersecurity Workforce Gap is the number of additional professionals that organizations need to adequately defend their critical assets. For the second consecutive year, the [gap] has decreased, down to 2.72 million compared to 3.12 million last year.”

Together, the data suggests the global cyber workforce needs to grow 65% to “effectively defend organizations’ critical assets,” according to (ISC)², a Florida-based nonprofit organization that specializes in IT training and certifications.

Study participants included cyber professionals with the titles of security administrator, security architect, IT manager, IT director, IT specialist, chief information security officer and chief information officer. In 2021, the U.S. saw a 30% increase in the number of cyber professionals, according to the study.

Respondents expressed high levels of job satisfaction in 2021, with 77% reporting they were “satisfied or extremely satisfied” with their jobs—more than 10% higher than the same study found in 2019. Job satisfaction was high among all three age demographics in the study, with only a 3% difference reported between Gen Z and Baby Boomers.  

“Cybersecurity is anything but stable or predictable. Perhaps partly because of its very dynamism and the challenges it presents, many successful cybersecurity professionals overwhelmingly report happiness with their jobs,” the study states.

The study suggests career pathways toward becoming a cyber professional are also changing. IT backgrounds (47%)  remain the most common route, but 17% transitioned to cybersecurity from unrelated career fields, 15% through cybersecurity education and 15% explored cyber concepts of their own volition. Among Gen Z and Millennials, only 38% started in IT, compared to more than half for Gen X and Baby Boomers.