African Americans Underrepresented In The Cybersecurity Field
According to data from the United States Department of Labor which publishes the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), ‘Black or African-American’ people make up only 3% of the information security analysts in the U.S.
There’s either a typo in the Bureau’s figures — or there’s something wrong. BLS updates the employment numbers every other year, and their latest for the ten year period 2014-2024 were published on the BIS.gov website in December of 2015.
BLS states information security analysts jobs are expected to grow 18% through 2024. The position is involved with combating hackers who break into corporate networks. In 2015, Lloyds of London estimated that cybercrimes were costing businesses globally as much as $400 billion. Juniper Research recently predicted that the rapid digitization of consumers’ lives and enterprise records will increase the cost of data breaches to $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, increasing to almost four times the estimated cost of breaches in 2015. The latest cybercrime forecasts – which came out after BLS’ employment data, may indicate even more growth for the information security occupation.
According to BLS, the 2014 median pay for information security analysts was $88,890 per year. The position usually requires a four-year college degree. There’s lots of upward mobility from there. Cybersecurity has one million job openings in 2016. The top five IT security salaries range from $175,000+ to $230,000+ per year. At the top of the profession, some chief information security officers (CISOs) earn $400,000+ per year.
Exposing teenagers to cybersecurity is a gateway to college programs and ultimately information security analyst and other careers in the field. There’s a growing number of programs which help high schoolers learn about cybersecurity. Teachers, guidance counselors and parents need to take the lead and tell students about these programs.
The International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP) and the International Colloquium for Minorities In Cyber Security (MICS) are two organizations devoted to promoting career opportunities for African Americans and other minorities in Cybersecurity. They provide technical training, scholarship opportunities, community outreach, mentoring programs, and job listings.
In early 2015, Vice President Joe Biden announced $25 million in funding for cybersecurity education at 13 historically black colleges and universities, two national labs and a K-12 district. The White House stated that demand for cybersecurity workers is growing by as much as 12 times faster than the U.S. job market, and is creating well-paying jobs.
President Obama’s 2017 cybersecurity budget is $19 billion – which is a 35% increase over 2016. The budget includes student loan forgiveness programs for cybersecurity experts who go to work for the U.S. government. To help young people get there, the President announced the Computer Science For All Initiative earlier this year. The program is designed to increase access to tech skills training in K-12 schools throughout the nation. This is mandatory reading for all educators and parents who want to advocate for their high school kids – and get them on a track for future tech and cyber careers.
African Americans should be properly represented in the cybersecurity field. Hopefully by the end of the BLS’s forecasted period — in the year 2024 — the information security analyst employment figures will include many more minorities.
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