While we often talk to kids about cyber security and the need to protect their personal online information, are we properly educating them about the possibilities of cyber-security careers and the skills and knowledge to obtain such jobs?

As we recognize National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the answer to that question is that there is a shortfall.  With so much discussion of STEM in the classroom, the focus is largely on science and math. The lucky students will get some form of technology instruction, while many will miss the opportunity.

Yet not a week goes by when we don’t see cyber security in the news and understand the need for student interest in the field. According to recent statistics, cyber-security jobs are expected to increase 18 percent by the year 2024, with median job pay of $90,000 per year. Yes, it is a growth industry, but it is not one that parents are discussing with their children.

Cyber Security Careers - Infographic from Student Research Foundation

As the Research Consortium in Digital Safety & Cyber Security Careers has recently identified, the opportunities are largely unexplored as part of the college and career planning process.

These statistics are only further reinforced by the cyber-security hiring trends identified by groups like Burning Glass.

This may not be a subject that all parents or educators understand, but it is one that students should be encouraged to explore. Each year, we see how important it is to better understand student career aspirations and the steps necessary to help them achieve those dreams. Whether it be specific careers in STEM, or health careers, or the 21st century skills needed, or career/technical opportunities available, educators across the country are committed to gaining a better understanding of college and career goals. 

While teachers obviously play an important role in guiding students down the path, it is up to parents to begin the discussion and help their students see what might be possible. The National Cyber Security Alliance has developed a valuable primer for parents to use to jumpstart these important career path discussions.This guide provides a wealth of information useful to parents and teachers alike.

Yes, we can take proactive steps to ensure our personal digital information is secure and protected. We also can strengthen our global cyber universe by ensuring the next generation is prepared for the cyber security careers that will be in demand.