How to Help Students Meet the IT Security Skills Shortage

Avatar photo Bryan Gambrel

Here are a few eye opening statistics about the IT security field: About one in three cybersecurity jobs remains unfilled, translating into almost 700,000 open positions. Job growth in the field over the next ten years is projected to jump 32%. And medium income is estimated to be $112,000 per year, and trending northward.

All this presents a tremendous opportunity for your IT students. 

In recognition of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we spoke with Bryan Gambrel, the executive editor of IT titles at zyBooks, about how best to help students prepare to meet this IT security skills shortage. Here’s our conversation: 

What’s the best way to help students unlock these job opportunities? 

Bryan Gambrel To stand out in this field and excel in their career, your students need to work towards a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology, or a related field. While it’s not always required for an entry level position, it is preferred. But a degree alone isn’t enough.

They’ll also need to pass the CompTIA Security+ certification exam. Employers often require this important credential in addition to a degree. It’s the most basic security certification, and students can prepare for it while they’re still in school. In fact, many universities and community colleges now offer certification prep courses, and there are also online options to study for it. 

A combination of a bachelor’s degree and certification will give you students a strong advantage in the cybersecurity job market. 

What about an associate’s degree? 

Bryan Gambrel An associate’s degree in networking or IT will certainly help your students jump into the job market. But they’ll want to continue on to a bachelor’s degree, even if they study part time. And even with an associate’s degree, they’ll do best to pair it with the Security+ certification. 

How about other related majors like computer science or math? 

Bryan Gambrel Students with various degrees can certainly have a career in IT security, although getting in the door can be a lot tougher. Even with a computer science degree, I would advise students to get hands-on IT security experience. Many universities now offer IT courses for non-IT majors. They should take them. And it’s also a great idea for these students to prepare for and sit for the Security+ certification. That can make them standout. 

Where do you see the field going? 

Bryan Gambrel We’ve all read about huge layoffs at Apple, Amazon, Google and other tech giants. But the opposite is happening with IT security positions at those same companies. Data breaches, ransomware attacks and social engineering attacks are all growing at a rapid clip, of course (see this and this). Security positions will remain in demand for a long time to come. In fact, security is becoming a more important element of many jobs. Having the Security+ certification can give students in other tech fields a leg-up also.

Adding Cybersecurity Instruction with zyBooks

In this short video, Bryan Gambrel discusses how to use zyBooks to add cybersecurity instruction to your courses:

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Addressing the Skills Shortage

In this video, zyBooks IT content developer Dr. Babak Shoraka joins fellow cybersecurity experts and Wiley authors to discuss the challenges of recruiting cybersecurity talent. (zyBooks is a division of Wiley.)

Avatar photo
Author Bio

Bryan Gambrel

Bryan Gambrel is the Executive Editor for IT titles at zyBooks and has been working in IT, technology and educational publishing for over 25 years. He has been publishing IT certification curriculum for over 15 years. He has published books on dozens of technology and certifications, including CompTIA, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Oracle and Adobe. He holds a masters degree from Duke University.