Have you ever struggled to explain your job as a cybersecurity professional to a curious friend or neighbor? Sadly, you’re not alone.

According to Raytheon, more than half of millennials believe they have an idea of what it means to have a career in cybersecurity. Still, they don’t fully understand the vast array of work that is done, the skills that are needed or the real career opportunities that exist in this expanding industry. In fact, they typically believe that a computer science or engineering degree is required to work in cybersecurity.

The same report found that millennials want careers that involve problem-solving, management, data analysis, communication or software programming. So why don’t know that the cybersecurity field boasts all of these characteristics? One big reason: a simple lack of awareness. This, combined with the vast cybersecurity skills gap, is the reason why the theme for week two of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) 2018 is “Educating for a Career in Cybersecurity.”

Training the Next Generation of Cyber Defenders

This week — and throughout the year — the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) is striving to raise awareness among the next generation of potential cybersecurity professionals as a starting point to building stronger defenses. From high school to higher education, there are many ways to educate young people about the field of cybersecurity as they consider their career options.

Discover how today’s cyber heroes launched their security careers

Is there a student or young professional in your life who you think would succeed in the security field? The NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework is a great resource for information about the skills needed for a career in cybersecurity. The NICE Framework establishes a taxonomy of cybersecurity work regardless of where or for whom the work is performed. Providing a truly comprehensive look at the industry, the framework is intended for use in the public, private and academic sectors. And if you’re not ready to delve into the full read, this simple one-pager will get you started.

Now’s the Time to Launch a Career in Cybersecurity

Planning out your own career — or helping a mentee plan his or hers — is no easy task. We know the vast array of opportunities in cybersecurity can be overwhelming, but don’t let that stop you. All interested students or young professionals have to do is choose a place to start. NCSAM 2018 is the perfect time to enroll in an introductory course; take advantage of free online courses, such as those provided by Hacker Highschool; or attend a cybersecurity seminar such as those offered regularly by IBM.

Start your cybersecurity journey this October, and you could very well end up like IBM’s Bridgette Pepper. Bridgette started out studying political science and is currently a program manager at IBM Security. Today, Bridgette is deeply involved in outreach efforts to build cybersecurity career awareness among young people.

To learn more about careers in cybersecurity, be sure to check out what’s happening across the U.S. during National Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week from Nov. 12–17.

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