Hackers exposed approximately 1.4 billion records between January and March 2018 alone, according to Infosecurity Magazine. That’s over 15 million records a day.

Clearly, in today’s hyper-connected world, cybersecurity is more critical than ever.

And it’s not only techy things like smartphones, computers, data servers, or the cloud that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. It’s the power grid, traffic lights, water purification systems, and all other critical infrastructure that’s plugged into the Internet. One phishing email or a sophisticated social engineering attack could bring any organization, and our society itself, to a grinding halt.

Google “data breach,” and you’ll find pages upon pages of results. Retailers, banks, social media apps, governments, Panera Bread. No one is safe.

From a workforce point-of-view, the number of positions related to cybersecurity has jumped in the last few years. A recent analysis of Emsi’s database of traditional labor market data (the federal government’s taxonomic data) indicates that information security analysts have increased 45% since 2012, adding 78,000 jobs to the economy. And they’re projected to increase another 15% (or 113,000 jobs) by 2023.

To better understand this vital and growing sector, we put together a list of five key things you should know about cybersecurity. We’ll look at which industries and cities are creating the demand, what job titles and skills employers look for, and which schools are producing the most talent.

1. Postings have increased 192% since September 2016

Since cybersecurity is more of an emerging job (and doesn’t show up in the government taxonomies as much as we would hope), we decided to consult our job postings analytics to get a better sense of demand. This step helps us get beyond limited taxonomies to provide a more up-to-date look at what’s happening in the U.S. labor market right now.

According to this data, postings that mention cybersecurity as a skill have increased 192% since September 2016. The top 10 job titles most frequently associated with this skill are:

  1. Information security analysts
  2. Cybersecurity engineers
  3. Security engineers
  4. Software engineers
  5. Systems engineers
  6. Cybersecurity analysts
  7. Information security specialists
  8. Systems administrators
  9. Network engineers
  10. Information security managers

For the purpose of this article, we’ll refer to these 10 job titles as “cybersecurity positions.”

The demand for cybersecurity positions has been steadily increasing over the last two years, with a noticeable spike in the last few months (see graphic below). Between September 2016 and December 2018, employers posted over 1.5 million job advertisements for those positions.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that companies are going to hire this many people. Instead, it shows a huge demand in the market and how much these companies need to fill cyber positions.

2. Cybersecurity jobs aren’t just for tech companies

Turns out, cybersecurity is not just relevant in information technology. It’s in high demand across a wide variety of industries, including finance, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and more.

U.S. financial institutions, in particular, are investing heavily in cybersecurity to combat a rise in cyber-attacks. According to Forbes, “while the typical American business is attacked 4 million times per year, the typical American financial services firm is attacked a staggering 1 billion times per year.”

And manufacturing is likely dominant because several of the top companies looking for cybersecurity are in the defense sector, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics.

Other top companies include Amazon and Booz Allen Hamilton. Amazon falls under the retail industry at No. 6, while Booz Allen Hamilton likely falls under the No. 1 industry: professional, scientific, and technical services. This sector includes accounting, engineering, computer services, advertising, scientific research, and more.

The No. 2 category is a broad area that captures a lot of sub-sectors, the most relevant of which is security and surveillance services.

3. Human skills are the missing ingredient

When we think about cybersecurity, we immediately think about the many necessary tech skills, like software engineering, software development, Java, C++, etc.

But those aren’t the only skills employers want. According to our recent report, Robot-Ready: Human+ Skills for the Future of Work, human skills like communications, leadership, and problem-solving are among the most in-demand in the labor market right now. That appears to be the case for cybersecurity, as well.

In the charts below, we can compare the supply and demand of skills associated with cybersecurity. On the left, we see our demand-side data (job postings). On the right is the supply-side data (social and professional profiles).

For the hard, or more technical, skills, there seems to generally be more supply than demand, particularly for the programming languages.

For the softer (human skills), there’s more demand than supply for every skill except troubleshooting and information technology. This shows the importance of human skills in highly technical areas and might indicate that employers are struggling to find well-rounded individuals to fill these spots.

Seeing management at No. 1 is also not surprising. We found in another recent report that management is the most in-demand skill at the U.S.’ top 10 companies.

These tables are far from exact, but they show the high-level disparities between cybersecurity employers and workers. More and more people are picking up technical skills, which is great. But now we have a potential shortfall in human skills, something we observed in our Robot-Ready report.

4. D.C. is the top MSA

When it comes to pure demand for cybersecurity positions, the major metros dominate. In the graphic below, we can see which cities have the most demand and how that demand has changed over the last two years.

Unsurprisingly, our government/military (D.C.) and financial (NYC) capitals show some of the most demand. Then we see the familiar tech-heavy metros of Silicon Valley: San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles.

5. Cybersecurity pros come from a wide variety of schools

To find out which schools cybersecurity pros went to, we explored our vast set of social profiles and resumes. After sampling over 985,000 resumes and profiles for our cybersecurity-related job titles, we created a list of the top schools mentioned.

Notice the significant amount of diversity here with a mix of elite, state, private for-profit, and online schools. All of the top 10 schools comprise less than 1% of the total sample, and they’re located all over the country. Three are based in California—two in the Bay Area and one in SoCal. Most are primarily on-campus schools, but University of Phoenix (the top school) and DeVry University are largely online.

It’s also worth noting that there’s a strong possibility University of Maryland College Park is also capturing University of Maryland University College grads. UMUC is UM’s online campus that does a lot of cybersecurity training in the D.C. area.


The demand for cybersecurity has been steadily increasing, and it’s not likely to slow down any time soon. Banks are beefing up their cybersecurity. Governments and major corporations are always fighting against hackers. As long as confidential information exists online, cybersecurity will be needed.

It also presents an opportunity for colleges, universities, businesses, and economic and workforce development organizations. How can all these stakeholders work together to ensure their regions have enough qualified cybersecurity professionals? Individually, how can these groups use this data? Here are a few ideas.

How to apply this data

Education providers

Use this data to evaluate the employers, skills, and overall cybersecurity demand in your region so you can align your programs and prepare your students for great jobs. You can also use Emsi’s alumni outcomes data to see where your alumni are working based on what they studied. This can help you understand how you are currently meeting the cybersecurity demand and what you can do to enhance and grow that in the future.


If you are a people analytics professional, this data can help you build your talent strategy. Let’s say you’re looking to hire cybersecurity professionals. You can explore the top regions where that talent is concentrated and find out which schools are producing the most cybersecurity professionals. Then you can decide where to recruit, or, if you’re looking to make multiple hires or open a new office, where to locate. You can also scope out your competition. What other companies are looking for the same talent?

Economic and workforce developers

Connect jobseekers and employers in your region by showing them which cybersecurity skills are in demand. Are there partnership opportunities to make sure students and jobseekers have a place to work and employers have quality talent? You can uncover this data using Workforce Insight, which tracks skills and job titles through online social profiles—information you can’t get from government occupation data sets.

If you have any questions or would like to explore this data for yourself, please let us know!

Meredith Metsker is a data journalist at Emsi. You can contact her at meredith.metsker@economicmodeling.com.