Cyber security is a growing field, given that all businesses and government agencies need to keep their data safe. Well-trained professionals will find opportunities in both the public sector and private sector, but there are distinct differences between the two.
As cyber threats continue to increase in number, so do cyber security jobs. Cyber security experts are needed in both the public and private sectors to ensure customer and public trust by protecting confidential data. Though the goal is the same, the work may be different, depending on which route a professional chooses to take. Security jobs in the private sector focus on protecting sensitive information about customers, while those in the public sector focus more on protecting the community.
The choice doesn’t have to be final – professionals can move back and forth between public and private employers. However, it may be best in the beginning to choose one path to refine your choices.
Options for the Cyber Security Professional
One more factor to consider in the public–private decision is that some jobs actually fall into both categories. In these positions, cyber security jobs are with a private company that does work for government agencies, so the job may incorporate components from both sectors.
Generally, the private sector can offer a higher salary for cyber security professional. Another benefit of private sector cyber security jobs is the nearly unlimited future prospects, given that all companies need to protect their data.
On the other hand, public cyber security professionals typically get excellent benefits and a high degree of job security. Professionals in all cyber security jobs get the advantages of high job satisfaction and constant learning.
Those seeking cyber security jobs can look forward to continued demand for their skills in the coming years, with employment expected to rise 18 percent from 2014 to 2024. Some industries, such as healthcare, have a high need for cyber protection as they move toward electronic-based record-keeping.
Comparing Public and Private Sector Cyber Security Jobs
Security jobs in the public sector may be more difficult to come by for a couple of reasons. One is that there are fewer of them available than in the private sector, given there are more businesses in the U.S. than government agencies.
The hiring process for government jobs is stringent, often requiring a clean criminal record, the ability to obtain a security clearance, and pass drug screening tests. However, getting a job in the private sector may take much longer.
Public sector positions become permanent appointments after an initial trial period, and movement between positions within the government is usually smooth, with some changes to a professional’s salary and benefits. However, government agencies are also subject to budget changes, which can decrease or even eliminate the availability of funding for certain positions.
The matter of cyber security salary is also important to consider. Private companies usually offer higher pay, but public entities often provide better benefits. Those with cyber security jobs can expect regular raises within the public sector, regardless of performance, while raises from a private company may depend more heavily on productivity.
Working styles may differ between the private and public sectors. Also, private companies may require longer hours, while the schedule at public entities is likely to be more predictable.
Training for Cyber Security Jobs
Both private and public sector employers demand highly trained professionals for high security jobs.
Getting the best education possible is the first step in securing a good position and cyber security salary in the field.
A wide variety of educational tracks is available, including certificate programs, secondary and post-secondary degrees, online programs, and industry certifications.
Discover the right education option for you and invest in your career advancement and longevity.