The number of cybersecurity job openings have been reported to be over 3.5 million as recently as 2021. Having been in the cybersecurity executive search business for over 5 years, I had significant doubts that the gap was this large.

Therefore in mid 2021, my team set out to analyze the number of job postings across all the globe using major job boards, including Dice, LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, Clearance Jobs plus, job boards such as Seek, Recruit, and Jobsite.  

LinkedIn was the primary source for job postings. No other job board we analyzed had more than 3,000 cybersecurity positions and most had fewer than 1,000. The most accurate results we could identify were U.S. based, as some job boards like Indeed, CareerBuilder and Monster block international job postings from U.S. based domains such as mine.

As the global leader in job postings, LinkedIn does not block international postings. We found that the U.S. represented about 60% of the global demand for cyber talent. We used this observation to extrapolate additional global demand for other job boards.

In our analysis, we specifically chose the major job boards but excluded job board aggregators other than Indeed. Indeed is the first and best aggregator and has the most sophisticated bots. Indeed’s bots crawl all major corporate websites and aggregate their job postings, while skipping third-party recruiting firms to avoid duplication.  

However, if a firm posts their positions to multiple major job boards, those positions are duplicated in the numbers. For example, at the time of our analysis, Dell had 300 cybersecurity positions posted on their corporate website. If they do not post those positions to any third-party sites, Indeed will still pick them up. If Dell does post their positions on LinkedIn (at the time of this analysis there were 800 Dell cybersecurity job postings on LinkedIn), those 300 positions on Indeed would be duplicated in our numbers, as our analysis includes all LinkedIn job postings.

Our analysis counted any position with a skill or title that included the following search terms: cybersecurity, cyber security, network security or any combination of the three. While this may not include every role within the cybersecurity community, it does include positions which are not primarily within the cybersecurity industry but still reference one of the keywords.

However, our numbers could be inflated because we counted people in non-cybersecurity roles if they reference these terms. Examples include a developer who needs to know network security; an attorney who needs to know cybersecurity privacy; and a bank teller who needs to have cybersecurity awareness. 

We found that most of the job boards had a relatively high degree of accuracy (>90%) in identifying relevant job postings.  

Potential Flaws in the Numbers:
The following may result in an overestimation of job openings:

  • Firms posting positions on multiple job boards. If a firm posted on LinkedIn, CareerBuilder  and Monster, those positions could be triple counted.
  • Inactive or fake job postings. In our experience, these account for 25% to 40% of all open positions. Firms frequently leave postings up to collect resumes even though they are not actively recruiting for the positions.

The following may result in an underestimation of job openings:

  • Positions at firms that are not aggregated by Indeed or posted on other major job boards.
  • Cybersecurity positions that do not explicitly call out cybersecurity, cyber security or network security. For example, IT auditors or IAM developers might be considered ‘cybersecurity’ but it may not be mentioned in their job description.
  • The net of these statistical errors should provide some balance. However, we still, we believe our calculations are likely overestimating the true current demand for cyber talent.
  • Our analysis shows there are roughly 265,000 cybersecurity job openings in the U.S. and approximately 450,000 worldwide.  

The net of these statistical errors should provide some balance. However, we still, we believe our calculations are likely overestimating the true current demand for cyber talent.
Our analysis shows there are roughly 265,000 cybersecurity job openings in the U.S. and approximately 450,000 worldwide.

The reason for overestimation is likely media or vendor driven sensationalism to push more subscriptions, advertising, automation tools and cybersecurity solutions.

Providing an accurate estimate of job demand is critical for several reasons because it:
Sets correct expectations across the cybersecurity industry

  • Avoids a “gold rush” for jobs that don’t exist
  • Avoids false expectations at the university level where cybersecurity programs have popped up across the country
  • Allows the industry to accurately scale job training programs

With an average growth rate of 9.9% CAGR, we project that the number of open positions could increase to 425,000 in the U.S. and 725,000 worldwide in the next five years. However, this will only be an accurate assumption if new cybersecurity automation systems fail to reduce the need for cybersecurity talent, and if there is a lack of sufficient training to feed the demand for talent in the meantime.

While the capacity of the current workforce is severely understaffed for the number of current openings, it is not anywhere near the gap of 3.5M as several sources have reported.

This is an excerpt from Fortify Experts annual Cybersecurity Employment Trends Report. To read the report in its entirety, go to the 2021 Cybersecurity Employment Trends Report

About Tim Howard

Tim Howard is the founder of Fortify Experts (www.fortifyexperts.com) which helps companies hire and deploy Best on the Planet talent through executive search perm placement and expert consulting. 

In addition, he has a passion for simplifying the hiring of security experts, as well as, simplifying how companies assess and plan for improving their security programs.

Tim conducts monthly CISO Round Tables which provides security leaders a forum to discuss best practices around relevant topics.

He also teamed up with Lyndrel Downs to launch www.CybersecurityDIVAS.com to help promote the most influential women in cybersecurity and provide a mentoring program to help encourage and support more diversity within the industry.

Tim has been leading technology staffing teams for over 20 years and is the founder of three other technology firms. He has degrees from Texas A&M University in Industrial Distribution and Marketing.  

Invite me to connect:  www.linkedin.com/in/timhoward