Another Good Day Ahead for Vets & Cybersecurity Industry in San Diego

By Ken Slaght

San Diego is home to more than 100 cybersecurity companies that employ 4,230 people in the region and the US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Command (SPAWAR) adds 3,390 employees to San Diego’s cybersecurity industry. Looking just between the years 2013 and 2015, the number of information security analysts grew by an average of 13.9% per year in San Diego, nearly double the national average of 7%. According to a study by the San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence, San Diego employers expect their cybersecurity workforce to grow by an additional 13% in the coming year.* This ever-growing talent demand and convergence of both commercial and defense security make San Diego a hotspot for transitioning service members and veterans with much needed transferable skillsets.

With an annual economic impact of $1.9 billion (equivalent to hosting 4 Super Bowls each year!)*, San Diego’s cybersecurity industry is and will continue to be a talent consumer for many years to come. Local universities and colleges confer more than 3,000 degrees in computer science and engineering each year*, and University of San Diego and California State University San Marcos launched cybersecurity master’s programs to help feed the pipeline. These educational programs offer veterans the opportunity to complement their field training and go on to successful careers in San Diego’s cyber industry.

San Diego welcomes vets with open arms from all service branches and provides resources for training, certifications, apprenticeships, and job placement through organizations like REBOOT, zero8hundred, Able-Disabled Advocacy and The Honor Foundation just to name a few. Economic development non-profits like Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) also help address the shortfall in cybersecurity personnel in the workforce through programs that bring academia, government, and cyber companies together to create a regional talent pipeline. In so doing, these programs seed the next generation of cyber leaders.

CCOE’s workforce development programs outlined below also help provide a template for national organizations like The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) and other regions across the country.

  • Job Board and Internship Program links the cyber workforce with industry job and internship opportunities, including military veterans with in-demand cyber skills.

  • Link2Cyber connects college students, transitioning service members and veterans with career opportunities through industry-led events at San Diego’s universities and Navy Region Southwest.

  • University—Industry Roundtables convenes regional university Deans, cyber companies, government and military leadership to foster greater alignment between university curriculum and industry needs.

  • Accelerator maps extended studies and certificate programs to job requirements to help transitioning service members, high school students, and those looking to change careers attain the skillsets needed to jumpstart a career in cybersecurity.

The good news is that not only are these cybersecurity positions in demand, but the pay for network support specialists is 50% higher than the average income, at $75,000 per year (generally not requiring a bachelor’s degree), and the average annual salary for analysts, computer scientists, and software developers is $116,000.*

So, if you’re a transitioning service member or a veteran looking for an in-demand, exciting career, we welcome you to San Diego and our growing cybersecurity community!

*For further details, see Cyber Center of Excellence’s 2016 San Diego Cybersecurity Industry Economic Impact Analysis and Workforce Study with research by San Diego Regional EDC, B&W Research and CBRE.


About Ken Slaght

RADM Kenneth D. Slaght, USN (ret.) is the Co-Chair and President of the San Diego Cyber Center Of Excellence (CCOE), a non-profit established to coordinate and enhance the effectiveness and synergy of the regional cyber initiative, capitalizing on our unique strengths to accelerate the regional economy by creating opportunities for business, attracting and nurturing talent.

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