What Hiring Managers Should Know About Cybersecurity

If you’re a hiring manager in search of cybersecurity professionals for your organization, you can try a number of different strategies. Many positions in IT, and cybersecurity in particular, benefit from an inherent flexibility that makes it possible to work from anywhere. If you and your organization are able to offer work-from-home options to your cybersecurity teams, your best bet as a hiring manager may be to scour the entire United for prospective hires.

But before you do, let us weigh in on some of the places you might want to consider searching. We’ve spent over a year and a half accumulating data about the information technology career field. With data from job sites, job descriptions, professional social media sites and more, we’ve cultivated a sense of where IT jobs are concentrated throughout the country. Try out the one of the tools we used, our interactive State of IT Jobs map, to explore areas of interest to you.

What follows is our analysis of some of that information: where in the country cybersecurity positions are densest, where they’re in line with national averages, and where you might find an advantage in your search for cybersecurity professionals.


Washington, D.C. is Full of Cybersecurity Professionals

In all of our data for IT jobs related to cybersecurity, Washington, D.C. is far and away the leader. D.C. leads in both the raw number of cybersecurity professionals and in the percentage of the district’s entire workforce that cybersecurity professionals represent. There are hundreds and thousands of open job postings and descriptions of filled cybersecurity positions — mostly on the more-experienced end.

If you and your company are looking for someone lower on the cybersecurity career ladder, that’s the sole area in which D.C. isn’t the national leader. Compared to states that lead the nation — like Virginia and Maryland — D.C. has about 20% of the number of low-level positions.

But once you’re looking at senior positions, like senior security engineer, D.C. regularly leads the nation. In some cases, the number of descriptions and positions for experienced security experts is double or triple the national average.

Depending on your approach, the fact that Washington, D.C. leads the nation in so many of these positions could help or hurt your search for cybersecurity professionals. So many people currently doing work in the cybersecurity field is promising, but the number of job postings we’ve discovered there also indicates stiff competition. You might want to consider internal candidates that you could upskill into cybersecurity positions.

If you can afford to offer substantial hiring packages or perks, even something like work-from-home, you might be able to lure away top-notch cybersecurity professionals from D.C. But if that flexibility isn’t open to you, you might be better suited looking elsewhere.


Virginia and Maryland Also Have a lot of Cybersecurity Positions

With D.C. at the top of our list of where to find cybersecurity professionals, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that its neighbors, Virginia and Maryland, are also densely populated with cybersecurity positions. In most job postings and position descriptions, Virginia and Maryland are in stiff competition with D.C. for the lead.

Per our data, positions that are just right for junior cybersecurity analysts are most abundant in Virginia and Maryland. In terms of the percentage of the total workforce, the number of cybersecurity analysts is higher than the national average by 20 percentage points in Virginia. In volume, both Virginia and Maryland have far more security analysts than most other states.

When it comes to the number of filled and open positions for cybersecurity professionals that are higher on the career ladder, Virginia and Maryland hover at or above the national average. In Virginia, the percentage of the statewide workforce comprised of security engineers is double the national average. Maryland holds steady right around the national average for mid-level positions.

If you’re a hiring manager, you should consider looking to Virginia and Maryland. There are enough cybersecurity professionals to make a search worthwhile, but not so many as to be fiercely competitive. Virginia cities like Herndon, Vienna, and McLean, or Maryland cities like Laurel, Columbia, and Hanover may be the best places to find certified cybersecurity professionals. In those cities, certified cybersecurity professionals are numerous, but they aren’t crammed in cheek-to-jowl like some of the states’ bigger cities.

Therefore, if you and your company are looking to hire from out of Virginia and Maryland, much of the same cautions that apply to D.C. should be considered here. Our job data suggests that the job market in Virginia and Maryland for cybersecurity professionals is relatively competitive, and companies who go looking for work there will likely need to bring a lot to the table.


West Virginia Makes a Strong Cybersecurity Showing

Our jobs data indicates that West Virginia has many filled and open cybersecurity positions. But not so many that companies would be in fierce competition with too many other national companies for candidates and prospects.

In West Virginia, the number of job posts and descriptions that have responsibilities a cybersecurity engineer could perform sits just a few percentage points below the national average. The same is true of cybersecurity analysts. As a ratio of the entire working age population, the number of cybersecurity analysts in West Virginia is just below the national average.

Our data indicates that for middle- and entry-level cybersecurity positions, West Virginia may be one of the best places to look for a healthy job market that isn’t oversaturated. Our data suggests that 25-30% of IT professionals in West Virginia hold a mid-level cybersecurity certification, and 15% are Certified Ethical Hackers.

Compared to the national averages, West Virginia positions for cybersecurity professionals are highly “middle-of-the-road,” which to us suggests that the job market there should be competitive. Obviously distant from major metropolitan areas, West Virginia could be a great place for companies with work-from-home options to find many experienced mid-level candidates.

Martinsburg, Fairmont, Morgantown, Barrackville and Rivesville are pretty much the only cities in West Virginia with jobs and job descriptions that would be suitable for cybersecurity professionals. There are very few positions listed in any of the other cities in the state, so hiring managers would probably want to focus their searches in those cities.


Hawaii Has Cybersecurity Professionals Waiting

Hawaii has a substantial number of cybersecurity professionals, but compared to other states, still lingers near the bottom — both in raw number of certified cybersecurity professionals — and also in the ratio of cybersecurity professionals to the entire state’s workforce. So, Hawaii could very well be fertile ground for hiring managers.

Hawaii boasts many filled and open job positions for “IT and Cybersecurity Engineers”, but is substantially lower in number and percentage compared to states we’ve mentioned so far. Companies looking for highly experienced cybersecurity professionals should think about starting their search in Honolulu.

In Honolulu, there are hundreds more professionals with advanced and expert-level cybersecurity certifications than in Hawaii’s other cities. Although Pearl City, Waipahu, and Ewa Beach have a fair share of certified cybersecurity professionals, Honolulu alone has more than all other cities in the state combined.


Final Thoughts

Hiring managers looking for cybersecurity professionals may have a hard time ahead of them. The career path for cybersecurity experts is a steep one, and usually begins partway through an IT professional’s career. If cultivating from within isn’t an option, you might have luck looking elsewhere. Use the State of IT Jobs map to hone in on other areas. But be aware: there’s likely to be steep competition in major metropolitan areas throughout the country, but slimmer pickings in even middle-size markets.

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