Searching for the next generation of government IT security pros

Hiring managers in the federal IT market continue to grapple with the issue of finding qualified professionals, but those already employed in the field say they have experienced substantial stability and opportunity, according to a new survey.

Findings from (ISC)²’s 2012 Career Impact Survey revealed that information security professionals employed by the public sector report nearly full employment, combined with career advancement opportunities and pay raises in 2011. On the other hand, a majority (83 percent) of those hiring for these positions say it’s extremely difficult to find qualified candidates.

Forty-two percent said the average time to find and hire the right candidate is one to three months; 33 percent said it could take three to six months to find a skilled recruit; and 17 percent reported it could take longer than six months.

Related story:

IT certification gives federal job seekers an edge

Nearly 97 percent of the 545 surveyed government information security professionals are working, and only 8 percent were unemployed in 2011. Sixty-two percent said they received a salary increase in 2011, and roughly half said they expect one in 2012.

The survey also showed that the top three skills federal hiring managers are looking for are certification and accreditation (68 percent), operations security (55 percent), and telecommunications and network security (53 percent). CISSP (96 percent), Security + (68 percent) and GIAC (18 percent) were the top three certifications among respondents.

The majority (83 percent) of hiring managers said an understanding of information security concepts is the most important factors in their hiring decision, followed by technical skills (82 percent) and related experienced (78 percent).

Having a college degree (37 percent) and having an appreciation for emerging technologies (32 percent) were among the least important factors for those hiring for information security positions, the survey found.


About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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Reader comments

Mon, Mar 5, 2012 Matt

I, too, was a DoD civilian contractor. Twice. I agree with nearly every comment here: System is broken, outsiders are the enemy, and no one in the ranks of the DoD knows squat and are threatened by anyone who demonstrates intelligence. It's too bad, really...

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 FEDup WV

You will get the answer of you just read the Related Story. I can count on one hand the CISSP, CISA, GSEC, GCFW, etc, etc, that I have met over that last 20 years in this business who are worth their salt. You bet on the guy with the alphabet soup and you get burnt. I'd take a guy with real world over a paper security tiger any day. Until they make those certs worth a crap, the GOV and private sector will always be one step behind.

Fri, Feb 24, 2012 Fed Up Fed

Simply look at the archives of this forum and see the plethora of venom and hate poured out on the federal (non-political) work force. Why go into such a crushing work environment where pay freezes, increased cost for decreased benefits, a looming RIF, and a lack of funding for continuing education (important in all IT but especially in security)? It's no surprise to us already invested and trapped why new hires are staying away in droves.

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 Me Virginia

I came up to the DC area as a DoD civilian employee with the intent of serving my country. That lasted a little over a year when I realized how broken the system was. In my role as a GS-11 (promoted to GS-12 after a year) IT Specialist (Security Engineer), I was responsible for the work of 10 contractors, each making nearly double what I was making. It seemed to me that they made all the money, were able to wear street clothes (I had to wear suit and tie every day), and had no accountability...if something popped where there was a screw up, they jumped contracts to avoid the fallout. After watching most of my gov colleagues that were worth a d@mn either leave the organization, or government entirely, I decided to hang up my blue badge and join the contractor ranks myself. Now I make more money, work with a client that actually gets the "one team, one fight" message, and go home feeling like I've accomplished something without putting my family through the additional pain of not being able to afford food and clothing in this area. Still, I'm considering chucking it all and going private sector. The money seems better, there are less headaches (clearances, polygraphs, classification markings,ridiculous regulations/bureaucracy, EGO's, etc.), and it seems there are just as many opportunities "out there" than working with the Fed gov't. Yes, I'm an IT Security pro with the requisite 8570.01-M certifications (CISA, CISSP, CEH, etc.)

Thu, Feb 23, 2012

I believe everyone is beating around the bush here. The real problem is the politics of the GS levels and whether you worked for the "enemy contractor" before you came to work there. Also, they would rather get rid of someone who has a great background, initiative, and proven ability to do the work on any pretext they can drum up. So why work for a system that is stacked for the "tenured" who only are there because they got through their probationary period and got their permanent status?

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