According to a report by Harvard Business Review, 37% of women and 24% of men will take a career break at some point in their working lives. Companies seem to be on board with the benefits of this, as a 2017 reportshows that 17% of organizations offer paid or unpaid sabbaticals. With many of us working longer, this trend is no surprise. The main reason men and women take a career break is to have a child, followed by caring for an elderly relative. And according to that same HBR report, 93% of those who take time out want to re-enter the workplace.
Earning potential is often a key factor in deciding if, and when, to return to work. In the U.S., 70% of mothers with children under the age of 18 participate in the workforce, and 75% of these work full time. In almost 40% of households, mothers are the primary or sole earners. And this can be good for the families’ overall finances — in 2014, family households where mothers were primary breadwinners had a higher median income.
However, for many, taking time off can come at a cost. After less than one year out of the workforce, according to HBR, earning potential drops on average 11%, and this rises to 37% if the career break is over three years. But there is a career path where demand for talent is so high that earning potential could far exceed even your previous role — especially if you are female.
Cybersecurity is a sector that is crying out for people. There is a well-reported skills shortage, with 1.8 million vacancies expected to remain unfilled by 2022. Having founded a cybersecurity recruitment firm, I know that attracting students alone will not solve this problem. The industry needs to find other people to attract, and to train.
In a previous article, I addressed the organizations looking to solve this problem. Employers understand the benefits of having a more diverse security team, in particular teams with more women. There is a real push from organizations to improve diversity in this area.
But for those returning to the workforce, and especially those considering retraining after a career break, why work in security in particular?
You Are In Demand
With such a major skills shortage, you are not likely to be unemployed. A salary report from my company found that the majority of people finding a new role in under a month. Cybersecurity risk is not going away, even if we hit a recession, so your job should be pretty safe. When economies struggle, crime increases — and online crime is no different. In the last global recession, spending on IT slumped, while spending on cybersecurity intensified. There will be a future shortage of people with the right skills battling an increased risk, so you are can feel confident about the security of your job in this sector.
Salaries in cybersecurity have been increasing year over year for the past five years. Some roles have increased at a faster pace than others, but all roles have seen large increases. Candidates can typically expect a 20% salary increase when moving roles — not bad.
Career Progression Is Quick
Even more impressive than the salary increases is how quickly you could move up the ladder. One can jump from an entry-level role to a skilled, managerial position within three years of entering the industry. Those who already have business experience should expect their first role to be at a more senior level, and achieving even faster career progression is possible. This is an industry that is battling a skills shortage, so passionate people who learn quickly can soon become experts and move up in a company. This is an industry that is changing constantly, battling a constantly evolving threat, which means that you don’t always need to have years of historical experience to be an expert in what is happening today.
You Get To Do Cool Stuff
OK, not all of it is like you see in the movies — although a lot of the cyberthreats you see on TV are possible in real life. You are working in an industry where you keep the business, individuals and potentially even your country safe. This could be testing a new connected device, investigating a breach, working with the business on the best security policy or educating customers on the risks of having poor security. All of this involves new technologies, working with intelligent people and constantly updating and developing your own skills.
Flexible Work Is Possible
There are cybersecurity vacancies open across the country. While some locations have more roles than others, there are opportunities everywhere. Some cybersecurity roles are perfectly suited to working from home, and many companies are offering flexible working opportunities. There are also roles that require a lot of travel, which some returners to the workforce may specifically be looking for. And with a buoyant interim market, there can be a huge amount of flexibility for those who don’t want to work all year round.