Nearly 4,000. Well, 3,917 if you want to be exact. That’s the number of cyber and or weapons engineering tech jobs up for grabs right now in the Washington D.C. area, according to Paysa data this week. Over half of those jobs are in the District itself. The rest are in nearby Maryland and Virginia suburbs like Arlington, VA that are chock full of government agencies and government agency contractors. Other job openings are scattered throughout the country with nearly a thousand job openings in New York City and 850 in San Francisco.
The total number of cyber security and defense tech jobs to be filled in the U.S. is over 30,000.
“We need everyone,” soon-to-be Sandia National Laboratories director Stephen Younger told the Albuquerque Journal.
Sandia Gearing Up for Nuclear as Well as Cyber Projects
Although cyber security programs were already up and running during the Obama years and Hilary had made it part of her platform, President Trump has made it a front burner issue resulting in a flurry of new government contract work. At the same time, he is scaling up U.S. nuclear weapons – along with other military hardware – to levels perhaps not seen since the Cold War era.
Apt then that Sandia’s New Mexico lab – they also have one in Livermore – in December received a huge contract from the National Nuclear Security Administration to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, a Honeywell International subsidiary, will be tasked with updating the air-launched B61 nuclear bomb, the W88 missile designed for submarine launch, and the ground-launched Mk21 intercontinental cruise missile.
It was right there in the New Mexico desert at Los Alamos National Laboratory that physicist Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project birthed the nuclear age during World War II. So now it’s back to the future.
“It’s very challenging, because we’re taking weapons designed in a different era that were never intended to last as long as we want them to,” Sandia’s Younger said. “We’re doing a pretty thorough refurbishment with significant technology challenges using new materials and designs.”
Along with deliverables in design, test data and hardware, the lab is also expected to play a growing role in cybersecurity. Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. will assist in the Honeywell contract.
Who’s Got the Fattest Fed Cyber Security Contract? It’s a Secret but Looks Like Northrop
So what company leads in the cyber security work from the federal government? “In the secretive business of Pentagon cybersecurity, analysts at RBC Capital Markets estimate Northrop Grumman has the largest cybersecurity business among the defense primes,” according to a recent report in The Washington Business Journal.
That bodes well for Northrop given the crowded field of heavy hitters vying for fat federal cyber contracts. Others include General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. as well as the government IT players like Leidos Holdings Inc., Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. and CACI International Inc.
Obscuring a clearer picture is the veil of secrecy surrounding government cyber security work. It is difficult to know the size of the contracts because the Department of Defense intentionally blurs the line between spending on cybersecurity products and services and cybersecurity capabilities built into weapons platforms, according to the Washington Business Journal. Additionally, “many cyber programs are classified and therefore not specifically identified or discussed.”
Northrop’s cyber portfolio as of June 2016, was about $2 billion, according to media reports on remarks by the company at a Boston business conference last summer.
“Northrop is in an enviable position, given the prospects of this market and its potential for future growth,” the news account noted.
Is Your Fridge Spying on You? IOT Cyber Woes and the Cybersecurity Firms Who Want to Fix Them
Smart appliances, smart homes, interconnectivity – each new digital fingerprint we leave in the cloud creates a new portal for cybercrime and hacking.
“The increasingly digitalized world brings about new opportunities, yet innovation also brings new opportunities for cybercriminals around the world, who can gain access via vulnerable endpoints and billions of new connected devices facilitated by the boom of Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud technology,” reports Investopedia.
Citizens, the government and private institutions alike are vulnerable to being hacked. Reports of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and recent hacks on the Democratic National Committee highlighted the government’s vulnerability to cybercrime.
As cybersecurity continues to heat up, U.S. firms such as Symantec Corp., Palo Alto Networks Inc., FireEye Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and others stand poised to benefit from a heightened role in America’s revamped national defense strategy. Even though Sandia and Northrop Grumman may have the lion’s share, there is plenty of work to go around.
In addition, every major company in the U.S. is beefing up their own internal cybersecurity. AT&T, Bank of America, IBM and Wells Fargo have all been on recent hiring sprees for cyber tech talent along with government contractors Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, Paysa data reveals.
This may be just the proverbial tip of the iceberg as appliance and automobile manufacturers realize that their smart products need to also outsmart hackers.
But just who is going to be hired actually do all the work? Maybe you?
Cyber Tech Hires – It’s Not About the Ivy League
Didn’t graduate from Stanford or MIT? Get over it. Cyber firms have. According to Paysa data, the universities that are sending the most tech graduates straight to cyber software engineering jobs are not the big name schools.
DeVry University and University of Phoenix, both for-profit heavily online schools that are not highly selective about admissions criteria, turned up in Paysa’s short list of colleges sending the most students into cyber engineering jobs.
Here are the top 10:
- University of Maryland College Park
- University of Phoenix
- Western Governors University
- George Mason University
- Strayer University
- Capella University
- DeVry University
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- Colorado Technical University
- Penn State University
Plus, Sandia Labs in New Mexico has said it will continue to work with New Mexico’s research universities on the recruitment of future graduates into the lab’s workforce.
With a starting cyber engineering salary base of $82,567.46 and a total starting package – including signing bonus and benefits of $97,822.36, it could be a good gig.
Changing Up the Culture to Attract Tech Talent
What’s more, given the vast number of jobs to fill and President Trump’s demands for fast action, old stodgy companies are trying to learn new tricks. To lure tech workers, they are trying to rejigger their corporate cultures to be more Silicon Valley-ish.
“Cyber firms with big government contracts are aiming to think small. Small like a nimble Silicon Valley start-up so it can create a culture that will attract new young talent,” the Washington Business Journal recently reported.
As an example, the article cited how CSRA, a $5 billion dollar cybersecurity firm with federal government contracts, hosted a hack-a-thon for its employees. A move totally out of character with old school fed contractor culture.
The hack-a-thon brought together seven teams across the company’s four divisions — civilian, homeland security, defense and intelligence — to practice building virtual IT infrastructure, defend against cyber attacks and manage large data. The goal was to help workers refine their skills in areas that CSRA will need to be up to speed on for its federal government clients.
While it may seem out of character for a company like CSRA that serves the federal government to host such an event, company officials said doing so was imperative, both to cultivate the workforce and retain it.
But be warned, given Silicon Valley’s vociferous response to Trump so far, once you drink from the federal government water cooler now there may be no going back.