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Federal government removes degree requirement for cyber jobs

Federal government removes degree requirement for cyber jobs

Cyber Jobs

The federal government is taking steps to boost the cyber workforce by removing certain degree requirements for federal cyber jobs and contracting positions where appropriate. Acting Principal Deputy National Cyber Director Jake Braun spoke about these efforts at the annual TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore. Braun emphasized that relying solely on four-year institutions with cybersecurity programs will not solve the workforce shortage.

The government needs to expand the pipeline to include workers from community colleges, veterans’ groups, and minority-serving institutions. The Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) is supporting apprenticeship programs, internships, and hiring based on skills rather than degrees. Through the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the government is removing the four-year degree requirement for the 2210 job series, which covers about 60-70% of cyber jobs.

This allows hiring based on experience, certifications, and aptitude tests. The ONCD and OPM are developing ways to assess cyber skills without an undergraduate degree.

Degree-free hiring strategies in cybersecurity

Since most of the federal cyber workforce comes from contractors, the organizations are working with the acquisition community to selectively remove degree requirements from contract language. Braun noted that while some jobs may require advanced degrees, they are identifying alternative ways to assess talent. The ONCD has launched federal cyber hiring sprints and is working with OPM to count all cyber jobs in the federal government to understand vacancy rates.

The agency, created in 2019, is overseeing these workforce steps and other cybersecurity policy measures based on the National Cybersecurity Strategy and the National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy. Cyber initiatives have funding support from $1.8 trillion in appropriations across the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act. Braun emphasized that cybersecurity should be integrated into infrastructure projects funded by these bills.

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The ONCD also took inventory of 109 programs supporting federal cyber workforce development across the country, providing a central resource for the federal government and states. The agency has a team of nearly 100 people focused on driving federal cohesion on cybersecurity through daily interagency calls and tracking efforts on a federal scale.

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