Champlain College Online Survey Finds Cybersecurity Events Prompted a Majority of Adults to Take Protective Action, Nearly 30% Would Consider Cyber Career

Study explores barriers to entering the cybersecurity profession and building a diverse workforce
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:00 AM CDT

BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Champlain College Online today announced findings from its survey, Adult Viewpoints 2021: The Cybersecurity Skills Gap and Barriers to Entry, which found that nearly 80% of American adults took action to protect themselves following recent cyber events and close to 30% of non-cyber workers were willing to consider a cyber career.

Champlain College Online (PRNewsfoto/Champlain College)
Champlain College Online (PRNewsfoto/Champlain College)

The study highlighted an increased interest in cybersecurity and cybersecurity education, but it also brought to light barriers preventing potential cyber professionals from launching careers in the in-demand space that's ripe with job opportunities. The study revealed three distinct barriers — high expectations of prior training, lack of diversity and inclusion, and toxic work environments. Of non-cyber respondents, 54% feel that high expectations for past training or experience impede them from entering the cybersecurity space. Of the respondents who showed interest in a cyber career, 56% said employer-sponsored training and education would motivate them to pursue the path.

"It's clear that adults are interested in pursuing a career change to cybersecurity, which is promising given the more than 460,000 job openings across the United States alone," said Kathleen Hyde, Cybersecurity Program Chair at Champlain College Online. "When looking to further their education to support this change, it's important that adults find a program that not only teaches them cybersecurity foundations but also provides networking, non-technical skills, and continuous learning, instilling the flexibility required for the dynamic space."

The survey also highlighted how adults have reacted to recent cyber events. From the SolarWinds breach in December 2020 to the multiple attacks in 2021 that have affected both the public and private sectors, the public's awareness of cyber threats has increased. Nearly 80% of survey respondents have acted in response to recent cyber events, with the most frequent actions including updating passwords or using two-factor authentication.

"Any adult that uses technology should be aware of cybersecurity risks. Many respondents are taking action, but cyber gaps remain," said Sérgio Tenreiro de Magalhães, Associate Professor at Champlain College Online. "Demand for cyber professionals and lack of diversity in the cyber workforce are major issues. It's crucial we work to close these gaps, including through a more equitable workplace that considers non-traditional IT backgrounds, and cyber education that encourages and builds confident, adaptable cyber professionals."

Additional survey findings include:

  • Of those in the field, 86% who identify as cybersecurity hiring managers indicate that the market expects entry-level cyber candidates to have vast industry experience. Overall, 72% of respondents estimate some type of university accreditation is required to enter the cybersecurity field.
  • Of the respondents who showed interest in pursuing a career in cybersecurity, 56% said employer-sponsored training and education would motivate them to pursue the path, with 46% noting tuition assistance from an employer as a motivating factor.
  • Lack of diversity remains another major barrier — 90% of respondents believe it's important to increase diversity in the cyber workforce.
  • Wage disparities were a main challenge to diversity acknowledged by respondents — 28% believe minorities earning lower wages than similarly skilled colleagues is the main barrier impacting a diverse cyber workforce.
  • In total, 81% of respondents feel that toxic work environments would prevent them from exploring a career in cybersecurity. Of respondents likely to pursue a career in cyber, 44% say toxic work environments impede their decision to explore cybersecurity careers.
  • According to respondents, the top two measures needed to improve cybersecurity are investing in cybersecurity internally and increasing the number of people educated in cybersecurity.
  • Problem-solving (81%) and communication (72%) were viewed as the most "essential" cybersecurity skill sets across all respondents.

Champlain College is a nationally recognized leader in cybersecurity and digital forensics education and home to the Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation & Cybersecurity. It's been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the U.S. National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. With twelve fully online cybersecurity programs and on-campus majors and minors to choose from, our programs provide cutting-edge education and virtual hands-on learning application to prepare future cyber leaders for the workforce.

Survey Methodology
Champlain College Online commissioned the Adult Viewpoints 2021: The Cybersecurity Skills Gap and Barriers to Entry survey, conducted online by national market research firm Full Circle Research. The survey examined why an industry projected to grow 33% through 2030 with guaranteed job security is seeing a major skills gap. It was conducted online among a random sample of 1,011 adults aged 20-55. Respondents were screened to ensure that they were employed and U.S. citizens.

About Champlain College Online
As one of the first online programs in the United States, we are proud to be part of the distinguished history of regionally accredited, not-for-profit Champlain College, founded in Burlington, Vermont in 1878.

Champlain College Online is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a leader in online higher education. Our nationally recognized programs address industry trends and critical skills gaps. We serve more than 3,000 students through 60+ online undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, and stackable credentials in high-demand fields like cybersecurity, business, healthcare, and information technology.

Through our workforce development program called truED, we partner with some of the nation's leading businesses and organizations in a bold reimagining of workplace learning that enables employees to flourish and organizations to grow. For more information, visit

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