White House Looks to Ease Education Requirements for Federal Cyber Contracting Jobs, Is That a Good Thing?

January 19, 2024

MartinFed’s Executive Vice President of Cyber & IT Solutions, Brad Fuller, has offered a response to National Cyber Director, Harry Coker’s stated desire to ease education requirements for federal cyber contracting jobs.

“Contrary to popular belief, achieving top-tier status as a cyber operator is not solely a product of learned skills. It’s more of a mindset, with exceptional individuals approaching challenges in unique ways. Similar to professional athletes, while training plays a role, inherent ability becomes a key factor that distinguishes different tiers of cyber professionals.

Overemphasis on degrees can sometimes overshadow the practical abilities and potential of candidates. In our experience, possessing a degree doesn’t necessarily correlate with the ability to apply knowledge effectively; it might merely indicate success in memorizing material for standardized tests,” says Fuller.

“We regularly review resumes related to cybersecurity to fill positions on our Federal cybersecurity contracts. An important observation from this ongoing process is that a degree often doesn’t serve as a reliable indicator of the skillsets essential for the job. There are instances where candidates without a degree showcase high proficiency in the required skills, yet they may be ineligible for a position requiring a four-year degree. On the flip side, individuals with a cybersecurity degree might lack the necessary skills for the job.

In the context of Federal government roles, the focus should shift towards attracting candidates with at least some level of skill rather than simply those who have applied. Having someone in a cyber defense role who lacks the necessary competence can sometimes be more detrimental than having no one at all. Therefore, reconsidering and eliminating rigid degree requirements is a positive first step. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance to avoid regressing by having too few requirements, risking the compromise of the skill level in the pursuit of filling positions.”

For more information on our cybersecurity division, visit our webpage here.