Main image of article The NSA Wants You! (If You Have the Right Tech Skills)

Some of the country’s biggest tech giants—including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon—have laid off thousands of skilled tech professionals over the past few months. But the National Security Agency (NSA) is hoping the private sector’s loss will prove its gain.

The NSA is undertaking one of its biggest hiring sprees in three decades, with openings for 3,000 positions. “As NSA shifts to an era of strategic competition, it is critical that we’re able to build and sustain the diverse and expert workforce we need to continue working our missions,” NSA Executive Director Catherine Aucella wrote in a statement.

The secretive agency is hiring tech professionals skilled in a variety of disciplines, including computer science, cybersecurity, math, data science, engineering, and intelligence analysis. There are also roles open for those who’ve mastered communications, language analysis, business and accounting. If you have a background in cybersecurity, cryptography, and/or signals intelligence (SIGINT), chances are good you have what the agency wants.

The $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, recently signed into law by President Joe Biden, contains many millions of dollars in federal cybersecurity spending. For example, there’s $100 million for the Treasury Department’s Cybersecurity Enhancement Account, along with $422 million for the Office of Personnel Management for cybersecurity and hiring.

But will all that money cover the public sector’s cybersecurity talent gap, especially on the federal level? In September 2022, a report by the Federal Cyber Workforce Management and Coordinating Working Group found that, of the 700,000 open cyber positions in the U.S., 40,000 of these jobs are in the public sector. That’s a lot of positions to fill, especially considering the highly specialized nature of cybersecurity positions.

“This year we will continue to see the workforce gap increase both within the [cybersecurity] industry and the government,” Jim Hoppe, senior vice president for the Americas at security firm Delinea, recently told Dice. “The additional funds will lend tremendous support, but the government must do a better job at getting more new talent and diversity to join the cybersecurity workforce. How we attract new talent into the cyber industry and accelerate hiring must evolve, as hiring the right people is no longer just about core technical skills but rather a diverse set of skills that also include communication, collaboration, marketing, design and psychology.”

Public agencies like the NSA might not offer the same high salaries as the tech giants, but they can appeal to candidates’ patriotism, sense of mission, and job stability. If you’re a software engineer, analyst, mathematician or data scientist interested in working in national security, check out their job postings.