Testing Tradeoff? 80% of Federal Cybersecurity Jobs Ask for a Drug Test | Burning Glass Technologies

Do drug tests help or hurt the federal government in hiring workers for cybersecurity jobs?

Given the difficulties the government has in finding enough cybersecurity workers, the question of whether the government should continue to require drug tests is being raised more often, as this story in Cybersecurity Dive reports.

Is this causing a testing tradeoff problem?

There is no doubt the federal government is more likely to ask for drug testing in cybersecurity jobs than private employers. Burning Glass Technologies data shows but more than 80% of federal cybersecurity jobs explicitly require a drug test. That compares to about 5-6% of cybersecurity job postings overall.

When looking at postings overall in 2020, federal cybersecurity jobs (83%) are about twice as likely to require a test than other federal jobs (41.6%). And overall the government is far more likely than employers overall to explicitly require a test—the national average is 7.2%.

On average, only 2.8% of IT job postings and 5.4% of cybersecurity postings in the U.S. explicitly require a drug test.

In addition to stricter drug testing, there are numerous other factors making it harder for the government to compete for cybersecurity talent, according to a Burning Glass report released earlier this year.

The “Securing a Nation” report found that the government faced heavy turnover in this field, losing nearly one out of five cybersecurity workers every year. And while entry-level salaries are fairly close to pay in the private sector, the government is four times more likely to require a graduate degree than other employers—and federal workers at that level make considerably less.

Federal cybersecurity roles are also less likely to emphasize the latest skills, which may make them less appealing to ambitious workers who want to maintain their edge.

For more on the challenges facing the federal government in cybersecurity hiring, get our report on “Securing a Nation: Improving Federal Cybersecurity Hiring in the United States” or listen to our podcast with Will Markow, lead author and Managing Director for Human Capital Management and Emerging Technologies at Burning Glass.

There is also a new update to Cyberseek.org, the cybersecurity job market website created by Burning Glass in partnership with CompTIA and the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education. The site offers the latest hiring data and interactive career pathways for those considering careers in cybersecurity.