Where network security careers could thrive

Alberta’s oil and gas sector is clamouring for talented network architects and IT professionals who can keep their data safe. Is this Canada’s next Silicon Valley?

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When talented IT professionals begin to concentrate in a region in Canada, claims of a new “Silicon Valley” invariably follow. But in Alberta, the growing IT sector, tied to the oil and gas sector, is more properly associated with fibre-optic cable.

As a recent story in the Financial Post pointed out, IP networks in the oil- and gas-producing regions of western Canada are the key management instrument of the exploration and extraction of energy. And there’s a large demand for highly qualified network architects, quality assurance engineers and information security professionals, as a quick look on any online job site will reveal.

Related: Canadian takeaways from the oil and gas DDoS attack that bombed

Related: The DDoS protection you’re legally entitled to expect

Regional pockets of innovation tend to grow rapidly, and Alberta could get the distinction of being the go-to place for the best and brightest in the network-building field. Typically, people with these skillsets work for large organizations in major cities. Alberta’s energy sector can draw some of it westward, however. Even if many jobs are in remote locations, there’s valuable work to be done. In industry brief published last month outlining ‘The New Energy Landscape,’ for example, Booze Allen Hamilton suggested oil and gas firms need to install robust protection into networks, which could offer offer IT professionals jobs that could prove both engaging and profitable.

Unlike some markets in other parts of Canada, Alberta’s oil and gas companies exist in a booming sector of the economy that’s spending more and more on cutting-edge technology. That means the pay is good, particularly in remote areas, and network architects and analysts have fewer constraints in building and strengthening new wireless networks—vital experience for their future careers.

The notion that a skills shortage exists in Alberta because a new generation of IT-inclined young people is being pulled towards newer and hotter technologies like mobile app development, gamification and Web design is only partially true. With the emergence of “white hat” and “grey hat” hackers, security is increasingly seen as a rewarding and interesting career. Meanwhile, mobile network-related jobs are highly sought after.

Going out west in search of opportunity is an ages-old tradition in Canada, spurred in part by promotional efforts touting the personal and economic benefits of moving to the “frontier.” Both the energy sector and the government of Alberta can deliver the same message today by stressing the reason why IT companies and job seekers should settle there: it’s a place where IP network builders have the room to innovate and grow.

Download the industry brief: Creating a Collaborative Network in the Oil and Gas Sector, from Allstream. 

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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