In July 1865, the famous newspaper editor (and presidential candidate) Horace Greeley popularized the saying “Go West, young man.”

Today, the message might be rephrased with a new frontier in mind: Go cyber, young man and woman.

Greeley’s message was aimed at the thousands of Civil War veterans who, with the conflict just ended, needed a new occupational frontier for their talents.

Today’s new frontier is online computer security. And it shows in the epic demand for people with those skills.

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“The single biggest trend, globally, is that there are chronic work shortages of qualified cybersecurity staff,” says one analyst. “It’s an absolute epidemic.”

And that’s the problem. Too many jobs. Not enough people.

How many jobs (and how few people) depends on who is doing the counting.

  • The Frost & Sullivan consulting firm estimates the shortfall will come to 1.5 million people by 2020.
  • A British group says the online world “will face a shortfall of 1.8 million cybersecurity workers by 2022.”
  • India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies thinks its nation alone will need 1 million online security pros in the next three years.

One picture is worth a thousand more words. Earlier this year, the folks at the jobs site Indeed.com noted the skills gap between what companies need and the number of applicants who have those skills:

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How much can someone make as an online security professional? A chief security officer can make in excess of $200,000 a year. A lead engineer makes $225,000 and higher.

Either way, it points to the rising amount of spending that companies are doing on cybersecurity these days — and why I continue to note that the sector is a gold mine for investors. I just added one overlooked security gem to the Total Wealth Insider portfolio this month that I believe will double in price in the next 18 months.