Cyber Defense Review

The Cyberspace Workforce: An Array of Opportunities

By MAJ Brian M. Schultz, COL Andrew O. Hall | May 01, 2017

In private industry, businesses identify employment needs, create job openings, and attempt to attract talent. Likewise, the U.S. Army created the Cyber branch in a similar manner. The Army created authorizations, or job openings, for Cyber officers and talent was acquired through the Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program (VTIP). The Cyber branch received no shortage of requests for transfer and the VTIP fulfilled the authorization requirements through a selective process. Unlike industry, the Army created the Cyber branch within a closed personnel system, and the VTIP only considered individuals already commissioned as officers in the Army. Talented civilians in industry and academia may have a desire to serve their country. Below we summarize the many options the Army could use to employ Cyberspace talent that exists outside the military

Enlisting presents one such option. The enlisted Soldier, an entry-level worker, performs roles similar to a security analyst or exploitation analyst. Typical commitments for enlisting include a 6-year contract. During that time, an enlisted Soldier would likely serve in the grades of E-4 through E-5 and could anticipate a total annual income of $52,900 during the enlisted Soldier and the Defense Travel Management Office. Total military compensation could bring this total to an equivalent salary of $66,400 given federal tax advantages regarding allowances for housing and sustenance. In addition, enlisted Soldiers receive advanced training and gain highly valued skills most often acquired from higher education. One could consider this training a form of compensation in itself.

The Warrant Officer provides another opportunity for serving in the Army.  While the Cyberspace workforce does not currently recruit civilians to join as a Warrant Officer, the military does authorize this path in other specialties, as evidenced by the Aviation branch. Warrant Officers serve as skilled technicians who perform roles similar to penetration testers. Serving as a Warrant Officer would also include a six-year initial commitment. During that time, a Warrant Officer would serve at grades WO1 through CW3 and could anticipate a total annual income of $82,200 during the Warrant Officer. This figure includes the same base pay and allowances considered above; calculated using resources from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Travel Management Office. Total military compensation could bring this total to an equivalent salary of $90,300 given federal tax advantages pertaining to the allowances for housing and sustenance. In addition, the Army can pay Warrant Officers bonuses bringing this annual salary closer to $150,000 for highly skilled technical experts.

Most Army officers commission through the four-year and two-year commissioning programs of the United States Military Academy and the Reserve Officer Training Corps; however, another opportunity for the Cyberspace workforce includes enlisting as an entry-level officer. An onboarding process for this approach already exists through the traditional path of Basic Combat Training, Officer Candidate School, and the Cyber Basic Officer Leadership Course. Given the length and duration of each program in this sequence, the onboarding process takes longer than one year. Once onboard, these officers would serve as planners, managers, and developers. Serving as an entry-level officer requires a Bachelor degree and would carry a three-year initial commitment. During that time, an officer would serve at grades O-1 through O-2 and could anticipate a total annual income of $78,400 during the officer figure includes the base pay and allowances considerations as above; calculated using resources from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Travel Management Office. Total military compensation could bring this total to an equivalent salary of $83,800 given federal tax advantages regarding allowances for housing and sustenance.

Grade Step 1

7

$44,941

8

$49,771

9

$54,972

10

$60,538

11

$66,510

12

$79,720

13

$94,796

14

$112,021

15

$131,767

Serving as an Army civilian presents another option for entering the Cyberspace workforce. The onboarding process for this approach is much shorter. Army civilians in the Cyber workforce serve as analysts, planners, managers, and developers. While Army civilians can work in various roles, they can also work at various pay grades. The table to the right details the annual salary of various Army civilian pay grades, starting at Step 1, for the Maryland area, according to the 2017 Salary Tables provided by the Office of Personnel Management. Salary information for civilian salaries at other steps are also available.

The Highly Qualified Expert (HQE) program presents an additional option for civilian service. Under this program, the Secretary of the Army can appoint a civilian to the grade of GS-15 or the Executive Service for up to three years. The Army can authorize pay far exceeding that of the GS-15 grade, but an HQE may not earn a higher annual salary than that of the Vice President of the United States. Department of Defense policy states,

As authorized by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, directly commissioning officers for Cyberspace specialties is now an additional option for serving in the Armys Cyber workforce. Direct commission officers could start at a pay grade commensurate with their civilian experience, skill, and education level, serving in grades from O-1 to O-6. Currently, decisions have not been made on commitment requirements for direction commission officers; however, an officer serving for three years in the grade of O-3 could anticipate an equivalent salary of $95,200 in the officer These figures include the same base pay and allowance considerations as above and include federal tax advantages that pertain to these allowances.

In the coming months and years, this direct commission option will take hold in the form of a pilot program. The Army will still employ talent using all of the other options discussed above and should consider other non-traditional ways to leverage the Cyberspace expertise that exists in the Nation

In the end, several options for serving now exist. Talented civilians can also choose between various roles: analyst, planner, penetration tester, developer, and manager. The direct commission pilot program provides the opportunity to join the workforce at a position more advanced than entry-level; a change that begins to alter the notion of the Army's closed personnel system. Allowing talented civilians to join the Army to serve as Warrant Officers would expand this possibility even further. When considering the future of Cyberspace and the threats the Army and Nation might face, it makes sense to consider all options and have the mechanisms in place to pair talented civilians with the job role they would like to fill.

 

Endnotes

1 United States. Department of Defense. Defense Finance and Accounting Service. 2017 Military Pay Tables. Department of Defense, n.d. Web, February 14, 2017.

2 "BAH Calculator." BAH Calculator. Department of Defense, n.d. Web, February 14, 2017.

3 These figures can vary significantly based on an enlisted Soldier’s grade, marital status, and possible bonus pay.

4 "Military Compensation." Regular Military Compensation (RMC) Calculator. http://militarypay.defense.gov/Calculators/RMC-Calculator/. Accessed March 10, 2017.

5 United States. Department of Defense. Defense Finance and Accounting Service. 2017 Military Pay Tables.

6 "BAH Calculator." BAH Calculator. http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bahCalc.cfm. Accessed February 14, 2017.

7 "Military Compensation." Regular Military Compensation (RMC) Calculator.

http://militarypay.defense.gov/Calculators/RMC-Calculator/. Accessed March 10, 2017.

8 United States. Department of Defense. Defense Finance and Accounting Service. 2017 Military Pay Tables.

9 "BAH Calculator." BAH Calculator. http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bahCalc.cfm. Accessed February 14, 2017.

10 "Military Compensation." Regular Military Compensation (RMC) Calculator. http://militarypay.defense.gov/Calculators/RMC-Calculator/. Accessed March 10, 2017.

11 United States. Office of Personnel Management. SALARY TABLE 2017-DCB. https://www.opm.gov/policy-data- oversight/pay-leave/salaries- wages/salary-tables/pdf/2017/DCB.pdf

12 United States. Department of Defense. USD(P&R). DoD Civilian Personnel Management System: Employment of Highly Qualified Experts (HQEs). 1400.25th ed. Vol. 922. Accessed February 17, 2017.

13 This figure also assumes that no military service credit or constructive service credit was granted for professional experience to the direct commission officer. Some medical branches grant service credit for both military and civilian experience and apply this credit to time in service calculations effectively raising the potential salary of direct commissions, as detailed in Department of Defense Instruction 6000.13.

14 "Military Compensation." Regular Military Compensation (RMC) Calculator. http://militarypay.defense.gov/Calculators/RMC-Calculator/. Accessed March 10, 2017.