A Phenomenological Study of Cybersecurity Technologists’ Decision to Become Educators

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Nationally, a shortage exists of qualified cybersecurity persons entering the field, posing challenges for higher education institutions in locating qualified educators to help fill the gap. A wealth of literature discusses the needs of students, yet literature outlining qualities of attracting graduates to become educators is lacking. The purpose of the qualitative phenomenological study was to examine, recognize, and describe the lived experiences that influenced cybersecurity graduates to the field of higher education. The study was guided by Lent, Brown, and Hackett’s social cognitive career theory and Mezirow’s transformative learning theory, as each focuses on the awareness of self and motivating behaviors in choosing an occupational career path. The research questions that directed the study were created to examine the experiences that prompted cybersecurity graduates to become educators in the field of higher education. Seventeen postsecondary educators from Texas completed a video-conferencing interview and member-checking review. The data revealed three emergent themes and eight subthemes from the participants’ experiences regarding how the decision was made to enter the field of higher education. Findings from the study can benefit stakeholders in the fields of academic advising and admissions, and human resources guiding the recruitment process of future cybersecurity educators.