There aren’t that many of them in the country and everyone wants to hire them, he said. “Every other critical part of the economy also needs the same people: the banks, the power and telecom companies, defense contractors, civilian and state government, hospitals — the hunger is real.”

The bar is even higher for the Defense Department and other agencies doing clandestine work, since they need U.S. citizens who can get security clearances, which shrinks the pool even more, said Ernest McDuffie, head of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.

Paller estimates the Pentagon has about 2,000 of these people in place but that it needs a total of about 10,000.