The NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (aka the NICE Framework) NIST Special Publication 800-181, is a national resource that categorizes and describes cybersecurity work.
The NICE Framework serves as a fundamental reference resource to support a workforce capable of meeting an organization’s cybersecurity needs. It provides organizations with a common, consistent lexicon that categorizes and describes cybersecurity work.
NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework Overview
The task to develop a cybersecurity workforce framework began as a Federally focused effort. The task was expanded beyond the Federal sector in early 2010. NICE Framework 1.0 was posted for public comment in September 2012, and published for use in April 2013. NICE Framework 2.0 was developed through a series of panel discussions focused on a subset of “specialty areas” and was posted in 2014.
The 2016 update to the NICE strategic plan includes an objective to publish and raise awareness of the NICE Framework to aid our nation as it tackles the challenges of guiding cybersecurity career development and workforce planning.
NIST published the latest NICE Framework as draft NIST Special Publication 800-181 in November 2016. Thought leadership and outreach for this latest version of the NICE Framework came from the Cyber Workforce Strategy & Policy Division in Office of the Deputy Department of Defense Chief Information Officer – Cybersecurity and the Cybersecurity Education and Awareness Branch in the Stakeholder Engagement and Cyber Infrastructure Resilience Division of the Office of Cyber Security and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security.
The NICE Framework is non-prescriptive beyond its mapping of associated tasks and knowledge, skills, and abilities to cybersecurity work roles. Most cybersecurity job or positions will be comprised of multiple work roles.
The NICE Framework is comprised of the following components:
- Categories (7) – A high-level grouping of common cybersecurity functions;
- Specialty Areas (33) – Distinct areas of cybersecurity work;
- Work Roles (52) – The most detailed groupings cybersecurity work comprised of specific knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform tasks in a work role;
- Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) – Attributes required to perform Tasks, generally demonstrated through relevant experience or performance-based education and training.
- Tasks – Specific work activities that could be assigned to a professional working in one of the NICE Framework’s Work Roles.
The NICE Framework serves several key audiences within the cybersecurity community including:
- Employers, to help assess their cybersecurity workforce, identify critical gaps in cybersecurity staffing, and improve position descriptions;
- Current and future cybersecurity workers, to help explore Tasks and Work Roles and assist with understanding the KSAs that are being valued by employers for in-demand cybersecurity jobs and positions. The NICE Framework also enables staffing specialists and guidance counselors to use the NICE Framework as a resource to support these employees or job seekers;
- Training and certification providers seeking to help current and future members of the cybersecurity workforce gain and demonstrate the KSAs;
- Education providers who use the NICE Framework as a reference to develop curriculum, courses, seminars, and research that cover the KSAs and Tasks described; and
- Technology providers who can identify cybersecurity Work Roles and specific Tasks and KSAs associated with the services and hardware/software products they supply.
Competencies are not listed in the NICE Framework, but were included in earlier versions. The next draft of NIST Special Publication 800-16, a Role-Based Model for Federal Information Technology/Cybersecurity Training (Fall 2017), will include cybersecurity competencies that will be linked with components of the NICE Framework.
Comments on the 2016 NICE Framework draft were gathered through January 6, 2017, and NIST Special Publication 800-181 (Rev. 1), the NICE Framework, will be published in July 2017. Concurrent with the publication will be the posting of additional resources around the NICE Framework including a description of the revision process.
- Draft NIST Special Publication 800-181, The NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (November 2016)
- Reference Spreadsheet for the NICE Framework, NIST SP 800-181 (June 2017)
- DHS Cybersecurity Workforce, Education, and Training Portal (aka NICCS)
- NICE Framework One Pager
- NICE Framework 2.0 Spreadsheet (April 2014)
- NSA DHS CAE Knowledge Unit (KU Mapping to the NICE Framework 2.0)
- NICE Framework 1.0 - Interactive PDF (April 2013)
- NICE Framework 1.0 Development Process (September 2012)