Congressmen and school leaders across the U.S. are spearheading cybersecurity degree offerings to meet the industry’s growing workforce demands.
Jobs in cybersecurity are projected to grow 35% over the next 10 years, far exceeding the nation’s average job growth rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s around 19,500 job openings each year until 2031. The median salary of an information security analyst is $102,600, which is a handsome incentive to draw a new generation of students.
The Biden administration, however, believes students should pursue the field as a means to protect national security. Last month, one community college in Michigan was forced to close down for a day due to a data breach—all the more reason the Biden-Harris administration released a national cybersecurity strategy last month to curb such threats.
The country’s leaders made it clear at a panel this past Tuesday that there are federal dollars available to bolster the country’s cyber community and to meet its booming workforce demands. States have already begun to respond by either creating new programs for this upcoming academic year at their colleges and universities or strengthening their existing ones.
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Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee announced last week he is filing a $4 million budget amendment to fund the “Institute of Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies” at Rhode Island College, which will provide bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field beginning this fall. Former U.S. congressman Jim Langevin will be running the initiative, creating a home base for the institute and finding talented professors.
Lincoln University is building a pipeline of high school students eager to pursue a postsecondary education and future career in cybersecurity through their Project Reach initiative, funded by the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. Beginning this fall, high school students at Jefferson City and Capital City High schools in Missouri will work their way toward a certificate from the Computing Technology and Industry Association while simultaneously exposing them to Lincoln University’s computer science program, and hopefully, incentivizing them to enroll. Lincoln, an HBCU, aims to close the diversity gap in cybersecurity with Project Reach.
To strengthen the existing workforce’s skills in healthcare-related cybersecurity, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is granting the University of Louisville’s Cybersecurity Workforce Certificate program a $20 million boost in federal funding. This muscle-up is on top of a $6.2 million grant the NSA had already recently provided.
Miami University (Ohio) and St. Michael’s College (Vt.) will also begin offering a bachelor’s degree in the emerging field this fall. One school neighboring St. Michael’s that implemented a similar program in 2015 has seen its number of graduates more than triple.
A pair of community colleges are also getting on board. Williston State College will be offering an associate degree in the fall, while Tulsa Community College now offers a free six-month cybersecurity apprenticeship for its students. One student has claimed the Tulsa program already helped her land a job.
“For me, it’s exciting just because so far in my work history, I haven’t done anything technical,” the student said, according to News on 6. “This is totally new and I’m just excited to get to use these skills I’ve learned.”