Cybersecurity: Hottest job in tech

Organizations, governments and individuals face ever-growing cyber threats, so it’s no wonder cybersecurity is one of today’s hottest job markets. The threats are urgent, and the need for skilled professionals is high. It’s estimated that there will be up to 3.5 million job openings in the field this year.

The BAS Cybersecurity program at Clover Park Technical College is designed to turn out skilled practitioners ready to do the work of a system security officer, penetration tester or security analyst. As students go through the program, they are able to apply the skills they learn and even attain specific professional certifications to enhance their current jobs and future prospects.

“This program is all about getting your hands dirty,” said Jeffrey Turner, CPTC instructor and founder of the BAS Cybersecurity program. “Students will leave the program with the tools, skills and advanced courses they need for a career in cybersecurity.”

The BAS program also gives students the opportunity to apply their skills on the front lines. Each year, Cybersecurity students take part in the Pacific Rim Cyber Defense Competition, a regional event where student teams run an IT department while defending it against professional hackers, and the Global CyberLimpics, an international hacking competition that spans all areas of IT. The competitions not only help students learn and thrive, Turner said, they also look great on a resume, and recruiters often attend the competitions with eye out for future employees.

While the BAS builds on the highly practical hands-on learning and theory offered in the Cybersecurity Associate in Applied Science program, the AAS degree is not a prerequisite. Turner doesn’t want to deter anyone interested in going into the field.

“We absolutely welcome individuals who have their two-year degrees in other disciplines,” Turner said. “If necessary, we’ll send them through courses to help them prepare for and be successful in the BAS program.” He also hopes to draw more students into the program who identify as female. “This is a booming field, and it needs more gender diversity.”

Because the BAS Cybersecurity program is so new, it will be continually assessed for its effectiveness and relevance. Turner will also depend on student feedback to fine-tune what’s being offered, particularly after the first graduates hit the job market.