SALISBURY, N.C. — Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing employment segments in the information technology field, with hundreds of thousands of job openings across the nation. The trend shows no signs of slowing, and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is recognized as a national trailblazer in meeting the demand with quality cybersecurity training.
“Cybersecurity is the hot new buzzword,” said Rowan-Cabarrus Information Technology Program Chair Zack Hubbard, who recently participated in a Sustainable Cybersecurity Workforce Summit held at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem. The summit addressed employment statistics and projections, industry trends, and the pivotal role of community colleges in preparing students for jobs that help protect our most important and private digital information.
“Community colleges are leading the charge in educating the future cybersecurity workforce,” Hubbard said. “We offer hands-on, skills-based training that many universities do not currently provide.”
With the United States losing an estimated $100 billion each year as a result of cybercrime involving everything from sensitive government data to bank accounts and personal information, the demand for trained cybersecurity experts continues to increase – as does the average salary. Currently, the national average for cybersecurity employees is $96,600.
According to cyberseek.org, an organization that specializes in mapping projections for cybersecurity jobs, there are nearly 6,000 jobs currently open in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord region alone. Those range from small- to medium-sized businesses needing a staff networking/cybersecurity professional to larger corporate enterprise positions where employees work on teams to ensure network security. Major financial employers in the Charlotte region are constantly looking for employees to optimize their information protection efforts.
President Donald Trump has signed an Executive Order implementing programs that aim to grow and strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity workforce to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
The Order aims to close cybersecurity skills gaps for defense and critical infrastructure, as well as encouraging widespread adoption of a common lexicon and taxonomy framework created by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education. It also includes the establishment of a President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition to promote the work of cybersecurity practitioners within the government and Presidential Cybersecurity Education Awards to recognize excellent elementary and secondary educators teaching cybersecurity content.
Rowan-Cabarrus is designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyberdefense Two-Year Education.
“This accreditation process ensures that we are teaching the most current cybersecurity topics and that we are able to provide unique internship and case study experiences for students,” Hubbard said.
Along with an associate degree in cybersecurity, Rowan-Cabarrus offers the most sought-after industry certifications, including credentials from the Cisco Academy, Red Hat, Microsoft, CompTIA and the Linux Professional Institute. The College also currently provides vouchers for these certification tests to eligible students.
The Rowan-Cabarrus cybersecurity program, in place since 2014, continues to attract more students each year.
“I have been impressed with Rowan-Cabarrus and the quality of instruction I am receiving to prepare me to enter the workforce,” said Robert Layburn, who graduated in May with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Information Technology Cybersecurity and an Associate in Applied Science in Information Technology Networking and Virtualization. “I plan to obtain a position as a network engineer or security analyst. Because of this program, I feel I will be well-prepared to succeed.”
“With the current outlook, our graduates more than likely will continue to have multiple job offers to choose from when they complete the program,” Hubbard said. “There is absolutely that much need from employers.”
More information about the cybersecurity program is available at staging.rccc.edu/cyber.