The world of information technology continues to offer numerous opportunities for employment and growth for candidates willing to develop their skills. One such area is cyber security and risk management.
Beginning this fall, Houston Baptist University’s College of Engineering will be offering new Bachelor of Science degree programs in cyber engineering and computer science.
HBU’s approach is very project-driven; even in their freshman year, students will be doing engineering and cyber projects. Freshmen students will be required to build a smart factory with at least two input signals and at least two output or control signals and Bluetooth/wireless component.
During their senior year, they will complete an advanced, on-site industry-sponsored project with industry partners.
In developing the university’s programs, Stan Napper, founding dean of engineering at HBU, has been meeting with chief information security officers in Houston area to build a network of industry partners to help develop programs relevant to HBU’s needs while also providing internship and project opportunities for students, which will eventually could lead employment leads and opportunities.
“The strengths of graduates from these degree programs are relative to cyber security’s intersection of operational technology along with information technology,” he said. “These skills are operational in control system, devices, pumps, meters, CAT scans, HVAC systems, other building automation systems, along with computer networks and information transfers that make it important for them to be connected to one another and connected more broadly to the Internet.”
According to Napper, the biggest industries seeking cyber security professionals in the Houston area are oil and gas and health care, along with the marine transportation industry, specifically for port management security.
Positions include cyber security analyst and network security supervisor roles.
According to a Greater Houston Partnership Cyber Task Force survey, starting salaries could range from $70,000 to $110,000 a year with a bachelor’s degree, Napper said.
Napper advises job candidates to visit cyberseek.org (which is sponsored by The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education) to view an interactive map highlighting thousands of available jobs for cyber security professionals in the Houston area.
“The demand for these candidates is very high, and the supply of qualified candidates is very low in the Houston area,” he said.
The University of Houston-Downtown offers a Master of Security Management degree, a two-year online program that was developed in collaboration with leaders in security management.
The program aims to equip graduates with the knowledge and skills to address the continuously changing cyber security and global security environment.
UHD’s security management degree prepares managers and IT professionals to reduce the risk to organizations by identifying risks such as cyber threats or traditional criminal and terrorist threats.
The degree’s course program discussions include minimizing the risks of cybercriminals, cyber terrorists, extortion, multinational criminals, business continuity and leading teams of security experts. Students in this program will work on identifying emerging threats, making risk assessments and implementing risk-based security plans to better protect large organizations.
According to Tom Winn, the program director and master of security management at UHD, if someone already has a bachelor’s or master’s degree in IT or information systems but doesn’t understand the nuances of security and threat vulnerability risk and impact, this program could be beneficial.
“Most people in the IT field have an information systems degree, which may not may not teach business management for a large organization,” he said. “Enterprise security includes a lot of people coming from military or police positions, for example, who don’t have these skills and aren’t necessarily familiar with running security in a for-profit environment.”
According to Winn, candidates with a master’s degree can expect to earn salaries from $150,000 to $300,000.
“The challenge in business appears to be filling the entry-level to mid-level positions and finding qualified people to do that,” Winn said.