Cybersecurity Degrees and Careers Alabama Guide

Learn About Studying Cyber Security in Alabama, Requirements and Job Growth Careers Guide

The state of Alabama is a known local for cyber security occupations. In and round Huntsville, various several defense and aerospace industries provide employment in cyber security. If you are thinking of a cyber security degree, several community colleges, universities and four-year colleges offer degrees in computer science with cyber security concentrations. There are also degree programs devoted solely to cyber security. The bottom line is: if you want to work in this profession, you have to earn a degree at some level: associate, bachelor’s, or master’s. Even if you don’t have exposure to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields, you’ll still be able to gain admission to a cyber security degree program.

Why an Advanced Degree in Alabama is Needed!

The state leaders of Alabama know just how important a cyber security degree is, not only for students but also for the state itself. From the associate level and up to the master’s, colleges and universities are creating cyber security degree programs. Five schools in the state receive funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) so they can create and offer cyber security majors and fully-funded degree opportunities.

Whether you earn a bachelor’s or master’s, having a postsecondary degree in Alabama is the best way to gain employment in a respected cyber security company or in a city or state government department. With an advanced degree, you’ll show everyone looking for cyber security specialists that you know what you’re doing and you’re capable of learning both their systems and new and emerging technologies.

Alabama Cyber Security Education Degrees and Requirements

Associate Degree

Students applying for admission to community colleges are generally required to hold either a GED or high school diploma. To show proof of graduation, students must send their high school transcripts or an official copy of their General Equivalency Diploma scores to the college of their choice. In addition, some schools may ask for ACT or SAT scores, though these are becoming less and less of a requirement for community colleges.

The Computer Science program’s goal is to prepare every student to be employed in a computer-related business or industry. Some programs emphasize the small business environment, while others prepare you to freelance or join large corporations.

Sample Courses:

  • Introduction to the Information Highway
  • Introduction to App Dev, with SWIFT
  • Database Management Systems
  • Python Programming

Bachelor’s Degree

Some four-year universities have two admission tiers: unconditional admission and conditional admission. In the first, students are required to have a 2.0 GPA from their high school, an ACT score of 20, or an RSAT of 1030. For conditional admission, the high school GPA should be 2.5 and the ACT should fall between 17 and 19; the RSAT should be 910. In some institutions, students who are 25 or older may not be required to submit college entrance exams to be admitted. No matter the form of admission a school offers, the majority of schools require high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and a filled out application.

Sample Courses:

  • Computer Science, 1
  • Computer Science, II
  • Software Engineering, 1

Master’s Degree

For most master’s programs, you’ll be required to submit your GRE scores. Some degree programs may require higher graduate testing scores. Also, even if your scores meet the minimal requirement, this may not guarantee admission to the program of your choice. You’ll also need to order your official transcripts, which will be sent by the school from which you earned your bachelor’s degree. At some schools, you’ll have to use the form document which they provide.

Sample Courses:

  • Cyber Security Management
  • Computer Forensics
  • Introduction to Computer Security
  • Introduction to Cyber Security Engineering

Certifications in Alabama

Is a certificate program at the master’s level a necessity? No. But it will help provide you with much more knowledge if you want to move into a specialization. At the graduate level, these consist of about 9 credit hours and help you build the basic skills you’ll need as a future cyber security professional. You’ll become comfortable with cyber security industry practices, problem solving, and learn about new methods in this field. If you are already working in this field, you’ll get training in specific cyber security topics. This will be especially helpful if you are planning to advance in your career.

Sample Courses:

  • Network Security
  • Computer Security
  • Malware Analysis

Why is Accreditation Important?

Accreditation is vital, because it tells you and your future employers that the university or college from which you earn your degree has met the high-quality standards of the accrediting body. The Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC), which is an arm of the ABET (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) commission, has now defined cyber security as a formal academic program. When you see that a cyber security program carries an ABET accreditation, then you understand that the programs you’re considering are high-quality.

Another very important form of accreditation for cyber security programs is CAE (National Centers for Academic Excellence), which is provided by the DHS and NSA, the two largest employers of cyber security professionals. This was the first form of accreditation provided for cyber security programs, created when the DHS and NSA realized they needed a way of knowing that their cyber security workers were well-trained for their positions.

If you’re questioning whether accreditation is all that important, then it’s vital for you to understand that accreditation allows your employers to pay you a higher salary, gives you access to federal financial aid for schooling expenses, and allows for easier transfer of your class credits from one university to another.

NSA & CAE Accredited Programs in Alabama

  • Auburn University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2020
    CAE-CO / 2013-2020
  • Calhoun Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2018-2023
  • Jacksonville State University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021
  • Snead State Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2017-2022
  • The University of Alabama in Huntsville
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021
    CAE-R / 2014-2021
  • Tuskegee University
    CAE-CD / 2017-2022
  • University of South Alabama
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021

Computer Science or IT Programs in Alabama

  • Alabama State University

    Founded in 1867, ASU is a historically black university located in Montgomery, Alabama. With around 6,000 students. ASU offers almost 50 degree programs from bachelor’s through doctoral. They are fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, though they are not considered a CAE program.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer Science: Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer/Information Technology Services Administration and Management: Master’s Degree
    Information Science: Bachelor’s Degree

    Tuition Cost:

    In-State: $9,888
    Out-of-State: $19,776
    Average Net Price: $13,029
    College Retention Rate: 59% (Full-time Students) – 13% (Part-time Students)

  • Auburn University - Montgomery

    Considered one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in Alabama, the Montgomery campus was founded in 1967. While they are not a CAE institution, they are fully accredited and their student-to-faculty ratio sits at around 17:1, meaning you can expect smaller classes with personal attention from professors, which can be seen in the higher retention rates for part-time students.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance: Master’s Degree
    Computer Science: Bachelor’s Degree
    Information Technology: Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree

    Tuition Cost:

    In-State: $8,404
    Out-of-State: $17,812
    Average Net Price: $12,807
    College Retention Rate: 67% (Full-time Students) – 60% (Part-time Students)

  • Strayer University - Alabama

    Strayer University was founded in 1892 as a for-profit school. The university has 76 campuses in the US and enrolls more than 50,000 students. One of their Alabama campuses is located in Birmingham and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The majority of students attend part-time and/or supplement through Strayer’s online learning programs.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance: Master’s Degree
    Information Science/Studies: Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees, Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Technology: Master’s Degree

    Tuition Cost: $13,380

    Average Net Price: $22,452
    College Retention Rate: 33% (Part-time Students)

  • University of Alabama at Birmingham

    The Birmingham campus of the University of Alabama has a great student-faculty-ratio at 19:1 and great retention for first-time students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at 82%. The school is also a public research university established in 1936 and a part of the University of Alabama System. It’s downtown Birmingham location means you can be in the middle of everything while you earn your degree, or you may choose to complete part of your program online.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences, General: Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctoral Degrees
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance: Master’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate

    Tuition Cost:

    In-State: $8,568
    Out-of-State: $19,704
    Average Net Price: $16,636
    College Retention Rate: 82% (Full-time Students) – 46% (Part-time Students)

  • Faulkner University

    Faulkner is a private, Christian college located in Montgomery, Alabama. They are fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and they also offer a very low student-to-teacher ratio: 12:1. They offer associate degrees through doctorates and also have online programs available

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences: Associate & Bachelor’s Degrees
    Computer Science: Bachelor’s Degree
    Informatics: Bachelor’s Degree

    Tuition Cost: $21,690

    Average Net Price: $21,334
    College Retention Rate: 54% (Full-time Students) – 57% (Part-time Students)

  • Herzing University - Birmingham

    Herzing is a private university with its main campus in Wisconsin. However, its Birmingham, Alabama campus is another good location offering cyber security programs. They also offer great student-to-faculty ratios (14:1) and fully online degree programs.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer Programming/Programmer: Associate & Bachelor’s Degrees
    Network and System Administrator/Administration: Bachelor’s Degree

    Tuition Cost: $14,000

    Average Net Price: $17,906
    College Retention Rate: 50% (Full-time Students)

Alabama Colleges Offering Certificates and Associate Degrees

A cyber security degree program at a community college will prepare you to work in a variety of cyber security positions. Generally, the purpose of an associate degree or certification is to teach you enough to enter the workforce or move up into a bachelor’s degree. You should look for a program that teaches you best practices, whether the courses are on campus or allow you to learn online.

Community colleges that provide cyber security programs should strive to teach incoming classes of students about becoming the most competent cyber security professionals, whether they plan to continue their educations or go into the workforce. If you do plan to pursue your bachelor’s or master’s degrees, getting the most comprehensive education in your community college program is a necessity.

  • Bevill State Community College

    Tuition Cost:

    In-State: $5,086
    Out-of-State: $9,214
    Average Net Price: $7,671
    College Retention Rate: 61% (Full-time Students) – 45% (Part-time Students)

  • Chattahoochee Valley Community College

    Tuition Cost:

    In-State: $4,738
    Out-of-State: $8,608
    Average Net Price: $2,882
    College Retention Rate: 54% (Full-time Students) – 23% (Part-time Students)

  • Gadsden State Community College

    Tuition Cost:

    In-State: $3,840
    Out-of-State: $7,056
    Average Net Price: $4,518
    College Retention Rate: 55% (Full-time Students) – 50% (Part-time Students)

  • Jefferson State Community College

    Tuition Cost:

    In-State: $4,800
    Out-of-State: $8,670
    Average Net Price: $8,235
    College Retention Rate: 57% (Full-time Students) – 42% (Part-time Students)

  • Lawson State Community College

    Tuition Cost:

    In-State: $4,740
    Out-of-State: $8,610
    Average Net Price: $7,123
    College Retention Rate: 51% (Full-time Students) – 36% (Part-time Students)

  • Northwest-Shoals Community College:

    Tuition Cost:

    In-State: $4,711
    Out-of-State: $8,581
    Average Net Price: $7,544
    College Retention Rate: 58% (Full-time Students) – 44% (Part-time Students)

Scholarships

  • CyberCorps Scholarship for Service

    Amount: Full tuition and benefits - plus a stipend for cost-of-living travel expense reimbursement, and professional development
    Deadline: February 15
    Link: https://www.uah.edu/images/research/ccre/uah_sfs_cysp_application_fall2019_v3.pdf

    The National Science Foundation’s Scholarship for Service is awarded to students majoring in cyber security. Students who receive the SFS scholarship are required to fulfill a service obligation to the US government after graduation from an Alabama university. They are also required to take part in a paid internship during a summer session/semester.

  • Cyber Private Public Partnership (Cyber P3) Scholarships

    Amount: Full tuition and fees, book allowance, and travel funding for one cyber security conference annually
    Deadline: August
    Link: https://cybersecurity.tamu.edu/students-corner/available-scholarships/cyber-private-public-partnership-cyber-p3-scholarships/

    Cyber P3 scholarships are available for students at the bachelor, master, and doctorate level who are majoring in cyber security or a related major. These scholarships are only available to students who are in the National Guard or the Department of Defense Reserve.

  • Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship Program (CySP)

    Amount: Full Tuition, room and board, and fees
    Deadline: February
    Link: https://uwf.edu/media/university-of-west-florida/centers/cybersecurity/ATTACHMENT-D-NEW-Student-Application-2019-2020.pdf

    This scholarship was created in 2001 via the National Defense Authorization Act. The law helps to promote the education, recruitment, and retention of academically skilled junior, senior, graduate, and doctoral students majoring in cyber security studies. Students selected as cyber scholars receive the full cost of tuition, books, required fees, and a room/board stipend.

  • School of Computing Military Scholarship

    Amount: Up to $5,000
    Deadline: April 1
    Link: https://southalabama.edu/colleges/soc/computerscience/scholarships.html

    The Military Scholarship from the School of Computing is exclusively intended for active duty military personnel, veterans, or active reservists who enter the School of Computing. Students who are in the Coast Guard, Army, Marines, Air Force, or Navy are eligible to apply. To qualify, students should be currently in the military or veterans who have received an honorable discharge.

  • Alabama School of Math and Science Student Scholarship

    Amount: $5,000 to $7,000
    Deadline: April 1
    Link: https://southalabama.edu/colleges/soc/computerscience/scholarships.html

    Students who successfully graduate from the Alabama School of Math and Science and who enroll as first-time freshmen at the University of South Alabama are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Eligibility also means students are enrolled in the School of Computing for the current fall semester. Students should have an ACT composite score of 27 or higher.

  • Outstanding Student Scholarship

    Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
    Deadline: December 1
    Link: https://southalabama.edu/colleges/soc/computerscience/scholarships.html

    This scholarship is reserved for incoming freshmen who hold an ACT composite score of 29 or higher, OR an ACT composite score of 27 or higher. Qualifying students are required to be earning a specialized diploma (Epic, IB, or Honors).

Conferences and Workshops

National Cyber Summit

This annual summit is called the “preeminent event for cyber training, workforce development and education.” Attendees focus on the protection of the national cyber infrastructure from cyber-threats. Created in 2008, this summit brings in thousands of professional cyber security professionals. Technical and management presentations, educational training sessions, and keynote speeches are common features of the event.

CyberHub Summit Birmingham

This woman-owned summit is a favored meeting place for cyber security professionals who want to obtain more knowledge that they can use in their daily work.

BSides Huntsville

This annual conference (in its 6th year) has now combined with the NAC-ISSA to provide technical professionals and cyber security personnel to exchange knowledge with each other.

Alabama Cyber Security Jobs and Salary

There are plenty of cyber security professionals working in the state of Alabama. Here are just a few positions and the employment numbers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Computer Systems Analysts: 3,910
  • Information Security Analysts: 1,150
  • Computer Programmers: 7,750
  • Database Administrators: 1,880
  • Network and Computer System Administrators: 3,850

Given the proximity of secure military bases and government agencies employing cyber security practitioners in Alabama, students who want to enter this field can be confident that they will be able to find employment after graduation.

In Alabama, information security analysts can anticipate a strong upward change in employment numbers. In 2016, about 940 information security specialists were employed in this field; ten years later, by 2026, this number should jump up to 1,290, which is a positive change of 36.98%.

The high salaries that cyber security program graduates may receive are also a strong factor drawing graduates into this field.

Here are the average salaries for these professionals according to Payscale:

  • Computer Systems Analyst: $65,100
  • Information Security Analyst: $71,300
  • Computer Programmer: $62,100
  • Database Administrator: $77,500
  • Network and Computer System Administrators: $60,400

Resources

  • Multi-State information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC)
    This organization collaborates with every state, including the District of Columbia, US territories, and local governments. MS-ISAC gathers critical information regarding cyber-threats aimed at needed infrastructure from all states. Two-way sharing is facilitated and encouraged through this collaborative effort.
  • National Governors Association
    This bipartisan organization gathers together all governors in the country. Member governors prioritizes cyber security and strong security practices in protecting the cyber infrastructure of all states. Governors gather annually for a cyber security briefing, which shares trends affecting all states, as well as implementing cyber security methods to protect each state.
  • National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD)
    Information technology (IT) professionals from all 50 states are represented by NASTD. Each state’s member works to manage state government IT services and facilities for each state agency and related public entities. This includes colleges, universities, hospitals, and prisons. Through NASTD, state representatives improve how each state’s technology is implemented.
  • Office of Information Technology Cybersecurity
    This state agency gets up-close with Alabama residents, teaching them how to avoid internet-related fraud and keep their families safe while they are online. Using easy-to-understand communications, the Office of Information Technology Cybersecurity teaches state residents simple facts about cyber security and avoiding internet scams.
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