Alaska, like most of the world, has its share of Internet users and companies that use the Internet to get things accomplished. So, it’s not a shock that there is a demand for cyber security professionals in these organizations, especially since cyber-attacks know no boundaries. If you’re interested in a career in cyber security, this should help you make an informed decision about taking classes or working in cyber security in Alaska.
Why an Advanced Degree in Alaska is Needed
To advance in the field of cyber security, attaining an education is vital. Although it is possible to break into the field without a degree at the entry level or with small freelance jobs, advancing past entry-level positions will prove difficult. This is why attaining a degree in cyber security and then also getting an advanced degree is advised for anyone who wants to move up in the cyber security ranks. Also, in order to attain certain certifications, a degree is required. Qualifying degrees range from computer science to network security and computer engineering, and those with degrees from highly accredited schools can expect to advance faster and command a larger salary.
Education Degrees & Requirements
To enter an associate degree program, a high school diploma or GED is required. SAT/ACT test results should be submitted with the application for admission if they are also required. Depending on the school, an essay of intent might be required, as well as references from professionals who are familiar with your personality, school, and work history. Most schools have a minimum GPA requirement, so transcripts from high school as well as any other colleges you might have attended are also required. These requirements are generally the same for on-campus and online degree programs.
Some core courses include:
- Intro to Computers
- Into to Cybersecurity
- Computer Science, I
- Computer Science, II
A four-year degree in a cyber security field is a good step toward attaining certifications needed to advance in the cyber security profession. There are several programs that fit in the realm of cyber security, so choose an area that really interests you and find a school that offers that program.
Requirements for admission to most schools include:
- A high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED
- Transcripts from all schools attended
- A completed college application
- Letters of reference (if required)
- An essay of intent (if required)
- SAT/ACT test score results
Core courses include:
- Intro to Computers
- Computer Science
- Discreet Math
- Intro to Cyber Operations
- Software Security
- Intro to Networking Systems
For those who want to move into upper management positions in the cyber security field, attaining a master’s degree in cyber security is something to be seriously considered. Master’s-level programs position workers to be experts in their chosen fields, which can lead to positions in upper-management and higher salaries.
The requirements to enter a master’s degree program include:
- Bachelor’s degree in a related field, or if in an unrelated field, several years’ work experience in the degree field
- Transcripts from all schools attended
- GMAT or GRE test results
- A letter of intent (if required)
- Letters of reference
- Resume and work history
- A completed application
Certifications in Alaska
If you are seeking to stand out as an expert in a certain area but aren’t ready to attain an advanced degree, or you want a certification in another area outside of that degree, then seeking certification in that area is a good approach. The requirements for certification vary, so you’ll want to research that particular area and learn what the prerequisites might be. If you are a member of the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2, they offer several certification programs for their members. You can also attain certifications in a variety of areas from schools that have cyber security programs, including those that hold CAE accreditation.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Attending a regionally accredited school is the best option for any student. Schools that hold this type of accreditation have met stringent guidelines and employers look more favorably on those who obtain degrees from these schools. In some professions, graduating from an institution of higher education that is not regionally accredited can bar you from attaining licensing or meeting other requirements needed to work in that field. In the case of working in cyber security, attending a school that has programs that are also approved by the Centers of Academic Excellence is also something that should be considered. A CAE approved program has met the muster of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and will give you a leg up when it’s time to start applying to colleges seeking an advanced degree or entering the cyber security job market.
CAE Accredited Programs in Alaska
Although there are no CAE accredited programs in the state of Alaska. several CAE accredited schools offer online programs. If you’re in Alaska and you want to study cyber security with a CAE school, look for those schools that offer online degrees.
A few of the schools include:
- Dakota State University: BS in Cyber Operations
- University of Arizona: Bachelor of Applied Science with an emphasis in Cyber Operations
- University of Nebraska Omaha: BS in Cybersecurity
The above programs are regionally accredited and hold CAE certification. If you want to pursue your degree while remaining in Alaska, consider programs like these first.
Alaska CS and IT Programs
University of Alaska Fairbanks
With a student population of 7,404, the University of Alaska in Fairbanks is a smaller school that still offers big opportunities. The school has certificate programs and offers two- and four-year degrees, as well as master's degrees and doctoral programs. With a student to faculty ratio of 11 to 1, students and teachers can create intimate learning experiences.
Computer and Information Sciences: Bachelor’s & Master’s
Computer Science: Bachelor’s & Master’s
Average Net Price: $10,458
College Retention Rate: Full-time students, 73% - Part-time students, 61%
University of Alaska - Anchorage
The University of Alaska, Anchorage has a student population of 14,622. The school offers certifications, as well as associate, bachelor’s, masters and PhD programs. Most students at this location are undergraduates and the school had a low student to teacher ratio of 14:1.
Computer and Information Sciences: Bachelor’s Degree
Computer Programming, Specific Applications: Associate Degree
System, Networking, and LAN/WAN Management/Manager: Undergraduate Certificate
Average Net Price: $13,288
College Retention Rate: Full-time students, 67% - Part-time students, 47%
If you are seeking a small school with an intimate classroom environment, then Ilisagvik College is the place for you. The student population is less than 400 students. This allows for smaller class sizes and a student to faculty ratio of 8 to 1, which means plenty of opportunities for individual assistance.
Computer/Information Technology Services Administration and Management: Associate Degree & Undergraduate Certificate
Average Net Price: $10,986
College Retention Rate: Ilisagvik College has a graduation rate of 13%, but 53% of all students transfer to different schools.
AV TEC – Alaska’s Institute of Technology
A small school with a lot to offer its students, AV TEC is the ideal institution for students who want to study specialized fields. With an enrollment of 855, the school offers its students several certificate programs in a variety of technical fields, and a student to faculty ratio of 11 to 1.
Information Science: 1 to 2 Year Certificate
Average Net Price: $9,795
College Retention Rate: Full-time students, 94% - Part-time students 97%
- ISA Alaska Section Scholarship
Deadline: February 15
International Society of Automation offers a variety of scholarships for students interested in computers and automation. To qualify for the Alaska scholarship, students must have an overall GPA of 2.5 or higher, either be currently enrolled in a computer or cyber security major at an accredited college or, if still in high school, intending on majoring in a computer or cyber security field. Applicants must be members of ISA or the family member of an ISA member.
- CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service
Amount: Full Tuition (Stipends: $22,500 for undergrad; $34,000 for graduate)
Deadline: Set by School
The Scholarship for Service award is for undergraduates in their junior or senior years and all graduate students. It was formed by the federal government as a way to fill vacant federal cyber security positions. Applicants must attend one of the CAE approved colleges or universities and study in a computer or cyber security field. Qualifications include US citizenship, the ability to pass a background check and attain security clearance, and any other qualifications the school might require. If the scholarship is awarded, students are required to work for a government cyber security agency for a time equal to the time the held the scholarship. For example, if the scholarship covered two years of education, the recipient would be required to work for the federal government for two years.
- Center for Cyber Safety and Education
Application Deadline: Varies
This scholarship is funded by security-oriented trade groups such as JPMorgan Chase and Raytheon. It offers scholarships in the area of cyber security to approximately 20 undergraduate and 20 graduate students. To qualify, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.3 and attend an accredited college or university while majoring in a computer security field.
- Snort Scholarship
Application Deadline: Spring and Fall of each year
The Snort scholarship is offered by Cisco and is offered to several qualified computer science or computer security majors. Students can be enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs, must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and provide all required information as detailed on the application.
- Stokes Program
Amount: Up to $30,000
Application Deadline: September or October
This scholarship is for graduate and undergraduate students studying cyber security. Internships with the NSA are also available. Upon graduation, recipients are required to work for the NSA for a specified period of time, to be determined at the time of the scholarship award. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and then maintain at least a 2.75 GPA to remain eligible to receive the award.
Conferences and Workshops
- INTERFACE Alaska
IT and cyber security conference and trades show. The conference presentation are (ISC)2 and CAE approved and happen in more than 25 cities in the United States.
- Artic Con
Annual IT and cyber security conference held in Anchorage. The goal is to provide education and updates on current and emerging IT and cyber security equipment, processes, and procedures. Industry experts from all over the world provide meetings and workshops for Alaskan IT professionals and others from around the globe.
- JBER AFCEA Alaska Tech & Cybersecurity Day
The Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA) – Alaska Chapter holds an annual cyber security conference for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. All IT professionals and cyber security workers are encouraged to attend the one-day event.
Alaska Cyber Security Jobs and Salary
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are more than 5,200 workers in the Computer and Mathematical Occupations in Alaska. The average salary of all the occupations combined is $80,280.
A large portion of these workers work in the network security and cyber security fields (number of workers as of 2018 in parentheses):
|Information Security Analysts (70)||$105,000|
|Computer Network Architects (60)||$94,250|
|Computer Programmers (620)||$86,600|
|Network and Computer System Administrators (940)||$82,980|
|Database Administrators (210)||$79,600|
|Computer System Analysts (670)||$70,390|
Many of these employees work for the military, but there are also private companies and organizations that employ workers in the IT and cyber security fields. The job outlook for those who want to enter the IT and cyber security fields is promising. The BLS indicates that job growth in this area is expected to be around 32%, much faster than the national job growth average.
There aren’t many Alaskan-based resources for Alaskan IT and cyber security professionals. However, some schools have clubs and organizations for their computer science and engineering students. There are also several online organizations these professionals can join.
The Cyber Security Club
This is a club for engineering and computer science majors at the University of Alaska Anchorage. They hold meetings, seminars and lectures for students who want to learn more about internet security.
The International Internet Systems Security Certification Consortium is an organization for those working in the network and cyber security fields. Attaining membership is a challenge, but it’s also a requirement for moving up in ranks for the cyber security field with certain certifications.
The SANS Institute
This website offers books, webcasts, a blog and other resources for IT and cyber security professionals.
The Information Systems Security Association
ISSA offers networking for its worldwide membership of IT and cyber security professionals. There are local chapters throughout the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world. The organization provides news and resources for those working in the cyber security industry.