Hackers are constantly attacking targets in Washington, DC. There are enough military, financial, and other agencies in the District to make any black-hat hacker drool. Add to that an incredible number of contractors who have access to information and there's no doubt that D.C. needs a large number of cyber security professionals working in government agencies and for private concerns.
For these reasons, academic institutions in D.C. and elsewhere have begun to prioritize cyber security as a vital part of any computer science department. You can even find highly-accredited cyber security programs in community colleges and there are innumerable opportunities to learn more online.
Why an Advanced Degree in D.C. is Needed
Washington, DC is a hotbed of tech companies, government contractors, and government agencies. Because of this, there is a high demand for the very best cyber security experts available. There are so many targets for hackers, foreign and domestic, that each needs a team to protect them. If you are in the cyber security field, you will find the most competition and deepest challenges in the District of Columbia. Thus, it is vital to be prepared with an advanced degree.
To truly succeed in this environment, you will need, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree. You should then consider cyber security certifications, including graduate certificates. Ultimately, a master’s degree will be necessary if you want to move into management or many higher level positions. You might even consider a dual MBA degree paired with a second master's in cyber security or computer science.
D.C. Cyber Security Education Degrees & Requirements
A two-year associate degree is a fantastic place to start a career in cyber security. Community colleges cost less than universities and you are sure to have smaller class sizes. There are even community colleges that are accredited by the CAE, a project of the NSA and Homeland Security that accredits fantastic cyber security programs. If your local community college lacks a computer security degree, you can surely find one online. In fact, you can find far more options online, not to mention the convenience that format offers.
If you want to launch your career on the strongest footing, a bachelor's degree is the way to go. When you take a full four years to study, you will finish with a more well-rounded education that covers not only your major field but will strengthen your soft skills as well. Since cyber security is still a growing field, academia is catching up to meet the incredible demand. Thus, you might need to augment your university studies with online courses. You could even get started in an IT department and then complete your bachelor's degree online while learning on the job.
Most top professionals these days have a master's degree. You can go directly from your bachelor's degree into a graduate program, or you could wait a few years. If you wait you will probably have a better idea of exactly what degree you want. Your work experience could steer you in the direction of information security, computer forensics, or many other options. You could also decide to pursue an MBA with a cyber security concentration or a dual degree so you can earn an MBA and a high-tech degree in the time it takes to earn one master's degree. An MBA will help you climb the ladder into the c-suites.
Certifications in Washington D.C.
Depending on your specific work environment you will likely need a certification of some sort. You could become certified by a specific company, such as Cisco, and then become an expert on their systems. On the other hand, you could learn how to implement cyber security software and other protocols on Linux servers and networks. There are a wide range of certifications available that will bolster your credentials and send your career to the next level. Many of them are available online. You can also consider an online certificate from an academic institution that will give you college credits that you can apply later to your next degree.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation is a vital part of choosing a degree program. When an independent agency audits an academic institution or a degree program, they examine all aspects of that educational system. They look at student outcomes, curriculum, faculty preparedness, and more. The resulting accreditation indicates that the program provides a quality education to its students.
Seek out cyber security programs that have national or regional credentials. For national credentials, you should certainly look at programs approved as Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE). CAE is a project of the National Security Agency and is thus something of a gold standard for cyber security. Any employer will feel confident in your abilities if you have a degree from a CAE-approved institution.
Other stellar credentials come from ABET, and regional accreditation is also highly valued. As you seek out a program, always check on their accreditation. Accreditation can also make a difference when submitting receipts to your employer's tuition reimbursement program or looking to receive financial aid.
CAE Accredited Programs in D.C.
- Georgetown University
CAE-R / 2016-2021
- The George Washington University
CAE-R / 2019-2024
Computer Science & IT Programs in D.C.
This famed, private university is renowned for academic excellence. Their computer science program will set you on the right path towards a career in cyber security. You'll cover topics such as cryptography, network security, databases, and more. When you graduate with a Georgetown diploma, you’ll have a chance to land a job anywhere you choose.
Computer and Information Sciences - Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral Degrees & Undergraduate Certificate
Information Technology Project Management – Master’s Degree
Average Net Price: $28,509
Retention Rate: 96% (Full-time Students); $100% (Part-time Students)
University of the District of Columbia
The University of the District of Columbia is a four-year, public university that was made for D.C. natives. The technically minded can pursue undergraduate degrees in computer science or information technology, and there are master's degrees available for CS whizzes. If you want to start with a two-year degree, UDC has a community college that offers an AAS in Computer Science Technology.
Computer Science – Bachelor’s & Masters Degrees
Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degree
Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s Degree
Computer Science Technology – Associates
Average Net Price: $17,350
Retention Rate: 60% (Full-time Students); 50% (Part-time Students)
Howard University is a private, historically black academic institution. It offers academics that are unmatched by most any other university. For the technically minded undergraduate, you can study computer and information systems security, computer systems analysis, and computer and information sciences. With just over 6,000 undergraduate students, you'll find a home at Howard.
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst – Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s, Masters Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
Information Sciences/Studies – Bachelor’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
Average Net Price: $19,196
Retention Rate: 85%
George Washington University
George Washington University is yet another example of the academic excellence available in our nation’s capital. GWU's total population is around 28,000 students, including 12,500 undergraduates, making it a bustling and diverse community of learners. Their programs run the gamut, from Agriculture to Visual Arts, yet they manage to have one of the top computer science departments in the nation.
Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s Degree
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
Computer Science – Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications – Master’s Degree
Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Master’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
Information Science – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
Average Net Price: $39,600
Retention Rate: 93% (Full-time Students); 33% (Part-time Students)
University of Potomac – Washington DC Campus
The University of Potomac, located in Washington, D.C., is a private, for-profit university that offers associate, bachelor's, and graduate-level degrees in a range of academic areas. You can easily launch a tech career in one of their associate or bachelor's programs. Upon graduation, you'll be in the thick of a bustling high-tech area where you can land work for the federal government, a technology startup, or a government contractor.
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s Degree & Undergraduate Certificate
Network and Systems Administration/Administrator – Associate Degree
Average Net Price: $27,892
Retention Rate: 50%
Strayer University – District of Columbia
Strayer is a private, for-profit university with campuses all over the nation. They offer a full range of degree types, including several technical degrees that can help you launch a career in cyber security. The university offers a wide range of courses online, too, in case you wish to cut your commute or need extra time for your existing job or family.
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Master’s Degree
Information Science/Studies – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Undergraduate Certificate
Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degree
Average Net Price: Not Reported
Retention Rate: 44%
CyberCorps(R) Scholarship for Service (SFS)
Amount: $25,000 (undergraduate); $34,000 (graduate)
Deadline: July 31
This program is more than mere money for school. You'll work with a cohort of other budding cyber security professionals on projects that will train you to achieve excellence in the field. After graduation, you must work as a cyber security professional in the federal government. Your tenure in that job must equal the time of your scholarship. Thus, a three year scholarship would necessitate three years of paid government service.
(ISC)² Undergraduate Scholarship
Amount: $1,000 - $5,000
Deadline: February 17
This scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students who are currently pursuing a degree that focuses on cyber security or information assurance. Your application must include an essay that details your financial need, your desire to join the field, why you stand out from your peers, and your contributions to the field.
(ISC)² Graduate Scholarship
Amount: $1,000 - $5,000 (20 Awards)
Deadline: February 17
If your graduate work is focused on cyber security, you're encouraged to apply for this scholarship. The funds will disburse directly to your school to offset your tuition and fees. Your application should include a letter of recommendation, an essay, and your CV, among other items. The Center for Cyber Safety and Education awards up to 20 of these scholarships each year.
KNOWBE4 WOMEN’S CYBERSECURITY SCHOLARSHIPS
Deadline: November 25
The nation is in need of a strong and diverse cyber security workforce. Thus, the Center for Cyber Security and Education is promoting women in the field with this scholarship. The $10,000 award can be used towards tuition, books, and course fees only, and the disbursement will go directly to your school. Winners will be selected based on how they rate related to their passion, merit, and financial need.
SAIC Cyberwarrior Scholarship (veterans)
Amount: Certification Exam Voucher for one of the following (ISC)² credentials: CISSP, CSSLP, CCSP, HCISPP, SSCP or CAP.
Deadline: March 16
The Center for Cyber Security and Education is offering veterans the opportunity to land a scholarship that covers the cost of a certification exam. If you win, you can have the exam fees waived for one of the following (ISC)² certifications: CISSP, CSSLP, CCSP, HCISPP, SSCP or CAP. If you've worked in cyber security during your time in the military, this is an excellent opportunity to bolster your credentials and get to work in the civilian sector.
Conferences and Workshops
2019 marked the third consecutive year for Cyberweek in DC. The conference models itself on indie-rock's South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Texas. Thus, the conference isn't confined to a single hotel or convention center but is spread throughout the city. Since the conference spans a full week, you'll have plenty of time to cultivate new relationships and explore cyber security more fully than ever before.
Cybersecurity Summit – DC Metro
This summit has been an annual event in the DC Metro area for over six years and running. Previous speakers have included David Cass from IBM, Curtis Dukes from the Center for Internet Security, and Adam Hickey from the Department of Justice. Discussions range from insider threats to incident response. Thus, you are sure to learn a lot when the Summit comes back.
Data Connectors – Cybersecurity Conference
Data Connectors hosts cyber security conferences all over the nation. You can attend a day-long conference that will inform and enlighten. There will be a CISO panel and you can review new service providers and technologies. The keynote speaker is also sure to provide a stimulating address on the state of cyber security today.
This oddly-named hacker convention offers an affordable, accessible, and entertaining approach to cyber security conferences. The three-day conference is held at DC's Washington Hilton, mere blocks from the Dupont Circle Metro Station. This conference promises to be as entertaining as it is informative.
District of Columbia Cyber Security Jobs and Salary
Since business and other transactions are now nearly all transacted via computers and the Internet, there has never been more demand for cyber security professionals. The NSA and Homeland Security are involved in accrediting programs in hopes of building the very best cyber security workforce in the world. Thus, Washington, DC and its metro area are adding more security professionals all the time.
In the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area, for instance, there are over 14,000 professionals working as information security analysts. There are over 5,000 database administrators, too. All of these workers are earning an annual mean wage of over $100,000 per year. This is before bonuses and other benefits.
By contrast, computer programmers are earning around $97,000 in the DC area and their profession is slated to decline nationally. Systems analysts should see faster than average growth through 2028, but their salaries are trailing what you can probably earn as a cyber security expert. Systems analysts in DC are currently making just over $98,000 and are projected to add around 1,000 professionals to their ranks in the years 2014-24.
If you work as a computer and information systems manager, your salary could rise to over $151,000. That's for workers with a bachelor's degree. Once you add high-level certifications and a master's degree, you’ll see your earnings potential rise dramatically.
Furthermore, the profession is adding more to its ranks all the time. On the national level, database administration is set to increase its job numbers by 9% through 2024. Information security analysts are also set to experience dramatic growth, expanding by 32% through 2028. Yet another profession, network architects, are earning over $101,000 in DC and are slated to expand by 5% nationally. Ultimately, when you enter the fray as a cyber security professional, you are sure to earn a healthy salary and find a great deal of job security in the future.
SANS Information Security Training
You can receive a security training from SANS either online or in a brick-and-mortar venue. This includes training and exercises. These trainings are not necessarily aimed at cyber security professionals, but you can emulate their approach when delivering trainings to your non-technical colleagues.
Department of Energy Cybersecurity Awareness & Training Warehouse
This online repository of cyber security information is available for people nationwide. These resources are aimed at average computer users. As such, you can make use of them when training your firm's employees to better secure their workstations and their personal devices.
DC Cybersecurity Professionals Meetup
For a nominal cost, you can attend cyber security meetups in Washington, DC. You can join the group for free online and keep tabs on their upcoming events and attend those that are most interesting to you. Meetups are a great opportunity for students to network and learn more about cyber security from those currently working in the field.
ISSA – Washington, DC
The Information Systems Security Association has a bustling chapter in DC. They host regular events to which esteemed speakers are invited and you'll find fantastic professional resources as a result of your membership. There are also ISSA chapters throughout the metro area, including Northern Virginia, Central Maryland, and Central Virginia.