Cyber-threats are everywhere. Not to be alarmist, but hackers are using ransomware, malware, and ever more sophisticated means of gleaning your password. They want access to intellectual property, financial information, and identities that they can sell on the black market.
To counter these bad guys, cyber security experts are proliferating. These white hat hackers seek to strengthen security, investigate network breaches, and ultimately put an end to the bad guys' career. To do this, computer gurus learn the cyber security trade. They take courses through non-academic and academic schools, where you can earn certifications and degrees. If that sounds like a career path that you'd be passionate about and you live in Ohio, this page is for you.
Why an Advanced Degree in Ohio is Needed
To excel as a cyber security professional in Ohio, you will need some amount of education. While a precious few are able to pick up books from the library and teach themselves all of the coding and networking skills they need to defeat black hat hackers, most need a more structured and standardized approach. What you need is a formal education that leads to an advanced degree.
In Ohio, an advanced degree will help you take your cyber security career to its full potential. You can indeed start your path with a bachelor's or even an associate degree, but you eventually will want to earn a master's degree. That's because employers increasingly want to see that you have top credentials. Furthermore, if you wish to move up into the C-suites you will almost certainly need an MBA. In the world of high-tech, you might even seek out a Dual MBA and attain a master's level degree in computer science or cyber security as well as the business degree all in the same amount of time it takes to earn one of those diplomas.
Ohio Cyber Security Education Degrees & Requirements
Your two-year degree will go far toward starting a career in cyber security. In fact, the NSA has a list of accredited community colleges that confer degrees in cyber security. If there's not a suitable cyber security program near you, there are many options available online.
Admissions to an associate program is often relatively easy. You'll need a high school diploma, or the equivalent, and some schools require an SAT/ACT score. To excel in cyber security, you'll probably need to take advanced math classes, at least Calculus 1, and programming courses.
A four-year degree is often considered the minimum standard for career success in computer-related fields. While that is not an absolute rule, what is sure is that a four-year degree will allow you the time to take a wide range of computer-related courses. You will also take a number of elective courses that will sharpen other skills including communications, management, and writing.
To enter a computer science department, you often need to meet certain requirements. For instance, you should probably have taken a few programming courses, upper level mathematics classes, and even an introductory cyber security course. Confer with your academic advisor to determine whether you meet the requirements.
To enter a master's level program, you will need a bachelor's degree and to meet other minimum standards. For instance, you should also have a satisfactory GPA; often a minimum of 2.5 is required. Your specific program will also want to see that you've taken certain courses such as upper-level coursework in programming, computer forensics, or software engineering.
Graduate schools frequently want to see your resume, as well. This might offset certain deficits in your transcripts. If you did not take certain courses in college but have perhaps delved into cyber security through non-academic certificates and workplace projects, that would reflect well. Real-world experience could even outweigh academic achievement for certain programs.
Certifications in Ohio
When you start working in a cyber security position you will need to continue learning. Seek out certifications that you can work toward in your spare time. For people in the industry, certifications can sometimes mean as much or more than a degree. However, some certifications also have a degree level as their prerequisite.
These non-academic credentials will prove that you have specific knowledge. Some certifications are given by companies, such as Microsoft or Cisco, to affirm that you are an expert with their products. Thus, the certification can help you land a job wherever those products are in use.
While you can find many traditional venues that offer study courses in advance of the certification examinations, there are many online courses available.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation is one of the most important parts of searching for a suitable college or university. To attain accreditation, schools must undergo a thorough audit from an independent agency. These agencies examine the program's curriculum, faculty, student outcomes, and more. Think of an accreditation as the degree your school needs before you employ it.
If you are employed as a cyber security professional and your employer offers tuition reimbursement, they will likely take accreditation into account. If your program has a better accreditation, they may cover more of the expense. Most employers will not reimburse you at all for a non-accredited degree.
In the cyber security field, seek out one of two accreditations. The gold standard for cyber security programs is the CAE. This credential comes from the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. It proves that a program is graduating students capable of maintaining the national security.
CAE Accredited Programs in Ohio
- Air Force Institute of Technology
CAE-R / 2019-2024
- Clark State Community College
CAE-2Y / 2017-2022
- Columbus State Community College
CAE-2Y / 2019-2024
- Franklin University
CAE-CD / 2019-2024
- Sinclair Community College
CAE-2Y / 2017-2022
- Terra State Community College
CAE-2Y / 2017-2022
- The Ohio State University
CAE-CD / 2014-2020
- University of Cincinnati
CAE-CD / 2016-2021
Computer Science or IT Programs in Ohio
University of Cincinnati – Main Campus
Cyber security students at the University of Cincinnati receive some of the very best instruction available. Their program is accredited by the CAE and thus paves the way for you to embark on a brilliant career. If you wish you can pursue one of many associate, bachelor’s, master's, or doctorate options. Undergraduate and postgraduate certificates are also available.
Computer and Information Sciences - Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance - Bachelor’s Degree, Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificates
Computer Programming/Programmer - Bachelor’s Degree
Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Undergraduate Certificate
Information Science/Studies – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
Information Technology – Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate Degrees, Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificates
Average Net Price: $20,085
College Retention Rate: 86% (Full-Time Students); 48% (Part-time Students)
University of Akron – Main Campus
With a total of nine technology degree programs, many of which offer both bachelor's and a master's option, the University of Akron is a brilliant choice for aspiring techies. Their computer engineering program is certified by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, meaning that your degree will open doors nationwide.
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor's Degree & Undergraduate Certificate
Computer Programming, Other – Bachelor's Degree
Computer Programming/Programmer, General – Bachelor's Degree
Computer Science – Bachelor's, Master's Degrees & Undergraduate Certificate
Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst – Associate Degree, Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificate
Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Undergraduate Certificate
Information Science/Studies – Bachelor's & Master's Degrees
Average Net Price: $16,269
College Retention Rate: 72% (Full-time Students); 41% (Part-time Students)
Kent State University - Kent
Kent State University is an eight-school system. However, if you attend the Kent campus you can earn one of three tech bachelor's degrees and attain advanced diplomas in three areas. You'll study hard while at Kent, but there's loads to do on and off campus when you need time to refresh your batteries.
Computer and Information Sciences, General – Bachelor's, Master's Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
Computer Science – Bachelor's, Master's & Doctorate Degrees
Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst – Bachelor’s Degree
Information Science/Studies – Master's Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
Average Net Price: $17,552
College Retention Rate: 81% (Full-time Students); 50% (Part-time Students)
Franklin University is a private university that offers computer degrees from the associate level through to a master's. Though they are private, Franklin's tuition is remarkably affordable. After you graduate you’ll be ready for employment in cyber security or another computer-related field.
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor's Degree
Computer Science – Associate, Bachelor’s & Master's Degrees
Information Technology – Associate & Bachelor's Degrees
Average Net Price: $18,684
College Retention Rate: 29% (Full-time Students); 45% (Part-time Students)
Air Force Institute of Technology – Graduate School of Engineering & Management
No matter which advanced degree path you choose at the Air Force Institute of Technology, you are assured a first-rate education. Naturally if you follow a path towards cyber defense and cyber security, you will receive the very top instruction at this military institution.
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Master's Degree
Computer Science – Master's & Doctorate Degrees
Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Postgraduate Certificate
Ohio Colleges Offering Certificates and Associate Degrees
If you are eager to get started with your career, switch to a new career, or simply wish to save some money on the first two years of your bachelor's degree, a community college is a great choice. There are many community colleges in Ohio that offer certificates or degrees in computer/information science; some are even CAE accredited.
All of the following colleges offer degrees that can lead to a cyber security position. Check to see which one is closest to you, or which offer an online option, depending on what’s important to you. Once you take advantage of the tremendous value of Ohio's community colleges, you will thank yourself for a lifetime.
Sinclair Community College
Average Net Price: $4,887
College Retention Rate: 56% (Full-time Students); 43% (Part-time Students)
Owens Community College
Average Net Price: $6,791
College Retention Rate: 50% (Full-time Students); 36% (Part-time Students)
Edison State Community College
Average Net Price: $10,542
College Retention Rate: 57% (Full-time Students); 42% (Part-time Students)
Stark State College
Average Net Price: $5,373
College Retention Rate: 49% (Full-time Students); 44% (Part-tme Students)
Terra State Community College
Average Net Price: $10,221
College Retention Rate: 51% (Full-time Students); 36% (Part-time Students)
Women Techmakers Scholars Program Scholarship
Deadline: December 5
This prestigious scholarship is awarded by Google and will be a huge feather in your cap. Women who are involved in high-tech disciplines are welcome to apply. Not only do recipients receive financial resources but they are included in online communities for women in the program and receive an invitation to a retreat full of workshops and networking opportunities.
Rebecca Gurley Bace SWSIS Scholarship
Amount: Up to $10,000
Deadline: February 1
This scholarship is named for Becky Bace, who is known as the "Den Mother of Cybersecurity." To apply, you need to be a woman studying cyber security in her junior or senior year of college or enrolled in a graduate program. Awardees will also be eligible to attend conferences, participate in career mentoring, and may be offered internships.
Richard E. Merwin Student Scholarship
Amount: $1,000 and Up
Deadline: April 30 - September 30
This award is designed to recognize student leadership in the IEEE. Thus, IEEE membership is a prerequisite for application. You also need a minimum GPA of 2.5, must be a full-time student, and must submit a letter of recommendation, among other qualifications. Note that you must be in your final two years of college or be a graduate student.
Scholarship for Service (SFS)
Amount: $25,000 (Undergrad) - $34,000 (Graduate) Stipend plus full tuition for up to three years
This comprehensive scholarship comes from the federal government and will cover all of your academic and living expenses. In return, you must work for the federal government in a cyber security position for a time equal to the time you spend on scholarship.
Society of Women Engineers
Deadline: Sophmore or Up – Feb 14; First-year Students: May 1
To apply for a SWE scholarship, you must identify as a woman and be enrolled in an ABET-accredited program. The scholarship covers women across a range of disciplines including computing disciplines. You should be an outstanding scholar and attending (or planning to attend) as a full-time student. Though non-members are encouraged to apply, some scholarships do require SWE membership.
Conferences and Workshops
FutureCon conducts conferences all over the nation, including Ohio. Most recently, their top-level cyber security training was held in Columbus. There are other events in towns throughout the Midwest including Chicago, Indianapolis, and Detroit. The event includes panels with C-level professionals who can share the wisdom of their experience.
Data Connectors Cincinnati Tech-Security
Data Connectors has been conducting cyber security conferences since 1999. Their Cincinnati conference features up to ten educational seminars, CISO panel discussions, and up to 60 vendors eager to share the latest in cyber security technology. The 2019 conference was held in the Duke Energy Convention Center on December 12.
The 6th annual SecureWorld Cincinnati will be held in the Sharonville Convention Center in 2020. The conference features vendors and speakers from across the nation who come to share the benefit of their experience in cyber security. The two-day event can provide you with up to 12 CPE credits, endless networking opportunities, and an interactive conference app.
Ohio Cyber Security Jobs and Salary
Cyber security is one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the United States. Across the entire computer and mathematical occupations sector, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services has projected at total growth of 6.9% for the 2016-2026 time frame. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that this broad sector earns an annual mean wage of $82,000.
Professionals enter the field with some of the highest pay rates of any other profession, often with less time spent in school. In Ohio, the cyber security profession is growing like gangbusters. For instance, information security analysts currently number approximately 3,500 and are earning an annual mean wage of $93,000. Other computer related job types such as computer systems analysts, database administrators, and network administrators are also slated to do quite well in the future. Ohio computer systems analysts currently number over 29,000, earn a mean wage of $89,000, and are projected for 9% growth nationally. Database administrators number just over 3,500, earn a similar wage as CSAs, and should also expand by 9% in the US. Meanwhile, network administrators are cooling off as a profession. They earn a bit less, garnering a mean wage of $82,000 in 2018, and have an average projected growth rate.
Given the increasing number of high-profile cyber-attacks, the press for more cyber security professionals is intensifying. The NSA is certifying educational programs and offering generous scholarships for top scholars. According to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies, there are approximately 300,000 jobs available across the United States, including many in Ohio. Furthermore, this sector will likely prove to be recession-resistant, given that security should be the last budget item a company or governmental agency ever cuts.
- Ohio Department of Administrative Services / Office of Information Security and Privacy
Ohio state government maintains a comprehensive cyber security website where citizens are welcome to explore educational resources, report incidents, and discover what actions the state government is taking regarding cyber-crimes. You'll also find a variety of graphical and other resources that you can use to educate regular computer users in your firm or agency.
- Ohio Technology Consortium
This resource is a division of the Ohio Department of Higher Education that is devoted to fostering the growth of technology in the Buckeye State. Though not a specific resource for cyber security students or professionals, OH-Tech is invaluable to professionals in state education, government agencies, and research, among many more.
- Ohio Cyber Collaboration Committee (OC3)
This committee was formed from 30 public, private, military, and educational organizations. The committee's stated goal is to strengthen the state's commitment to cyber security and its overall security. They seek to foster training and technology development for computer security. Given these goals, the committee seeks to increase the number of cyber security students and workers to ensure safer computing in the future.
- Ohio Cyber Club Toolkit
If you are interested in gathering like-minded computer gurus under the same umbrella, perhaps you should start a Cyber Club in your school. Even if you are out of school but still wish to form a group of like-minded professionals, you can adapt these resources to fit your specific needs. Perhaps your adaptations can be likewise codified to help Ohioans form their own clubs.