Hackers are in the news all the time. During the 2016 election cycle there was a search for a Romanian who went by the name Guccifer. His targets spanned any and all prominent people including government officials, politicians, and celebrities. Though Guccifer turned out to be an alias for a larger Russian operation, there are plenty of would-be Guccifers out there, lurking in the shadows and attempting to perpetrate as much mayhem as possible.
Because of this fact, government agencies, including most law enforcement bodies, are seeking cyber security professionals. They see cyber security professionals as vital to the overall integrity of the nation. Even if you only work for a bank or a health care system, you are part of the nation's vital infrastructure and cyber security aims to protect you as much as it does the government, companies, and industries.
Why an Advanced Degree in Oregon is Needed
The best way to start and secure a long-term career in the technology sector, including cyber security, is to earn a degree. You can start your career with an associate degree from an accredited community college and land a fantastic first job. In fact, by adding professional certifications and academic certificates to your education, you’ll find that you can be well-rewarded without an additional degree.
However, if you want your career to start strong, without requiring you to earn more certifications, you’ll want a bachelor's degree. This four-year degree will provide loads of knowledge and skills in your specialty area. Employers will love that you are adept in cyber security, but they will also love that you've developed other skills along the way such as written and oral communication skills, writing, and other focuses gained from minors in another field or elective coursework.
Your career will really have the potential to take you far when you earn a master's degree. You can add an MS in Cyber Security, an MBA, or perhaps a dual master's to your resume. Your academic credentials will impress anyone and enable you to rise into the C-suites.
Oregon Cyber Security Education Degrees & Requirements
A two-year degree is a fantastic way to start your college, and professional, career. In two years, you can complete a cyber security program that has national accreditation, and which will serve as a foundation for later learning. Keep in mind that, due to time constraints, your associate-level coursework can only go so far. Your transcript might include courses in programming specific languages, database administration, and networking, for example, but most of the work will be introductory. If your school's program seems constrained, you can seek out additional courses online.
Once you decide to start working on your bachelor's degree, you might find that you need to be admitted into your school's Computer Science department. To gain admission you will need to show a certain GPA and courses on your transcript. The GPA can be as low as 2.0 for some programs, or as high as 3.5 in others. Your coursework should probably include prerequisites such as introductory programming, Calculus, and perhaps an introductory cyber security course. Consult the program website or an academic advisor for the specifics of your school's program.
Graduate school admissions can be quite difficult. However, if you have an undergraduate transcript with a high enough GPA, a strong resume, and perhaps a few non-academic certifications, you should do fine. Some schools will also require GRE scores that meet their standards.
For your graduate work you might not wish to leave your job. For that reason, many cyber security graduate students are seeking out online degree programs. These allow the flexibility you need to take care of your job and family while earning your degree. Many online graduate schools are highly accredited and will boost your career to the next level.
Certifications in Oregon
If you want to add to your skillset but don't really want to enroll in a full degree program, certifications are a terrific option. You can choose to become certified in a specific product line, such as Microsoft or Cisco, or you might choose a specialty focus such as forensic computing or penetration testing. You can find certification courses in traditional campuses, through bootcamp programs, or online. In fact, you might find the most options online. Note that sometimes you might pay for a course designed to prepare you for an exam, for which there will be an additional fee.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation is a long and grueling process that colleges and universities undergo to prove themselves worthy of your tuition. To become accredited, an independent agency conducts a rigorous audit of curriculum, faculty, and student outcomes. At the end of the ordeal, the school or program receives credentials that are good for a period of time. Universities frequently have several accreditations under their umbrella. Thus, your cyber security program may be accredited by a different agency than the literature department.
This is important because accreditation, especially regional accreditation, attests to the overall academic worthiness of the institution. For cyber security, you should at least seek a program with regional accreditation. In Oregon, the accrediting agency for the region is The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. There are also programs with a national accreditation from either ABET or CAE. CAE is especially noteworthy, because this program accreditation comes from the National Security Agency and Homeland Security. ABET is also a fantastic credential but they are not as specifically focused on cyber security and issues of national security as the CAE designation.
CAE Accredited Programs in Oregon
- Mt Hood Community College
CAE-2Y / 2019-2024
- Portland Community College
CAE-2Y / 2018-2023
Computer Science & IT Programs in Oregon
Western Oregon University
Western Oregon University is a large school located just outside of the state capital, Salem. You can major in a wide range of subjects and earn diplomas in one of two technology specialties. Since Portland and the Silicon Forest is not too far away, you might seek out an internship or first job there.
Computer and Information Sciences, General – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
Information Science/Studies – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
Average Net Price: $15,496
Retention Rate: 69% (Full-time Students); 19% (Part-time Students)
Portland State University
PSU's urban campus is one of the most age-diversified in the nation. Your dorm might include middle-aged people working on a second career as well as traditional-aged students. The school is strongest in STEM subjects, which is reflected by the fact that they offer four computing programs, including one doctoral degree and one post-grad certificate.
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Postgraduate Certificate
Computer Science – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Postgraduate Certificate
Average Net Price: $13,758
Retention Rate: 76% (Full-time Students); 52% (Part-time Students)
University of Portland
UoP is a private, Catholic university in North Portland. Its campus borders the Willamette River and has a very traditional feel. You can earn a computer science bachelor's degree here and quickly find work in Portland's booming technology industry. If you're not interested in working at Intel, there is a factory in the area.
Computer Science – Bachelor’s Degree
Average Net Price: $33,541
Retention Rate: 90% (Full-time Students); 100% (Part-time Students)
George Fox University
This private university is located just outside of Portland in an area full of farms, rivers, and state parks. They offer three bachelor's degree in computer-related subjects that will help you launch a career in the nearby Silicon Forest or perhaps in close-by Seattle.
Computer and Information Sciences, General – Bachelor’s Degree
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s Degree
Information Science/Studies – Bachelor’s Degree
Average Net Price: $29,925
Retention Rate: 81%
Oregon Colleges Offering Certificates and Associate Degrees
Not everybody starts a brilliant cyber security career with a bachelor's degree. In fact, you can attend a low-cost community college and get started with a one-year or two-year certificate, or even a two-year associates degree. The cost per credit in the following schools is lower than at a university, but the instruction is still excellent. In fact, you should note that the only two CAE accredited schools in Oregon are Portland Community College and Mt Hood Community College, and Lane CC has one of the best math departments in the nation. Just because their courses are low-cost does not mean they are low-quality.
Mt Hood Community College
Average Net Price: $6,676
Retention Rate: 61% (Full-time Students); 45% (Part-time Students)
Portland Community College
Average Net Price: $7,910
Retention Rate: 63% (Full-time Students); 45% (Part-time Students)
Lane Community College
Average Net Price: $6,653
College Retention Rate: 58% (Full-time Students); 43% (Part-time Students)
Chemeketa Community College
Average Net Price: $4,295
College Retention Rate: 64% (Full-time Students); 43% (Part-time Students)
Clackamas Community College
Average Net Price: $5,141
College Retention Rate: 58%
CIA Undergraduate Scholarship
Amount: Up to $18,000 plus summer work with the agency
Deadline: June 15
The Central Intelligence Agency is working hard every day to protect the nation's interests from those who would do us harm. Thus, they are trying to support the cyber security field by helping students with their tuition. The scholarship is quite generous and in return the agency requires that you work for them for 1.5 times the duration of the scholarship. Even if you move to the private sector after you've repaid the debt, every employer will be impressed by your time with the CIA.
Ralph W. Shrader Graduate Diversity Scholarship
Deadline: April 10
If you are at least entering your second semester of graduate school, are a woman or minority, and are a United States citizen, you are invited to apply to this scholarship program. The award is open to cyber security students, but also pretty much any STEM student is eligible.
Association of Computer Professionals in Education (ACPE) Scholarship
Amount: Up to $2,000
Deadline: February 28
The Pacific Northwest Association of Computer Professionals in Education (ACPE) is offering a scholarship fund worth $10,000 to up to five students from either Washington or Oregon. If you are a senior in high school and are intent on pursuing technology in college, this is the scholarship for you.
Society of Women Engineers
Deadline: Sophomores and up - Feb 14; First-year Students - May 1
Women engineers are sadly rare these days. For that reason, SWE seeks to build community and increase its numbers by supporting women students in engineering programs, including computer-related programs.
Rebecca Gurley Bace SWSIS Scholarship
Amount: Up to $10,000
Deadline: February 1
With $10,000 on the line, all women in Information Security are invited to apply for this scholarship award. Since the scholarship is named in honor of Rebecca Gurley Bace, the so-called "Den Mother of Cybersecurity" you will not only receive help with tuition, but you'll be part of a living legacy, and a tribute to Ms. Bace, a female pioneer in the field.
Conferences and Workshops
Fraud Force Portland
Fraud Force is a conference that brings a variety of professionals together for the sole purpose of thwarting fraud and fraudsters. As more and more fraud occurs in the cyber realm, this is a vital conference for any ecommerce, or data-sensitive company to attend. The 2019 event was held in mid-September. Look for 2020 dates to post starting in early January.
INTERFACE + Cloud: Portland
Cloud computing is increasingly important to enterprises of all sizes. Thus, these off-site databases need to be tested and secured from bad actors. This conference will bring cyber security professionals up to speed on the latest in cloud technology.
INTERFACE – Eugene
Portland isn't the only hub of learning and technological advancement in Oregon. Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, hosts INTERFACE to educate security professionals to the needs of the cloud computing sector. To keep your firm's data safe and secure, be sure to attend this vital conference.
Oregon Cyber Security Jobs and Salary
The entire technology sector has been at the forefront of growth and innovation for years. Hardly any industry can claim an advance these days without there being a piece of software or programming at its heart. Even pharmaceutical research is now moving towards computer modeling to quickly determine which drugs are the most promising. Thus, if you are pursuing a computer-related field in Oregon, you will find that the jobs and salary outlook is quite rosy.
For instance, information security analysts in Oregon make a rather healthy salary. Their annual mean wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is $92,600 and their numbers are expected to rise up to 32% by 2027, according to the Oregon Employment Department. You'll find that salaries vary according to where you live in the state, however. For instance, security analysts in the Portland-Metro area earn $95,929, while those in the Rogue Valley earn an average annual salary of $84,929.
Computer systems analysts, on the other hand, earn a bit less in Oregon. The state Employment Department shows that they currently earn $90,992 per year. Their growth rate is a bit slower, too, with state projections showing a 12% growth through 2027, which is still faster than average, according to the US BLS. The growth in Portland is expected to be slightly better at 13%, and salaries in the state's population hub are also higher at $94,410. Furthermore, you'll find the most job openings in the Portland Tri-County region.
Yet another computer-related position you could pursue in Oregon is that of database administrator. That profession is earning a mean Oregon wage of $93,753. They do a bit better in Clackamas County, with the average salary reaching $98,432, over $1,000 more than in Portland. Though their numbers aren't expected to explode quite as much as information security analysts, Oregon database administrators are expected to see a growth of over 18% through 2027.
State of Oregon Cyber Security Services
This cyber security resource is under the Department of Administrative Services. Their public resources page includes tips for parents and their children, including cyber security games. Once you explore their resources, you and your family will be all the more aware and ready to thwart the efforts of the best cyber criminals in the world.
Stemoregon.org is an online resource that covers science and technology issues for the state. While not specifically aimed at cyber security professionals, you are sure to find interesting news about your field and related fields.
Technology Association of Oregon
TAO is focused on making the Northwest a hub for innovation. Thus, they seek to support entrepreneurs with networking, job listings, and various events throughout the year. There are even informal seminar sessions held over the lunch hour that have covered cyber security topics. Though you'll find their website to be fairly Portland-centric, TAO endeavors to be inclusive of all Oregon technology workers.
Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) – Portland & Eugene
ISSA is an international organization with chapters in Portland and Eugene. Membership entitles you to valuable educational resources, publications, professional development tools, and networking opportunities that you'll find invaluable. The association also offers real-world and online conferences that will level-up your knowledge and skills with the most up-to-date information.