Cybersecurity Degrees and Careers Virginia Guide

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

According to one cyber security company, Virginia is the ninth worst state in which to store your data. In 2016, hackers intruded through a bank’s firewalls 2 times, stealing $2.4M. This, among other things has led to an increase in innovation in Virginia, prompting them to rethink how they evaluate cyber-threats. If you’re looking for a position in which you can make a difference, enjoy lasting stability and options to move up, and make a good amount of money; this might just be the job for you. Keep reading to learn more.

Why an Advanced Degree in Virginia is Needed

When you embark on a career in cyber security, you will soon find that your earnings are directly tied to your knowledge and skills. One sure way to boost your knowledge and provide verifiable credentials is to earn a degree, certificate, or non-academic certification in your field. The most robust and worthy credential comes by way of an academic degree. For cyber security, you can start your career with either an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree.

You can also pursue non-academic certifications, which come in a variety of formats. For most, you are responsible for learning the material on which you will be tested. Sometimes you can take classroom courses to prepare, but you can also prepare online. Many professionals add certifications to their resumes this way after completing a degree. For instance, if their firm uses Microsoft products, they might work on a certification to use those products.

Of course, some in the computer-related fields are self-taught. However, it’s a good idea to attain some sort of credential so that an employer will bring you in to interview, especially as the field becomes more and more competitive.

Virginia Cyber Security Education Degrees & Requirements

Associate’s Degree

This is the most basic college degree you can earn. However, that is not to say that a two-year degree is necessarily any lesser than other degrees. Everything depends on the level of training you receive. Many technical professionals conduct stellar careers with just an associate degree. For instance, if you attend a CAE-accredited cyber security program, whether it’s a bachelor’s or associate degree program, you are likely to launch a tremendous career. Further, an associate degree is cheaper and you can earn one faster than you can a bachelor's degree, which is appealing to many who are just starting out or starting over.

Entry into an associate degree program requires that you be able to provide your high school transcripts or GED. Some more exclusive schools may also require that you have a minimum GPA, but other than this, entry into an associate degree program is relatively easy, even for those who didn’t do well in high school.

Bachelor’s Degree

A four-year degree is typically thought to be the best route to a career. In fact, those with bachelor’s degrees tend to earn more than those with associate degrees, or no degree. It will be more difficult to gain admission to a four-year college, and you may even need to apply again if you wish to enter the Computer Science department. This is because many programs ask that you have a certain level of accomplishment prior to embarking on the major. Thus, you may need a minimum GPA and certain prerequisite courses, such as Calculus. Discuss your application with an academic advisor at your college or university.

Other requirements for entry into a bachelor’s degree program include high school transcripts or GED, college transcripts if you’ve earned an associate degree, a minimum GPA, application and fee, and SAT or ACT scores.

Master’s Degree

A master's degree implies exactly what the name indicates – that you are a master of a specific subject. Often people wait to attend graduate school until after they have worked with their bachelor's degree for a number of years. However, you can apply to graduate school whenever you like. You will need to have a minimum GPA, typically 2.5 is the lowest accepted average, as well as evidence that you've taken and passed certain prerequisite courses. Some of the more elite master’s programs require you to provide a resume when you apply, without which you won’t gain access to said program.

Certifications in Virginia

Another option is to earn a certificate from an academic institution or a certification from a non-academic outlet. Certificates are a great option if you want to quickly upgrade or expand your qualifications. For instance, you might be working in IT but want to transition to cyber security. Thus, you could earn a postgraduate certificate to frame yourself as a security expert. On the other hand, you might wish to earn non-academic certifications from organizations that will certify skills in areas that the universities are not yet covering, or which are too specific to be covered in university courses, such as specific systems like Cisco and Microsoft.

Why is Accreditation Important?

Accreditation should be a huge part of your college search. It is important because it attests to the overall quality of your program. When a program receives accreditation, it means that an independent agency has audited their curriculum, faculty, and student outcomes, among other items. Rather than making a promise, accreditation affirms that the school has achieved certain levels of excellence. Programs with regional accreditation should be at the top of your list. Regional accreditation in Virginia is provided by the Higher Learning Commission

Cyber security programs with accreditation from the Centers in Academic Excellence (CAE) are approved by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. Their accreditation is the gold standard for cyber security. If a CAE program isn't available, you can also seek out a program with ABET certification. ABET originally sought to accredit engineering programs but they have extended their scope to include computer science and computer engineering programs. However, as you’ll see, with the number of CAE programs in the state, there’s no reason not to attend one if you plan to go to school in the state of Virginia.

Virginia NSA & CAE Accredited Programs

  • Danville Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2017-2022
  • ECPI University
    CAE-CD / 2018-2023
  • George Mason University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021
    CAE-R / 2014-2021
  • Germanna Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2019-2024
  • Hampton University
    CAE-CD / 2016-2021
  • James Madison University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2020
  • Liberty University
    CAE-CD / 2018-2023
  • Lord Fairfax Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2016-2021
  • Marymount University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2020
  • Norfolk State University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2020
  • Northern Virginia Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2014-2020
  • Radford University
    CAE-CD / 2016-2021
  • Regent University
    CAE-CD / 2018-2023
  • Southwest Virginia Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2019-2024
  • Thomas Nelson Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2017-2022
  • Tidewater Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2016-2021
  • University of Virginia
    CAE-CD / 2018-2023
    CAE-R / 2019-2024
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
    CAE-CD / 2019-2024
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State university
    CAE-R / 2014-2021
  • Virginia Western Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2019-2024

Computer Science or IT Programs in Virginia

  • George Mason University

    GMU is Virginia's largest public research university. Their cyber security program is accredited by the CAE, which makes it among one of the very best. Since the school is right in the middle of so much governmental activity you are sure to be able to find an internship working on cyber security for some government agency, perhaps even Homeland Security.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences - Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Master’s Degree
    Computer Science – Bachelor’s Degree
    Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Master’s Degree
    Information Science/Studies – Master’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $12,462
    Out-of-State: $35,922
    Average Net Price: $19,064
    College Retention Rate: 87% (Full-time Students); 66% (Part-time Students)

  • Marymount University

    At Marymount, you'll be right across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. That means your CAE-accredited cyber security work will begin to pay dividends as soon as you graduate. You could even return to Marymount to complete a master's when the time comes.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Master’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
    Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Undergraduate Certificate
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Technology Project Management – Postgraduate Certificate

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $31,926
    Average Net Price: $26,448
    College Retention Rate: 72% (Full-time Students); 75% (Part-time Students)

  • Liberty University

    Liberty University is a Christian College located in Lynchburg, VA, but they also have a strong online presence. Though their cyber security program is only offered to residential students, it enjoys CAE accreditation. However, Lynchburg is a beautiful enough town that you won't ever want to leave.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences, General – Bachelor’s Degree & Undergraduate Certificate
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Undergraduate Certificate
    Informatics – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $22,584
    Average Net Price: $27,432
    College Retention Rate: 82% (Full-time Students); 41% (Part-time Students)

  • Virginia Commonwealth University

    Located in Richmond, VCU offers a range of degrees, including three in computer-related subjects. In fact, they offer a certificate in cyber security that you can add to your academic credentials. While you study, you'll love VCU's historic urban campus and proximity to many cultural and professional outlets.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences, General – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Master’s Degree
    Information Science/Studies – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $14,493
    Out-of-State: $35,834
    Average Net Price: $20,897
    College Retention Rate: 85% (Full-time Students); 54% (Part-time Students)

  • Strayer University - Virginia

    Strayer's Arlington campus is located minutes from the District of Columbia and the seat of the federal government. You can earn degrees in a range of computer-related subjects. In fact, Strayer offers a concentration in cyber security to help you land a job with Homeland Security or any other agency who needs to protect its data systems.

    Programs Offered:

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

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $13,380
    Average Net Price: $24,328
    College Retention Rate: 33% (Full-time Students); 39% (Part-time Students)

  • ECPI University

    ECPI has campuses all over Virginia. Their technology department includes many opportunities for budding cyber security professionals. In fact, you can start with an associate degree in cyber security and eventually move through their program at the bachelor's and master's level. In fact, you can pursue cyber security through their online platform.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences, General – Master’s Degree
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Computer Programming, Specific Applications – Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer Programming/Programmer, General – Associate & Bachelor’s Degrees
    Network and System Administration/Administrator – Associate Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $16,039
    Average Net Price: $18,664
    College Retention Rate: 48%

Virginia Colleges Offering Certificates and Associate Degrees

The following colleges and universities all offer two-year degrees and certificates for either one or two years’ worth of work. That includes credentials in computer science, information science, and more. It's important to look at these programs because they are often cheaper per credit-hour than a four-year school and often offer more favorable student-to-teacher ratios. Later, if you decide to take your career to the next level, you can transfer your credits to a four-year, baccalaureate program. However, discuss this approach with an advisor to ensure that you can indeed make such a move.

  • Old Dominion University

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $10,560
    Out-of-State: $29,460
    Average Net Price: $15,917
    College Retention Rate: 79% (Full-time Students); 59% (Part-time Students)

  • Northern Virginia Community College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $5,610
    Out-of-State: $11,618
    Average Net Price: $9,124
    College Retention Rate: 72% (Full-time Students); 53% (Part-time Students)

  • Lord Fairfax Community College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $4,739
    Out-of-State: $10,667
    Average Net Price: $6,738
    College Retention Rate: 66% (Full-time Students); 45% (Part-time Students)

  • Thomas Nelson Community College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $4,806
    Out-of-State: $10,734
    Average Net Price: $6,627
    College Retention Rate: 58% (Full-time Students); 39% (Part-time Students)

  • Danville Community College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $4,710
    Out-of-State: $10,638
    Average Net Price: $7,751
    College Retention Rate: 66% (Full-time Students); 40% (Part-time Students)

  • Tidewater Community College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $5,561
    Out-of-State: $11,489
    Average Net Price: $7,618
    College Retention Rate: 57% (Full-time Students); 38% (Part-time Students)

Scholarships

  • CyberCorps(R) Scholarship for Service (SFS)

    Amount: $25,000 (undergraduate); $34,000 (graduate)
    Deadline: July 31
    Link: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=504991&org=NSF
    This generous scholarship does more than offset the cost of your books. Indeed, this award can pay your way through school and provide a stipend for your room and board. When you complete your degree, either graduate or undergraduate, you are then required to work for the federal government for a time equal to or greater than the duration of your time on the scholarship. Since you were already going to land a top cyber security position, you might as well gain some valuable experience in a government agency.

  • Women Techmakers Scholars Program Scholarship

    Amount: $10,000
    Deadline: December 5
    Link: https://www.womentechmakers.com/scholars
    Women in tech fields, including cyber security, are encouraged to apply to this prestigious scholarship opportunity. The award itself is hefty, and then you'll be invited to an exclusive retreat where you'll rub elbows with Google professionals. The retreat features workshops and personal development training. This scholarship has the potential to make your career.

  • Cra-W Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security

    Amount: Up to $10,000
    Deadline: February 1
    Link: https://cra.org/cra-wp/scholarships-and-awards/scholarships/swsis/
    The nation needs more and more cyber security professionals. We also must make sure that this growing field includes women, who have been typically left out of technology fields. With a 10k award, this is a scholarship that will go very far towards offsetting your expenses and long-term debt.

  • CIA Undergraduate Scholarship

    Amount: Up to $18,000/year
    Deadline: June 15
    Link: https://www.cia.gov/careers/student-opportunities/undergraduate-scholarship-program.html#job-details-tab1
    If you're studying in Northern Virginia, this is especially good for you. That's because you won't have to move to work for the CIA over the summers. The agency will pay you a handsome wage plus benefits. On top of this terrific working opportunity, the CIA will cover up to $18,000 of your yearly tuition. When you graduate, you can continue working for the agency and qualify for tuition forgiveness.

  • 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
    Link: https://iamcybersafe.org/s/cyberwarrior
    If you are a veteran with experience working with technology, you may need additional credentials to land a great job when you return home to Virginia. Thus, this scholarship will cover your tuition for a range of cyber security certification examinations. Once you have a certification on top of your military service you'll be prepped for success.

Conferences and Workshops

International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security (ICCWS)

Norfolk, VA will host this 15th annual conference on cyber security. Hosted by the Center for Cyber security Education and Research at Old Dominion University, this is primarily an academic conference. For 2020, the conference keynote speakers are Rodney Petersen from the National institute of Standards and Technology and Dr. Emily Goldman from the United States Department of State.

CYBERWARCON

The sole purpose of Cyberwarcon is to explore the nature of threats. It is a one-day event that promises to be packed with valuable information stemming from military, academic, governmental, and private sector sources. Previously, the conference has hosted speakers from Google, Facebook, Stanford, Wired Magazine, and Crowdstrike, among many others.

AdvaMed Cybersecurity Summit

This cyber security conference focuses solely on security issues as they relate to the health care industry. Issues include medical device security, FDA security regulations, and cyber security management practices. Previous conference speakers delved into Artificial Intelligence, Best Practices, Penetration Testing, and Risk Quantification.

Cyber Security Summit: DC Metro

July 2020 will mark the 7th anniversary of this cyber security summit in the DC Metro. The summit will provide opportunities to learn, evaluate solution providers, earn CEUs/CPEs, and receive a valuable wake-up call for yourself and your company vis-a-vis cyber security. On top of all this, you'll have the opportunity to network with your colleagues from all over the DC Metro.

Virginia Cyber Security Jobs and Salary

Cyber security jobs are slated to be among the most important any company or government agency staffs. Already we see how invaluable it is to take protective measures regarding our cyber safety. Thus, if you're a cyber security professional, you are sure to see rising demand and salaries for the foreseeable future. Since the field is still rather new, employment statistics are still catching up. The field has so many subdivisions and job descriptions that it is difficult to track it all. However, statistics are out there that paint a rosy picture.

For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that information security analysts are slated for national growth in excess of 30%. In the state of Virginia, however, the outlook is even better. The Virginia Employment Commission shows that between 2016 and 2026, the job is expected to grow by more than 40%. Even better, the annual mean wage for this field is currently $111,800, according to the BLS.

For comparison, Computer Systems analysts are also expecting tremendous growth. However, the Virginia Employment Commission expects that sector to grow by only 13% and their salaries trail information security analysts with an annual mean wage of $102,300.

it's assumed that the primary geographical area for these jobs will be in Northern Virginia, in the DC Metropolitan area. This is due to the intense concentration of government agencies, financial firms, and various governmental contractors in the area. Furthermore, DC is home to our federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Resources

  • CyberVirginia
    CyberVirginia is an online resource that offers visitors endless insights into cyber security. There are cyber security jobs listings for public and private concerns, resources for citizens, professionals, and government officials alike.
  • SANS Institute – Cybersecurity Training in Virginia
    SANS offers a range of cyber security courses in Virginia. Most of the trainings occur in Northern Virginia and cover many topics including Open Source, Cyber Threats, and Defeating Adversaries, among other topics. Check the website SANS.org to learn more about the simulcasts, mentoring sessions, and cyber security training SANS offers.
  • ISSA-NOVA
    This is a professional organization for cyber security experts. In fact, ISSA is an international organization with a huge presence in Northern Virginia. You can join the organization and take advantage of many benefits including conferences, educational opportunities, and a top industry journal.
  • Certstaffix Training – Charlottesville, Virginia
    Your firm surely needs to bolster its cyber security measures. Certstaffix is available in Charlottesville to train you or your staff in preparation for a professional certification. You can choose instructor led or self-paced courses that will help you achieve certification for Certified Information Systems Securing Professional, CompTIA Security+, or CompTIA PenTest.
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