People who live in West Virginia have as much interest in the Internet and using online services as anyone else in the nation. West Virginians bank, shop, and book vacations online, so the chances that their information could be hacked by some cyber thief is just as real as anywhere else in the world. That is why workers in the cyber security field are in demand. These people keep end-user information secure and help prevent a person’s personal and financial data from falling into the wrong hands. If you think you’d like to fight on the cyber security front lines, keep reading; there are lot of ways to get from interested to involved.
Why an Advanced Degree in West Virginia is Needed
A person can get started in the cyber security field with a certificate or two-year degree, but to advance in the field, additional education is required. Many certifications needed to hold cyber security positions require applicants to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, so attaining a four-year degree to become an administrator is a minimum requirement. Advancement past that level usually requires a postgraduate certificate or a master’s degree. So, if you are serious about having a career in cyber security, you’ll likely need an advanced degree. The more education you attain, the more opportunities there are for advancement in the field.
West Virginia Cyber Security Education
Each school and program has its own requirements for admission, but there are universal requirements that nearly all schools and programs share. Below are some of the requirements all schools have for consideration for their programs.
- Application and required fees
- Transcripts from all schools attended - This becomes very important when attending graduate school since high school and undergraduate transcripts must be provided
- ACT/SAT scores for undergraduate schools and GRE/GMAT scores for graduate schools
- Letters of recommendation
- Resume for graduate school and higher
Cybersecurity Associate Degrees
Associate degrees, also referred to as two-year degrees, are conferred from schools that offer two-year programs. Many universities also offer two-year degrees but the state of West Virginia has several technical colleges and community colleges that focus on two-year degrees and certificates. If the schools are regionally accredited, classes taken at these schools will generally transfer to another regionally accredited school. So, if you wanted to pursue a four-year degree after you earn your associate degree, you would just have to complete the last two years instead of going all four.
Some of the classes you’ll see in a two-year program for cyber security might include:
- Computer Programming, I
- Intro to Cyber Security
- Telecommunications, I
Cybersecurity Bachelor's Degrees
If you work in cyber security, you may be required to complete certain certifications, depending on your employer and your field of expertise. Most of these certifications require a four-year degree and some work experience for the application to take the exam to be accepted. Also, some cyber security programs are only available as four-year degrees.
Some classes offered at the four-year degree level are:
- Data Security
- Systems Administration
- Virtual Data Management
Cybersecurity Master’s Degrees
Once you reach the graduate level, programs become more specific and tailored to specific needs. You will most likely have taken many general courses under the associate and bachelor’s degree levels, but other courses that are specific to your program or require a higher level of understanding in the field will be included in a master’s degree program. There is also typically some sort of project graduate students must complete under the guidance of at least one faculty member. This may be a thesis or a research project depending on the school.
Certifications in West Virginia
Certifications can occur at any educational level. There are certificates that can be completed before a two-year degree, certifications that can be completed after the bachelor’s degree, and others that are postgraduate or doctorate level.
Why is Accreditation Important?
When choosing a school at which to study computer-related fields, it’s important that the program is recognized by the industry. One way to check if a program is respected is to check for accreditation. There are several types of accreditation a school or program can achieve but the most prestigious and highly recognized is regional accreditation. Schools with regional accreditation have proven to a US Department of Education approved accreditation institution that their programs are top of the line and of the highest quality. When speaking about computer-related programs specifically, there’s an extra level of accreditation these programs can achieve called Centers in Academic Excellence. CAE accreditation is given by the National Security Agency and designates that the program as one of the best in the nation. With this accreditation, you can be hired by the NSA or DHS, the two largest employers of cyber security experts.
CAE Accredited Programs in West Virginia
- American Public University System
CAE-CD / 2018-2023
- Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
CAE-2Y / 2016-2021
- West Virginia University
CAE-CD / 2014-2021
CAE-R / 2014-2021
Computer Science and Cybersecurity Programs in West Virginia
American Public University System
American Public University System has a campus in Charles Town. The online school has an enrollment of over 46,000 and offers many programs in business, computers, and other fields of study. The computer programs are CAE accredited, so students’ chances of getting a job upon graduation are improved. Students can choose from certificate programs, up to and including doctorate degrees.
Computer and Information Sciences – Undergraduate Certificate
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees, Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificate
Computer Programming, Specific Applications – Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificate
Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Associate Degree & Undergraduate Certificate
Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degree
Information Technology Project Management – Bachelor’s Degree
Network and System Administration/Administrator – Undergraduate Certificate
Average Net Price: $10,366
College Retention Rate: 98%; Part-time Students – 93%
Located in Huntington, Marshall University offers its 13,000+ students programs from associate to doctorate degrees, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate certificates. This public school offers several computer-related programs that can help anyone who wants a career in cyber security.
Computer and Information Science - Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificates
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance - Bachelor’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificates
Computer/Information Technology Services Administration Management - Master’s Degree
Information Science/Studies – Master’s Degree
Average Net Price: $8,850
College Retention Rate: 72%; Part-time Students – 30%
Strayer University – West Virginia
Strayer University offers a variety of programs for its students. The campus in Scott Depot, WV campus has 200+ students who are pursuing certificates and degrees. Students can choose programs in computer technology, business, and other fields of study.
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance - Master’s Degree
Information Science/Studies - Bachelor’s, Master’s degrees; Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificates
Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degree
College Retention Rate: 50%; Part-time Students – 46%
West Virginia University
WVU offers it’s nearly 27,000 students programs in dozens of careers. A student can choose to pursue a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree and many majors can be pursued either on campus or online. Even with a large student body, the school still has a decent student to faculty ratio of 18 to 1.
Computer and Information Science - Bachelor’s Degree
Computer Information Systems Security/Information Assurance - Master’s Degree
Computer Science - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst – Bachelor’s Degree
Average Net Price: $12,181
College Retention Rate: 76%; Part-time Students – 27%
Salem University is located in Salem, WV. The four-year private college has an enrollment of just under 1,000, with the majority of students enrolled in undergraduate programs. Students can choose from certificate programs, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and graduate degrees.
Computer and Information Sciences - Associate & Bachelor’s Degrees
Information Technology - Associate & Bachelor’s Degrees
Average Net Price: $17,774
College Retention Rate: 46%
Shepherd University is a small college in Shepherdstown, WV. The student enrollment is 3,648 and the school offers certificates, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. For those interested in computer-related careers, Shepherd offers several programs that culminate in bachelor’s degrees.
Computer and Information Sciences - Bachelor’s Degree
Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Master’s Degree
Information Technology - Bachelor’s Degree
Average Net Price: $9,221
College Retention Rate: Full-time Students – 69%; Part-time Students – 50%
Cybersecurity Associates Programs and Certifications in West Virginia
The schools listed below offer 1- and 2-year certificates and associate degrees in computer and information sciences. If you get a degree from one of these schools and you decide you want to pursue another degree, credits earned will often transfer to your new program. Additionally, several of the schools listed below are CAE accredited, so an associate degree or certificate from those schools will carry quite a bit of weight.
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
Average Net Price: $5,954
College Retention Rate: Full-time Students – 64%; Part-time Students – 39%
Bridge Valley Community & Technical College
Average Net Price: $6,669
College Retention Rate: Full-time Students – 47%; Part-time Students – 28%
Mountwest Community and Technical College
Average Net Price: $7,593
College Retention Rate: Full-time Students – 43%; Part-time Students – 36%
College Retention Rate: Full-time Students – 67%; Part-time Students – 85%
West Virginia University at Parkersburg
Average Net Price: $7,209
Cyber Corps Scholarship For Service Program
Amount: $22,500 (Undergraduate Students); $34,000 (Graduate Students)
The Cyber Corps Scholarship for Service program helps students complete their degrees as well as attain employment after graduation. Along with tuition assistance, awardees also receive a book stipend, funding for professional learning, and paid summer internships. Once the student graduates, they are guaranteed a job at a federal, local, or tribal agency.
- Must be a US citizen
- Must be a full-time, on-campus students at the time of application
- Minimum GPA of 3.25
- Must be pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in cyber security
- If awarded, must work one year for a government agency for each award year
Conferences and Workshops
Sponsored by Alpha Technology, Redhat, Advantage, and other companies, this three-day conference brings IT and cyber security experts together with business owners and decision makers. The workshops and demonstrations help attendees stay abreast of cyber security issues and how to combat them.
West Virginia Cyber Security Jobs and Salary
Those who are interested in working in a computer-related field such as cyber security are in luck; according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for workers in this field is expected to increase. Between 2018 and 2028, job growth for computer-related jobs is expected to reach 32%, which is much faster growth than for most other industries. For West Virginians, the news is also good; according to Workforce West Virginia, the demand for computer workers is expected to increase within the state. Currently, there are 11,010 workers in computer-related fields in West Virginia, including cyber security. The average salary for these workers is $71,400. Below is a listing of some of the positions that are available in West Virginia and the average salary for each.
Software Development Systems Software
- Number of Workers: 420
- Average salary: $100,170
Software developers who work with system software create code that runs programs, ensuring that the programs are as safe for the end-user as possible.
Software Developer - Applications
- Number of workers: 1,110
- Average salary: $87,490
Software developers create apps that are safe to use with mobile and portable devices.
Information Security Analysts
- Number of workers: 270
- Average salary: $84,620
Information security analysts examine computer input devices and determine if there are possible areas for breaches to occur.
- Number of workers: 460
- Average salary: $83,160
Computer programmers work on the code in the background that makes systems and applications run smoothly.
Computer System Analyst
- Number of workers: 1,120
- Average salary: $74,010
Computer system analysts investigate how computer system functions and look for weaknesses in the functionality that could lead to cyber-threats.
Network and Computer System Administrators
- Number of workers: 1,240
- Average salary: $68,980
Network and computer system admins maintain and track network and computer functions. They evaluate the performances and look for areas that could be improved.
- Number of workers: 430
- Average salary: $68,940
Database admins develop and maintain databases for organizations. They make sure that the information stored in the databases is as secure and tamper-resistant as possible.
West Virginia Office of Technology
An organization that connects IT and cyber security workers and students with tech news and the latest techniques in fighting cyber threats.
Department of Homeland security
Center of Internet Security