Steve Foster speaks during a Cybersecurity Conference at Thomas Nelson.
With people and companies using technology more than ever, there is a need for privacy and Virginia universities are filling that need with growing cybersecurity programs.
“This is the hottest segment of the market with all the focus companies are putting on privacy,” said Jeffrey Blake Rich, chief marketing officer for the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at William & Mary.
At William & Mary, there isn’t a single major for cybersecurity but approximately five years ago the college started integrating these courses and skills into already existing business programs and will be adding them to law programs in the future.
Rich said the college recognized the need for those skills in the workplace but wanted to integrate them into a curriculum that could give students different experiences in cybersecurity.
The cross-program approach gives students the opportunity to learn different sides of the cybersecurity market. For example, Rich said a student studying finances might specifically learn about data privacy issues related to that field.
Rich said the market is growing faster than most universities can produce students and by growing those programs, they are filling a gap in the job market.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cybersecurity job market is expected to grow 28 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the average for all other occupations.
“One of the reasons schools have built these programs is because there’s been a decrease in the number of young people going into the STEM field,” said Steve Foster, an adjunct instructor for Information Systems Technology at Thomas Nelson Community College. “We, as a country, are growing everyday with technology and there’s not enough people to manage these big systems.”
TNCC has also kept up with the cybersecurity market by starting a robust program in 2012 that is now certified by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, Foster said.
The job market for students with those skills is large, Rich said, with many students finding employment in metropolitan areas after graduation. To better help students connect to these organizations, both TNCC and William & Mary started hosting an annual cybersecurity conference. While TNCC’s started in 2012, William & Mary’s conference is only 3 years old.