Designed to “get you in, get you out and get you working in cyber,” the LDS Business College associate degree in cybersecurity seems to be one of the best-kept secrets in education in Utah.
In just two years, students are prepared to work as security analysts, one of the top 20 fastest-growing occupations in the United States with an average salary of $95,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the good news? Demand for cybersecurity professionals is only going to increase.
“We’ve all read the news stories about the different breaches and all the names and personal finance information that has been stolen,” said LDSBC Cyber Security Program Director Spencer DeGraw. “Since technology is always changing, there will always be a job for a cybersecurity professional.”
Forbes has called cybersecurity one of the fastest-growing jobs in the world with a “huge skill gap.” According to ISACA, a nonprofit information security advocacy group, there will be a global shortage of 2 million cybersecurity professionals by 2019. In fact, according to CyberSeek, a security data tool, every year 40,000 jobs for information security analysts in the United States go unfilled.
“There is definitely more demand than there is supply,” said DeGraw. “Cybersecurity has built-in job security. There’s always gonna be that next 'bad guy' that’s found a new way in.”
Of the various programs and schools in the area offering cybersecurity training, DeGraw said a few things set apart the associate degree at LDS Business College and make it a strong competitor with other cybersecurity programs in the region. In 2017, the LDS Business College cybersecurity team placed second at a regional competition with 17 other teams.
“We’re always the only two-year school at these things, but we’re competing with the big boys,” said DeGraw.
DeGraw said the program’s top priority is to prepare students to work as an analyst in a security operations center, one of the most common entry-level jobs in cybersecurity.
“Our degree is designed to get students SOC-ready by the time they graduate,” said DeGraw. “We have good working relationships with local security companies who are always looking for qualified candidates.”
For students who need a better-paying job right away, DeGraw says the LDS Business College Cyber Security program is a “hardcore, meat-only degree,” meaning students are just coming to get skills and no time is wasted with general education requirements. He said students can enjoy an LDS environment and smaller class sizes.
For students who want to continue on and get a four-year or advanced degree, credits from LDS Business College are fully transferable to other institutions.
DeGraw said one of the biggest strengths of the program is its experienced faculty with extensive real-world training in IT.
“Most of our teachers are actually adjunct professors, so they’re doing the stuff during the day that they’re teaching in the evening,” he said.
DeGraw said many students will also enjoy the program’s hands-on approach, offering real-world training without the theory and lectures in just five semesters.
“It’s not really a lecture model,” said DeGraw. “We work in a network, attacking and defending against attacks all right in class. We really promote this hands-on experience.”
Finally, DeGraw says the program is seeing a strong job placement rate, with many students getting jobs following graduation as analysts in security operation centers.
So what makes a good cybersecurity analyst? DeGraw says if a person enjoys problem-solving — looking for clues and solving puzzles — a career in cybersecurity might be a good fit.
”We joke that it’s a little bit like being in a spy game, but nobody’s shooting at you,” said DeGraw. “It’s a little bit like being in the FBI or the CIA, where you’re trying to solve a crime before it actually even occurs.”
To learn more about the LDS Business College Cyber Security program, visit LDSBC.edu or call 801-524-8151.