Securing Information Technology Program Provides Real World Cybersecurity Experience
by Emilie Jenson, Public Information Office
Posted on 1/10/2023
As the use of technology increases across the country, the need for trained and experienced cybersecurity specialists is on the rise.
According to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, the United States cybersecurity workforce employed more than 950,000 people in 2021 with a need to fill at least 465,000 more jobs. The United States Bureau For Labor Statistics shares that the field is expected to grow in demand by 35 percent – approximately 19,500 additional jobs per year- over the next decade.
In 2019, Iowa Central recognized the need for cybersecurity professionals in the workforce and developed a new program – Securing Information Technology- as a sister program to the Computer Networking Technology program. The 61-credit program can be completed in two years as an associate of applied science degree when enrolled full-time.
Casey Iles, associate instructor and co-coordinator of the Computer Networking Technology (CNT) and Securing Information Technology (SIT) programs said the program is versatile in how it can be approached as a major or in addition to other areas of study.
“The whole idea was to have a sister program to our CNT program,” said Iles. “It can be taken as a stand-alone or after completing the CNT programs.”
The SIT Program prepares graduates to go directly into the field, although it is possible to transfer some credits into a four-year school.
“This program is designed to prepare you for the workforce,” said Andrew Thompson, also a co-coordinator for the SIT and CNT program.
Students currently enrolled in the program come from various backgrounds and have different career goals in mind. Some have degrees in criminal justice and are looking to expand into the computer side of that field. Some started with a healthcare background and others were interested in the workings of computers or the impressive salary for cybersecurity professionals.
Iles said the areas of work within the field are endless.
“It is rapidly growing,” he said, “Whether you’re looking at auditing, consulting, being a network system administrator with a security specialty…it’s a skilled workforce that can expand into many areas.”
Students in Iowa Central’s SIT Program work on both live and simulated security situations to hone their skills in the field.
“We really are doing this on a broader scope,” said Thompson. “Our students are doing things live in the classroom. Some of it may be virtual or simulated, but a lot of it, especially in the second year, is being tasked with being that person who finds the problem; really harden their skills. They do so as much here in the classroom as you’d see out in the field.”
Presently, SIT is a Last Dollar Scholarship eligible program at Iowa Central, along with other academic, foundation and program scholarships offered.
SIT will allow students to enter fields with the opportunity to work jobs that pay a median salary of more than $100,000 annually for qualified applicants.
“Security isn’t something that is just a thought anymore,” said Iles. “It’s a must for everyone. What a lot of places (employers) find is, you can get applicants for these jobs, but not everyone is fully qualified to do them. This program really does prepare you for a successful career in SIT”
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