The following is a comprehensive guide about cybersecurity schools in Alaska, including certification and online training programs.
Alaska’s economy has shrunk over the past five years, with oil prices dropping and unemployment rates at over 6 percent, making it net migration out of the state the worst in the nation, according to Forbes.
Future outcomes predict that Alaska will produce a small handful of jobs over the next few years. The halt in growth comes from multiple factors, ranging from its eight corporate income tax brackets at a top rate of 9.4 percent to a budget deficient of $3 million in the state revenue.
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What underscores Alaska’s development stems from the oil and gas sectors. About 80 percent of the state’s revenues come from the oil and gas industry. The state has stilted in economic development and infrastructure, as it highly depends on world oil prices for its economic growth.
Tourism accounts for its second-largest employer and a primary sector, attracting over 1.1 million visitors, along with its tertiary industries, which include fishing, timber production, and coal reserves. However, these industries only make up a small percentage of its total revenue, and the need for technological innovation to support these industries is in high demand.
Technology practices for current corporate employers and state representatives have already begun to take effect, and thus begins a budding interest in cybersecurity positions throughout the state.
Due to recent security breaches throughout, consolidation for the state’s security practices have started to mature as Alaska’s new governor takes office. As hackers attack the state’s tourism websites, the Department of Energy’s recent developments for pipeline security has led to officials planning cybersecurity protocols as a newfound format for protection.
Growing awareness of cybersecurity in Alaska
As a response to the directives of the National Cyber Incident Response Plan and numerous accounts of cyber hacks over the past few years, Alaska launched an Enterprise Strategic IT Plan in 2016. The plan outlines state and corporate procedures for producing service delivery in cost-effective manners, enforcing inventory accounting, integrated application methods, and department-centric decision-making. At the state level, governing offices require to have emergency operation plans, cybersecurity policies, and acceptable use policies as part of its prevention methods.
As part of these procedures, the state provides a Cyber Security Vulnerability Assessment for key resource and critical infrastructure sectors. It also initiated cybersecurity planning for governor elections, instating cybersecurity training programs, communication tools, and vulnerability scanning, all developed by the Alaska Division of Elections. These tools offer the public an introduction to cybersecurity protocols and the state’s driving desire for IT specialists in their primary industries.
To raise public awareness, the Governor of Alaska, Michael J. Dunleavy, declared October 2019 as Cybersecurity Awareness Month to teach people about cyber threats through the private coalition companies, nonprofit, government organizations, and academic institutions. The state also annually holds multiple cybersecurity conferences, including Interface Alaska, Articcon, and the JBER Annual Technology & Cyber Security Day. Each of these conferences helps to inform the public about the latest cybersecurity activities within the state and any future procedures.
Cybersecurity education in Alaska
Alaska provides its future workforce with few, but a growing number of avenues for training in cybersecurity and attaining cybersecurity degrees. While the selection for Alaska’s programs remains sparse, its education courses provide the beginning framework for career investments in cybersecurity that can expand beyond the state and into corporate companies, specifically those that produce through the oil and tourism industries.
Associate degrees give students careers in cybersecurity, allowing them to learn and manage government and corporate software applications, initiate firewall protection methods, decode and encrypt sensitive data information, and protect against security breaches. Associate degrees allow students to transfer credits for advanced degrees. An associate of applied science does not allow credit transfer and is a stand-alone degree.
The University of Alaska in Fairbanks provides students with an associate of applied science degrees, ranging from a variety of information technology specialist programs. For those who wish to attain a cybersecurity degree, the IT Specialist: Network and Cybersecurity degree. A two-year program, the degree program focuses on specialized skills in support and administration systems, emphasizing on network security and administration. The degree narrows in on Cisco systems networking, building a foundation on local area network infrastructure and wide area networking services to conduct penetration tests and defense measures.
Other degrees the university offers to students include computing technology A.A.S, network and system administration A.A.S, an information technology certificate, and a computer information technology minor.
Charter College offers students an online Associate of Applied Science degree in computer networking systems. The degree teaches students to organize network systems, cloud computing, certification testing, and application development work. It also emphasizes a general education in environmental science, sociology, oral and written communication, and mathematics.
Bachelor’s degrees provide advanced training in cybersecurity required by corporate oil enterprises and state government entities. Students with bachelor’s degrees learn to apply cybersecurity methods in network security, information systems, software applications, and advanced web development. By learning the techniques to interpret and act on networking issues, these degrees give the groundwork for any cybersecurity career.
At Charter College, the university offers students a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems, an online degree focusing on ethical hacking, virtualization, data management, Cisco Systems, and project management. Students will gain a general education to study the concepts of analysis and design through ethics, sociology, logic and reasoning, political structures, and interpersonal communication.
Master’s degrees focus primarily on specialization, honing in skills in cybersecurity-related leadership, informing people of the latest digital methods of protection, encryption, and innovation. Master’s degrees also give management skills related to projects in network security and cryptography.
The University of Alaska Southeast offers students a Healthcare Privacy and Security Certificate for students wishing to work within a specific sector of the cybersecurity industry. The certificate teaches students to prepare for employment in data access, disclosure, and healthcare informatics in healthcare facilities.
Cybersecurity jobs in Alaska
Alaska relies on oil and gas production for its revenue, making its economic growth stagnant when compared to other states. However, the demand for cybersecurity specialists and networking management professionals has grown significantly over the past few years, making it a valuable resource as the state reforms its infrastructure and makes way for new economic opportunities.
According to Cyberseek, as of 2022, the state employed 1,860 people in cyber-related fields with total of 1,261 job openings from municipalities such as Anchorage (817) and Fairbanks (115).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that security analysts earned an average hourly wage of $41.92 in 2021, which equated to an annual salary of $87,190 on average.
Cybersecurity in Alaska
Cybersecurity specialists in Alaska will be able to help bring stability to the economy, bring higher income to households, and support fund protective measures against international breaches of sensitive data information.