This guide contains a brief insight into cybersecurity education and career opportunities in Mississippi.
Mississippi’s economy shifted from agriculture to manufacturing over the 20th century, converting traditional cotton production to reforestation programs. Poultry provides the primary source of livestock alongside soybeans as its main crop, accounting for the majority of the state’s production value.
The state’s manufacturing sector, which includes producing automotive parts, lumber, and processed foods, transformed the state through industrial development programs, turning manufacturing into a steady, slowly declining source of employment and income.
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The hospitality and service industry, operating through federal, retail, wholesale, real estate, and social services, continues to be the state’s leading source of income. The state government provides significant employment, deriving its revenue mainly from sales taxes. Local governments rely on real estate taxes for income, and large employers throughout the state provide unions, giving workers benefits to their employees to increase production.
Transportation services have slowly declined throughout the past century, but also remains one of the leading employers for its citizens at a 21% industry distribution rate. As a result of these economic changes, transportation, business services, and manufacturing have provided about 11,000 jobs from 2012 to 2016, according to a state-conducted study reported back in 2016.
Despite the improvements to the state’s economic development, economic growth stands still, as the state’s per capita gross product is ranked among the lowest in the country. Forbes ranks Mississippi at 42 among its neighboring competitors but argues how despite its development, the state finishes at the bottom five for economic growth, labor supply, and economic climate. The state’s schools rank low for attainment, and the state’s average household income is among the lowest in the country at $46,333.
While the prospects for potential employment appear deficient, Mississippi’s reliance on state and federal employment grants unprecedented opportunities for cybersecurity professionals. Cybersecurity utilizes the necessary skills needed for government regulation and protection of data information, giving way to dependable occupation and secure financial prosperity.
Growing awareness of cybersecurity in Mississippi
According to Mississippi’s Department of Information Technology Services, at the 2017 Legislative session, Mississippi’s legislature enacted the Enterprise Security Program, which supports cybersecurity approaches to state enterprises. The program outlines overseeing all state agencies to install security programs, systems, services, and policies to acquire technology solutions and assist in new cybersecurity initiatives.
Before this development, the state had only the Enterprise Security Policy, which outlined minimum requirements for agencies to protect data and information technology back in 2013.
Due to the increase in cyber threats to public sector organizations, Mississippi established multiple avenues for awareness and resources for cybersecurity protection. The state’s Enterprise Cloud and Offsite Hosting Security Policy help to demonstrate additional requirements for cloud services and offsite hosting services, last revised back in 2018. The Enterprise Security Awareness Training Standard and Cybersecurity Incident Notification Response Standard offer solutions to computer-based training and response procedures for cybersecurity incidents, both revised in 2019.
Among its policies, the Mississippi Statewide Architecture & Technology Infrastructure Plan frames more detailed initiatives and principles to oversee and implement across the state, giving businesses guidance for technology investments and decision-making processes.
For public awareness of cybersecurity threats, the state holds its annual Mississippi Cybersecurity Summit to help educate its citizens about cybersecurity threats, what public and private business sectors plan for future initiatives, and celebrate advancements in cybersecurity with National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), observed every October.
Cybersecurity education in Mississippi
Mississippi provides its citizens with various academic degree opportunities to increase training and preparation for future information technology careers. State and local governments require workers handling sensitive data information related to public and private sector companies to have training in computer security methods. With a cybersecurity degree, those requirements will be met according to current standards, and allow those receptive to gain better employment.
Traditionally, associate degrees help students prepare for a career in cybersecurity with necessary concepts. Over the course of two years, students in cybersecurity associate degree programs will train students to handle firewall breaches, securing computer software hacks, and encoding sensitive data information. For students intending on expanding their education, associate’s degree allows students to transfer credits and earn bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D.’s in cybersecurity for career benefits.
Bachelor’s degrees commonly provide students with advanced methods of cybersecurity methods to understand infrastructures in cloud networking, hardware/software systems, and encryption. Bachelor’s degrees allow students to advance their learning in information security, have flexible terms for completion of courses, and provide more solid foundations for career advancement.
At the University of Southern Mississippi, the university provides students with the option to add to their bachelor’s degree with an Information Security minor. The minor focuses directly on security measures within networks, such as information technology policies, intrusion detection systems, advanced Linux administration, and multi-layered network operations.
The university’s bachelor degree programs range from designing digital hardware, securing software programs, to network testing and implementation.
Courses for computer engineering combine computer science and electrical engineering into one major, covering topics such as digital logic, hardware design, and wireless computing. The major also includes embedded systems, internet-of-things, and cybersecurity.
The university’s computer science major focuses primarily on data, including how to secure data, feeding data into GPUs and CPUs, analyzing data through optimal algorithms, and prediction through data.
The information technology major concentrates on managing networks and developing application programs for future business prospects, allowing students to focus on embedded software systems with applicable virtual technology.
The minor can be added to any information technology, computer engineering, or computer science major.
Mississippi College provides students with online education in cybersecurity with the Cybersecurity and Information Assurance master’s degree. The master’s degree centers around leadership and management of cybersecurity methods, involving extensive research into analyst and engineering methods of programming and designing. The master’s degree gives students the option to specialize in a particular aspect of cybersecurity, and through the college’s online courses, offers several opportunities for developing high-tech innovation.
At the Mississippi State University, the college offers students an advanced, on-campus education with its Master of Science in Cyber Security and Operations degree program. Entrance into the program requires students to have the ability to analyze and develop software programs, understand hardware and software applications, and comprehend data communications with mathematical fluency. Through substantial previous academic work, the master’s degree approaches computer security through a theoretical perspective and allows for focused specializations.
Mississippi State University incorporates a full, complete education in cybersecurity and computer science through its Direct Admit Ph.D. program. The program extends knowledge through specialization, allowing students to research in-depth concepts related to algorithms, computer theories, and sequential complexity of data composition.
Both Mississippi State University and Mississippi College offer certificates for cybersecurity. At Mississippi State University, their certificates range for both undergraduate and graduate degrees through backgrounds such as computer science, electrical engineering, information systems, and software engineering. For Mississippi College, the Cybersecurity & Information Assurance certificate emphasizes security policies and operating through cyberspace through its online program.
Cybersecurity jobs in Mississippi
Initiatives through the state’s legislature and advancements in cybersecurity education throughout universities grant those committed to cybersecurity careers with potential advantages for jobs. The continuous shift from agriculture to manufacturing and the tightening grasp to the state’s services and transportation industries lead many in cybersecurity to not only further develop needed services but grow the state’s economic success as well.
With a total 2,920 job openings in Mississippi, about 4,628 people sustain employment in the cybersecurity field, according to Cyberseek.
Additional insights in the cybersecurity field include:
Supply The supply of cybersecurity workers in Mississippi maintains a supply/demand ratio of 2.9 compared to the national average 2.0, both on the very low end of the scale.
Location Mississippi scores a location quotient of 0.40 versus the national average 1.0. The geographical concentration for Mississippi represents the slow but rising developments of computer security within the state, even despite its stagnant economic growth.
Certifications State and local governments alongside private and public sector companies require competency in certifications such as CompTIA Security+, Global Information Assurance Certification(GIAC), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Some of the top job titles for current employees in the state include:
- Cyber Security Engineer
- Cyber Security Analyst
- Network Engineer / Architect
- Vulnerability Analyst / Penetration Tester
- Incident Analyst / Responder
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the average hourly wage for a cybersecurity analyst in Wyoming is $35.11, with the average annual salary at $73,040.
Cybersecurity in Mississippi
Mississippi’s shift from agricultural production to manufacturing and services makes way for new opportunities in the cybersecurity field. As state and local governments provide the majority of employment throughout the state, students graduating with computer security and cybersecurity degrees provide the pathway for higher household incomes over the state average. Although the state stagnates in economic growth, its initiatives in cybersecurity education and policy make way for improvement to the state’s current condition among the nation.