This guide is an overview of the educational and professional cybersecurity opportunities available in New Jersey. The guide also provides the economic context for New Jersey’s emerging cybersecurity industry.
For many, the name New Jersey probably brings to mind New York City and Philadelphia as much as anything in New Jersey. To be clear, though, the New Jersey shoreline is a huge draw for residents and tourists alike, particularly in summer. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area in the US, but in part it is due its proximity to surrounding cities, it is the 11th largest population.
New Jersey gets a bum rap in many respects. It is, by itself, a substantial economy, particularly given its geographic size. The state’s long shoreline provides a home to a massive shipping industry, which is easily the largest employer in New Jersey, and a thriving tourist industry.
Healthcare (particularly pharmaceutical manufacturers and biotechnology), professional and business services (particularly financial services), and government are the other large employers. And telecommunications is also big business here.
New Jersey is currently home to 24 Fortune 500 companies. These companies include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Chubb, Prudential Financial, and Schering-Plough.
With relation to cybersecurity, it’s fair to say that New Jersey’s proximity to New York City and Philadelphia is its best asset. The location of large financial institutions and other business service operations in the state is no accident, and one of the big reasons cybersecurity is a thriving industry in New Jersey.
The state government has been proactive in preparing itself and its citizens for cyber attacks through the NJCCIC division of the state Homeland Security department. However, unlike many other states, New Jersey hasn’t done much, if anything, to attract or stimulate the information security industry. Also, not much if anything has been done by state and local governments in terms of attracting cybersecurity talent. And there are no apparent government-sponsored education programs focused on cybersecurity, nor any efforts to encourage colleges and universities to develop programs to educate the next wave of infosec professionals.
That said, New Jersey has still become a favorable environment for cybersecurity, if only by default. The number of large multinational companies and dominant industries have made the state a lucrative information security market.
Growing importance of cybersecurity in New Jersey
The need for beefing up cybersecurity for all industries everywhere is apparent. New Jersey is obviously no different. In fact, the makeup of the state’s economy pretty much guarantees that it will be critical to the future of New Jersey’s big industry, not to mention the government.
And, of course, its proximity to New York City and Philadelphia mean that cybersecurity companies can and are locating in New Jersey to serve clients outside the state. It also ensures that cybersecurity professionals will have ready access to both cities, even in the unexpected event that New Jersey employers fall short.
Currently, New Jersey’s supply/demand ratio for cybersecurity professionals vs. job openings is significantly higher than other states in the country. But this just means the ratio is somewhat high on an extremely low scale. New Jersey’s cybersecurity supply/demand ratio, as reported by Cyberseek, is still about half the national average that exists in other industries/job markets and still indicates a fairly tight labor market. So there will be ample job opportunities in the state for the foreseeable future. Plus there’s always New York City and Philadelphia a short drive or train ride away.
Cybersecurity education in New Jersey
New Jersey certainly has its fair share of high-quality higher education institutions. To date, though, only a few have taken it upon themselves to make a commitment to cybersecurity education. Rutgers has some offerings, but Fairleigh Dickenson and Stevens Institute of Technology are by far the most active in cybersecurity degrees and certifications.
But given the state ranks 11th in the US for population, there are surprisingly few education alternatives available thus far for those interested in cybersecurity. The programs that are available, however, still provide students with excellent options whether or not New Jersey is home.
Cybersecurity job openings are growing more quickly than the supply of qualified cybersecurity professionals, just about everywhere. In part for this reason, cybersecurity employers are still amenable to accepting applicants with an associate’s degree in cybersecurity for many entry-level jobs. Associate’s degree programs usually take only a year or two to complete, so they are much easier and less expensive than a full four-year degree.
This can provide the needed foot-in-the-door for new cybersecurity professionals. Then once in the fold, newcomers can choose to attend infosec certificate courses to enhance career options. And a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity should be more easily attainable because many schools will extend course credits for associate’s degree coursework already completed. To the extent such credits are available, the cost and time commitment necessary to obtain a bachelor’s degree could be reduced significantly.
That said, however, there are currently no associate’s degree programs being offered in the state of New Jersey, either in on-campus or online formats.
Most employers and most job postings now require a bachelor’s degree in some sort of technology or STEM-related discipline. In a market like New Jersey that maybe isn’t quite as competitive as elsewhere in the country, it may be preferable to do something to stand out from the crowd for professionals looking to start out in cybersecurity. A bachelor’s degree with a cybersecurity specialty would be a good way to do that. And adding one or more cybersecurity certificates to the resume would help students differentiate themselves even more.
Campus-based bachelor’s degrees in New Jersey
At present, there are six distinct campus-based bachelor’s degree programs available in the state of New Jersey, offered by three different schools. Fairleigh Dickinson provides four different options for a BS with a cybersecurity specialty. Rutgers and Stevens Institute of Technology each offer one option. Details are listed below.
Online bachelor’s degrees in New Jersey
There is but one opportunity for a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity being offered by New Jersey schools via an online format. Saint Peters University has a program leading to a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity.
As the cybersecurity industry continues to quickly grow and mature, the number of senior and management-level positions being created is expanding rapidly. Even though there is a shortage of senior-level corporate cybersecurity professionals, obtaining these advanced positions may very well require having a master’s degree. And while a graduate degree in cybersecurity may not always be essential, it will of course be beneficial for those seeking c-suite information security positions.
Jobs such as Chief Information Security Officer often require a master’s degree, and occasionally even a Ph.D. And for experienced cybersecurity professionals preferring careers in academia, cybersecurity research, or cybersecurity consulting, a master’s degree will also be an essential element for success.
Campus-based master’s degrees in New Jersey
As the below table indicates, there are presently five options for obtaining a master’s degree in cybersecurity being provided by New Jersey colleges and universities.
Online master’s degrees in New Jersey
Stevens Institute of Technology is now the only school in New Jersey offering online programs for master’s degrees in cybersecurity. Stevens has two distinct degree paths available: Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Master of Science in Computer Science with Secure Systems Focus.
Ten years ago, a Ph.D. in cybersecurity would have been almost unheard of. Today, though, there are many Ph.D. programs being offered and demand is growing rapidly. The primary source of the demand is probably from cybersecurity professors and researchers. Some top-level corporate managers are also now also seeking out cybersecurity PhD’s.
At present, there is one New Jersey school offering one option for a Ph.D. in cybersecurity: Stevens Institute of Technology is offering a campus-based Ph.D. in Computer Science with a research specialization in Computer Security and Cryptography.
Specialized certifications can be an excellent vehicle for career enhancement, and this is particularly true in cybersecurity. And fortunately, there are certification programs available for all levels. Students wanting to get acclimated to cybersecurity can find programs for that purpose. Professionals wishing to expand their careers in a specialty, such as penetration testing, and/or their education can accomplish it through certifications. And senior-level executives looking for a resume boost or an update in some specialized aspect of cybersecurity.
Some cybersecurity certification programs are even designed to be a substitute for or serve as early coursework toward advanced degrees, particularly master’s degrees. There are currently certification options available from New Jersey schools covering the spectrum of different types.
Campus-based cybersecurity certifications in New Jersey
Three on-campus cybersecurity certification programs are now being offered by New Jersey schools. The below table has more information.
Online cybersecurity certifications in New Jersey
New Jersey colleges and universities are also offering four programs leading to cybersecurity certificates via online courses. These are listed below:
Cybersecurity Jobs in New Jersey
The cybersecurity workforce in New Jersey totaled 28,332 in the year before September 2019, according to Cyberseek. Also during that time there were 11,338 new information security job openings posted by New Jersey employers. This indicates a tight labor market, but maybe not quite as tight a market as most other states are currently experiencing. The northern part of the state around Newark, and commuting distance to New York City, has by far the highest concentration of cybersecurity professionals in the state. Farther south, however, near Camden and in proximity to Philadelphia, there is also a sizeable demand for information security skills and experience.
New Jersey currently affords cybersecurity professionals one of the highest pay rates in the country. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May, 2018 security analysts were being paid an average hourly wage of $58.46, and the average annual salary was $121,600. However, New Jersey also has one of the highest standards of living in the country. Pretty much everything is more expensive in New Jersey as compared to the average US state, but housing is particularly pricey. This is especially true in the northern end of the state insight of New York City.
Cybersecurity in New Jersey
New Jersey has a large and thriving economy with a diverse base of contributors. Large companies and industries typically associated with needing advanced cybersecurity services are important elements of this economy. The state is also strategically located with easy access to New York City and Philadelphia, and all that those economies and business communities have to offer.
The government of New Jersey hasn’t yet embraced the cybersecurity industry enough to establish incentive programs. And only a few colleges and universities have fully embraced cybersecurity as an education curriculum. Still, the state’s economic size and makeup will ensure that cybersecurity is a critical and growing industry for a long to come.