This guide is a comprehensive review of the cybersecurity schools in Oklahoma. The guide also covers some of the basic economic factors about the outlook for the cybersecurity industry in the state.
Oklahoma has always relied heavily on agriculture to bolster its economy, particularly ranching. And the oil and gas industry has been, by far, the biggest contributor to the state’s economic output for decades, if not in numbers of people employed. But the economy has diversified in recent decades.
Other large contributors to employment opportunities now include healthcare and education, business and professional services, trade and transportation, and leisure and hospitality. Government is the single largest employer in Oklahoma, with trade and transportation a close second.
The healthcare industry is, of course, a primary employer of cybersecurity services due to huge stores of sensitive information healthcare-related companies collect and store. And business services companies also tend to be prolific employers of cybersecurity professionals.
The cybersecurity environment in Oklahoma
The state of Oklahoma coordinates its cybersecurity efforts through the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security.
Oklahoma also participates in the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), which collects cybersecurity-related data in all 50 states and then distributes that information to participating states so that they can better monitor and prepare for state-level cybersecurity threats.
Cybersecurity education in Oklahoma
As Oklahoma has a relatively small market for cybersecurity professionals, it isn’t surprising that education programs available with information security specialties are fairly limited. Still, at least one institution, Oklahoma State University, has recognized the need to educate new cybersecurity experts, and is taking advantage of the opportunity presented by growing demand for infosec degrees and certifications.
Oklahoma State University (OSU) hosts an annual cybersecurity conference in Oklahoma City. Way back in 2002 the school established the Center for Telecommunications and Network Security (CTANS) to “serve as the focal point for education and research for information assurance.” The National Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security recognize OSU as a Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) in Information Assurance Education and Research. OSU also provides more cybersecurity education options than any other school in Oklahoma.
Associate’s degrees in cybersecurity are recognized by many employers as adequate education for many entry-level information security positions. And associate’s degrees typically only require one to two years for completion, so they are an excellent alternative for aspiring infosec professionals with constrained resources and/or time. And many bachelor’s degree programs recognize associate’s degree coursework as credit substitutes for undergraduate classes. So when it comes time to move education to the next level, the time commitment required can be significantly reduced by a previous associate’s degree.
Campus-based associate’s degrees in Oklahoma
At present, there are five cybersecurity associate’s degree programs available from Oklahoma schools offering campus-based coursework. See the table below for more information.
There are currently no online cybersecurity associate’s degree programs offered by Oklahoma schools.
Today’s cybersecurity employers require bachelor’s degrees as a minimum educational background for most information security careers. And the degrees don’t necessarily need to be in cybersecurity. Most technology and science degrees, especially in STEM disciplines, are acceptable. However, those with a bachelor’s degree in some cybersecurity specialty, or at least with a concentration in cybersecurity, will enjoy a decided advantage when applying for information security positions.
Campus-based bachelor’s degrees in Oklahoma
There are currently three campus-based cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programs being offered by Oklahoma colleges and universities. See the table below for more information.
Online bachelor’s degrees in Oklahoma
For those preferring the convenience of online classes, the only Oklahoma option is offered by Oklahoma State University with their Management Information Systems Bachelor’s Degree with an Emphasis in Information Assurance.
As the cybersecurity industry continues to grow and advance, the need for master-level education is also on the rise. Management-level information assurance career paths often now require a master’s degree in cybersecurity. C-suite corporate posts and careers in academia, cybersecurity research, or cybersecurity consulting most often demand at least graduate-level specialty degrees.
Campus-based master’s degrees in Oklahoma
Oklahoma schools currently have two master’s degree programs for cybersecurity. Both are campus-based programs. Oklahoma State University offers a Master of Science in Information Assurance, and the University of Tulsa provides a program for a Master of Science in Cybersecurity.
Whether a student is looking to get started in cybersecurity or a veteran professional desires further education, there are certifications available for most situations, career needs, and educational desires. Introductory certifications, cybersecurity specialization certifications, and advanced degree certifications can now be found to suit most career-minded information assurance people.
Campus-based cybersecurity certifications in Oklahoma
At present, only Oklahoma City Community College (Certificate of Mastery in Information Security) and Rose State College (Information Security Certificate Program) offer cybersecurity certification programs through campus-based courses.
Online cybersecurity certifications in Oklahoma
There is but one online cybersecurity certification program being offered by Oklahoma schools at present. Oklahoma State University now offers a program leading to a Graduate Certificate in Information Assurance.
Cybersecurity Jobs in Oklahoma
Oklahoma currently is among the country’s smaller markets for cybersecurity professionals. According to Cyberseek, in the 12 months ending September 2019, 7,395 cybersecurity professionals were employed in Oklahoma. Over that same period, some 3,074 new information security job openings were posted by Oklahoma employers. Oklahoma City (1,755) and Tulsa (747) were easily the most active regions for cybersecurity job openings, with no other area contributing even 100 new infosec jobs.
Security analysts, a representative career path in cybersecurity, were receiving relatively low compensation as of May 2018 (average hourly wage: $31.38; average annual salary: $81,900), according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the cost of living in Oklahoma is about 17% below the national average, which means cybersecurity pay rates are about in line with Oklahoma’s standard of living.
Cybersecurity in Oklahoma
The density of cybersecurity professionals as compared to state citizens as a whole is among the lowest in the nation. And while the average time between cybersecurity job postings and candidates chosen is also among the lowest in the US, it is still higher than nearly every other job category is experiencing around the globe. So while Oklahoma is not the most attractive state in the US for cybersecurity professionals, demand is growing and relatively light competition for job openings should mean applicants have little trouble finding quality career opportunities.