This guide contains information about cybersecurity schools in Oregon including online cybersecurity degree options and other training opportunities.
Oregon’s location in the northwest corner of the US, just below the state of Washington, long defined its direction. The great mountain forests made the state a large source of lumber for decades, and fishing and agriculture were also big business. And the Pacific Ocean has made Oregon a perfect port for trade and transportation since the mid-1800s.
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In the 1980s, though, hard times hit the state’s economy hard, leaving Oregon in need of a new direction. Since then, the state has tried to focus on developing a base of manufacturing, service industries, and high technology. Computers and electronic products are now by far the state’s largest export.
Transportation is now becoming one of the prized targets for international hackers, particularly those with political agendas. And, of course, high tech manufacturing is a favorite target for industrial espionage. Oregon’s sizeable healthcare and business services industries are also in need of top-flight cybersecurity defenses due to the huge stores of extremely sensitive information they hold.
The environment for cybersecurity in Oregon
Oregon’s economic makeup is fairly well suited to the cybersecurity industry. But as the state has just the 26th largest economy in the US, the information security activity at present is not large in comparison to other states. There are, however, growing attempts to make cybersecurity a primary focus, both by government and the private sector.
The Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) was established as a membership organization to promote all things technology within the state. Members represent a wide range of technology industries that form a variety of “communities” within the association. One such community is Cyber Security of Southern Willamette Valley, which holds periodic “meetups” for professional networking and an ideas exchange. TAO also tries to promote technology education and incentives for top technology talent to find a home in Oregon.
Like many states, Oregon’s state government has passed several laws in an attempt to build up its own information security measures. Internal audits and the Oregon Cybersecurity Advisory Council are two results of the legislation passed to date. The state also now has a Chief Information Officer responsible for the security of public information databases and networks. The Council combines with TAO to present an annual one-day Cybersecurity Summit. Part of the Council’s mission is also to encourage the development of Oregon’s cybersecurity workforce, as well as infosec research and education programs.
Cybersecurity education in Oregon
There are now at least three institutions that have established focused cybersecurity education efforts.
- Mt. Hood Community College now boasts the Oregon Center for Cybersecurity and an associate’s degree program in cybersecurity. The cybersecurity center is an unusual commitment to infosec education among US community colleges. And MHCC has been designated by the Department of Homeland Security as a Center for Academic Excellence Two-Year Institution.
- Oregon State University has assembled a six-person cybersecurity team to conduct research in various areas of cybersecurity, and to serve as the primary faculty for the school’s cybersecurity education program.
- The University of Oregon has developed a bachelor’s degree program with a cybersecurity concentration. It has also conducted Oregon Cybersecurity Days on its campus, and established a cybersecurity bootcamp that provides the opportunity for students to be job-ready in 24 weeks.
Associate’s degrees usually require two years to complete, and thus can provide entry into the workforce in much less time and less expense than a four-year degree. And in the case of cybersecurity, there are still plenty of entry-level jobs and employers that are happy to accept candidates with a specialized cybersecurity associate’s degree.
Campus-based associate’s degrees in Oregon
At present, there are two cybersecurity associate’s degree programs available from Oregon schools through on-campus programs. Lane Community College offers a program leading to an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Network Operations. Mt. Hood Community College provides an opportunity for an Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity and Networking.
Online associate’s degrees in Oregon
If an online degree format is preferred, Umpqua Community College has a program leading to an Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity.
The job market for cybersecurity professionals is extremely tight today, with most areas needing more employees than are available. Still, most specialties within information assurance are highly technical and require extensive training. Thus, for the vast majority of cybersecurity careers, applicants with a bachelor’s degree are generally preferred. Technical majors are often acceptable, in part due to the tight labor market. But for those hoping to distinguish themselves from the pack, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a cybersecurity specialty will go a long way.
Campus-based bachelor’s degrees in Oregon
There are currently two campus-based cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programs being offered by Oregon colleges and universities.
- George Fox University offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in cybersecurity.
- The University of Oregon has a program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information Science with a Security Track.
Cybersecurity certification programs can be found today that apply to just about any student or professional in nearly any stage of a career. Introductory certifications for new students, specialty certifications for existing professionals, and degree certifications for those lacking the time to complete an entire degree program are all available today.
Campus-based cybersecurity certifications in Oregon
Today, there are only two campus-based cybersecurity certifications available from Oregon schools.
- Portland Community College offers an introductory program called Certification in Cybersecurity Fundamentals.
- Portland State University has a master’s level certification, Graduate Certificate in Computer Security.
Online cybersecurity certifications in Oregon
There is but one online cybersecurity certification program now offered in Oregon. Linfield College has a program resulting in a Certificate in Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics.
Cybersecurity jobs in Oregon
The size of Oregon’s cybersecurity industry reflects the overall size of the state’s economy – substantial, but not large. Cyberseek reports that, during the year ending September 2019, the state of Oregon employed 10,047 cybersecurity professionals. During that same 12-month period, Oregon employers posted 4,599 new information assurance job openings. The Portland region, which is the state’s economic center, saw the vast majority of these new job opportunities. The only city with more than 100 cybersecurity job openings was Salem with 264.
The state of Oregon as a whole has a relatively high standard of living. It now costs about 13 percent more to live in Oregon than the average cost of living in other states in the US. Using security analysts as a representative example of cybersecurity employment indicates that cybersecurity pay scales are a bit behind the state’s standard of living. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, as of May 2018, security analysts in Oregon were paid an average hourly wage of $44.53, and an average annual salary of $92,620. These figures are about in line with or slightly higher than the average security analyst compensation throughout the US.
Cybersecurity in Oregon
Demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals is growing rapidly worldwide, and Oregon is no different. As compared to some other states in the US, Oregon’s infosec employment market is not large or overly constrained.
It is, however, still a tight market relative to other job categories. And several organizations within the state have made commitments to attracting new cybersecurity professionals to the state, developing quality education programs to advance qualifications, and conducting high-level research to push the discipline forward.