This guide is about cybersecurity degree programs in South Dakota. Also included in the guide are some of the economic conditions that are supporting the growth of the cybersecurity industry in the state.
Agriculture is big business in South Dakota. The agriculture industry pumps about $7 billion a year into the state’s economy. And many assume, because of South Dakota’s location and history, that farming is South Dakota’s most important industry.
In truth it’s not, the state’s most important industry is something that few would guess: finance.
In 2018 New York state banks had about $1 trillion deposited in commercial and savings bank accounts. California had $800 billion. South Dakota, on the other hand, had an incredible $3.1 trillion deposited in its banks according to FDIC data.
All of that money deposited in South Dakota has led to thousands of finance jobs. These jobs range from traditional finance jobs like bankers and investors as well as supporting economic activities such as a boost in the construction industry as finance corporations build new headquarters.
Citibank, for instance, recently completed a building in Sioux Falls which will become their new South Dakota headquarters. The building will be home to some 1,300 employees.
Why choose South Dakota? Citibank CEO Michael Corbat explained; “Location. Competitive labor force. All those pieces really come together. Obviously we think that it’s a terrific place to come to work and do business.”
Citibank isn’t the only financial institution with a presence in South Dakota. Wells Fargo and TCF Bank also call the state home. In all the financial industry accounts for about 15 percent of the state’s economy.
All of that money makes the state a lucrative target for cybercriminals. Well aware of the problem, South Dakota takes cybersecurity seriously as a result.
Cybersecurity in South Dakota
ABC recently reported on a group of North Korean hackers that have been attempting to gain access to government systems in South Dakota. Of 142 hacking attempts 0 were successful.
Given that North Korea has a sophisticated hacking network, far more sophisticated than would be suggested by the state of the country, it’s impressive that South Dakota was able to defend its systems so well.
For those who are interested in learning more about cybersecurity, South Dakota is home to the annual conference: DakotaCon. Besides listening to keynote speakers, guests can also learn from hands-on workshops designed to teach specific cybersecurity skills.
Given that the conference has been going on for a decade it’s safe to assume that it’s providing a valuable service to the cybersecurity community in South Dakota.
Speaking of education, South Dakota has a wide array of excellent cybersecurity programs. Dakota State University is, “home to one of 13 designated Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations designated by the National Security Agency.”
The NSA (National Security Agency) also designated Dakota State University as a “Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations.”
South Dakota has a lot going for it in terms of cybersecurity education and they offer a number of educational options, from an associate’s degree all the way up to a Ph.D.
Unfortunately, many cybersecurity jobs require a bachelor’s or higher, however, an associate’s degree does have some advantages.
It can land the candidate a good entry-level position, also, credits earned via an associate’s may transfer to a bachelor’s degree. This makes it a good choice for someone who might want to pursue further education in the future.
Campus-based cybersecurity associate’s degrees in South Dakota
Students in South Dakota can apply for two different campus-based associate’s degrees. Both are offered via a technical institute.
- Lake Area Technical Institute offers an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems – Security Specialist
- Southeast Technical Institute offers an Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology Security
Online cybersecurity associate’s degrees in South Dakota
Currently South Dakota has one online-based associate’s degree.
- Dakota State University offers an Associate of Science in Network and Security Administration
For many students, a bachelor’s degree will be the best choice. A four-year degree is still relatively affordable and can be acquired either on campus or via online classes.
Since most positions require a bachelor’s degree or higher this is a good choice for anyone considering a career in cybersecurity.
Campus-based cybersecurity bachelor’s degree in South Dakota
For now, there is just one campus-based bachelor’s degree program available in South Dakota.
- Dakota State University offers a Cyber Operations (BS) Bachelors
Online cybersecurity bachelor’s degree in South Dakota
What South Dakota lacks in campus-based education they make up for with their online programs. An online program is more flexible than a campus-based one, making it easier for students to work while they’re pursuing their degree.
South Dakota has several excellent online programs to choose from. Please see the list below for more information.
While a master’s degree represents an additional two or three years of study, graduates may find that their lifetime earnings more than offset the cost of the program. Master’s degree holders earn more, on average, than those with a bachelor’s.
Online cybersecurity master’s degrees in South Dakota
South Dakota does not currently offer any campus-based cybersecurity master’s degrees. They do, however, have an online option.
- Dakota State University offers a Master of Science in Cyber Defense
A Ph.D. degree is the highest possible level of education in the cybersecurity field. A degree holder with this level of education can expect to handpick where they’d like to work as Ph.D. graduates are in high demand.
Online Ph.D. degrees in South Dakota
South Dakota offers a single Ph.D. program.
- Dakota State University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Cyber Operations
Certification programs are designed to teach a specific skill in the cybersecurity field. Some jobs may require a specialized certification before a candidate will be considered.
Online certification programs
South Dakota has several online-based certification programs to choose from.
- Dakota State University offers a Graduate Certificate in Banking Security
- Dakota State University offers a Graduate Certificate in Ethical Hacking
Cybersecurity jobs in South Dakota
CyberSeek, a cybersecurity jobs data aggregator, suggests that there are currently 740 cybersecurity positions open in South Dakota. A majority of the available jobs are located in the Sioux Falls region. Not coincidentally, this is also where many of the aforementioned banks are headquartered.
CyberSeek also mentions that the current supply of cybersecurity technicians in South Dakota is very low. It appears that this shortage is unlikely to change in the future as South Dakota has experienced a 212% increase in cybersecurity technicians in the last five years. That makes it the fastest-growing cybersecurity job market in the USA!
This uptrend suggests that students should expect to find plenty of jobs to choose from after they graduate. There is a shortage of cybersecurity workers today and as the world becomes even more digitized that shortage is only set to grow.
Cybersecurity in South Dakota
With $3 trillion on deposit in banks across the state, South Dakota has an obligation to take cybersecurity seriously. Indeed, North Korea’s attempted infiltration of state systems shows that foreign actors know about South Dakota’s role as a financial hub and they’re interested in disrupting it.
Thankfully South Dakota is aware of the problem and is taking proper steps to counter the threat. The annual DakotaCon is free on the first day, encouraging community attendance. The state’s cybersecurity educational programs are also well ranked and have received accolades from the likes of the NSA.
Altogether South Dakota has demonstrated itself to be a state with a keen eye on security. Aspiring cybersecurity technicians might well consider studying here as the above-average salary combined with South Dakota’s affordable cost of living make this an ideal place to settle down after graduation.