This guide covers some of the rapidly expanding cybersecurity educational and career opportunities in Utah.
The US economy has been expanding for years but not to be outdone, Utah’s economic prospects have been growing even faster. Since 2018, Utah’s real gross domestic product has been growing at a rate in excess of 4 percent.
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That economic growth is being driven by several key industries. Aerospace manufacturing is big in Utah with nearly 1,000 aerospace firms calling the state home. Utah has also been ranked as, “Fourth in the nation for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness.”
Besides aerospace manufacturing, the IT industry in Utah is thriving, according to a recent Wells Fargo report.
“Business, labor, and government work well together in Utah, which consistently ranks as one of the best states to do business. Utah also has a large and growing presence in some of the most rapidly growing parts of the tech sector, including cloud computing, big data, and software development.”
In regards to big data, Utah is home to “Silicon Slopes,” a large concentration of data centers outside of Salt Lake City. Several factors make this region suitable for high-tech data centers. There is a low risk of natural disaster, an abundance of renewable energy, excellent fiber-optic connectivity, and the land is relatively inexpensive.
Those features have attracted some serious development. The NSA, for instance, has a $1.5 billion data center which some are calling the largest spy center in the world.
Recently DataBank, an American cloud provider, began construction on its fourth Utah-based datacenter. A company spokesman explained the decision, “Utah’s high elevation and dry desert geography allow us to efficiently cool our data centers, the state also touts some of the lowest occurrences of natural and man-made disasters in the United States.”
Even Facebook has plans for the state. The social media giant had already begun construction of a nearly 1,000,000 square foot data center when they announced that they’d be increasing the size of the building by an additional 50 percent. Their investment will total more than $1 billion by the time the facility is finished.
Data centers are great for Utah’s economy, however, they also make it susceptible to cyber-attack. A data center is like a chest of gold for a hacker and security needs to be tight. Thankfully, Utah is aware of how important it is to stay safe and cybersecurity is promoted throughout the state.
Cybersecurity in Utah
As a member of MS-ISAC (Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center) Utah has access to a wide variety of resources to combat cybercrime and cyberterrorism.
Specifically, MS-ISAC is designed to provided guidance in the event of a cybersecurity breach. The program is also a convenient way for states to share information and resources. That includes a regularly updated list of nefarious IP addresses as well as a 24/7 help center.
Utah’s Governor, Gary Herbert, is also aware of the importance of a thriving cybersecurity industry. Recently he announced that Utah would join the Girls Go CyberStart initiative. “Utah is a proven cybersecurity leader and a national leader in technology. We should encourage our young people to know and pursue tech-based skills to help develop critical thinking skills and find fulfilling careers in a high-wage, high-demand field.”
Utah’s preoccupation with cybersecurity has not gone unrewarded. Recently state cybersecurity technicians found themselves combatting cyberthreats from Iran. These attacks were aimed toward disrupting both state and national digital systems.
Thankfully these attempted attacks were intercepted and Utah’s cybersecurity technicians were able to neutralize the threats before any harm was done. That was a big win for Utah and it’s a real-world example of why cybersecurity is so important. It’s no surprise then that Utah has a variety of educational programs for people who are considering a career in the industry.
Cybersecurity education in Utah
An associate’s degree is a good choice for someone who would like to find work as soon as possible. The two-year program takes less time than a bachelor’s and is typically less expensive as well.
Campus-based cybersecurity associate’s degrees in Utah
Utah offers students a single campus-based associate’s degree program.
- Southern Utah University offers an Associate of Applied Science in Computer & Information Systems Security
While an associate’s degree is an inexpensive option, many cybersecurity jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher in order to be considered. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree will study a wide variety of topics, both within the cybersecurity field and outside of it.
Campus-based cybersecurity bachelor’s degree in Utah
Students interested in a campus-based bachelor’s degree in Utah currently have two options to choose from.
- Brigham Young University-Provo offers a BS in Information Technology emphasis in Cybersecurity
- Utah Valley University offers a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology – Computer Forensics and Security Emphasis
Online cybersecurity bachelor’s degree in Utah
Online degrees are often more affordable than their campus-based counterparts. Also, an online degree offers more flexibility making it suitable for students who wish to hold down a job while they’re studying.
There are two online bachelor’s degree programs in Utah.
- Western Governors University offers a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
- Western Governors University offers an Online Bachelor of Science in Network Operations and Security
More technically demanding cybersecurity positions typically require a master’s degree. A master’s degree may also be required for upper management positions within any given company.
While a master’s degree takes longer to complete and is more expensive than an undergraduate degree, graduates can expect to earn a higher salary upon graduation.
Campus-based cybersecurity master’s degree in Utah
There is one campus-based cybersecurity master’s degree program in Utah.
- Utah Valley University offers a Master of Science in Cybersecurity
Online cybersecurity master’s degrees in Utah
There are two online-based cybersecurity master’s degrees available in Utah.
- Southern Utah University offers a Master of Cyber Security & Information Assurance
- Western Governors University offers a Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
No matter how thorough the program, no bachelor’s or master’s degree can teach students everything they need to know, especially in regards to certain sub-sets of cybersecurity.
That’s why there are certifications. A certification is a chance for a student to learn a particular skill in the cybersecurity industry. Certifications look good on a resume and may also increase the chances that an applicant is hired for a job.
Campus-based cybersecurity certification programs
Utah offers several campus-based certificate programs. Please see the table below for more information.
Cybersecurity jobs in Utah
Returning again to the Wells Fargo report on Utah we are reminded of the state’s economic growth. “Utah ranked as the second fastest-growing state in the county in terms of real GDP. – The state’s burgeoning tech sector is driving much of the state’s success.”
That’s the good news. The bad news, at least for corporate and government employers, is that Utah’s supply of cybersecurity technicians is not rising fast enough to meet demand. With more than 3,500 job openings, CyberSeek shows that the supply of cybersecurity workers in Utah is, “very low.”
Considering the rapid expansion of Silicon Slopes and the billions of dollars being invested in new data centers, it appears likely that the demand for cybersecurity technicians is only going to grow. For candidates seeking a career in cybersecurity now is a great time to apply in Utah. The state’s excellent economic prospects, as well as the affordable cost of housing, make it a good location to live, especially on a cybersecurity technician’s above-average salary.
Cybersecurity in Utah
There is a global trend towards digitization. Self-driving cars, smartphone apps replacing traditional services, the continued growth of social media. All of these transformations lead to big data and that data has to be stored somewhere. For many American companies, Utah represents the ideal choice.
With its affordable real estate, lack of natural disasters (as opposed to California with its forest fires and earthquakes), and reliable access to renewable energy, Utah does indeed fit the profile of a tech-friendly state.
The only thing the state is lacking are the cybersecurity technicians necessary to keep all of that data safe. Utah is currently understaffed when it comes to cybersecurity and all the statistics indicate that this employment trend won’t change anytime soon.