This guide is about some of the cybersecurity schools in West Virginia. It also includes some of the professional cybersecurity opportunities available in the state.
West Virginia is about a lot more than just coal mining. Natural gas is abundant and West Virginia is the seventh-largest producer in the United States.
On top of that, in 2018 the state exported roughly $8 billion worth of goods, a 14.2 percent increase in exports over the previous year. If West Virginia was its own country it would have a higher GDP (Gross Domestic Product) than Panama.
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When it comes to manufactured products West Virginia is known for its chemical industry. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, West Virginia’s “largest manufacturing export category is chemicals, which accounted for $1.7 billion of West Virginia’s total goods exports in 2018.”
The aerospace industry also plays a pivotal role in West Virginia’s economy. According to the state’s website, “West Virginia manufacturers provide the aerospace industry access to raw materials such as aluminum, alloys, metals, and composites.” Being close to that supply has led to Bombardier and Lockheed Martin, among other manufacturers, to open facilities in the state.
From advanced chemical manufacturing to the aerospace industry, West Virginia is home to a number of cutting edge production plants and there is a strong demand for the high tech workers needed to keep them running.
Cybersecurity in West Virginia
West Virginia has proven to be quite progressive in its approach to cybersecurity. Rather than just giving it a passing nod, West Virginia’s leading politicians have taken an active interest in promoting what is widely viewed as a critical industry.
For instance, $4.2 million was recently allocated (thanks to the Secure WV Act) to create a “Cybersecurity Office.” The office will be tasked with developing a set of unified cybersecurity policies that will apply to government agencies in the state, as well as enterprise.
Joshua Spence, West Virginia’s Chief Technology Officer, said that that the Cybersecurity Office will represent, “a foundational step forward in cybersecurity protection of state information systems and data.”
In addition to creating the Cybersecurity Office, the Secure WV Act also mandates that government agencies in West Virginia must; “Undergo an appropriate cyber risk assessment as required by the cybersecurity 3 framework or as directed by the Chief Information Security Officer.”
Also, agencies must; “Manage a plan of action and milestones based on the findings of the cyber risk 14 assessment and business needs.”
The Secure WV Act is quite comprehensive and it’s clear that West Virginia believes in a proactive approach to cybersecurity.
While these tough new standards are good for the state, they’re going to leave many agencies scrambling to hire more cybersecurity technicians. That’s good news for anyone considering an education in cybersecurity, especially an in-state degree as there are many options to choose from.
Campus-based cybersecurity associate degrees in West Virginia
An associate’s degree has the advantage of being inexpensive and it can be completed in two years. In some cases, credits earned through an associate’s degree may be counted towards a bachelor’s degree.
At the moment it’s possible to choose from two campus-based programs in West Virginia.
- Blue Ridge Community and Technical College offers an A.A.S. in Cyber Security
- West Virginia Northern Community College offers an A.A.S. in Cyber Security
A majority of cybersecurity jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher. With four years and 120 credit hours of training, graduates can expect to have a good grasp of the fundamentals of cybersecurity.
Students may also study other topics like history, English literature or a foreign language.
Campus-based cybersecurity bachelor’s degree in West Virginia
There are several campus-based cybersecurity bachelor’s programs in West Virginia. Two are based in Huntington and one in Charles Town. Please see the following table for more information.
Online cybersecurity bachelor’s degree in West Virginia
Online degrees offer more flexibility, making them ideal for working students. Depending on the university they may also be less expensive than their campus-based equivalent.
Students can choose from several online programs in West Virginia. For more information please consult the table below.
For those hoping for continual advancement throughout their cybersecurity career, a master’s degree may be the right choice.
A master’s program teaches students advanced cybersecurity skills and will prepare them to deal with many different types of cybercrime. Master’s degree holders also earn a higher salary, on average.
Online cybersecurity master’s degrees in West Virginia
West Virginia only offers a cybersecurity master’s degree online, there are no campus-based options. The two degrees are both offered by the American Public University System. They are as follows.
- A Master of Arts in National Security Studies
- Master of Science in Cybersecurity Studies
Despite having a limited number of higher educational opportunities, West Virginia has a disproportionate number of certification courses, both online and campus-based. These certification programs can increase a student’s skills in a specific niche of cybersecurity.
Campus-based cybersecurity certification programs
There are currently five campus-based certification programs available in West Virginia. Please see the following table for more information.
Online cybersecurity certification programs
There are nearly a dozen online certification programs in West Virginia. For more information please consult the table.
Cybersecurity jobs in West Virginia
Anne Barth, the executive director of West Virginia’s TechConnect program, discussed in a recent meeting of West Virginian’s cybersecurity leaders. “We were focused on discussing how we can conduct outreach and how we can get the word out to students about these possibilities and how we can get them enrolled in various programs at educational institutions around the state.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2021 that security analysts in West Virginia were earning an average hourly wage of $43.83, and the average annual salary was $91,160.
Currently, there are 4,534 cybersecurity professionals employed in West Virginia from October 2021 through September 2022 and there were also 1,157 new cybersecurity job openings published according to CyberSeek.
Cybersecurity in West Virginia
Although cybersecurity awareness is increasing across the nation, the focus on this important industry is especially pronounced in West Virginia. From the highest levels of government on down, the state has shown a commitment to strong security and the prevention of cybercrime.
One of the results of West Virginia’s cybersecurity focus is a large number of educational opportunities, especially certification programs of which the state has many.
Those educational opportunities, and the above-average salary promised by cybersecurity work, will not go unnoticed for long, however. The next generation is poised to look for work in the IT industry and that means increased competition down the line.
That’s helpful for West Virginia’s various high tech industries as there will be more qualified IT technicians to staff job vacancies. However, for potential students, it means now is the time to start thinking about a career in cybersecurity.