Cybersecurity sector growing at record pace, IST grads ready for the challenge

According to recent statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs for information security analysts hit a record high in 2016. In fact, in the past year alone, the number has increased by 27 percent.

At Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), the demand for security analysts is apparent. The college is preparing its graduates for these careers with a unique and relevant curriculum Nicklaus Giacobe, research associate and lecturer in IST, said of his students, “They’re able to take the education they get here and leverage it into many different ways in the future.”

The Security and Risk Analysis (SRA) curriculum is designed to prepare students for any career that focuses on protecting information, people, and other assets by educating them on a broad security and risk perspective. Giacobe said, “Our students have that panoramic perspective. They not only can pull the data and do analysis, but they’re able to put together the larger picture and effectively present it to a decision maker.”

SRA graduates can find their skill set applicable across any field, from the application of defensive cybersecurity, forensic analytics, and cyber threat intelligence. “There are a lot of flavors of IT security analyst,” Giacobe said. “I think our students can operate in any of these domains. In terms of technological focus, they get exposure to all these fields.”

The College of IST has also been named a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Information Assurance and Cyber-Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. This designation demonstrates IST’s commitment to producing exceptional cybersecurity professionals who are able to protect vulnerable systems and strengthen cyber defenses. This confirms that SRA students have graduated from a program that whose faculty, resources, curricula and commitment were found to be the highest quality.

Zoe Meyer, director of the Office of Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement at IST, said, “Companies come to IST seeking top talent, and they are finding it in our students. Recruiters recognize that IST students are prepared for the unique challenges found in cybersecurity careers.”

“Even today, there are 230,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs,” Giacobe added. As a result, top agencies are actively recruiting undergraduate students for these roles, including the NSA, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. “Our students get hired by every single one of those organizations.”

Meyer agrees the demand for students is high. “We are constantly being approached by companies looking for students to fill security analyst positions,” she said. “These companies are realizing they need to get an early jump on recruiting these students if they want to lock them in for full-time jobs.”

The increasing number of data breaches and cyberattacks only highlight the need for trained IT security professionals. Giacobe explained, “I always talk in my classes about the different cybersecurity breaches being reported on in the news. In my perspective, that means there’s job security for every one of my students.” To learn more about the Security and Risk Analysis degree program in IST, click here.

Last Updated February 23, 2017