This tutorial is intended to provide a high-level understanding of cybersecurity in Virginia. It also offers a look at some of the educational and job alternatives available to aspiring cybersecurity experts.
Virginia is second only to California in terms of the number of cybersecurity job vacancies and the number of cybersecurity specialists already employed in the United States. Virginia’s closeness to Washington, D.C. is one of the reasons for this high concentration of cybersecurity companies and labour. Virginia also ranks second among US states in federal government procurement spending, after California.
The CIA and the US Department of Defense, two of the most major employers of cybersecurity professionals, are both located in the state’s northeastern portion. In fact, Virginia is second only to California in terms of federal Defense Department employment. The FDIC, DEA, Marshals Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, Defense Information Systems Agency, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the Army National Guard Readiness Center are among the many federal government agencies based in Virginia.
Virginia is also home to 17 Fortune 500 companies, ranking it tenth in the United States.
The area surrounding Dulles International Airport has grown into a major technology hub, with enterprises specialising in internet, communication technology, and software engineering. A number of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and medical research enterprises can also be found in other parts of the state. In 2006, computer chips became the state’s top gross export. Virginia is currently believed to have the country’s greatest concentration of technology-related employees.
Growing Importance of Cybersecurity in Virginia
Virginia has as remarkable a list of programmes and initiatives sponsored or funded by state and local governments as any other state in the country. It’s not unexpected, given that the state already employs about 90,000 cybersecurity professionals, and the number is rapidly increasing. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the cybersecurity-related activities currently ongoing in Virginia.
The Governor of Virginia introduced the Cyber Vets Virginia programme in 2016. The idea is to provide a free information security training programme to military veterans who want to work in cybersecurity. The Onward to Opportunity (O20) initiative of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families is collaborating with Cisco, Amazon, and cybersecurity education pioneer ISC2. Virginia has one of the highest veteran populations in the country.
Virginia’s state government began funding the CyberX programme in 2018 with a $30 million budget allocation. On the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, physical facilities will be created. CyberX is envisioned as a research and education centre for cybersecurity students and businesses in Virginia.
The Virginia Cyber Alliance was also financed by the Virginia Growth & Opportunity Fund in 2018. Its goal is to encourage regional economic growth by reaching out to stakeholders and giving internships, salary subsidies, and technical support as needed. It intends to do so by functioning as a “collaboration of industry, government, and academic institutions seeking to enhance the region’s influence in cybersecurity, data analytics, and unmanned autonomous systems (UAS).”
The Virginia Beach Economic Development Department has set up its own programme to promote the development of cybersecurity resources in the state’s southern region. The Regional Cyber Workforce Readiness Program’s mission is to “create a sustainable and scalable cyber workforce development ecosystem” by defining regional cybersecurity needs and assets, stimulating individual and corporate business growth related to information security, and defining regional cybersecurity needs and assets. On a state level, a number of states have financed programmes comparable to this, while municipal governments have taken few equivalent steps. It’s a sign of the extra effort Virginia is putting in to make the cybersecurity business a home.
The Virginia Department of Education is enthusiastic about the prospect of establishing cybersecurity education programmes in the state. It gives students the tools they need to locate and apply for any and all available grants and scholarships aimed at students interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity. It also encourages state higher education institutions to create cybersecurity degree and certification programmes.
One of the reasons Virginia is such a significant employer of cybersecurity specialists is its closeness and access to the nation’s largest and most critical military and intelligence institutions. Security clearances are, of course, a must for work in these federal agencies. This is one of the reasons why a huge number of veterans are well-suited to careers in cybersecurity. The state’s CyberVirginia website also has materials for anyone interested in cybersecurity.
Virginia, on the other hand, isn’t just about the federal government. Its many huge multinational organisations and economic concentration on technology have also helped it to become a prominent hub for cybersecurity firms. In fact, according to Cybersecurity Ventures’ Cybercrime Magazine, Virginia currently has 41 of the top 500 cybersecurity companies in the United States, lead by Northrup Grumman.
Cybersecurity Education in Virginia
Virginia is known for many reasons, but one of them is that it is home to a number of prestigious old and modern schools and universities. A number of these well-known schools, as well as a slew of others, have joined the push to provide top cybersecurity degree and certification programmes. Virginia colleges and universities such as Old Dominion, Marymount, James Madison, George Mason, Virginia Tech, and the University of Virginia have developed cybersecurity education programmes.
There are several degree and certification choices available in both on-campus and online forms, so whether you live in Virginia or not, this is a state worth considering for cybersecurity education.
Virginia Tech has distinguished itself as a leader in cybersecurity research and education. Virginia Tech has established its own cybersecurity department even before the state-funded CyberX initiative. The National Security Agency has designated the school as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) for both Cybersecurity Defense Research and Cybersecurity Operations. The Hume Center for National Security and Technology at Virginia Tech has also been named an Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence.
Consider starting with an associate’s degree in cybersecurity if you want to pursue a career in cybersecurity but don’t have the time or means to pursue a full four-year degree programme. Because of the scarcity of cybersecurity specialists, there are still plenty of entry-level jobs that only require an associate’s degree. These programmes are usually completed in a year or two. Once that’s done and a cybersecurity career has begun, individuals can return to school and get a bachelor’s degree or higher as time and funds allow. In fact, many associate’s degree programmes provide material that may be transferred to bachelor’s degree programmes, making it easier to complete the next level.
Campus-based associate’s degrees in Virginia
In Virginia, there are now four on-campus associate’s degree programmes in cybersecurity provided by four different community colleges. The list, as well as further information, can be found below.
CYBERSECURITY ASSOCIATE’S PROGRAMS IN VIRGINIA
|Lord Fairfax Community College||Middletown||Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity|
|Northern Virginia Community College||Annandale||Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity|
|Piedmont Virginia Community College||Charlottesville||Associate Degree in Cybersecurity|
|Thomas Nelson Community College||Hampton||Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology – Cybersecurity Pathway|
|Tidewater Community College||Norfolk||Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology – Cyber Security Concentration|
Online associate’s degrees in Virginia
Only one cybersecurity associate’s degree is now available online at Virginia universities. An Associate of Science in Computer and Information Science with a Cyber and Network Security Concentration is available from ECPI University.
Bachelor’s degrees are the minimal educational qualification for most employment in the cybersecurity business nowadays. Degrees in cybersecurity are not normally required, however majoring in cybersecurity or having a cybersecurity specialisation is certainly seen as a competitive advantage over other technological majors. Because Virginia has such a high number of individuals with technology backgrounds and degrees, those interested in information security professions might consider pursuing a degree with a cybersecurity specialty.
Campus-based bachelor’s degrees in Virginia
Five campus-based bachelor’s degree programmes in cybersecurity are now available in Virginia. More information can be found below.
Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Programs in Virginia
|George Mason University||Fairfax||Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security Engineering|
|Marymount University||Arlington||Bachelor of Science in Information Technology – Specialty in Networking and Cybersecurity|
|Norfolk State University||Norfolk||BS in Computer Science – Information Assurance Emphasis|
|Virginia Tech||Blacksburg||Undergraduate Minor in Cybersecurity|
|University of Virginia||Charlottesville||Cybersecurity Focal Path|
Online bachelor’s degrees in Virginia
At present, 12 online bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity are being provided by Virginia colleges and universities. See the table below for more information.