Carroll Community College is launching a cybersecurity program this fall that school officials say will meet a growing demand for professionals who are able to protect data from intruders.

The school will offer its first credit cybersecurity courses when the fall term begins Aug. 31, and they will lead to a credit certificate in network security, according to the college. Students who take additional courses can work toward a two-year degree in cybersecurity, although the program is pending Maryland Higher Education Commission approval.


"There is a great need for this, and couple that with the fact that this is an area where someone can ... get into this area very quickly," said Matt Day, director of cyber technology at Carroll Community College. "Students can be qualified just out of their associate's degree — sometimes faster. We are preparing students for positions that are cybersecurity-related, computer network security-related; we'll also train them on all the steps before that, such as computer hardware and software."

According to LaToya Staten, program manager of cyber technology for the state Department of Economic Development, a gap exists at state, national and international levels between the demand for jobs in cybersecurity and workers who are qualified to fill the positions.

"We have to think how we protect our data," Staten said. "The industry is growing so much ... what was once an industry that we only thought pertained to the federal government was one that was $71 billion in 2014 — we're looking at doubling that by 2019."

Theresa Bethune, owner of Freedom Broadband, a growing Westminster company that provides broadband wireless Internet access in areas where cable and fiber-optic networks aren't set up, is aware of the deficit.

"It is very difficult to find experienced or capable information technology resources," Bethune said. "Finding people with the skills we need is difficult, particularly in Carroll County."

Cybersecurity degree and certificate programs such as the one at Carroll Community aim to fill that skill gap.

Statewide initiative

The school was able to start the program with assistance from a nearly $15 million federal grant awarded to Montgomery Community College by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, announced by the White House last year. The grant benefited 14 community colleges in Maryland, including Carroll.

"The purpose of the grant is not only provide the educational baseline, but also partner with industries with apprenticeships and hands-on learning that really prepares the worker for a cybersecurity job," Staten said. "It is a niche type of skill that you need to have."

The 14 colleges are part of the Cyber-Technology Pathways Across Maryland Consortium, which includes all of Maryland's two-year institutions, with the exception of Cecil and Chesapeake colleges, according to information provided by Phyllis Reese, a spokeswoman for the state Higher Education Commission.

Many other community colleges nearby offer cybersecurity certificate or degree programs, or soon will.

Anne Arundel Community College has certificate programs in cyber technology and advanced cyber forensics; Baltimore City Community College has an associate degree and certificate cybersecurity assurance program; the Community College of Baltimore County has an Institute of Cyber Security; Frederick Community College offers an associate degree program in cybersecurity; and Howard County Community College has an associate degree program in cybersecurity.

A 2015 cybersecurity survey from Burning Glass Technologies shows there were more than 11,000 job postings related to cybersecurity in Maryland in 2014. On a national level, the report found cybersecurity postings grew 91 percent between 2010 and 2014, which was generally at a faster rate than information technology jobs.

Day said Carroll began offering noncredit courses in March.


Students will be trained to qualify for a wide range of jobs, from cybersecurity positions that command higher salaries to network administration positions that aren't security-based such as help desk managers and PC technicians, Day said. He estimated that students who complete the two-year associate degree will qualify for positions in the mid-$60,000 to $80,000 salary range. Day said the lower end of the salary spectrum would be in the $40,000 range.

Carroll Community wants cybersecurity students to leave with training or a degree; the necessary IT certifications to land a job; and internship and job opportunities, Day said.

Bethune's company is one of the local businesses that has offered internships to students in the program.

"The ideal candidate would have the skills gained from a program like this," Bethune said

Landing a job

Five students who completed the noncredit courses that are currently offered have secured jobs, Day said.

Patrick Kurran, 53, of Sykesville, is one of those students. After completing several IT certification courses, he will be working as an information technology help desk technician for Strategic Data Systems,

"I knew I needed formal training," said Kurran, who previously worked as a network operations technician in satellite communications. Kurran said he was underqualified for his previous position. Taking the certification courses helped him secure his current job.

Edwin Boston, 48, of Lineboro, is another student who was able to secure employment through the completion of three certification courses at Carroll. He took the courses after being laid off from a help desk manager position at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

"What those certifications did was, they brought me up to the industry standard certification and I was able to show people on my resume that I do know about hardware and I do understand software and networking," said Boston, who recently landed a job as service desk manager at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Day said that students are also members of the Carroll Technology Council, a nonprofit that assists the community and businesses with technology needs, which gives them the opportunity to network with business professionals.

"Our students are getting jobs before they have even completed the program," Day said. "We have employers here on a weekly basis come to the classroom, introduce themselves, talk about their business, review resumes."

As of Thursday the school had about 30 students registered for credit and noncredit courses, which is enough to launch two cohort groups for morning and evening classes, Day said. Students can still register for fall cybersecurity classes.




How to register:

To enroll in either the credit or noncredit courses starting Aug. 31, prospective students should contact cyber technology navigator Marlene Titus at 410-386-8554 or mtitus@carrollcc.edu in order to determine which program best suits their needs and to review eligibility requirements.

Additional information about the cybersecurity program is available online at: carrollcc.edu/courses/noncredit/career/cybersecurity.asp