future of cyber safety
A center created to train future cybersecurity specialists recently opened at Houston Community College’s West Loop campus.
The center, featuring equipment such as a miniature water plant and a car-hacking workbench, simulates cyberattacks. HCC cybersecurity students will undergo training there. Of the college’s more than 500 cybersecurity students, over 300 are pursuing associate degrees and over 200 are working toward certificates.
“Students who complete an associate degree or certificate in cybersecurity at HCC are landing high-paying jobs right out of the gate such as IT help desk and computer support specialists,” Samir Saber, dean of HCC’s Digital Information and Technology Center of Excellence, says in a news release. “Others go on to become security analysts, security engineers and cybersecurity architects.”
Employers in the U.S. are struggling to fill nearly 715,000 cybersecurity job openings, according to CyberSeek, which tracks supply-and-demand data for the cybersecurity workforce. That number includes more than 83,000 cybersecurity openings in Texas, with nearly 9,300 of those in the Houston area.
In Texas, the annual pay for a cybersecurity worker averages $88,276, according to career platform ZipRecruiter. The national average is $112,974.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the number of people working as an information security analyst (a subset of the cybersecurity workforce) in this country will rise 33 percent from 2020 to 2030. That makes it one of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. From May 2021 through April 2022, there were 180,000 openings for information security analysts, according to CyberSeek.
“Cybersecurity is national security,” says Madeline Burillo-Hopkins, president of HCC Southwest and vice chancellor of HCC Workforce Instruction. “With the opening of the new center, the college is equipping students with the skills needed not only for their careers but also for making a lasting impact on the nation’s security across industries and organizations.”
A $650,000 state grant financed the new training center, and cybersecurity company Grimm helped install the lab and trained HCC cybersecurity instructors.
In 2017, HCC was designated by the National Security Agency as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. The new lab will help the college maintain that status for another five years, Saber says.