New military cyber education programs will likely impact future cleared cyber careers for transitioning veterans.
Air Force Offers cyber education
The U.S. Air Force Academy now offers a new cyber education major for cadets; computer network security. As a degree plan, it promises coursework to develop student’s knowledge in subjects that include reverse software engineering and virus and malware analysis for use in protecting military command and control activities against crime and espionage. Additional courses include political science and cyberspace law.
Currently, 27 cadets have chosen the new degree plan, which falls under the academy’s Computer Science Department. Community College of the Air Force also offers cyber education through certification programs, including the most valued, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Army Looks to Train Cyber Warriors
Likewise, the Army is working to establish a dedicated branch of cyber-trained service members. Such a move, if approved, would establish training and education in line with a specific professional career path. The Army already has a growing number of cyber professionals. But job titles and military occupational specialties (MOS) in the cyber domain don’t necessarily guarantee continued learning in that field. For example, a soldier with a 35Q MOS (cryptologic network warfare specialist) may work within the Army’s intelligence branch and develop a knowledge base in cyber defense and network operations. But without a specified professional path, that soldier could be reassigned to another career field. These initiatives mirror those already in place in public universities.
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) leads the nation in cybersecurity education programs, and is one of 47 programs in the U.S. designated as a Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Research by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.
The upshot of military cyber education is its impact on transitioning veterans interested in competing for cleared cyber careers over the next few years. The field is among the fastest growing career fields and relatively new; meaning education and certification count more than experience. Graduates with bachelor’s degrees as well as those with CISSP certification and associate degrees are employable immediately. As a starting job, the pay can be considered excellent. According to the Academy of Computer Education, salaries for candidates with CISSP can start their jobs earning between $72,000 and $147,000, depending on region and employer.