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The writing is on the wall. Cyber careers offer great potential. People hoping to expand their opportunities, find work, or change careers are turning to HCC for cyber courses and certifications.
“This is a tsunami. Everyone is trying to decide what lifeboat to get in,” says Sharon Schmickley, HCC chair of the business and computer systems division. “Our job is to find out what the workforce needs and provide students with pathways to these jobs.”
Cyber security is an occupational field that is still evolving in terms of qualifications. What skill set does a professional need? In addition to a range of technical abilities, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education includes the capacity to be fast, flexible, and responsive in high-pressure situations when workloads surge; be extremely collaborative; and possess advanced analysis capabilities and problem-solving dexterity. Cyber professionals also must be adept at project management and be able to thrive in a work environment characterized by unconventional hours and shifting responsibilities.
Michael Tano, an HCC cyber security student who now works full time at Magellan Health Services as a security officer, gives the college a lot of the credit for his career. “The network security program at HCC is unique because it teaches you to think in multiple contexts,” Tano says. “You learn to think in terms of business and technical requirements and be well-spoken and well-rounded enough to understand what upper management needs before you implement a technical solution.”
Individuals switching careers or needing to upgrade their cyber skills are turning to HCC for industry certification training such as Security+, A+, Net+, Microsoft Certified Engineer, or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Staff training through the college’s continuing education and workforce development division is also on the rise. “Companies such as SAIC and Technica are sending their employees to us for certification classes at our Ecker Business Training Center and online,” says Patty Keeton, HCC executive director of workforce development.
ROBERT COLLIER AND MILLICENT CARROLL
Robert Collier and Millicent Carroll are a team with a game plan. Connected by marriage and the business they’ve run for a dozen years, the couple provides web design and Internet marketing services to small businesses. Their focus is about to change.
“When it comes to cyber security, so much attention is centered on the government sector,” says Collier. “However, the more cyber crime makes the news, the more likely it is that business owners will look for help in protecting their networks.”
Collier and Carroll are strengthening their technical prowess at HCC to offer that protection. They plan to test networks for vulnerability to hackers and “harden” them to protect customer data, intellectual property, and the financial security of small businesses. Both full-time students, Collier is studying network security, while his wife is specializing in electronic discovery and computer forensics.
After earning his associate degree, Collier plans to pursue his bachelor’s in cyber security/information technology. “You have to be on the field to get in the game and become a player in the industry,” he says. “I’m definitely getting the right start at HCC. My teachers are great motivators, and I’m paying a fraction of the cost that I’d pay anywhere else.”