What is Cyber Security?
Wyoming is known for being the least populated state in the country. The bad news is that it translates to fewer available jobs in the cyber security field. The good news is, with the proper degree from an accredited college, you have a good chance at landing an interview. Whether you are going to build a career in Wyoming in the cyber security field, or attend a Wyoming school for your degree and then move out of state, there are a surprising number of college programs tailored to this industry. And, if Wyoming doesn't have a specific program of interest for a student, there are programs to be found just across the border in neighboring states.
Online Cyber Security Education in Wyoming
Wyoming degree programs in the field of cyber security are similar to those in other states.
Several levels of education are obtainable including:
- Associate Degree
- Bachelor's Degree
- Master’s Degree
- Certificate Programs
Any of the above-mentioned degrees can help you land a job in the field. However, to advance both in salary range and responsibility, you will typically need to earn an advanced degree. Moving into management in cyber security will be easier to do with a master's degree or a PhD.
One way to do this is to obtain an associate or bachelor's degree and then pursue a more advanced degree while working in the industry. It is important to select an accredited school from the very beginning so that most, if not all, of your credits will transfer when you enter graduate school.
Building the foundation for later graduate work on the front end puts you in control of your future, rather than attending a non-accredited college now and finding out later that your associate or bachelor's degree isn't recognized by the master’s degree program of your choosing.
Online Associate Degree in Cyber Security (AS)
This degree is a good starting point if you want to test drive working in the cyber security field before committing to a lengthy advanced degree path. An associate degree in cyber security takes one to two years to finish, depending on how many credit hours you complete per semester and whether you go year-round or take summers off.
Most colleges now offer online classes. This allows you to take class from home or the office. You can also attend school on campus or use a combination, hybrid program to complete your degree.
Example core courses for an associate degree in cyber security can include:
- Intro to Networking
- Intro to Database Systems
- Intro to HTML
- Writing Code
- Intro to Information Technology
- Intro to Records Management
Online Bachelor's Degree in Cyber Security (BS)
This four year degree offers a more in-depth education. You can get your associate degree at a junior college first and then transfer to a four-year institution to complete the final two years of study, or you can complete all four years with a cyber security bachelor's degree as your initial goal. A bachelor's degree provides more fine-tuned and more advanced classes than an associate degree.
As with the associate degree, there are both online and on-campus options. In some cases, you can complete every class required online.
Core coursework for a bachelor's degree might include:
- Database Management
- Security System
- Information Systems
- Cyber Defense
- Information Technology
- Data Communications & Networking
- Digital Forensics
- Ethics, Law & Policy
Online Master's Degree in Cyber Security (MS or MC)
The master’s degree in cyber security is beyond a bachelor’s and will usually involve a more specific, narrow field of focus. To be accepted to a cyber security master’s degree program, you will need to have a bachelor's degree in a related field. You may also need to provide an acceptable GRE or GMAT score, depending on what type of program you are looking to enter, Having a master’s degree as you build your cyber security career will open doors for management positions. In addition, you will be able to command a higher salary, even before getting into management.
Typical core coursework at this level might include:
- Ethical Hacking
- Advanced Database Management
- Advanced Network Administration
- Ethics and Law
Online Certifications in Cyber Security
This is a quick way to get into the field but does not provide the general education needed for a degree. In most cases, a certificate is for specific area of cyber security. The program generally takes 18 months to 2 years to complete and will give you the skills to enter the job market. Some people get a certificate after gaining some experience in the field and then later make a decision on whether to pursue a degree in cyber security or choose a different career.
In a certification program you will only take classes that are related to cyber security and only in the area of cyber security the certificate addresses.
- Ethical Hacker Certification
- GIAC Security Certificates
- Database Management
Why is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation of your college is very important in the field of cyber security for the following reasons:
- A college that has received its accreditation has demonstrated the strength of education it provides. To become accredited, the school must meet standardized and rigorous benchmarks regarding curriculum. When potential employers know you graduated from an accredited program, they know that it means you were trained with set standards and will come into the job properly equipped.
- You will have a much easier time transferring completed credits to a new program/college. Whether you are going from an associate to a bachelor’s, a bachelor's to a master’s, or a master’s to a PhD, the receiving accredited college will only accept credit transfers from other accredited colleges. Much like potential employers, colleges want to know you are arriving on their doorstep with proper, standardized skill sets from your prior coursework.
- With accreditation, you will be able to receive federal student aid. As the Department of Education is responsible for setting up regional accreditation, they use that accreditation to decide which schools are worth providing federal student aid. If the school has not achieved accreditation, the DOE cannot be sure they are providing their students with the learning necessary to find employment and pay back their loans. An accredited school sets the bar high enough that you will be given education that matches industry need.
Wyoming recognizes various organizations for accreditation of its universities/colleges/community colleges. Regional accreditation for Wyoming is provided by The Higher Learning Commission. Accreditation of a university or college is not the same as programmatic accreditation. The NSA provides cyber security program accreditation by naming certain schools National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE). This is a distinction bestowed upon colleges and universities that have been deemed exceptional providers of cyber security education programs and is the gold standard in the field.
CAE Accredited Programs in Wyoming
Currently, none of Wyoming's universities or colleges possess this accreditation, but Wyoming students can elect to attend online programs in other states that do carry the CAE Accreditation. Attending these programs online will not negatively affect the importance of their level of accreditation.
- Great Falls College Montana State University
CAE-2Y / 2019-2024
- Missoula College
CAE-2Y / 2017-2022
- Colorado State University, Pueblo
CAE-CD / 2016-2021
- University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
CAE-CD / 2014-2021
- University of Denver
CAE-CD / 2014-2020
- Idaho State University
CAE-CD / 2014-2020
- University of Idaho
CAE-CD – 2014-2021
- Southern Utah University
CAE-CD / 2018-2023
- University of Nebraska, Omaha
CAE-CD / 2014-2021
CAE-CO / 2017-2022
- Northeast Community College
CAE-2Y / 2018-2023
- Dakota State University
CAE-CD / 2017-2022
CAE-R / 2017-2022
Top College Programs in Wyoming for Computer Science and Cybersecurity
University of Wyoming
The University of Wyoming opened its doors in 1886 and since then has continued to provide education to an ever-growing, diverse student population. It offers online classes for those who wish to participate in distance education. It also has an array of classroom-centered courses for students who wish to get their education in an on-campus setting.
Computer Science - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
Average Net Price: $12,999
College Retention Rate: 78% (Full-time Students); 8% (Part-time Students)
Laramie County Community College
Set in the Wyoming's capital city of Cheyenne, this community college offers several computer science/computer information associate degree programs. Approximately 6,000 students were enrolled for the 2018-2019 school year. The school's mission statement is “to transform our students’ lives through the power of inspired learning”.
Computer and Information Sciences – Associate Degree
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance - 1-Year Certificate & Associate Degree
Computer Programming/Programmer - 1-Year Certificate, 1-2 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
Computer Science – Associate Degree
Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst - 1-Year Certificate, 1-2 Year Certificate & Associate Degree
Information Technology – Associate Degree
Network and System Administration/Administrator - 1-Year Certificate & 1-2 Year Certificate
Average Net Price: $6,650
College Retention Rate: 65% (Full-time Students); 31% (Part-time Students)
Northern Wyoming Community College District
Two community colleges make up this college district -Sheridan College and Gillette College. A newly renovated and expanded technical center at Sheridan provides students with current industry standard equipment to learn about and then practice their skills. Gillette also has current technical equipment and offers a cyber security associate degree program that can be earned in the classroom or online.
Computer and Information Sciences – Associate Degree
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – 1to2-Year Certificate
Information Science/Studies – Associate Degree
Average Net Price: $8,498
College Retention Rate: 66% (Full-time Students); 38% (Part-time Students)
Casper College's computer science program designed its curriculum to dovetail with the computer science program at the University of Wyoming, making transferring with an associate degree to UW for a bachelor's degree program an easy, smooth transition. The school offers several transfer agreements for area universities that provide the framework to transfer from the associate in computer science to a bachelor's degree program.
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – 1to2-Year Certificate & Associate Degree
Computer Programming/Programmer – Associate Degree
Average Net Price: $6,438
College Retention Rate: 59% (Full-time Students); 34% (Part-time Students)
Western Wyoming Community College
Western Wyoming Community College was recently ranked the most affordable community college in the state when specific criteria including teacher/student ratio was compared. Classes enjoy an average 13-1 student-teacher ratio.
Information Science/Studies – 1to2-Year Certificate & Associate Degree
Average Net Price: $7,751
College Retention Rate: 58% (Full-time Students); 13% (Part-time Students)
Top College Scholarships in Wyoming for Cyber Security
Jeanette L. Heptner Scholarships
Amount: $3,750 (total shared among several students)
This scholarship is given out annually and targets students of technology including those studying cyber security. Recipients receive notification by email after March 15th. When there are several students receiving funds, the notifications will continue until the end of summer.
The Hawthorn Foundation
Deadline: Fall - July 31; Spring - November 30
This scholarship is for students leaving high school, undergraduate, graduate, or technical vocational training. You must be a Wyoming resident to apply, and include your transcripts with the application.
Wyoming Scottish Rite Scholarship
To apply for this scholarship, you must have a Wyoming issued GED or have graduated from a Wyoming high school. You must use the scholarship the same year that you receive it. Along with the application, you must provide two reference letters and your high school transcripts.
Northern Hills Federal Credit Union Scholarship
Deadline: March 30
This scholarship is for a non-traditional student who has not yet earned a bachelor's degree but completed high school at least three years prior to applying. Applicants must be members of the Northern Hills Federal Credit Union.
The American Indian College Fund
Deadline: May 31
This scholarship is provided to Native American and Alaskan Native students. You must provide proof of tribal affiliation, a photo of yourself, and college transcripts. If you are in high school applying to go to college, you should submit either your high school transcripts or your GED score.
Conferences and Workshops
Wyoming Cyber Security Symposium
This annual symposium is hosted by CyberUSA as well as the administrator for Wyoming's Made Safe program. The business owners in attendance are provided information aimed at empowering and motivating them to use best practices within their companies when it comes to cyber security.
Interface – Montana
This annual conference, which has been an event for more than 15 years, brings attendees together and provides a series of educational opportunities in the field of cyber security. Seminars and workshops address enterprise communications, information security, and information technology.
Careers for Cyber Security Graduates
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are currently 3,000 jobs in Wyoming in the computer and math fields. The state's expected growth in computer related fields is lower than many other states, possibly due to the reduced population and the overall lower number of businesses overall.
The average annual wage in Wyoming for jobs in the field of computers was around $68,000 in 2018. Due to reduced job opportunities in the state, gaining a degree and an advanced degree is important. Once you arm yourself with a solid, accredited college degree, you put yourself ahead of applicants who don’t have a degree. An average salary only covers the middle range of what is available. Once you obtain an advanced degree you’ll find that you command a salary that could be significantly higher than average.
Examples of average annual Wyoming salaries in various computer-related fields include:
- Computer Systems Analysts - $77,200
- Computer Programmers - $71,910
- Software Developers, Systems Software - $88,310
- Database Administrators - $59,780
- Information Security Analysts - $73,280
Resources in Wyoming for Cyber Security
- Cyber Security Outreach Program
This outreach program brings business owners, computer field workers, students and others together to brainstorm in grassroots fashion. The goal is continued strengthening of Wyoming's cyber security abilities. This is not only a great educational and brainstorming organization but also a good source of networking contacts as you build your cyber security career.