COD’s Cybersecurity Specialist Certificate Program Aims to Address IT Talent Gap

Felix Davis

By Jordyn Holliday

As College of DuPage’s Cybersecurity Specialist Certificate program nears the end of its first academic year, students are being prepared to help fill voids in an industry with a strong potential for growth but a current lack of talent.

The certificate, which is part of COD’s Computer and Information Technology (CIT) program and coincides with the Cybersecurity and Defense Associate in Applied Science degree, provides a foundation in basic principles of cybersecurity while giving students access to technical skills necessary for a variety of roles within the information technology (IT) industry. Curriculum covers the function of networks, operating systems and security principles with a focus on creating well-rounded IT technicians.

“What makes this program unique is that we have leveraged our curriculum and aligned it to the industry,” said Felix Davis, Ed.D., CIT program coordinator. “This is not a theoretical classroom environment where we simply come in and talk about the theory of security. There is a significant hands-on component to the program as well.”

According to Davis, research presented at the 2017 National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education Conference and Expo provided a positive outlook on the IT job market but also shed light on the shortfall of talent, which puts digital privacy and infrastructure at risk.

“They identified that not only is there an existing shortage of IT skills, but also that IT is one of the fastest growing careers moving forward,” Davis said. “It’s well-documented that cybersecurity is a huge part of the growth in the IT job market and has a significant skill gap.”

The CIT Cybersecurity Specialist certificate requires 21 total credits through the successful completion of six CIT courses and one Computer Information Systems (CIS) Linux course. The curriculum offers students the opportunity to prepare for industry certifications and earn stackable credentials while pursuing the Cybersecurity Specialist Certificate. These certifications include a Cisco Entry-Level Network Certificate (CCENT), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cisco CCNA Security, CompTIA Security+ and a Linux certification.

The program prepares students for employment in entry-level positions related to cybersecurity, including information security analyst and help desk technician, while helping current IT professionals who are looking to sharpen their skills and gain insight on modern technologies.

With the program concluding its first year, Davis said feedback from students and professionals has been promising.

“We’ve had some students who have taken courses in the program give positive outlooks for employment,” he said. “We also have an advisory board that consists of professionals in the IT industry, and they are very excited about the way we’ve structured this to address the gap in cybersecurity.”

To learn more about the Cybersecurity Specialist Certificate and the Computer and Information Technologies program, click here.