RCTC Launches Cybersecurity Degree

RCTC launches new Cybersecurity Program

In response to the ever-growing threat of cyber-attacks against individuals, businesses, even governments, Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) is excited to announce the launch of a new Cybersecurity Associate of Applied Science degree beginning this fall.

A University of Maryland study found there is a malicious cyber attempt every 39 seconds, or 2,200 per day. These include phishing, malware, ransomware, and distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks. While not all attempts are successful, many cyber criminals are able to break through an organization’s technology defenses leading to millions of dollars of lost revenue. Some estimates suggest cybercrime will cost the world economy over $10 trillion by 2025.

An IBM analysis found the average cost of a data breach last year was $9.44 million. What’s more, ransomware attacks cost even more averaging over $5.1 million. Experts note that figure does not include actual payments to recover systems and data. Organizations are paying an extra $1.5 million on top of containment and recovery costs.

RCTC has a long history of working with business and industry to address critical talent shortages in the workforce. Michelle Pyfferoen, M.B.A, Vice President of Academic Affairs, states “RCTC’s new program aims to fill the gap of cybersecurity professionals trained to detect and react to cyber-attacks.” Pyfferoen adds, “This new cybersecurity program is just another example of how RCTC works collaboratively with employers and educators to create programs which help to bring highly skilled workers to in-demand and high-paying fields.”

Presently in Minnesota there are over 6,500 cybersecurity job openings. That number skyrockets to 573,300 openings across the country. CompTIA, the leading cybersecurity credentialing body, states there are over 22,000 entry-level cybersecurity positions across the country with salaries between $60,000 and $100,000 a year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the cybersecurity sector job market will have 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by the end of 2025 and grow 33% through 3031. Further, the BLS anticipates average cybersecurity expert salary topping $102,000.

RCTC’s Cybersecurity Program is engineered for dual outcomes: immediate employment in cybersecurity and seamless transfer to four-year institutions. Aligned with National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) standards, and an academic partner of CompTIA, RCTC’s curriculum offers a two-year journey from foundational computer science to specialized cybersecurity topics. RCTC Instructor, Brendan Shea, Ph.D., states, “It’s tailored to prepare students for industry-standard CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA CySa+ exams, blending theory and practical skills.” Shea adds, “This program can lead directly to careers in Network Security Operations Centers; Cybersecurity Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC); and Security Engineering.”

To read more about this new degree and program, please visit www.rctc.edu/cyber. Program outcomes and recommended course sequences are there to give students an opportunity to see how their class schedule could appear in the fall. Many classes are online including the first class this fall.

Interested students not currently enrolled at RCTC can apply to RCTC today with more information regarding orientation and registration coming later this spring. Applying to RCTC is free and open to all prospective students at www.rctc.edu/apply. Current RCTC students should meet with their advisor to discuss options.