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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

economy

University of Houston Cybersecurity Overview Cybersecurity Overview

Texas’ colleges and universities — 19 of them designated as Centers for Academic Excellence (CAE) by the National Security Agency (NSA) — are training thousands of computer scientists, computer engineers and other information technology (IT) workers to meet information security needs in industries across the state economy.1 One of them, the University of Houston (UH), is a CAE in both cyber defense education and research. 2

UH is located in Texas’ largest city, and the majority of its alumni join the Houston workforce.3 Graduates of the university’s cybersecurity programs go on to work for some of the world’s largest consulting firms, banks, energy companies and software developers, earning average starting salaries of nearly $85,000 annually.4 More than 95 percent of these graduates have jobs after graduation. Graduates with specific skill sets and experience routinely earn more than the Texas average, with many starting at more than $150,000 per year.

Degree Programs Offered

UH’s degree programs concerning cybersecurity include the Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems (with technical electives in Security) and the Master of Science in Cybersecurity, both offered through the UH Department of Information and Logistics Technology.5 Security issues also are covered in undergraduate and graduate degrees offered by the Department of Computer Science.  

Accolades, Research and Collaboration

UH is home to the Center for Information Security Research and Education, a university-level center that acts as a focal point for cybersecurity activities across the campus. The center has received significant cybersecurity grants from the Department of Defense, NSA, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy and Department of Labor. 

In addition to being a Center of Academic Excellence, the University of Houston provides national leadership in its role as the CAE program’s National Resource Center for Knowledge Units and Academics. In this role, it leads a community-driven effort to establish the cybersecurity education standards used by the program.

The master’s degree program in cybersecurity is the leading program for securing critical infrastructure systems. Students develop hands-on skills needed to secure manufacturing, refineries, chemical plants and a host of other settings in which computers control critical systems. The program also has concentrations in security operations including digital forensics and enterprise risk management.

UH’s cybersecurity programs are well recognized and rank near the top of several lists for 2019. The university ranks 14th nationally among “Best Cyber Security Colleges” by CyberDegrees.org and third among “Best Cyber Security Colleges in Texas” by universities.com.6

A number of UH faculty members are engaged in the research of cybersecurity-related issues, most notably in the areas of energy and infrastructure, optical networks, transportation, biomedicine, policy and law.7

Cybersecurity Employment and Wages in the Gulf Coast Region

The Comptroller’s office acknowledges that workers with cybersecurity-related job duties could be classified under other federal Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes. This analysis, however, examines the Information Security Analyst occupation to focus on those workers with clear cybersecurity-related job duties, as opposed to other IT roles. DHS recently noted inconsistencies in the way employers define and use the term cybersecurity, which can include a wide range of job functions requiring different qualifications and skillsets. Job descriptions and titles for the same job vary from employer to employer. Some researchers and industry practitioners contend that every IT job is involved in cybersecurity to some extent.

As of 2018, 1,798 Information Security Analysts were employed in the Gulf Coast region, nearly all (1,774) of them in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan statistical area (MSA). In the past five years, the region and MSA added nearly 100 jobs in the occupation. During the next 10 years, we estimate occupation employment will rise by nearly 36 percent in the region and MSA, slightly below the projected statewide growth rate of 41.6 percent (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1

Estimated 10-Year Growth Rates for Information Security Analyst Employment (As of 2018)
LocationGrowth Rate
Texas41.6%
Gulf Coast Region35.5%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA35.8%

Note: Data represent covered employment, or jobs covered by unemployment insurance. Covered employment represents about 97 percent of all employment. Excluded workers include members of the armed forces, the self-employed and railroad workers. Growth is defined as the projected number of new jobs expected to be created.

Source: JobsEQ

As of 2017, the average annual wage for Information Security Analysts was $95,000 in Texas, nearly twice as much as the average annual wage for all occupations ($49,000). Entry-level Information Security Analysts in the Gulf Coast region (earning $61,300) and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA (earning $62,000) fare slightly better than those in the state overall, with average annual wages of $57,000. 

Exhibit 2

Entry Level

Experienced

Mean

Average Annual Wages for Information Security Analysts, 2017
LocationMean SalaryEntry Level SalaryExperienced Salary
Texas95,000 dollars57,000 dollars114,000 dollars
Gulf Coast Region 98,000 dollars 61.3 thousand dollars 116,300 dollars
Houston-
The Woodlands_
Sugar Land MSA
98,400 dollars 62,000 dollars 116,500 dollars

Source: JobsEQ

While Texas’ cybersecurity educational programs train workers for almost every industry of the state economy, they also contribute greatly to the cybersecurity industry itself — an industry so new it has yet to be statistically defined by the federal government. Based on a Comptroller analysis, the cybersecurity industry employs about 130,000 in Texas and contributes a minimum of $35.5 billion to the gross state product. The creation of one job in the industry generates one additional job, $187,000 in economic output and $62,000 in compensation in the Texas economy.8

End Notes

  1. National Security Agency, Central Security Service, “Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations.”
  2. The University of Houston, College of Technology, “UH Named Center of Excellence for Work on Cyber Defense,” by Jeannie Kever (Houston, Texas, May 28, 2015); and The University of Houston, “Center for Information Security Research and Education.”
  3. National Institute of Standards and Technology, “Response to 82-FR-32172, University of Houston.” (PDF)
  4. Interview with Cecilia Alvarez, assistant general counsel, University of Houston, June 28, 2019; Jagdeep S. Chadha, executive director for Student Affairs in the College of Technology.
  5. The University of Houston, College of Technology, “Cybersecurity Programs at the University of Houston Ranked Near the Top in a New Ranking of the Nation’s Best Cybersecurity Schools,” by Jeannie Kever (Houston, Texas, May 24, 2018).
  6. CyberDegrees.org, “Top Cyber Security Schools for 2019”; and Universities.com, “Best Cyber Security Colleges in Texas for 2019.”
  7. National Institute of Standards and Technology, “Response to 82-FR-32172, University of Houston.”
  8. Based on the combined “indirect” multiplier effects on industries that supply goods and services to the industry and “induced” multiplier effects on industries that sell local goods and services — such as housing, food or entertainment — to workers in the industry and its suppliers.

Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material on this page, please contact the Comptroller’s Data Analysis and Transparency Division.

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