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 Texas at El Paso (UTEP), is one of only 21 institutions nationally designated as a CAE in both cyber defense and cyber operations.2
As a national leader in cybersecurity education and research, UTEP is strengthening the cybersecurity workforce and combating global security challenges, while training participants for high-paying careers. Its program graduates earn an average starting salary of $110,000 annually. One hundred percent of its graduates have jobs upon graduation.3
UTEP offers a variety of information technology (IT) degrees primarily through its computer science department.4 Degree programs specific to cybersecurity include a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with concentration in Cyber Systems and a Master’s of Science in Software Engineering with a concentration in Secure Cyber Systems, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security for persons already holding a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
UTEP also offers an Online Bachelor of Arts in Security Systems to meet the needs of working professionals and distance learners.
As part of a cybersecurity-focused collaboration between UTEP and the Army Research Lab (ARL), the university was named a satellite campus to the ARL-South initiative, an effort to bring together Army research and development personnel in the south-central United States, in August 2017. The designation allows for the exchange of staff between ARL and UTEP and provides ARL internship opportunities for UTEP students. ARL and UTEP personnel also can collaborate by sharing ideas and talent through the UTEP Center of Cyber Analysis and Assessment, which conducts cybersecurity research and promotes long-term collaboration. 6
UTEP makes available a scholarship program, S-STEM, which utilizes a $3.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation in partnership with El Paso Community College, California State University and Merced College in California in an effort to increase enrollment and diversity in cybersecurity degree programs.7
UTEP programs utilize several impactful grants:
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. The Department of Homeland Security recently noted inconsistencies in the way in which 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, more than 100 information security analysts were employed in the Upper Rio Grande region, almost all of them in the El Paso metropolitan statistical area (MSA). During the past five years, employment in the occupation declined within the region and MSA. During the next 10 years, however, we expect this employment to rise by more than 22 percent in both the region and MSA (Exhibit 1).
|Upper Rio Grande region||22.4%|
|El Paso MSA||22.8%|
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.
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 Upper Rio Grande region (earning $44,400) and El Paso MSA (earning $44,300) earn slightly less than the state average, ($57,000) (Exhibit 2).
|Location||Mean Salary||Entry Level Salary||Experienced Salary|
|Texas||95,000 dollars||57,000 dollars||114,000 dollars|
|Upper Rio Grande region||76,900 dollars||44,400 dollars||93,200 dollars|
|El Paso MSA||76,900 dollars||44,300 dollars||93,200 dollars|
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
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