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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 Texas at El Paso: 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 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

Degree Programs Offered

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.

Accolades, Research and Collaboration

In addition to its CAE designation, UTEP has been ranked third among "Best Online Cyber Security Degree Providers in Texas" by cybersecuritydegrees.com.5

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

Recent Investments in the School and Region

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:

  • NSF/DHS Scholarship For Service (SFS): $4 Million
    • Supports more than 30 graduate students specializing in cybersecurity
  • ARL Research Funds: $1.1 Million
    • Establishes ARL’s Center for Cyber Analysis and Assessment at UTEP and funds students conducting research in cybersecurity
    • Funds research on using game theory and artificial intelligence to improve cybersecurity
    • Funds research on adversarial decision-making in cybersecurity
  • Department of Education Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP): $750,000
    • Enhances UTEP’s computer science and cybersecurity students’ leadership and soft skills
  • Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). $484,000
    • Funds research on cyber deception

Cybersecurity Employment and Wages in the Upper Rio Grande 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. 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).

Exhibit 1

Estimated 10-Year Growth Rates for Information Security Analyst Employment (As of 2018)
LocationGrowth Rate
Texas41.6%
Upper Rio Grande region22.4%
El Paso MSA22.8%

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 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). 

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
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

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

Links are correct at the time of publication. The Comptoller's office is not responsible for external websites.

  1. National Security Agency, Central Security Service, “Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations.”
  2. Jackie Benton, “The Best Cyber Offense is a Good Cyber Defense,” Fiscal Notes (February 2019).
  3. Interview with Larry Valero, director and associate professor of National Security Studies at The University of Texas at El Paso, April 26, 2019.
  4. The University of Texas at El Paso, “Computer Science.”
  5. CyberDegrees.org, “Information Assurance and Cyber Security Degrees in Texas.”
  6. Joyce M. Conant, “ARL South-From a Local Perspective” U.S. Army News (September 6, 2017).
  7. The University of Texas at El Paso, “Computer Science Funding Opportunities.”
  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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