Born on the Bayou? Or just moving there for a cyber security degree? Before you go, you’ll want to see our complete list of cyber security programs. Keep reading for a rundown of Louisiana scholarships, jobs, salaries, and events for aspiring security specialists.
Studying Cyber Security in Louisiana
Louisiana won’t overwhelm you with degree and certificate options, but its schools are quietly contributing to cyber security research and improving teaching practices in the discipline. Here’s a peek at what five of them are up to:
- Bossier Parish Community College is Louisiana’s only two-year school recognized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA) as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Education. The school’s proximity to the National Cyber Research Park and Barksdale Air Force Base gives students access to highly qualified military and industry lecturers.
- Louisiana Tech University, a four-year public institution won similar NSA/DHS distinction for its academics programs and research prowess. Louisiana Tech’s Center for Secure Cyberspace houses the Cyberspace Research Laboratory and collaborates with the Cyber Innovation Center (the keystone of the National Cyber Research Park) on government and private sector R&D projects.
- In 2017 the NSA gave researchers from the University of New Orleans (the third and final NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Louisiana) to create new educational resources and refine pedagogical approaches for cyber security instructors from the junior high to college levels.
- Southern University conducts its cyber security activities through the Computer Science department’s Center for Information Assurance Education and Research. Students in Computer Science at Southern University can benefit from the Raytheon Mentoring Program, which pairs sophomores and juniors with local Raytheon engineers.
- The state’s biggest postsecondary institution, Louisiana State University, is also in the game but primarily in a research and training capacity. The Joint Cyber Training Lab at LSU falls under the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute, and its Cyber Range was developed alongside the Louisiana National Guard to conduct incident response exercises.
Online Cyber Security Programs in Louisiana
Louisiana features a pair of online cyber security degrees — one an associate, the other a bachelor’s — from two different colleges. We recommend searching the Louisiana Online database periodically to see if new ones have been added.
Online Associate Degrees in Cyber Security
The Associate of Applied Science in Cyber Technology at Bossier Parish Community College comes with a Network Security concentration. It’s built for people who want to work in company IT departments as network administrators and even gives them a taste of what it’s like. The required internship helps students gain work experience and supports them in their quest for professional certifications.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Cyber Security
Southern University and A&M College offers a BS in Computer Science with a concentration in Cybersecurity. Since it’s a concentration, you’ll start off with coursework in basic Computer Science concepts and programming before mixing in information security work.
Cyber Security Scholarships in Louisiana
It used to be that Louisiana high school graduates who earned a 2.5 GPA and scored a 20 on the ACT were guaranteed free tuition at Louisiana public colleges. That changed in 2016 when the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) could no longer fully fund everyone. That means that scholarships are more important than ever, and we’ve found some specifically for cyber security students at Louisiana’s colleges and universities.
Bossier Parish Community College
- Johnny Wyatt Memorial Scholarship: Cyber Tech (or Criminal Justice) students with financial need can claim $1,000 toward their education through this scholarship funded by the Bossier City Marshal Office.
Southern University and A&M College
- Computer Science Scholarship: The department funds several awards each year to freshmen who have declared as Computer Science majors, whether with a Cybersecurity concentration or not. An ACT score of 24 and a 3.0 GPA gets you considered. To keep the scholarship, you must keep the GPA at that level or above.
University of New Orleans
- UNO Scholarship for Women in Computer Science: The criteria are pretty much in the title of this biannually awarded scholarship that welcomes students in the Information Assurance concentration. It’s worth $3,000 per semester and comes with a year of mentoring from the senior engineering manager at Google who funds the scholarship.
Cyber Security Events in Louisiana
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in Louisiana
To take advantage of networking opportunities and expand your security knowledge, you may want to move to New Orleans if you don’t live there already. We found five healthy Meetups and communities for InfoSec specialists and hackers, all in the Big Easy:
- Certified Cyber Security Specialists Network: This is a very small but extremely active group that welcomes public members to its monthly group meetings for tutorials on preventing identity theft. The idea is to pair qualified experts with potential clients.
- Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Louisiana Chapter: It’s free to join the CSA and come to chapter meetings in New Orleans. The group irregularly schedules happy hours and luncheons featuring expert presentations.
- ISACA Greater New Orleans Chapter: Formerly called the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, ISACA is a professional organization that extends discounts to student members. Its New Orleans chapter convenes monthly for workshops led by outside professionals.
- New Orleans 2600: Hackers take over Z’otz Coffee House at 6:00 every first Friday of the month. Come with a laptop to discuss information security or just ask questions, even basic ones.
- NolaSec: Computer security and digital forensics professionals (current and future) gather monthly at a bar and grill for a few quick presentations from outside speakers. Then they mingle.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in Louisiana
Thanks to the world’s love affair with the Big Easy, New Orleans is a prime location for conferences and trainings. We’ve found a couple big-time trainings as well as two homegrown events:
- BSidesNOLA: The New Orleans iteration of the global Security BSides movement is organized by local professors and practitioners. The team has packed three tracks of provocative presentations into a daylong event. Tickets costs less than the (optional) cocktails after the event.
- NolaCon: NolaCon is BSides on steroids. It’s three days instead of one, and newbies who want to understand the presentations can come early for intensive 2- to 4-day trainings covering both introductory and esoteric topics. The cost is also a tad bulkier than BSides but worth budgeting for.
- SANS Security East: The SANS Institute provides information security training across the U.S. Every year it comes to the Big Easy with a menu of courses from beginner to Jedi. Choose from four sub-disciplines: security, forensics, management and industrial control systems. These courses pack about a semester of learning into four to six days, and the tuition reflects that.
- SANS Threat Hunting and Incident Response Summit: SANS also runs a niche conference in New Orleans later in the year. Attendees emulate malicious hackers for two days to learn their methods. The summit is followed by an optional week of SANS training courses.
Cyber Security Jobs in Louisiana
Louisiana has far fewer openings for cyber security jobs than it should. But here’s the thing: Between 2010 and 2014, job postings in the sector grew by 275 percent — the second-highest rate in the nation. That’s due in large part not to New Orleans or even Baton Rouge, but to the Shreveport metro area. The National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City is a place where companies, educators and government officials stimulate IT growth in the state. In fact, government contractor CSRA moved a large chunk of its workforce there in 2015, from where it consults on cyber security jobs.
The Louisiana State Board of Education upped the ante in 2015 by creating a new “graduation pathway” for cyber engineering. So now there are plenty of folks holding Security+ certification — about eight times the number of job postings requesting that credential, according to Cyber Seek. But further up the ladder, it’s a seller’s market, so you may want to up your game and shoot for advanced certifications such as CISSP, CIPP, CISA or CISM; for each, there were more job openings than certification holders between July 2015 and June 2016.
Who’s hiring these workers? In lieu of homegrown security companies, big-name companies and government contractors have stepped in to provide most opportunities. You could try the IBM Client Innovation Center in Baton Rouge. PricewaterhouseCoopers (now just PwC) has an office in New Orleans that needs cyber security specialists to consult on cyber security issues for the public sector. Houston-based NRG Energy has electrical generation and transmission infrastructure that requires securing. And Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana maintains a ton of client data that must remain confidential, which is where security engineers come in.
Cyber Security Salaries in Louisiana
Like any other state, Louisiana has cyber security jobs covering a range of skills and experience. The salaries reflect that diversity, coming in at around $44,000 on the low end and $130,000 on the opposite end. The median salary of $74,000 for an information security analyst is below the national mark of $93,000, according to 2016 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s backed up by informal figures from salary aggregators Indeed.com and Glassdoor.
But those are current numbers. Let’s compare them to 2010 figures. Then, low-end information security analysts made $31,000 compared to top-tier workers at $88,000, and the median worker earned $56,000. So in just six years, as the rest of the country’s economy was struggling, average salaries for Louisiana’s information security analysts went up nearly 33 percent. Where will they be after you’ve finished your degree? Considering that employers are still posting jobs requiring advanced certifications, we’d bet they’ll be even higher.
All Cyber Security Programs in Louisiana
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 4 Louisiana schools.
Bossier Parish Community College
|Bossier City, Louisiana||NSA
Louisiana Tech University
Southern University and A & M College
|Baton Rouge, Louisiana|
University of New Orleans
|New Orleans, Louisiana||NSA