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Kentucky's top industries include agricultural technology, aerospace, and healthcare. Although cybersecurity is not a prominent sector in the state, the need for cybersecurity professionals in Kentucky is rising.
Over the past few years, cyberattacks in the state — especially in smaller towns without advanced technical resources — have put officials on high alert. Experts have warned that implementing cybersecurity programs is no longer a suggestion but a necessity for businesses, small and large.
Higher learning institutions within the state offer undergraduate and graduate programs to help prepare learners for cybersecurity roles in Kentucky. For instance, Northern Kentucky University (NKU) includes career services, like mentoring and internship preparation, for students to gain real-world job experience.
Kentucky could be an excellent place to start a cybersecurity career, especially for professionals looking to advance their skills in what may become a fast-growing industry in the state. Find out more about cybersecurity programs and the industry's outlook in Kentucky.
Kentucky at a Glance
- Average Wage for Computer and Mathematical Occupations: $35.98
- % of Workforce in Tech: 3.2%
- Economic Impact of Tech Industry: $8 billion
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 57
Why Go to College for Cybersecurity in Kentucky?
Cybersecurity has room for growth in Kentucky, with just 3.2% of its workforce currently in tech, according to Cyberstates. With Kentucky's leaders seeking cybersecurity regulation and expansion among its businesses, entry-level cybersecurity professionals can expect a promising future for the industry.
Cybersecurity salaries in Kentucky show promise, too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and math professionals in Kentucky earn an average of $74,830 annually — more than engineering and science occupations.
Kentucky offers several online, on-campus, and hybrid degree and certificate programs for learners interested in cybersecurity. For example, NKU cybersecurity programs feature online or in-person cohorts for students to complete projects collaboratively and build their networks.
Additionally, Western Kentucky University's master's in cybersecurity data analytics is entirely online and can be completed in one year. These flexible options can be helpful for students in other states who plan to start their careers in Kentucky. Online programs also help learners who live outside the proximity of the state's schools, which cluster in populated cities like Frankfort and Richmond.
Kentucky schools with cybersecurity programs often help their students enter the workforce through career preparation services.
In 2023, the University of Louisville was one of nine higher learning institutions in the country to receive funding from the National Science Foundation to grow and strengthen its cybersecurity workforce training program. The program hosts professional development activities, such as mentoring, personalized curriculum planning, and a federal internship program for enrollees.
Education Statistics for Kentucky
Kentucky offers 57 two- and four-year colleges for students to choose from. The following table outlines a few key higher education statistics for Kentucky compared to national data.
|Higher Education Statistics||Kentucky Data||National Data|
|Students Enrolled in Distance Education||60.3%||72.8%|
Accreditation for Kentucky Schools
Learners interested in pursuing a cybersecurity degree program in Kentucky must consider accreditation. Institutional accreditation means that a school meets educational standards from third-party accrediting bodies. Attending an accredited school means you are eligible for federal student aid and that future employers will recognize your degree.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredits qualifying Kentucky colleges and universities. SACSCOC endorses 49 of Kentucky's colleges and universities.
Students can also consider cybersecurity programs with specialized accreditation from an industry-recognized accrediting body, known as programmatic accreditation. ABET is a reputable accrediting body for science, computing, and technology programs.
Considerations for a Cybersecurity Degree in Kentucky
Several factors go into finding the best cybersecurity degree program. A top consideration for many students is a school's online program offerings.
In Kentucky, almost 30% of students are enrolled entirely in online courses, while 32% take at least some online courses. A hybrid program can be a good option for students who prefer some face-to-face instruction but enjoy the flexibility of online learning.
Still, many Kentucky students opt for in-person classes. Learning face-to-face with peers and instructor guidance can be invaluable for many students.
Another point to consider is a school's cybersecurity degree offerings. Schools offering a clear pathway from associate to master's degree can make the transition from one degree to another easier for learners interested in graduate education.
Explore rankings for top cybersecurity programs around the country:
Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity
Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs
Best Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs
Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity
Most Diverse Cybersecurity Programs
HBCUs With the Best Cybersecurity Programs
Cybersecurity Concentrations and Similar Degrees
Schools sometimes offer a few cybersecurity concentrations or similar degrees that can lead to cybersecurity careers. Consider the following options from Kentucky colleges and universities that could lead to career opportunities within the state.
This broad option teaches several computer science concepts, including web development, network security, and incident response. Students who want to help a Kentucky organization build their computer and network system from the ground up may choose this degree.
Digital forensics requires cybersecurity experts to extract data from digital devices to assist in legal cases and investigations. Digital forensics experts can work for private firms or law enforcement agencies statewide.
Network engineering programs teach learners how to create and manage secure networks for organizations. These professionals could become vital to Kentucky's businesses as they implement new cybersecurity programs.
Popular Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Paying for Your Cybersecurity Degree
Four-year degrees in Kentucky for private and out-of-state public school students have lower tuition costs than the national average. Still, tuition varies significantly from one school to another.
Kentucky students can access several ways to pay for a degree. The state's colleges and universities feature financial aid, like scholarships, grants, loans, and fellowships. The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) also administers cost-saving programs for learners:
- Kentucky Tuition Grant: Full-time associate or bachelor's degree students can receive up to $3,200 toward their tuition for a participating Kentucky college.
- College Access Program Grant: Kentucky students with a financial need can receive up to $2,500 for a two-year program or up to $5,300 for a four-year degree.
- Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program: This program pays a portion of a student's tuition and fees for an approved program. Students must enroll in a program within an in-demand sector.
In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition
Kentucky public schools vary their tuition rates between in-state and out-of-state learners. In-state public school students pay much lower on average than out-of-state students enrolling in a Kentucky school.
Some Kentucky schools have reciprocity agreements with select Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia schools. Students living in approved counties in these states can attend participating Kentucky schools and receive in-state tuition rates.
For example, students from several Ohio counties can attend a bachelor's program at Northern Kentucky University and pay Kentucky resident tuition rates.
Kentucky's Cost of Living
Kentucky has the 17th lowest cost of living index in the United States. On average, Kentucky's housing, food, transportation, and other essential expenses are lower than most other states.
For learners attending school in Kentucky, this could mean reduced living costs outside of tuition, like commuting to campus and renting an apartment.
Careers for Cybersecurity Graduates in Kentucky
Kentucky's tech industry draws in $8 billion or about 3.4% of the nation's tech sector revenue. Although the state's tech industry is less notable than other states, its major industries, like healthcare, agricultural technology, and distribution, still require cybersecurity professionals.
State programs have increased funding and training for cybersecurity awareness and implementation. For example, the University of Louisville's $3.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation covers full tuition for 100 cybersecurity students over five years.
Additionally, the Kentucky Small Business Development Center features several resources for small business owners to learn more about protecting their data and growing their response teams.
Kentucky's largest cities, like Louisville, Lexington, and Bowling Green, could be good places for cybersecurity professionals to start their careers. These cities have hospitals, universities, and manufacturing companies that could benefit from well-managed cybersecurity initiatives.
Continue on to learn more about a few of Kentucky's cybersecurity careers, growing trends, and top employers.
Select Cybersecurity Careers in Kentucky
Incident responders monitor computer systems and networks for suspicious activity that could signal a cyberthreat. They also develop cybersecurity programs that outline an organization's response plan. Continuous vulnerability testing is also a key responsibility of incident responders.
- Salary for Incident Responders: $84,020 as of March 2023
- Job Outlook in Kentucky (2020-30): Projections Central groups incident responders in its data for information security analysts. It projects a +31.3% growth in these professions in Kentucky from 2020-2030.
Security consultants can help meet the demands of growing cybersecurity needs for businesses in Kentucky. They identify an organization's cybersecurity risk and offer suggestions for improvement.
- Salary for Security Consultants: $87,160 as of February 2023
- Job Outlook in Kentucky (2020-30): Projections Central groups security consultants in its data for information security analysts. It projects a +31.3% growth in these professions in Kentucky from 2020-2030.
Security engineers implement technology to build an organization's cybersecurity infrastructure. They are also responsible for performing security tests to identify vulnerabilities, install firewalls and security software, and rapidly thwart cyberattacks.
- Salary for Security Engineers: $98,060 as of March 2023
- Job Outlook in Kentucky (2020-30): Projections Central groups security engineers in its data for information security analysts. It projects a +31.3% growth in these professions in Kentucky from 2020-2030.
Cybersecurity professionals in Kentucky can also pursue other positions in the field. The following tables outline additional tech employment trends and average salaries.
Kentucky Employment Trends
|Computer Hardware Engineers|
|2030 Projected Employment||240||67,300|
|Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030||+4.3%||+1.7%|
|Computer Network Architects|
|2030 Projected Employment||1,180||174,200|
|Projected Job Growth, 2018-2028||+7.3%||+5.4%|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers|
|2030 Projected Employment||9,100||2,257,400|
|Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030||+20.2%||+22%|
Source: Projections Central
|Career||Kentucky Employment||Kentucky Annual Mean Wage||National Median Annual Wage|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||2,470||$123,520||$159,010|
|Computer Hardware Engineers||240||$75,950||$128,170|
|Computer Network Architects||1,110||$95,420||$120,520|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||2,510||$64,520||$62,760|
|Computer Systems Analysts||3,880||$80,300||$99,270|
|Information Security Analysts||850||$88,070||$102,600|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||3,080||$72,380||$80,600|
Source: BLS OEWS
Computer network support specialists in Kentucky earn more than the national average. Other cybersecurity-related careers, like software developers and computer systems analysts, have the highest employment numbers and salaries in the state.
Cybersecurity Employers in Kentucky
The following companies that hire cybersecurity professionals have a strong presence in Kentucky.
- Ernst & Young: One of the Big Four accounting firms, Ernst & Young provides business-focused services, such as consulting, corporate finance, and technology. The company offers in-person and remote cybersecurity positions for its Louisville location, including data engineer specialists and data security experts.
- Humana: Humana is a major employer in Louisville. The health insurance company hosts data for customers nationwide, requiring intense cybersecurity compliance to reduce threats. Cybersecurity professionals can fill multiple roles with Humana, including cloud security and network operations engineers.
- Baptist Health: Baptist Health is a leading healthcare organization in Kentucky. They have urgent care centers, hospitals, and outpatient clinics across the state. The company hires cybersecurity engineers and managers to oversee its networking and computer infrastructure and mitigate risk.
Professional Cybersecurity Organizations in Kentucky
Kentucky's cybersecurity professionals can grow their networks and careers by joining a professional organization like the following.
Schools With Cybersecurity Degrees in Kentucky
- Eastern Kentucky University: Bachelor of Science in Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity
- Jefferson Community and Technical College: Associate of Applied Science in Computer and Information Technologies — Information and Security Track
- Kentucky State University: Master of Science in Computer Science — Cybersecurity Option
- Murray State University: Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Network Management
- Northern Kentucky University: Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
- Sullivan University: Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
- University of Louisville: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Computer Information Systems — Cybersecurity Track
- University of the Cumberlands: Master of Science in Information Security Systems
- Western Kentucky University: Master of Science in Cybersecurity Data Analytics
Questions About Cybersecurity in Kentucky
Can I get a cybersecurity degree in Kentucky?
Yes. Kentucky has several colleges and universities offering cybersecurity degrees at the associate, bachelor's, or master's degree levels. Northern Kentucky University's cybersecurity program and other schools also offer certificate programs for flexible non-degree learning.
Are the best cybersecurity schools in Kentucky expensive?
Tuition varies across Kentucky's cybersecurity programs and degree levels. Generally, in-state learners at public schools have lower tuition rates than out-of-state students. The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority provides a few scholarships for Kentucky learners to save some money on their degrees.
Is cybersecurity a good career in Kentucky?
The cybersecurity industry is growing in Kentucky but has yet to reach the level of other states, like Washington and Virginia. However, it could be a promising location for new cybersecurity professionals to grow their careers.
Is cybersecurity a hard degree to obtain in Kentucky?
Cybersecurity degree programs can be challenging in any state. However, Kentucky schools with cybersecurity programs typically offer comprehensive curricula and career services that help prepare graduates to pursue positions in the field.
Page last reviewed on April 10, 2023
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