Cybersecurity Programs in Montana

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Updated January 28, 2023

Ready to study cybersecurity in Montana? Start with our list of campus and online programs, and learn about living and working in cybersecurity in MT.

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Sunset over a bridge and trees at West Glacier, Montana Credit: Jonathan Dakin / EyeEm / Getty Images

Known for its striking landscapes and diverse wildlife, Montana earned its "Treasure State" nickname for its rich gold and silver deposits. Today, Montana has a strong economy built on primary sector activities, including energy production, forestry, mining, and agriculture.

In 2021, Montana's economy grew by a reported 6.7%, which was the seventh-highest growth rate of any state that year. The University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research also reported that Montana's tech industry was expanding seven times faster than the state's general economy in 2021.

In Montana, cybersecurity programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This resource presents a data-driven snapshot of the Treasure State for aspiring cybersecurity professionals. Use our guide to discover learning and career opportunities.

Montana at a Glance

Average Wage for Computer and Mathematical Occupations

$71,130

% of Workforce in Tech

2.9%

Economic Impact of Tech Industry

$2 billion

Number of Higher Learning Institutions

23

Sources: Cyberstates™, NCES, OEWS

Why Go to College for Cybersecurity in Montana?

Montana cybersecurity programs tend to offer cost advantages to learners who pursue programs at accredited degree-granting institutions. The state's average tuition costs rank below or well below nationwide trends in most metrics tracked by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Learners seeking campus-based programs may enjoy Montana's offerings. The state has the highest enrollment rate in partially or exclusively on-campus programs of any state. Studying on campus makes networking easier due to face-to-face interactions with peers and instructors.

Some Montana cybersecurity majors take advantage of practical learning opportunities like internships and work-study placements. These programs can offer employment leads, as well, which benefits learners pursuing employment in Montana's fast-growing tech industry.

Montana also has a major energy production industry, ranking seventh in the United States for hydroelectric power generation in 2021. Experts stress the critical importance of cybersecurity in the energy industry while also noting persistent vulnerability gaps.

These dynamics signal strong employment potential for cybersecurity in Montana and make the state an intriguing place to study.

Education Statistics for Montana

Montana's higher education network serves a population of approximately 1.1 million, giving the state a relatively high number of colleges per capita. Students at Montana institutions engage with campus-based learning at higher-than-average rates.

Higher Education Statistics Montana Data National Data

Four-Year Colleges

12

2,520

Two-Year Colleges

11

1,303

Students Enrolled in Distance Education

64.9%

72.8%

Sources: NCES

Accreditation for Montana Schools

Students should only consider Montana cybersecurity programs at accredited institutions. Institutional accreditation signifies that a school has passed rigorous third-party evaluations of its academic standards.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) has traditionally served as the main accreditor of Montana institutions. However, other reputable accrediting agencies can also endorse Montana institutions as the result of changes made in 2020. These agencies may include:

Some technology programs hold a specialized endorsement known as programmatic accreditation. ABET, formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, ranks among the best-known specialized accreditors of STEM-related degree programs.

Considerations for a Cybersecurity Degree in Montana

Learners considering Montana cybersecurity majors have many factors to consider. Beyond issues such as program content and student body diversity, many learners prioritize specific delivery formats.

The three main learning formats include 100% campus-based, 100% online, and hybrid models that blend campus and online learning.

Each type offers advantages and drawbacks. Campus-based programs make a good match for students seeking a college experience with face-to-face peer and faculty interactions. The scheduling flexibility of online learning tends to appeal to degree-seekers with other commitments. Hybrid programs balance the advantages of campus-based and online models. However, their on-campus components may require you to travel or relocate to Montana.

The following table summarizes general trends regarding distance education in Montana:

Explore rankings for top cybersecurity programs around the country

Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs

Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Most Diverse Cybersecurity Programs

Most Diverse Cybersecurity Programs

HBCUs With the Best Cybersecurity Programs

HBCUs With the Best Cybersecurity Programs

Cybersecurity Concentrations and Similar Degrees

Montana cybersecurity degrees appeal to learners seeking to launch tech careers, but cybersecurity is only one of many specialization options. The following table explores popular alternatives:

Software Development

Software developers design, create, and test applications for mobile and desktop computer systems, including security applications. CompTIA's 2022 Cyberstates report ranked software as the leading employment sector in Montana's technology industry.

Network Engineering

Network engineers apply advanced information technology skills to design and develop customized computer networks for clients and employers. Custom IT services led all Montana tech industry sectors in year-over-year growth in 2022.

Information Security

Information security ("infosec") overlaps with cybersecurity but maintains a broader focus. Cybersecurity strives to ward off attacks and unauthorized access to sensitive data. Infosec considers internal vulnerabilities like access loopholes, along with online and offline data.

Paying for Your Cybersecurity Degree

Despite Montana's relatively affordable tuition rates, students often need help meeting their educational expenses.

Begin by researching scholarships. Notably, the state maintains a Youth Serve Montana Scholarship program through its Governor's Office of Community Service. Next, look for other non-repayable aid sources such as fellowships and grants. These opportunities are often merit-based and very competitive.

Federal and private loans round out your other options. However, these create long-term debt. Consider them only if you cannot cover funding with other sources.

For more tips on education financing, consult this resource.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Public institutions usually offer lower tuition rates to in-state students. However, out-of-state students can sometimes qualify for in-state rates through tuition exchange programs known as reciprocity agreements.

Montana participates in such a reciprocity agreement through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). The WUE extends tuition discounts to eligible students from 16 U.S. states and territories. A similar program known as the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) extends to Montana-based degree-seekers at the master's and doctoral levels.

Montana's Cost of Living

Education finance experts strongly recommend that students factor the local cost of living into their budgets. Montana's cost of living is about average, according to the state's 2022 cost of living index score.

The cost of living index compares local living costs to the national average with a baseline score of 100. In 2022, Montana had an overall index score of 100.7, indicating that its costs align closely with national averages. Its category scores for transportation, utilities, and miscellaneous expenses were lower than average.

Careers for Cybersecurity Graduates in Montana

Montana's technology industry shows compelling signs of strong growth. Its net tech employment in 2022 exceeded 15,000 workers, making up 2.9% of the state's labor force.

These statistics signal further growth potential, as Montana ranked 46th among U.S. states for the percentage of its labor force in tech despite a rapidly growing technology industry. In 2021, Montana Public Radio reported that employers in the state had more job vacancies than qualified individuals to fill them.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in October 2022, Montana's three leading areas of employment are:

  • Trade, transportation, and utilities
  • Government
  • Education and healthcare services

Employers in all three industries have advanced cybersecurity needs, given the high volumes of sensitive data they process.

The following sections profile careers that may appeal to cybersecurity and technology graduates working in Montana.

Select Cybersecurity Careers in Montana

Penetration Tester


Pen testers probe their employers' cybersecurity systems to identify weaknesses and gauge the potential of those weaknesses to harm their employers or clients.

Average Salary for Penetration Testers (November 2022): $88,720

Job Outlook in Montana (2020-30): Projections Central includes penetration testers in its category for computer and information systems managers. This site, which works with the U.S. Department of Labor, projects a 22.2% growth rate for computer and information systems manager employment from 2020-2030.


Vulnerability Assessor


Vulnerability assessors use specialized tools to identify, classify, and evaluate the severity of cybersecurity weaknesses. This junior-level cybersecurity role mainly uses automation processes to search for general vulnerabilities.

Salary for Vulnerability Assessors (November 2022):$84,000

Job Outlook in Montana (2020-30): Projections Central includes vulnerability assessors in its category for computer and information systems managers. It projects a 22.2% growth in employment for computer and information systems managers from 2020-2030.


Security Auditor


Security auditors conduct comprehensive reviews of the cybersecurity and information security standards used by their clients and employers. They also evaluate the results of their assessments to make technical and policy-based recommendations. Note: the following salary figure is based on limited data.

Salary for Security Auditors (November 2022): $84,040

Job Outlook in Montana (2020-30): Projections Central, which penetration testers in its category for computer and information systems managers, estimates a 22.2% employment growth rate for computer and information systems managers from 2020-2030.

The following sections offer further insights into Montana-specific technology careers, employment trends, and salary and growth data:

Montana Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Computer Hardware Engineers, Computer Network Architects, and Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
Year State National

Electrical Engineers (State); Computer Hardware Engineers (National)

2020 Employment

590

66,200

2030 Projected Employment

710

67,300

Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030

+20.3%

+1.7%

Computer Network Architects

2018 Employment

260

165,200

2030 Projected Employment

310

174,200

Projected Job Growth, 2018-28

+19.2%

+5.4%

Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers

2020 Employment

1,810

1,847,900

2030 Projected Employment

2,690

2,257,400

Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030

+48.6%

+22%

Source: Projections Central

Salaries for Cybersecurity and Related Careers, May 2021
Career Montana Employment Montana Annual Mean Wage National Median Annual Wage

Computer and Information Systems Managers

710

$113,340

$159,010

Computer Hardware Engineers

640

$78,750

$128,170

Computer Network Architects

310

$99,140

$120,520

Computer Network Support Specialists

680

$58,520

$62,760

Computer Programmers

1,050

$82,130

$93,000

Computer Systems Analysts

540

$75,490

$99,270

Information Security Analysts

160

$77,910

$102,600

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

1,060

$81,370

$80,600

Software Developers

1,360

$92,980

$109,020

Web Developers

250

$56,610

$78,300

Source: BLS OEWS

Montana tech security and computer science careers tend to pay salaries lower than national averages. The network and computer systems administrator role represents a noteworthy exception.

To increase your earning potential, consider upgrading to a master's degree. BLS data from 2020 indicates that labor force participants with graduate degrees earn significantly more than those with only bachelor's degrees.

Cybersecurity Employers in Montana

Employers across a full cross-section of industries hire Montana cybersecurity specialists. The following list offers a small sample of the types of companies to target in your job search:

  • Government of Montana: Government is one of the largest employment sectors in Montana, accounting for about 17.5% of the state's non-farm workforce as of October 2022. State governments continue to address ongoing cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Professionals interested in public sector work can consider roles at the state or local levels.
  • Information Systems of Montana: Helena's Information Systems of Montana is one of the state's largest cybersecurity firms. The company services clients in many industries, offering professionals the opportunity to work on cybersecurity projects.
  • St. Peter's Health: St. Peter's Health is one of the largest health networks in Montana. Healthcare organizations have strong, ongoing needs for cybersecurity professionals to protect their sensitive information, making them a common target of cybercriminals.

Professional Cybersecurity Organizations in Montana

The following organizations offer development resources and other learning and networking opportunities to cybersecurity professionals in Montana:

Schools With Cybersecurity Programs in Montana

Questions About Studying Cybersecurity in Montana

  • Can I get a cybersecurity degree in Montana?

    Yes. Montana cybersecurity degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. Learners can study on campus, online, or through hybrid delivery.

  • What cybersecurity jobs can I get with a degree from Montana?

    Graduates of associate and bachelor's cybersecurity programs in Montana qualify for a broad cross-section of entry-level jobs. Examples include security analyst, incident responder, and vulnerability assessor jobs. Advanced degrees and multiple years of experience can open doors to roles with higher pay and more responsibility.

  • Is cybersecurity a good career in Montana?

    Montana has a fast-growing technology industry, and employers report more tech vacancies than qualified candidates to fill them. Cybersecurity also plays a significant role in many of Montana's top industries.

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