Always dreamed of earning a degree in Big Sky Country? We’ve compiled a list of Montana cyber security programs along with a guide to online certificates, informal meet-ups, academic conferences and jobs.
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Studying Cyber Security in Montana
As of 2017, Montana had just one postsecondary program in cyber security. That’s the Cyber Security Professional Certificate at University of Montana. Here’s what the state’s schools offer students:
- UM’s Cyber Innovation Lab opened in 2014 and is used to host guest lecture series, accommodate faculty and student research, and hold the statewide annual Cyber Triathlon competition for high school and college students.
- Not having a cyber security program doesn’t hold Montana Tech students back. The school’s Cyber Defense Club, whose members hail from the Network Technology program, took first place in its region for the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in 2017, winning a trip to the finals in San Antonio.
Online Cyber Security Programs in Montana
Montana has just the one program, but good news: It’s available online!
Online Certificate Programs in Cyber Security
The Cyber Security Professional Certificate at University of Montana is available online via Missoula College – University of Montana, a two year technical college connected to UM. The course is for IT pros looking to expand their skill set into network, mobile and software security. It actually prefers enrollees to already have entry-level certifications in the discipline, so don’t expect introductory level content from this four-course program.
Cyber Security Events in Montana
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in Montana
Montana’s cyber security communities are concentrated in the state capital and are dominated by those with an interest in offensive exploits. Check out this triumvirate of Helena hacking groups:
- DC406: This on-again, off-again gathering for Helena area hackers is scheduled to take place the last Tuesday of every month at Bert & Ernie’s Dining Saloon & Grill. Come at 6:00 with a laptop and an appetite to learn about InfoSec. It’s low-key and informal, so you’ll be welcomed whether you’re a greenhorn or a master.
- Helena 2600: Helena 2600 has the same ethos as DC406. It’s just on a different night at a different restaurant. Head to the Staggering Ox on the first Friday of the Month.
- Montana Ethical Hackers (MEH): You’ll likely see members of MEH at the events above, especially if you join up for its weekly Computer Security Study Group on Tuesdays. The group opened its own hackerspace in 2017. Wander over at any time to start networking with others who are into InfoSec.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in Montana
The state’s universities play host to two small but worthwhile cyber security conferences, one in Missoula and one in Bozeman:
- Big Sky Information Security Conference: The University of Montana, Montana State University, and the Montana Information Technology Services Division (MITSD) launched this event in 2017. It brings outside academics and senior practitioners to Missoula for a day of presentations suited for a general audience with at least some exposure to security concepts.
- TechJunction Montana: Montana State University in Bozeman welcomes IT-oriented businesspeople into its classrooms for free presentations with titles such as “Passwords Suck” and “Securing the Human.” Choose from several tracks and use the time between sessions to chat with exhibitors about new products.
Cyber Security Jobs in Montana
A 2016 report by Cyber Seek found that Montana finished in the bottom five for cyber security job postings. While that’s not particularly surprising given Montana’s small population, it still doesn’t tell the whole story.
For starters, with few relevant academic programs within the state, employers can’t find enough graduates to fill the security positions they do have. Advanced certifications such as the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) are worth more than gold because few Montanans hold them.
Moreover, IT firms are quickly gaining traction within the state, thanks to the Montana High Tech Business Alliance‘s efforts to grow the sector. In fact, you can use its member directory as a guide to cyber security employers. There’s Trility Consulting in Billings; Hoplite Industries and IronCore Labs in Bozeman; and LMG Security in Missoula. Just click from the directory straight to its jobs portal to apply for positions. The Alliance partners with MonTEC, a UM-supported tech incubator in Missoula that may just launch the state’s next cyber security startup.
Cyber Security Salaries in Montana
Right now, cyber security salaries in Montana are too low to attract outsiders. The median salary for a Montana information security analyst in 2016 was $55,000, which pales in comparison to a national rate of $93,000. Frustratingly, that salary hardly moved from its point five years prior. That’s why wages are high on the list of Montana High Tech Business Alliance’s priorities – “high-paying” is in its mission statement.
All Cyber Security Programs in Montana
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 1 Montana school.
The University of Montana