As people consider careers or new options in work, high-paying jobs in traditional fields like health may come to mind, but one industry is prospering off of protecting the data of others.
Cybersecurity, the protection of computer systems and networks, is emerging as a promising industry in South Dakota with more than enough jobs. The issue? There aren’t enough faculty to train people to fill that work.
From 100% job placement for some graduates to millions in funding for local cybersecurity startups, there’s a small local network that reaches thousands of clients popping up in South Dakota — and graduates who are in high demand.
But the industry is small now and has an unsure future ahead if it can’t keep up. Right now Dakota State University’s acceptance rate is 21% for its PhD programs including that in cybersecurity, on par with a public Ivy league for 2021, for computer sciences.
Fall 2016 to Fall 2021 did see student enrollment in the Beacom School of Computer Sciences 1,005 to 1,239. But there’s still more demand than supply of teachers.
“There’s not a single industry that exists that doesn’t need cybersecurity,” said Ashley Podhradsky, dean of the College of Computer and Cyber Sciences and an associate professor of Digital Forensics at Dakota State University. “So whether you’re looking at law or healthcare, the defense industry or retail, every single industry has a cyber component.”
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DSU offers degrees in cyber security, from the certificate to doctorate level, and has seen applications double in the last few years for its programs. Still small, cybersecurity isn’t quite at full steam in South Dakota.
“We’re just seeing so much demand, so many students want in,” Podhradsky said. ”They see five or six job offers right out the gate for jobs.”
And though growing, cybersecurity isn’t the biggest sector by a long shot. The jobs with the most openings over the next several years are in trucking and nursing, according to data and projections from the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation (SDDLR).
Still, Podhradsky believes the collaboration…