The demand for cybersecurity jobs in Frederick County is expected to increase by almost 50 percent in the next few years, following the statewide trend in an industry that has more demand for workers than are currently available in the workforce.
Cybersecurity is the protection of networks, computers, programs and data from attacks, damage and unauthorized access. In 2012, there were 131 information security analyst positions in Frederick County, and there are forecast to be 192 positions by 2022, according to the Maryland Department of Labor.
Statewide, the numbers are about 25 times those, with 3,375 positions in 2012 and projections of 4,764 jobs in 2022, according to the Department of Labor.
This month marks the 13th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, begun by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance to educate the public on the risks associated with private information on the internet and tools to protect themselves.
Maryland Department of Commerce Senior Director of the Office of Cybersecurity and Aerospace Ken McCreedy said that historically cybersecurity businesses are in Maryland because of the federal government organizations located here, such as the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.
“There’s a real strong intellectual capital here in Maryland that is unique,” he said.
Frederick has potential for growth, McCreedy said, as its location is ideal for businesses that want to be close to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., but not in the cities. He also said the county has many people in information technology roles, as well as students graduating from area colleges.
“You’ve just got the mix of people and business that’s attractive,” he said. “The principal challenge is workforce. There’s an estimated 17,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the state. Other areas are having the same challenge.”
Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg is requesting approval from the Maryland Higher Education Commission for a Bachelor of Science program in cybersecurity. Hood College has a cybersecurity certificate program, and Frederick Community College also offers a cybersecurity program.
Frederick Community College’s program grew from nonexistent to about 230 students in its first year, said cybertech professor James Hatch. With the program now entering its second year, Hatch said he sees it expanding even more in the future. There are two groups now, he said, and the program plans to expand to have 12 cohorts.
“We’re growing so fast that I’m trying to get more rooms on campus so that we can facilitate this growth,” he said. “We’re expanding this program all the time, making it more modern all the time.”
Frederick is an ideal place, he said, because of the proximity to so many potential jobs after graduation. He said many students go on to get bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity from four-year colleges or go straight into the field.
“We are at a crossroads where we can basically choose where we can work,” he said.
McCreedy said small businesses are at as much risk as large businesses now and should take proper measures to protect their customers’ information. Laws are evolving to address cybersecurity, he said, and could make businesses liable for loss of a customer’s personal information.
“All those things are going to increase the awareness of a business,” he said. “They have to do tangible things to protect themselves and their customers.”