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SANS brings Cyber ​​Reskilling, Upskilling to Maryland

The SANS Institute is renewing and expanding free cybersecurity training for Maryland residents, in conjunction with the state. The cybersecurity training school Cyber ​​Workforce Academy – Maryland aims to help students from other careers transition into well-paying cybersecurity jobs and recruit from underrepresented demographics in cyber.

“The last time we performed a scan in the state [in early 2021]the average salary increase for a graduate of this program – students who got a job with it – was about $20 an hour more than they were earning until they got to the program,” Max Shuftan, Director of SANS Mission Programs and Partnerships, told Government technology.

This is the third renewal of the program, which was first launched in 2018 and is partially funded by the EARN Maryland program of state-funded workforce development grants.


SANS Cyber ​​Workforce Academy programs aim to enroll residents from non-STEM fields and retrain them for careers in cyber. This could mean helping a physical therapist move to cloud security, for example, Shuftan said.

This latest version of the program adds an “upgrading” track that prepares students with computer science experience to get into cybersecurity. The current cohort includes six students in the advanced course and 14 in retraining.

Both tracks aim to see participants graduate with Global Information Assurance Certifications (GIACs) and allow students to attend remotely and spread classes over approximately eight weeks.

The academy provides supports to help students connect with employers, but does not guarantee employment. Applications are currently open until September 16.

JOB PROSPECTS

Since 2018, 211 students have enrolled, of which 163 have graduated and obtained certifications, Shuftan said. The institute follows students for a year after completing the program and finds that around 90% of graduates land jobs during this time.

The SANS Institute offers job search assistance, such as resume reviews and mock interviews as well as introductory webinars with selected employers and access to a job search platform.

Graduates who are hired generally find jobs in the state and in DC, although some have found employment further afield in Northern Virginia. These are often entry-level Level 1 cyber jobs or more advanced Level 2 jobs and include roles such as security analysts, information security specialists, members incident response team and security operations center (SOC) analysts. Employers have included companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton, KPMG and GEICO, Shuftan said.

DIVERSITY EFFORTS

The Cyber ​​Workforce Academy seeks to encourage students who are female, non-white, veterans, or otherwise underrepresented in cybersecurity to join.

As of 2018, enrollment at the academy has been 33% female and 32% veterans, Shuftan said. Most recruits were white (36%) or black (also 36%), with Asian Americans making up 10% and Hispanics and Latinos 6%. Four percent of recruits did not disclose their race and 8 percent identified as multiracial.

SANS does not require class compositions to include a minimum percentage of enrollees among the demographics it aims to enroll, Shuftan said. Instead, the institute relies on recruitment efforts like promoting the program to community organizations that serve women, veterans, and other groups.

FIND FLEXIBILITY

The program structure has become more flexible since the first launch. It got its start as a six-day in-person bootcamp, but that limited recruiting. People who work, support families or live further away found it difficult to participate.

The program has since started offering asynchronous training that students can better fit into their schedule and have eight weeks to complete. The pandemic also led to greater flexibility around exam deadlines, as the program needed to accommodate students and their families with COVID-19 or needing to care for children at home while teaching. remotely, Shuftan said.

SANS also shifted from running the program less frequently, but with larger cohorts of up to 25 students, to running the program more frequently with as few as five students.

He also added basic courses to give students more basic computer knowledge before their first technical training courses.

“A DREAM COME TRUE”

For former students like Deijah Price, the Cyber ​​Workforce Academy has made a real difference.

The price has spoken GovTech during her second week with TikTok’s global security organization, a role she called “a dream come true.”

For Price, who has held two positions since graduating, the program’s promise of a higher-paying career path has held true.

“I practically doubled my income after SANS. And then after a year of working in the field, I almost doubled my income again,” she said.

Prior to joining the Cyber ​​Workforce Academy, Price held customer service roles and then went deeper into technology through a software development bootcamp in 2020.

“I started out in roles that were completely outside of the tech realm,” Price said. “I actually studied film and cinematography in school.”

In software bootcamp, she discovered a passion for using technology to solve problems. From there, “it seemed like cybersecurity was the perfect path for me,” Price said. She discovered the Cyber ​​Workforce Academy on LinkedIn and applied, attending from August 2020 to February 2021.

She found a job three months after graduating – again turning to LinkedIn – and became a cyber risk and compliance analyst for a small company based in Maryland, before her more recent move to TikTok.

The breadth of the program prepared her to take on a wide range of responsibilities in a small business, Price said. Although if she were to make changes to the curriculum, she would expand Python programming offerings, given the high job market demand for such skills.

For future registrants, she advises writing a reminder to themselves about why they signed up and the impact it has on someone they care about. Keeping this in mind will make it easier to complete challenges:

“The reason I say this is that the program is very technical – they touch on many different disciplines within cybersecurity – and just knowing why you joined the program will help you stay on track,” said Price.

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