The 5 Best Cybersecurity Jobs in Kansas
And how you can train to become a cybersecurity professional in Kansas in less than a year.
The Sunflower State is buzzing with tech companies and a plethora of startups - yet, the images its name evokes are mostly of endless wheat fields and pastures. After all, scenes of Superman staring longingly at the sunset over the expanse of wheat fields around his Kansas home are Hollywood gold.
The truth is, however, that while agriculture is still a critical component of the Kansas economy, the state has outgrown its bucolic origins and has become home to thousands of technology companies spanning oil and gas, manufacturing, energy, food, transportation, healthcare, entertainment, and telecommunications, to name a few.
The majority of its 200 tech startups are located in the Kansas City area, with smaller clusters truffled further West in Wichita and Lawrence. This is not all surprising, given that the center of the country offers a number of benefits for entrepreneurs: cheaper operating costs, lower cost of living, and attractive housing prices.
Why Choose Cybersecurity in Kansas
There currently are thousands of job openings for cybersecurity professionals in the state of Kansas and thousands more in the Kansas City metro area. The key to understanding why cybersecurity jobs are so in-demand in the Sunflower State is to realize that, no matter the industry, every single organization operates through technology.
Think of some of the biggest employers in the region: Dillons Supermarket, Sprint, Koch Industries, or YRC Worldwide - they all send communications via email or online messaging apps, they store documents in databases housed on servers or in the cloud, they conduct meetings through video calling services, monitor their premises via remote security infrastructure, and track their fleets via GPS. Each and every one of these tools can be hacked.
Technology enables our way of conducting business, but it also makes our data and privacy vulnerable and prone to being attacked by hackers. That’s why every single industry is in need of skilled cybersecurity professionals to secure their networks and online systems.
Agritech is also a special area of concern in the entire Midwest because of the dangers security breaches would pose to our food supply chain. From unprotected IoT sensors and drones to farms with unsecured Wi-Fi networks to distribution centers without encrypted cloud storage: there are more and more ways for hackers to access and destroy or manipulate critical data.
The 5 Hottest Cybersecurity Jobs in Kansas
Whether you decide to be the in-house security hero for a large organization or work for an agency offering IT or cybersecurity services to others, you have plenty of career paths and roles you can train for.
The 5 cybersecurity jobs most sought-after by employers in Kansas are:
- Cybersecurity Engineers
What They Do: also known as IT security engineers, application security engineers, web security engineers, or data security engineers - they are responsible for protecting a company’s networks and systems. Cybersecurity Engineers perform very detailed work, developing secure network solutions, assessing vulnerabilities and penetration testing, and managing audits.
Hard Skills You’ll Need: to become a Cybersecurity Engineer, you must be able to troubleshoot issues, identify unauthorized access, and offer solutions regarding an organization’s system and network.
- Cybersecurity Analysts
What They Do: sometimes called information security analysts - they protect organizations’ computer networks by planning security measures and contingency plans, keeping up with new tools and strategies used by hackers, and constantly monitoring the network for any breaches. Depending on the type and size of the company, Cybersecurity Analysts might also be educating employees on security risks and best practices, including how they can contribute to keeping the network safe.
Hard Skills You’ll Need: to become a Cybersecurity Analyst, you need to know how to install firewalls and encryption tools, report vulnerabilities and attacks, and research evolving security techniques and strategies.
- Cybersecurity Managers and Administrators
What They Do: Cybersecurity Managers and Administrators are the backbone of cybersecurity efforts for any organization. They are responsible for the cybersecurity tools and techniques used throughout a company and write the security policies and employee training materials that outline best security practices. They have an overall view of a company’s security across software and hardware, and are in charge of the entire cybersecurity system.
Hard Skills You’ll Need: to become a Cybersecurity Manager or Administrator, you need to have a wide range of skills, including monitoring network traffic for unusual activity; configuring firewalls and patch management systems; implementing network security policies, application security, access control and corporate data safeguards; and developing business continuity and disaster recovery protocols.
- Vulnerability Analyst and Penetration Testers
What They Do: these two roles are extremely similar in that they are both responsible to detect a system’s vulnerabilities. However, while Penetration Testers - also known as pen testers and white hat hackers - try to lawfully hack into an organization’s network to uncover weaknesses, Vulnerability Testers take it one step further by also implementing new security measures to render the system more secure.
Hard Skills You’ll Need: to become a Vulnerability Analyst or Penetration Tester you’ll need to be able to perform social engineering tests; collect data and deploy testing methodologies; locate, assess, and manage vulnerabilities; make suggestions for security improvements; and prepare technical responses to security questions.
- Cybersecurity Specialists and Technicians
What They Do: Cybersecurity Specialists and Technicians are responsible for building security tools directly into the development stages of networks, software, and data centers. They use a multi-layered approach, often known as Defense in Depth, to build defenses around every level of a company’s system.
Hard Skills You’ll Need: to become a Cybersecurity Specialist or Technician, you’ll need to have a deep knowledge of how to set up security systems and the ability to detect malware. Coding skills are also often required, as cybersecurity professionals in these positions frequently need to adapt or create ad hoc security solutions.
Cybersecurity Training in Kansas
“Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge,” said the Wizard of Oz, and while he meant it in a totally different context, there’s no arguing that his proclamation fits the cybersecurity industry rather perfectly.
The vast majority of employers hire cybersecurity talent based more on their skills and experience than their academic pedigrees. So whether you are new to the industry, or pivoting from an IT role, you should be looking for ways to acquire the practical skills that will get you hired.
Educational certificate programs, like the Kansas State University Cybersecurity Bootcamp, allow you to acquire and hone key skills through hands-on online labs and expertly guided practice. Offering classes during weeknights and weekends, the bootcamp is designed with busy professionals in mind, so you can learn everything you need to enter the cybersecurity field without sacrificing your current job and responsibilities.
What sets the K-State Cybersecurity Bootcamp apart from others is the quality of education, along with the caliber of instructors, and excellence of its career services. All classes are taught live and online by accomplished professionals who work in the cybersecurity field and are invested in your success. Career services are structured to follow learners along their educational path, so you can have a polished, professional resume and LinkedIn account even before the end of the program and get an early start on job and internship applications.
The K-State Cybersecurity Bootcamp curriculum is designed to prepare you to enter the cybersecurity workforce no matter your initial level of tech savvy. In our proprietary platform, called CyWar, every course you take has a corresponding set of online resources, including study guides and additional hands-on exercises you can use to further hone your skills. Additionally, while not mandatory, the bootcamp also offers elective classes that prepare you for 8 of the major globally recognized cybersecurity certifications:
- LPI Linux Essentials
- AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
- CompTIA Network+
- Ec-Council C|ND - Certified Network Defender
- CompTIA Security+
- Ec-Council C|SA – Certified Soc Analyst
- Ec-Council C|EH – Certified Ethical Hacker
- (ISC)² SSCP – Systems Security Certified Practitioner
Employers do look for candidates who have passed these certification exams, especially if they are just starting out in the cybersecurity industry. While it would be unreasonable to expect students to sit for all of them in less than a year, the K-State Cybersecurity Bootcamp instructors generally advise students to take two to three of the above cybersecurity certifications, according to what type of career path they desire.
So what are you waiting for? The time to start is now. New cohorts start on a rolling basis - get in touch with our admissions team and find out how you can become a cybersecurity professional in Kansas in less than a year!