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Great Bay Community College adds cyber-security degree


PORTSMOUTH - Employer demand is driving Great Bay Community College's plan to add an associate degree in cyber security this fall.

And officials at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester are working on an agreement so graduates of the GBCC program can transfer into the homeland security program there.

Officials at HII Technical Solutions in Portsmouth were happy to hear the news last week. The company currently has two job openings that support software programming and cyber-related activities, according to corporate director for public affairs Beci Brenton.

HII Technical Solutions provides systems integration and cyber security support for the Navy. Brenton says connections to local colleges and universities could be beneficial as they develop their workforce, not just in New Hampshire but across the country.

"We have found that cyber experts can support many projects and customers remotely from anywhere in the United States," Brenton said.

"We have been very successful in our relationship with Christopher Newport University here in Newport News, Va., which has allowed us to build out software engineering talent."

In technology-rich areas such as Boston, about half of the entry-level cyber security jobs go unfilled because of a lack of qualified candidates, according to a news release from GBCC.

Students who earn an associate degree in the new program will be qualified for jobs with starting salaries of between $40,000 and $50,000 a year, the school said.

Salaries of experienced cyber security professionals and those with advanced training are three times the national average, with hourly wages at almost $56 per hour, officials at GBCC say, citing the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"These are not jobs, these are careers," Great Bay information systems technology professor Kevin Behnke said in a statement. "The American economy is about knowledge, and cyber security is the forefront of the American economy."

The program at GBCC will train students to work in national security and the medical, financial, retail and manufacturing fields.

Jay Smith, the president of sales at Security7 Networks in Hampton, said the company already hired two employees who took courses at GBCC. His company serves hundreds of clients all over the world.

Smith said there are cyber security breaches all the time, and his company caters to businesses that can't hire a full-time specialist but still need network and security services. Smith said he is happy to partner with Behnke, who gives students the skill sets they need to get started in the business.

Erika Mantz, a spokesperson for the University of New Hampshire, said there are about 25 students on the Manchester campus working toward a bachelor's degree in homeland security. There is no similar degree program at UNH in Durham. Graduates from GBCC's associate degree program will be able to transfer their credits to UNH Manchester.

For more information, call 427-7610 or e-mail gbadmissions@ccsnh.edu.


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