Hackers Wanted: Bergen Offers Cybersecurity Programs
New Jersey State Assemblyman and Deputy Majority Leader P. Christopher Tully (D-38), Assemblywoman Ellen Park (D-37), Assemblywoman Linda Carter (D-22) and Bergen Dean of Math, Science and Technology Emily Vandalovsky, Ph.D., recently toured the College’s cybersecurity classrooms.
PARAMUS, N.J. – The U.S. Department of Commerce has estimated the global shortage of cybersecurity professionals at more than three million, with information technology threats to individuals, organizations and businesses only escalating in their sophistication and frequency. As a leader in creating programs that respond to the needs of industry, Bergen Community College recently launched a pair of cybersecurity programs that seek to prepare students for careers in the high-paying, in-demand field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cybersecurity professionals earn an average median salary of $103,590, while the profession will see a 33 percent growth in demand by 2030 - a rate classified as “much faster than average.”
“Cybersecurity provides a clear pipeline for information security graduates to high-paying, sustainable jobs,” Bergen President Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D., said. “These programs reflect the College’s intentional commitment to workforce development and ensuring that students succeed regardless of how they choose to enter the growing cybersecurity field.”
Bergen’s cybersecurity offerings target two types of students: 1) those who seek to earn an A.A.S. in Cybersecurity that will propel them into a four-year college and 2) those who want intensive training that will enable them to earn recognized credentials/badges that allow them to enter the workforce immediately. The 60-credit A.A.S. in information technology with a cybersecurity specialization caters to transfer-minded students, while earning credentials through the continuing education program would appeal to the other cohort of potential entrants. Both provide students with the foundational knowledge and skill-development needed to become successful in the field of cybersecurity, according to Friedman.
The president, who recently entered his second year at the state’s No. 1 college for associate degree graduates, has prioritized economic development initiatives during his first 15 months. Central to this work, Friedman convened a special task force - the Bergen Community College Economic Recovery Committee - charged with creating and implementing strategies that position the institution as a catalyst for recovery from the pandemic. The committee serves in an advisory capacity to the president, providing recommendations on programs and services and developing initiatives centered around removing barriers to employment.
“It’s simple: Bergen means business,” he said. “As a community college, we have a responsibility to serve the needs of our community and respond to gaps in education and employment. The expansion of our cybersecurity programs represents one of the many initiatives we have deployed to fill these gaps.”
In recognition of the College’s cybersecurity program launch, New Jersey State Assemblyman and Deputy Majority Leader P. Christopher Tully (D-38), Assemblywoman Ellen Park (D-37) and Assemblywoman Linda Carter (D-22) recently visited Bergen’s main campus to meet with students, faculty and staff. All serve on the assembly’s science, innovation and technology committee, with Tully leading the group as chair and Carter serving as vice chair.
“Bergen Community College, in partnership with the R&D Council of New Jersey, has already earned a remarkable reputation for STEM education,” Tully said. “Bergen’s state-of-the art facility attracts students from all backgrounds and bolsters New Jersey’s tech economy. The launch of a new cybersecurity program is a critical next step in ensuring that New Jersey stays at the forefront of innovation - on the municipal level, in private businesses, and even for citizen’s individual online safety.”
“As a cybersecurity claims professional, I’ve seen the growing frequency of malware attacks targeting private industry and local governments,” Park said. “There is a need for the next generation of cybersecurity experts that can carry us into the 22nd century. Bergen Community College, one of the top educational institutions in the country, is making sure that we meet that demand by offering access to state of the art educational facilities and programs right here in New Jersey. The high standard learning environment in Bergen County prepares students for four-year institutions, such as Princeton, and develops direct pathways to the cybersecurity industry - a vital profession for our communities and our country.”
“In recent years, we have learned the importance of strengthening our data security against the growing threat of cyber-attacks,” Carter said. “This has created high demand for cybersecurity professionals to meet the needs of the quickly growing industry. Programs like those offered at Bergen Community College provide students with a direct path to success by giving them the tools they need to enter the cybersecurity field. I commend Bergen Community College for making these programs available to New Jersey’s students.”
In partnership with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), the New Jersey Council of County Colleges recently announced the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities program that seeks to align educational offerings with workforce. The initiative focuses on four key state industry clusters - health services; technology and innovation; infrastructure and energy; and manufacturing/supply chain management - with the state’s community colleges taking leadership roles in developing responsive programs through 10 “centers of workforce innovation.” Bergen provides leadership for the four of the centers - including cybersecurity. The College also helps direct efforts for renewable energy, research and development and patient care.
The College has also collaborated with the Bergen County Technical Schools District Applied Technology High School to offer a cybersecurity track at the high school’s facility at the College’s campus. The dual enrollment program combines high school classes, college classes and hands-on learning that allows students to earn advanced standing into several STEM programs at Bergen.
More than 2,000 students enroll in Bergen’s STEM offerings, including cybersecurity. Among its resources, Bergen features the nation’s only STEM Student Research Center of its kind at a community college. The facility features large “showcase” windows that enable observation from outside the center, a drones/robotics wing, a MakerSpace and mini-course classroom. Past student-led projects have included converting a softball field house into a workshop, high-altitude balloon launches, retrofitting a gas combustion truck and motorcycle into electric vehicles and conducting experimental testing with wind turbines and solar panels.
Students interested in receiving more information on the cybersecurity programs can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.