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Career Watch: Master's of infosec students don't wait for degree to get jobs

By Jamie Eckle
March 11, 2013 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld -

IT Education: IU Must Be Doing Something Right

IT-related academic programs tend to be judged on how well getting a degree correlates with getting a job. On that basis, Indiana University's Master of Science in Security Informatics program is beyond successful. Many of its students get job offers they can't refuse -- some without ever finishing the program.

According to professor L. Jean Camp, director of the five-year-old program, about a quarter of her students have left the program early because of jobs in their field, and nearly all of the remaining students have jobs lined up after graduation. She said students leaving the program for a first job are averaging annual salaries of $68,000.

The IU program has a jobs focus, with internships replacing a thesis requirement.

Camp says that security has an inherent human component "because it is about who to trust and how to manage risk." For that reason, the program is seeking students with backgrounds in disciplines such as psychology, business and political science, as well as computer science and math.


Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader:
Marty Paslick

The CIO at HCA answers questions about finding a good tech job while living in a rural area and more.

I have never really strayed from my hometown, which is in a rural area. For the past 15 years, I have managed to string together a career doing a bit of everything related to IT for several small businesses, but I've been out of work for four months now. I really don't want to live in a city. Any advice? Depending on your specific skills, teleworking could be an option. It continues to expand in popularity. Teleworking isn't for everyone, though, and most companies, including mine, require candidates to demonstrate a great work ethic and ability in the traditional work environment before they will allow them to work remotely. And of course, remote arrangements can be reversed at any time. Perhaps there are companies close to you that will extend a flexible remote working arrangement to you.

What is the outlook for a 29-year-old graduating with a degree in software engineering? Right now I am working on a help desk. There are still plenty of opportunities for software engineers who possess differentiating engineering skills, but great success seems to be more and more reserved for those who intimately grasp the business concepts for which they are engineering, can effectively establish relationships through top-notch interpersonal skills, and can apply great imagination and creativity. Commodity-based engineering increasingly is being outsourced. In other words, success is to be had for the top 25% of engineers, and an ever lengthening search may be in store for those not in that class.

I will be completing a degree in computer science soon. I am choosing among a few technical courses to satisfy the requirements but wonder whether I should substitute one or two business classes instead. I actually began my academic career in the business school, and after graduation I returned to school for a second undergraduate degree within the engineering school. The combination of the degrees jump-started my career, and I believe adding a couple of business classes could do the same for you. I would investigate the possibility of classes that may focus on business analysis. Mastering the frameworks used to understand business applications and processes can be hugely beneficial. In addition to business analysis, I would also suggest looking into classes that focus on disciplines like Lean or Six Sigma.

If you have a question for one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com, and watch for this column each month.


By the Numbers

Developers in Demand

According to a September 2012 TEKsystems survey of more than 600 IT leaders, software developer is the IT position that is hardest to fill, because of both a shortage of suitable talent and a rise in demand.

Here are the three positions that respondents put at the top of the hardest-to-fill list, with their 2012 median base salaries:

  • Software developer: $90,000
  • Software engineer: $101,000
  • Project manager: $100,000

And in another of the survey's findings...

55%

...of the respondents said that they expect their staffs' salaries to rise in 2013.


Read more about Management in Computerworld's Management Topic Center.



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