Starting Sept. 14, anyone considering a career in cybersecurity will be one week away from certification that will prepare them for an entry-level position in the field.
The Cyber Bytes Foundation, a Stafford County-based nonprofit dedicated to building and sustaining a local cyber workforce, will offer its first training courses starting later this month through its Cyber Bytes Academy.
“This is fulfilling the educational part of our mission, which is focused on education, innovation and outreach, all revolving around cybersecurity,” said Jonathan Payton, business operations specialist for the Cyber Bytes Foundation, which is approaching its one-year anniversary.
The Cyber Bytes Academy will début two initial courses this month. One, held Sept. 14 to 18, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, is a course that will prepare students for the CompTIA Security+ exam.
The second, held over two consecutive weekends starting this Saturday, Sept. 12, will prepare students to become certified information systems security professionals.
Both courses, which cost just under $1,000, are approved and certified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Payton said certification was a rigorous six-month process that was “an important step” for the organization to take.
The classes, which are being offered both virtually or in person at the foundation’s physical location near Marine Corps Base Quantico, have no prerequisites or age limits, Payton said.
“We’re really pushing for people who have had their jobs disrupted by coronavirus, people looking for a career change, military professionals transitioning out of service and students that are looking for an alternative to college,” he said.
The foundation’s plan for its physical home in Stafford, known as the Quantico Cyber Hub, is to combine the existing classrooms and Pearson VUE testing center with “research and innovation labs” that are being built, Payton said.
“These will revolve around artificial intelligence, machine learning, modeling and simulation, augmented reality, virtual reality, war-gaming and all these types of emerging technologies,” he said.
The foundation plans to bring in individuals, academics, companies and government organizations to conduct collaborative work and research in the labs. The eventual goal is for the space to be a “one-stop shop” where students can get certified and also get job experience by working with professionals in the research labs.
“Students can get certified and then get exposure to these companies that are in the field where they want to end up,” Payton said.
Payton said the foundation will use experience gained from teaching the initial two courses to plan more course opportunities over the next few months.
“So over the span of four to six months, we can get you four or five certifications, and get you turned around and ready for a career in cybersecurity, where you have the potential for a $60, $70, or $80,000 base salary starting off,” he said. “And it’s only upwards from there.”
Registration is open now for the first two courses. There is a limit of 12 students for the in-person Security+ course.
Visit cyberbytesfoundation.org/cyber-bytes-academy to register.