CBE Cybersecurity Program Coming to Tri-C: What is it and can it do for you?

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CBE Cybersecurity Program Coming to Tri-C: What is it and can it do for you?

With the pandemic’s current Great Resignation wave, many people are looking to change careers at a time when tech skills are at their highest demand and education is at its highest price. According to a 2021 Bankrate survey, 55 percent of Americans are looking for a new job, with many placing higher wages, job security, and flexible work arrangements as their main priorities. But changing careers is no easy feat, especially when you are also trying to improve your marketable skills. You’ll likely need education and training, both of which cost money and time. Yet bills are due tomorrow. You can’t just go back to college on little or no income. If you need to work, will you really have time to attend classes? And if you’re going to risk everything in a new career, you need to know the path you choose is sustainable.

Where do you go? What do you do? 

Cuyahoga Community College may have an answer for you with its Cybersecurity Post-Degree Professional Certificate.

All Online, Using a New CBE Model

By the fall of 2023, Tri-C’s goal is to implement a more accessible format of its existing Cybersecurity Post-Degree Professional Certificate. A relatively new educational model called Competency-Based Education (CBE) will allow students greater flexibility compared to the traditional higher education route. This course of study will be a game-changer for anyone who already possesses a degree but wants to jump-start into a new career.

Dee Dee Pfister

So, what exactly is CBE? “[CBE] is measuring mastery versus measuring time in a semester,” said Dee Dee Pfister, the Associate Vice President of Academic Professional Development, Online Learning and Articulation and Transfer at Tri-C. Compared to the traditional credit hour system, students may show their mastery through assessments like projects instead of putting in a set number of hours. 

Pfister explained that “each student takes his or her own journey with mastering concepts,” and CBE allows students to do so at their own pace. This program allows the student to choose their own pace by being 100 percent online, open format. 

Charles Dull

“Not everyone has time to sit in a classroom or be online at a certain time. Competency-Based Education allows them…to work at their own pace online,” said Charles Dull.

The Associate Dean of IT and member of the program’s development team. So long as you submit your work by the end of the semester, you can complete the class whenever you want. This creates some interesting possibilities depending on your availability and skill level. “You can keep enrolling [in classes] up through eleven weeks [of the semester],” Pfister said. “If you keep cruising through [classes], there is no limit on how quickly you can complete [the certificate].” This means that students with tech experience or quick learners could breeze through courses much faster than a traditional class would allow. Despite the optional accelerated pace, students still receive the same educational benefits as a traditional credit hour track. Tri-C has chosen to use a Credit Equivalency version of CBE, meaning students are still accruing 36 credit hours over twelve classes.

“In case somebody wants to take [those credit hours] to another institution, the courses are still transferable,” Pfister said.

Given the credit hour equivalency, pricing for the certificate is the same regardless of the chosen format. This allows students to plan easily, without confusion over costs. On top of having the benefit of credit hours like a traditional course, students still have access to help from professors, just in a different capacity. “Your professor will be a ‘guide on the side,’ who provides more content when you’re ready, at your pace,” according to Dull. Professor Keith Lyons, another member of the program’s development team, suggests that “students also have the potential for more personalized attention from faculty.” The unique self-paced option gives students a chance to examine their specific needs for better instruction, making collaboration with instructors more effective. That opportunity becomes even more important in the cybersecurity field.

Certifications in Cybersecurity

When pursuing a field like cybersecurity, there are multiple existing resume-boosting industry-standard certifications obtainable through outside companies like CompTIA. Having individualized attention from faculty will allow students to reach the mark quicker for these industry standards within their education plan. “We have built the curriculum around several of those certifications,” Dull said. Essentially, students will learn the skills needed to pass certification exams within the related courses of the program. In some cases, students can choose to take electives that cover the material not already included in the main required classes. Even before a student finishes the full program, if they feel they know the content, they can sit for certifications like Network+, Security+, Linux+, or Cisco CCNA. Doing so could lead to getting a job in their field even earlier than expected.

Sustainable Jobs

The available jobs students can get after completing those certifications or the program are high-paying and in an everexpanding field. “As security threats continue to grow, the growth in the cybersecurity job market will continue as well,” Professor Kathleen Tamerlano, also a member of the development team, explained. Security analysis positions are one example of that growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts Security Analysts, who attend to companies’ cyber security needs, can expect field growth of 33% through 2030. That’s much higher than average. And the median pay? About $103,000 per year. Given the strong market of high-paying jobs, a career change to cybersecurity appears to be a safer transition and investment than many other fields. In combination with Tri-C’s accessible format, this becomes a viable option for people hoping to change their lives for the better who may not otherwise have the chance. “I don’t think the program is for absolutely everyone,” Dull said. “But it’s an opportunity to open doors for people where a traditional format is not possible.”

Want to Know More?

If you’re interested in Tri-C’s upcoming, all-online Cybersecurity Post-Degree Certificate, you can visit the existing traditional program’s page for a better idea of what the certificate covers. Tri-C is still developing the online version and is preparing to submit the program’s application to the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits secondary learning institutions. Charles Dull is happy to speak with anyone interested in the program and can be reached via phone at 216-987-4677 or email at charles.dull@tri-c.edu

Kelly Miller is a student at Tri-C. She wrote this article for her News Writing class and can be reached at S01279423@acad.tri-c.edu.

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