BELLEVILLE – Southwestern Illinois College President Georgia Costello said the school is poised to help Scott Air Force Base with “any and all training needs” associated with the recently announced plan by the U.S. Air Force to invest $16 million in two new cyber squadrons.
The Air Force has projected creating 320 military and civilian jobs.
“The most important role we will continue to play is offering ‘stackable’ credentials, which allow our students, many of whom find gainful IT-field employment while still pursuing a degree or certificate, to build their resumes as they go,” Costello said. “Stackable credentials are also enticing for full-time IT professionals who may want to enhance their employment value and compensation.”
Although higher-level cybersecurity jobs require advanced postsecondary education, all the foundational work in information technology can be accomplished at SWIC at the lowest tuition. SWIC also anticipates forming IT and cybersecurity transfer partnerships with other local colleges and universities.
SWIC currently offers a Network Associate certificate requiring 16 credit hours of Cisco network training, which prepares students to take the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification exam. The college also offers stackable course work beyond the certificate to help those completers meet Cybersecurity Specialist requirements. These courses prepare students to take additional certification exams such as: CCNA Security, Microsoft Technology Associate Windows Server Administration Fundamentals, Security+ and Windows Server Network Infrastructure Configuration.
“The stackable-track benefit is completing Network Associate certificate training, gaining employment with that certificate, earning additional certifications and then coming back for more courses as professionally required or personally desired,” Costello added.
Costello also sees a financial-incentive connection to its military students, as SWIC serves the largest veteran and active-military population among public colleges and universities in Illinois.
“Cybersecurity work often requires the highest military clearance, and many military personnel already have such clearance,” Costello explained.