IU students leaving early for big money in cyber security

Published: .
Updated: .

Security Informatics at Indiana University has a unique problem - they can't keep students in the program because so many of them find high-paying jobs and leave early.

It's a sign of the growing need to protect against cyber attacks.

It's almost like hitting it big in the NBA draft. Hoosiers leaving college early to make major money.

But the latest students to score have skills in high demand off the court.

Cyber security is now one of the hottest fields to go into at IU.

"I know a fellow student who spoke with a company and they liked him so much, they offered him a job before finishing his degree," explained MSSI grad student Kristen Leclere.

A quarter of students in IU's Master of Science in Security Informatics program leave before finishing because they already have jobs.

"I think it's just a really unique skill set that's hard to find in the country. There's not a lot of programs that do what we do," said IU Informatics senior Shawn Dewitt.

What they do, is learn to stay one step ahead of hackers - protecting companies and our country from attacks. President Obama has declared America's economic prosperity will depend on cyber security. A recent report accuses China of supporting widespread cyber attacks on U.S. companies.

On Friday, we learned as people search for that report, they are being hacked, too, getting tainted versions of the report that allow hackers to gain remote control of computers. Business brands like Burger King and Jeep have had accounts compromised recently, as well.

With all those attacks on computers, there's a great need to protect them. That means the students' skills at Indiana University are wanted badly.

"There's a very strong demand for students who have security background, basically full employment for our students," explained IU Associate Professor of Informatics, Steve Myers. "Companies need employees who understand these concepts and can guard against the attacks."

Kristen Leclere plans to finish her degree. But she already has a job waiting for her in May.

"I had two interviews, one for an internship and one for a job and both times I was offered the position," Leclere said.

Undergrad Shawn Dewitt is finding success, too.

"I'm currently interviewing with four different companies," he said.

Cyber security pays well, even for bachelors degrees.

"I believe the average salary is $54,000 starting. It's the second-highest salary that they have at IU," Dewitt said.

Salaries start much higher - around $70,000 for grad students. And while it may not be basketball money, experts say students have job security protecting the cyber-world.

Security Informatics at Indiana University