(HUTTO, Texas) – Before enrolling at Texas State Technical College, Melissa Wykes studied criminal justice and became a licensed esthetician.
But she said she needed to make a career change for financial security.
The Round Rock resident chose to attend TSTC’s East Williamson County campus in Hutto to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity. She is scheduled to graduate this semester.
“Cybersecurity is a wide-ranging field,” Wykes said. “It has been really interesting getting exposure to different aspects of it.”
TSTC transitioned several programs to an online format last year so that students who are not close to a TSTC campus can have the opportunity to take classes in Computer Programming and Systems Administration, Cybersecurity and other TSTC programs.
“We (industry professionals) have been telecommuting and working this way for a decade,” said Joshua Schier, an instructor in TSTC’s Cybersecurity program. “We are the most unaffected by this pandemic. I would say this is the right career at the right time if you have the skill set and think you can do this.”
There are 14 students from Round Rock enrolled in the statewide Cybersecurity program this semester, along with two students in the statewide Computer Programming Technology program, according to TSTC enrollment information.
Wykes said during this time of COVID-19 that people interested in a career change should pursue cybersecurity.
“This is an amazing career field, and because it is so widely varied, there are these pockets and niches,” Wykes said. “The work is going to be so secure for the next several decades. Everything is going to the cloud. That is all cybersecurity and information technology.”
Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area in Cedar Park has designated several computer-related jobs in its nine-county area, excluding Travis County, as target occupations. Some of these include computer systems analysts, database developers and information security analysts.
There are more than 3,100 computer-related jobs in Round Rock, according to Workforce Solutions. More than 1,300 of these were in software development and software quality assurance analysis and testing. There were more than 500 for computer user support specialists and more than 300 for computer systems analysts.
Workforce Solutions predicts that in the next three years there will be a need for 400 more workers trained for computer occupations in the Round Rock area.
TSTC’s Computer Programming Technology program and Web Design and Development Technology program are taking part in the Austin Technology Council. The council focuses on supporting businesses and professional growth, providing networking and business mentoring opportunities, and giving public policy representation to the tech industry.
Shannon Ferguson, statewide lead instructor in TSTC’s Computer Programming Technology program, said his vision is to see students in the two programs promoted to companies throughout the Austin area.
Some of the Round Rock companies that have sought technology workers in the last month include Revature, which is seeking an entry-level computer programmer, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which is looking for a software developer, and VCL Technologies, which is seeking a software developer, according to Indeed.com.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.