Virginia is renowned for its cybersecurity talent, with the highest number of information security analysts of any state and one of the largest concentrations of companies on the Cyber 500 list. Virginia’s location is a distinct industry advantage, providing access to the federal government and a large pool of federal contractors.
Virginia has been at the forefront of growth as the cybersecurity industry has scaled up. Given its dominant position in federal contracting, Northern Virginia is a breeding ground for the cybersecurity industry, and Virginia is seeing growth throughout the state with the establishment of company security operations centers.
Thirty-five of the Washington Technology Top 100 federal contracting companies are headquartered in Virginia, including 7 of the top 10. Virginia is home to 32 companies ranked in the Cyber 500, the second-largest number of any state in the U.S.
Close proximity to the nation’s capital provides access to the Pentagon, the CIA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command, and many additional federal assets, making Virginia an advantageous location for cyber-companies.
Virginia is home to a robust technology infrastructure, with the largest data center market in the U.S. concentrated in Northern Virginia. As a result, the region boasts the highest density of dark fiber in the world. In addition to Northern Virginia, advanced levels of connectivity are seen throughout Virginia. Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation owns and operates 1,800 miles of open-access fiber optic network in 31 counties in Southern Virginia and operates long-haul fiber network for optical transport to key peering hubs on the East Coast. Virginia Beach now is the landing point for three new transoceanic fiber cable connection points – the first in the Mid-Atlantic.
Virginia’s political leadership has taken steps to advance the Commonwealth’s position by establishing state policy related to cybersecurity, and has worked hard to build an ecosystem that allows the industry to thrive. Virginia was the first state in the nation to adopt National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cyber Framework and the first state to declare itself an Information Sharing and Assessment Organization (ISAO).
Virginia is also playing a role in fostering entrepreneurship through the MACH37™ Accelerator - an intensive, 90-day program created to launch cyber start-ups - headquartered at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon, Virginia. MACH37 was initially launched and funded by the Commonwealth but is now funded by the private sector.
Photograph is used and reprinted with permission of The MITRE Corporation, Fairfax County
As the industry continues on its accelerated growth path, there is a global shortage of cybersecurity talent. Virginia is currently addressing the issue and taking steps to strengthen the pipeline of cybersecurity professionals entering the workforce.
Virginia has the 2nd-highest concentration of workers employed in the tech industry in the country.
In addition to having the most information security analysts in the nation, Virginia is also home to the 2nd-largest cybersecurity workforce in the country. According to CyberSeek.org, Virginia’s cyber talent pool of 65,000 is the highest on the East Coast.
|Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)||10,013|
|Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC)||4,970|
|Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)||2,396|
|Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)||1,625|
|Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP)||504|
Higher Education & Training
To meet the rising demand for a cybersecurity workforce, more than 20 of Virginia’s colleges and universities have established degree and certification programs in cybersecurity. Twelve colleges and universities have been designated as Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense or Information Assurance by the National Security Agency.
|Institution||Degree Title||Degree Level||Program Area|
|Danville Community College||Cert||Award of at least 1 but less than 2 academic years||Cybersecurity|
|Ferrum College||BS||Four-Year Bachelor's||Computer Networks and Cybersecurity|
|George Mason University||MS||Master's||Information Security and Assurance|
|George Washington University||BPS||Four-Year Bachelor's||Cybersecurity|
|Hampton University||MS||Master's Degree||Information Assurance|
|James Madison University||Cert||Post-Baccalaureate||Network/Information Security|
|Liberty University||Cert||Award of less than 1 academic year||Information Assurance|
|Lord Fairfax Community College||AAS||Associate's Degree (Occ/Tech Credit)||Cybersecurity|
|Marymount University||MS||Master's Degree||Cybersecurity|
|Marymount University||Cert||Post-Baccalaureate Certificate||Computer Security|
|Norfolk State University||MS||Master's Degree||Cybersecurity|
|Northern Virginia Community College||AAS||Associate's (Occ/Tech Credit)||Cybersecurity|
|Old Dominion University||BS||Four-Year Bachelor's||Cybercrime|
|Old Dominion University||BS||Four-Year Bachelor's||Cybersecurity|
|Old Dominion University||Cert||Post-Baccalaureate||Cybersecurity|
|Old Dominion University||Cert||Post-Baccalaureate||Cyber Systems Security|
|Old Dominion University||MS||Master's Degree||Cybersecurity|
|Radford University||Cert||Award of less than 1 academic year||Cybersecurity|
|Randolph-Macon College||BS||Four-Year Bachelor's||Cybersecurity|
|Regent University||BS||Four-Year Bachelor's||Cybersecurity|
|Southwest Virginia Community College||Cert||Career Studies||Cybersecurity|
|Thomas Nelson Community College||AAS||Associate's (Occ/Tech Credit)||Cybersecurity|
|Thomas Nelson Community College||Cert||Career Studies||Cybersecurity|
|Tidewater Community College||AAS||Associate's (Occ/Tech Credit)||Cybersecurity|
|Tidewater Community College||Cert||Career Studies||Cybersecurity|
|University of Lynchburg||Cert||Post-Baccalaureate Certificate||Cybersecurity|
|University of Richmond||BSPS||Four-Year Bachelor's||Information Security|
|University of Richmond||CAS||Award of less than 1 academic year||Information Security|
|University of Virginia||Cert||Post-Baccalaureate||Cybersecurity Management|
|Virginia Commonwealth University||MS||Master's||Computer and Information Systems Security|
|Virginia Tech||Cert||Post-Baccalaureate||Information Assurance Engineering|
|Wytheville Community College||Cert||Award of at least 1 but less than 2 academic years||Cybersecurity|
Institutions in bold have been designated as Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense or Information Assurance by the NSA/DHS.
The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CyberX), included in the Commonwealth’s FY19-20 budget, is ambitious initiative led by Virginia Tech to push higher education research and master’s degree programs for cybersecurity, data analysis and computer science, and unmanned vehicle systems in partnership with those growing high-tech industries. The CyberX plan would establish a research and educational institute in leased facilities in Tysons Corner in Fairfax County that would serve as the hub of a new program connecting the “spokes” of research colleges and universities across the state - the University of Virginia, Old Dominion, George Mason, James Madison, Norfolk State, and several community colleges.
The Hume Center at Virginia Tech focuses on the challenges of cybersecurity, autonomy, and resilience in the context of national and homeland security. Current research initiatives include cyber-physical system security, orchestrated missions, and the convergence of cyber warfare and electronic warfare.
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, home to the only undergraduate software engineering program in Virginia, has plans to expand its computer science and software engineering programs to include more faculty with cybersecurity expertise, and expand coursework in information security.
Piedmont Community College’s Analyst Boot Camp (ABC) is a rigorous 10-week program designed to provide students with the necessary tools to be successful analysts in the Intelligence Community (IC). During the ABC program, the process will be initiated for students to receive TOP SECRET security clearance.
The International Critical Infrastructure Security Institute (ICISI) in Bedford provides hands-on training and cybersecurity solutions performance testing in an operational power plant setting.
Virginia's first registered cybersecurity apprenticeship was established by building a partnership between Tidewater Community College and Yorktown-based Peregrine Technical Solutions, LLC.
Virginia’s large military presence provides an ongoing source of talent from exiting members entering the civilian workforce.
The Cyber Vets Virginia initiative is a unique cyber training collaboration between the Commonwealth and private-sector leaders, including CISCO, Amazon Web Services (AWS), ISC2, and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families’ Onward to Opportunity program (O2O). The initiative provides a free cyber-training pilot program for veterans living in Virginia and interested in working in the cyber industry.
The Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) launched the NVTC Veterans Employment Initiative (VEI) in August 2013 to accelerate veteran transitions to civilian life by providing better employment opportunities within Virginia’s technology community. VEI connects veterans with jobs, internships, mentorships, and education/certifications while also providing support to member companies in their efforts to recruit, hire, train, and retain qualified veteran employees.
In 2017, Northern Virginia Community College and Amazon Web Services announced a new, innovative apprenticeship program designed to train veterans in Northern Virginia. Throughout the course of their program, the all-veteran cohort of apprentices will earn a series of highly technical industry certifications that are in demand by the technology sector, including CompTIA Network+, Linux+, and the AWS Solutions Architect.
Virginia also encourages STEM and computer programming skills development at the K-12 level. Examples include:
- The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) incorporating computer science education into the Standards of Learning framework.
- Norfolk State University leading a collaborative effort among 13 colleges and universities, one public school district, two national laboratories, and a DoD facility to develop a K-20 pipeline for the cybersecurity workforce.
- CodeVA, a nonprofit partnering with schools, parents, and communities to bring equitable computer science education to all of Virginia's students.
- CodeRVA Regional High School, an innovative public high school preparing students for college and careers in computer science.
- The Virginia Cyber Range, a Commonwealth of Virginia initiative with a mission to enhance cybersecurity education for students in Virginia’s public high schools, colleges, and universities
- Fairfax County Public Schools being designated a CyberPatriot Center of Excellence for their commitment to promoting cyber-awareness and facilitating cyber-education for K-12 students.
Tim McKnight Thomson Reuters, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer
Establishing a presence in Richmond provides us excellent access to talent and cyber-related resources from the nearby academic, research, and military communities.
Consistently ranked as one of the top states for business, Virginia is a leading location for cybersecurity. Virginia offers a low cost of business, an acclaimed business environment, a highly educated workforce, and opportunities for sustainable operations. But more than that, the Commonwealth has a demonstrated capability – and desire – to partner with companies on innovation and growth.
Virginia offers a welcoming business climate for companies and is recognized as a top-ranked state for business, coming in at No. 1 by CNBC and No. 4 by Forbes.com in their annual best states for business rankings.
- The average commercial electric rate is the lowest in the U.S. at 7.52 cents per kilowatt hour.
- Unemployment insurance taxes are the 7th-lowest in the nation and 53% lower than the national average.
- Average workers' compensation costs are among the nation’s lowest.
- Building costs range from 6% to 21% below the national average, depending on the region.
- Competitive incentives and targeted local incentive programs are offered for major new employment centers.