AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new training program launching next month aims to train new workers to help fill a growing shortage in the cybersecurity industry.

The Texas Extended Campus (TEC) at the University of Texas at Austin will offer the Cyber Academy Defense Certificate Program starting in March to train people on the basics of cybersecurity.

The company Socratic Arts developed the curriculum in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense and will offer three classes, totaling 29 weeks of work. Ray Bareiss, Socratic Arts’ senior vice president, told KXAN students will be qualified for entry-level positions after the first two classes.

It’s an investment — $1,599 for the first three-week course, $3,999 for each of the next two that run 11 weeks and 15 weeks — but TEC says the starting salary for cybersecurity jobs in Austin is around $86,000. There are also payment plans available and the school hopes to offer scholarships in the future.

There’s an online information session about the program Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. You’re required to sign up at this link to attend.

“We’re always looking for programs that meet local employer needs, as well as needs in the state, and provide an accessible entry point for people to access that,” said Jamie Southerland, TEC’s interim director.

The classes are project-based, so students will get video prompts of common threats, like a cyber attack on a hospital in Chicago. Mentors are then available by video chat to help guide the user toward how to start finding and fixing the problem.

They’re the same kinds of problems employees will face in a cybersecurity job. Companies in the industry will need to fill 1.5 million jobs or more by just next year to keep up with the demands of an increasingly connected world. 

Southerland said the school will be talking to local companies as graduates enter the workforce to determine how to tailor the program more to their needs.

“We want to go end to end,” he said. “We want the content we develop to be what’s needed; we want people who graduate to get a job; we want employers to be happy with those people so they keep hiring more and more people.”

UT is the second school in the country to offer this training from Socratic Arts; Rutgers University in New Jersey has offered the certificate program for the last year or so, Bareiss said.

The program aims to expand the pool of people who are interested in cybersecurity jobs to more than those with technology or programming backgrounds. 

“Some estimates are that one in five jobs will be eliminated in the next five or ten years because of automation,” Southerland said. “This provides a way for people to get ahead of that curve while they still have a job.”