Federal Cyber Defense Skilling Academy FAQs

Please read through all the information provided below in the FAQs before applying to the Skilling Academy. To request additional information not found on the website, please email SkillingAcademy@cisa.dhs.gov.

Application Questions
  • Will there be additional sessions starting in this fiscal year?Please continue to check the Skilling Academy website for any future session updates or changes.
  • What type of resume should be submitted?

    Please submit a federal resume. You’re welcome to use the sample resume provided in the How to Apply section as a template. Please do not exceed five (5) pages. See USAJOBS Help Center for more information on resumes. 
  • When will I hear about my application status?

    Please refer to the event page of the Academy you are applying to for notification dates. The Skilling Academy Committee may contact some applicants with additional questions in advance of the notifications. 
  • How soon after I send an email to the Skilling Academy will I get a response?

    The Skilling Academy will generally respond to all emails within three business days. 
  • Will my supervisor’s permission be required to join the SkillingAcademy?

    Yes, students require the appropriate supervisor’s approval to apply and attend the Skilling Academy. Both the student and the supervisor must sign the Supervisor and Applicant Agreement and Approval Form. Please ensure the appropriate supervisor signs the form. 
  • Can I apply if I am an active-duty service member?

    No, the Skilling Academy is only open to full-time, civilian federal employees who meet the criteria listed in the “Who Can Apply?” section. 
  • Do I need to submit an SF-182 to apply to the Skilling Academy?

    No, an SF-182 is not required to apply to the Skilling Academy; however, your agency may require an SF-182 to be completed by students who have been accepted into the Skilling Academy.  Depending on agency requirements, accepted students will be required to complete an SF-182 in order to receive approval from their organization to attend. Please check with your supervisor to see if this is required to be completed prior to attending the Skilling Academy. 
  • When will I be able to apply for future Academies?

    Continue to check the Skilling Academy website for the most up-to-date information and session dates. 
  • Can I attend any session after submitting my application?

    No, students are only eligible to attend the specific session that they applied for. Applicants must submit an application to each session that they wish to apply to.  
  • How many sessions can I apply for?

    Students can apply for as many pathway sessions as they wish; however, a student must submit a complete application for each session they wish to participate in.

    Please keep in mind that all Skilling Academy sessions have their own application cycles. Applicants wishing to apply to more than one pathway or session will be required to submit individual applications. Please ensure you are filling out the correct application forms for the pathway you wish to apply to.
  • How many sessions can I attend?

    Students can only attend one session at a time. If you are accepted as a student into a session, you can only attend the specific session that you were accepted into.

    Students are allowed to attend more than one Skilling Academy pathway within a fiscal year. However, students may not participate in more than one pathway or session at a time.

    If, while you are in the session you accrue eight (8) unexcused absences or do not finish 20% of the labs in the Skilling Academy, you will be marked as incomplete and will not graduate from the session. You may, however, apply to future sessions.
  • Who is eligible to apply for the Skilling Academy?

    The criteria and eligibility for participation in the Skilling Academy may vary by course.  For more details, refer to the “Who Can Apply” section specific to the pathway you are interested in.
Resources and Materials Needed for the Skilling Academy

Do I need a laptop or desktop?

Yes, a laptop or desktop with an up-to-date browser and Windows 10 or newer is required for participation in the Skilling Academy.  

Do I need to download any applications?

If you have an up-to-date web browser, you are not required to download any additional applications for the Skilling Academy. All the resources you need for the Skilling Academy can be accessed through an up-to-date web browser. We recommend Google Chrome as your web browser. While it is not required, we also recommend downloading the Microsoft Teams application for a better experience. The virtual instruction will take place on Microsoft Teams, and the labs will occur in Skillable. Students can use their personal or government furnished equipment (GFE) computer if it has the minimum configuration requirements. 

  • What are the configuration requirements to participate in the SkillingAcademy?

    Students will need access to the following to participate in the Skilling Academy:
    • Minimum configuration requirements:
      • Personal or government furnished equipment (GFE) laptop or desktop computer with an up-to-date operating system  
      • Speakers or headset  
      • Camera  
      • Microphone  
      • Internet bandwidth: 10 Mbps  
      • CPU: 1.1 GHz, Dual Core  
      • RAM: 4.0 GB  
      • Browser: Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Safari 
      • Apps: MS Teams  
      • Email: Access to federal government email account 
    • Recommended Configuration Requirements:
      • Internet bandwidth: 50+ Mbps 
      •  CPU:  2.0 GHz, Quad Core or better 
      • RAM: 8.0+ GB 
      • Secondary monitor 
    • Note: If you do not have a GFE laptop, you may be able to use Workplace as a Service (WPaaS) to access your federal government email account and MS Teams account. Contact your agency’s IT Service Desk for more information on how to access your federal government email without GFE.
  • Is a VPN required? Can I use a VPN?

    Connecting through a VPN will not be an issue if the ISP/VPN provider offers sufficient bandwidth. If a connection issue occurs during the class or while doing the labs, try disconnecting from the VPN and reloading the content. 
  • Are there any recommended books or reading materials that we are encouraged to read outside of the session?

    Students will be given access to a comprehensive online library (Cengage) used in the curriculum which will also contain supplemental learning material.
During the Skilling Academy
  • How much of my time will the Skilling Academy take up?
    • The Skilling Academy is an intense, full-time, three-month program. 
    • Refer to the session event page in the Upcoming Sessions section below for specific dates for each session. 
    • Students will be required to attend Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM ET, excluding federal holidays. 
    • Students will not be able to maintain their Alternative Work Schedule during the session. 
    • Participants perform self-study between online classes, working through on-demand material, completing labs and study assessments. 
    • Please speak with your supervisor before applying to ensure that you can fulfill the Skilling Academy’s attendance requirements.
  • Can I work my regular duty assignment during any extended scheduled breaks during the session?

    During any extended scheduled course breaks, students will return to their regular duty assignment unless the home agency has approved leave.
  • Can I work on my regular duty assignment tasks during the short breaks during the day?

    No. The Skilling Academy is the student’s focus for the 40-hour, full-time work week during the three-month session. Therefore, students should only focus on the Skilling Academy while enrolled. Participants perform self-study between online classes, working through on-demand material, completing labs and study assessments. Please speak with your supervisor before applying to ensure that you can fulfill the Skilling Academy’s attendance requirements. 
  • Where will the Skilling Academy take place?

    The Skilling Academy is 100% online. The courses are live and instructor-led via Microsoft Teams.
  • Is there a cost for the Skilling Academy?

    The Skilling Academy is offered at no cost to students. Individuals are responsible for obtaining the appropriate supervisor’s approval for participation and must comply with their agency’s specific policies related to training. 
  • How will the Skilling Academy instructors teach the content?

    The instructors will use real-time demonstrations, examples, and assignments to reinforce learning through both an instructor-led guided lab environment and an unguided lab environment, where students can practice and hone their newly acquired cybersecurity knowledge. 
  • Are there any certifications associated with the Skilling Academy pathways?

    During the course, time will be allocated to provide training aligned with an accredited certification exam for the selected work role, offering participants a voucher to test for the related certification. . However, please note that certification training is not the primary focus of the Skilling Academy.  Please see the specific course descriptions for additional information on official certification eligibility for your chosen Skilling Academy pathway.
  • What will the Skilling Academy and associated certifications prepare me for?

    The Skilling Academy helps civilian federal employees develop their cybersecurity skills through training in the baseline knowledge, skills, and abilities of diverse cyber work roles as defined in the NICE Framework. These offerings cover several cyber critical domains, specialty areas, and work roles to help ensure a robust education in cybersecurity. Any certification training received will assist in validating the skills you learn during the session.
  • How much study time is required outside of class?

    Students are not required to study outside of class; however, we strongly encourage you to study as much as necessary to master the material. The class is fast-paced and additional studying will help in completing assignments by their due dates. 
  • Will we have breaks during class? If yes, how often?

    There will be a 10-minute break approximately every hour of class and an hour break for lunch. Up to two, week-long breaks may be scheduled during a course. If accepted into a pathway, please refer to the official course schedule for more information.
  • Does the Skilling Academy guarantee a cybersecurity position or affect my pay grade upon completion of the session?

    No, completing the training will not guarantee employment placement, nor will it automatically affect pay grades. While CISA cannot guarantee that individuals who complete the Skilling Academy will receive job offers or increased pay grades at the end of the training, you will have foundational technical skills in the chosen work role. Students may also receive training and a test voucher to acquire globally-recognized certifications for their chosen pathway during the three-month session. Please see the specific course descriptions for additional information on official certification eligibility for your chosen Skilling Academy pathway.
  • If I am a CISA employee, does graduating from the Skilling Academy automatically qualify me to participate in the Cyber Pay Enhancements Program?

    No, graduating from the Skilling Academy does not automatically qualify CISA employees to participate in the CISA Cyber Pay Enhancements Program. CISA employees should discuss with their supervisor for additional information.
  • Must I share my screen or activate my webcam during class or assignments?

    The Skilling Academy requires students to be on camera and participate in class during class hours to ensure a more collaborative feel. Only select job series with specific security and safety precautions may be exempted from this requirement. Please speak with the Skilling Academy in advance to seek an exemption. 
Compensation and Leave
  • Are we allowed to take leave during the session?

    The Skilling Academy Committee recommends students do not miss more than five consecutive days, and no more than a total of eight days throughout the class term. Consistent attendance is vital to successfully completing the session. 

  • What if I need to miss a class or lab activity?

    Participants will need to make up any missed class time by accessing class recordings and self-study materials as soon as possible, but prior to the scheduled session end date. Class recordings are available for two weeks after each course. 
  • Are there any penalties for missing more than eight days?

    If a student misses more than eight (8) days or 20% of the labs in the Skilling Academy, the student will be marked as incomplete, with the option of applying to a future session. If you have scheduled, or plan to schedule, leave outside of the breaks listed, please apply to a future session.
  • What if I have an emergency?

    Participants are allowed to take sick leave or emergency personal leave only. Missing class without notifying the Skilling Academy before taking sick leave or emergency personal leave is considered taking unplanned leave. Participants will need to make up any missed class time by accessing class recordings and self-study materials as soon as possible prior to the end of the Skilling Academy. Class recordings are available for two weeks after each session.
  • What if I can no longer attend after starting the session?

    Each session has a limited capacity. Therefore, those who apply are committed to attend, participate, and complete the entire rigorous three-month session. If a student decides to withdraw from the session after the start date, a formal withdrawal form signed by the student’s supervisor will be required.
  • Will I be paid for my time required to complete the session, and will this cover any overtime?

    The Skilling Academy is considered training, so students will be paid by their home agency and there is no additional compensation available through the Skilling Academy. Overtime is not authorized. Applicants are responsible for working with their supervisor to confirm compliance with their home agency’s policies, to include any necessary timekeeping to ensure salary payments from their home agency are not interrupted.
  • If I am not selected for the Skilling Academy, what can I do to improve my cybersecurity knowledge and skills?

    There are a variety of free resources available online to help build cybersecurity knowledge.
    • The Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE) offers free training to government personnel, veterans, and civilians. 
    • Employees also can check out the CISA Cybersecurity Workforce Training Guide that can help you develop a training plan based on your current skill level and desired career path. 



      If you were not selected for the Skilling Academy, you may also apply for a future session. Information about future sessions will be available on the Skilling Academy website. 
  • If I am nearing retirement, may I enroll?

    While applicants may apply for the Skilling Academy, participants should discuss with their supervisor whether their home agency requires a Continuing Service Agreement (CSA) upon completion of the training.
  • Does the Skilling Academy require a Continuing Service Agreement (CSA)?

    Applicants are responsible for working with their supervisor to confirm compliance with their home agency’s policies, to include any Continuing Service Agreements.
Supervisors
  • Is a supervisor’s permission required to apply to the Skilling Academy

    Yes, students require the appropriate supervisor’s approval to apply and attend the Skilling Academy. Both the student and the supervisor must sign the Supervisor and Applicant Agreement and Approval Form. Please ensure the appropriate supervisor signs the form.



    For TSA applicants who work for individual airports, you will need approval from the supervisor who approves your schedule changes. In most cases, this will be your Federal Security Director (FSD) or Assistant Federal Security Director (AFSD). Please have this individual sign the Supervisor and Applicant Agreement and Approval Form. It is your responsibility to notify any additional supervisors that you report to when applying to a session so that you can set supervisor expectations during the Skilling Academy.
  • Who qualifies as a supervisor?

    A supervisor is defined as any person who can approve leave for the applicant. For TSA applicants who work for individual airports, you will need approval from the supervisor who approves your schedule changes. In most cases, this will be your Federal Security Director (FSD) or Assistant Federal Security Director (AFSD). Please have this individual sign the Supervisor and Applicant Agreement and Approval Form. It is your responsibility to notify any additional supervisors that you report to when applying to a session so that you can set supervisor expectations during the Skilling Academy.
  • Can supervisors ask students to conduct tasks related to their regular duty assignment?

    No, the Skilling Academy is the student’s focus for their entire 40-hour work week. Supervisors will refrain from contacting the student for work-related tasking, including, but not limited to, meetings, calls, and work deliverables.
  • Do supervisors still approve leave for those participating in the Skilling Academy?

    Supervisors are still in charge of approving the leave requests for their direct and indirect reports who are part of the Skilling Academy, as applicable.
  • Who may I contact for more information?

    For questions, email SkillingAcademy@cisa.dhs.gov.