Federal Cyber Defense Skilling Academy


Header for the Federal Cyber Defense Skilling Academy

The application period for the October 2022 Skilling Academy is now open and the deadline to apply has been extended!

The application deadline for the upcoming October 2022 Skilling Academy has been extended through Wednesday, October 5, 2022. Applications will now be accepted until 12 p.m. ET on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. 

Are you looking to join the cybersecurity community, take a different direction in your career, or add cybersecurity to your resume? Then you should apply for the Federal Cyber Defense Skilling Academy!

Students will have the opportunity to temporarily step away from their current roles to focus on professional growth through an intense, full-time, three-month accelerated training program. Those looking to make a career change or learn cybersecurity skills are encouraged to apply for the Skilling Academy.

What Students Learn

This Skilling Academy helps civilian DHS federal employees develop their cyber defense skills through training in the baseline knowledge, skills and abilities of a Cyber Defense Analyst (CDA).

Having the necessary background and certifications to be a CDA will help to better prepare students for future career moves. The course is mapped to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework and provides valuable opportunities to practice new CDA skills in a lab environment. As an added incentive, students will receive CompTIA Security+ training during the last two weeks of the Skilling Academy and a voucher to take the certification exam.

This is a list of topics which will be reviewed during the three-month Skilling Academy.

Note: Topics are listed in alphabetical order and not the order in which they will be presented.

  • Basic Network & Protocol Analysis

  • CompTIA Security+

  • Concepts of Intelligence-Based Computer Network Defense

  • Correlating Attacks, Advanced Data Analysis

  • Fundamentals of Linux

  • Identifying Common Hacker Techniques, Methods, Vectors

  • Incident Detection Response & Handling

  • Introduction to Python

  • Python for Security Analysis

  • Windows Familiarization

Apply Today f





 

 

 

 

Apply Today for the Federal Cyber Defense Skilling Academy

Who Can Apply?

Full-time, civilian DHS federal employees in any job series, grades GS-5 - GS-11, are eligible to apply to the Skilling Academy. Exceptions may be made for GS-12 - GS-15 employees if there are available spots in the course. This cohort has a limited capacity, therefore, those who apply are committing to attend, participate and complete the entire rigorous three-month program.

When:

The Skilling Academy runs from October 31, 2022, through February 10, 2023. All students will be required to join virtually Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time (ET), excluding federal holidays. Students will not be able to maintain their Alternative Work Schedule during the cohort. Students will return to their regular duty assignment during breaks unless the home agency has approved leave.

Course Dates:

  • Cohort Begins:           October 31, 2022
  • Break 1:                      November 21 – 25
  • Break 2:                      December 26 – 30
  • Cohort Concludes:     February 10, 2023

Participation Expectations:

Consistent attendance is vital to successfully completing the course. 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. This is to ensure students do not fall behind fellow candidates. If you have scheduled, or plan to schedule, leave outside of the breaks listed, please apply to a future cohort.

Students are allowed to take sick leave or emergency personal leave only. Students will need to make up any missed class time by accessing class recordings and self-study materials as soon as possible. Class recordings are available for two weeks after each session.

If a student misses eight or more classes or 20% of the labs in the Skilling Academy, the student will be marked as incomplete with the option of applying to future cohorts. Due to the accelerated nature of the program, supervisor approvals will be needed to withdraw from the program after the cohort begins.

How to Apply:

Step 1 of 2: Submit application package via email.

Interested applicants must submit the following three documents to the Skilling Academy from your federal government email address to SkillingAcademy@cisa.dhs.gov with the subject line: Federal Cyber Defense Skilling Academy – [insert applicant’s name]. The Skilling Academy will not accept applications sent from non-federal government email addresses. The Skilling Academy will only accept complete application packages sent directly by the applicant to SkillingAcademy@cisa.dhs.gov. If the email is missing any of the three required items or the documents are incomplete, the application package will not be considered. If incomplete application packages are received, they will be rejected and applicants can apply again with a completed application package if the application period is still open.

Step 2 of 2: Complete online career assessment.

After the Skilling Academy Committee receives the complete application package, an email will be sent to applicants providing them with login credentials and instructing them to complete an online 45-minute career assessment within 48 hours of receiving the email.  The career assessment does not test applicants’ current knowledge of cybersecurity. Applications will not be considered without the completed career assessment.

Application Deadline:

The Skilling Academy will only accept complete application packages received by 12 p.m. ET on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. Application packages consist of the applicant’s federal resume, Statement of Interest (.pdf, 787KB) and Federal Cyber Defense Skilling Academy Supervisor and Applicant Agreement and Approval Form (.pdf, 211KB). Application packages received after the application period closes will not be considered for the October 2022 Skilling Academy.

Acceptance Notification:

Applicants will receive an email of acceptance or denial no later than 5 p.m. ET Friday, October 14, 2022.

Applicants accepted into the Skilling Academy are required to attend the mandatory virtual orientation on Monday, October 24, 2022, from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET. The accepted applicant’s supervisor will also be invited to attend the orientation. It is highly recommended that supervisors attend the first half of orientation.

During the Skilling Academy

Example Skilling Academy Schedule:

Below is an example of the day-to-day activities that will occur during the Skilling Academy.

Time

                                  Event

8:00 AM – 8:10 AM

Review daily agenda, answer any questions

8:10 AM – 10:00 AM

Lectures

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Lab time

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Lunch break

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Lectures

2:30 PM – 4:50 PM

Lab time or self-study

4:50 PM – 5:00 PM

Wrap up for the day

     *10-minute breaks will be given approximately every hour.

Expectations During the Skilling Academy:

While in the Skilling Academy, students are required to abide by the following, as agreed to in the Supervisor and Applicant Agreement and Approval Form (.pdf, 211KB). There are very limited exceptions to these requirements.  

  1. The Skilling Academy is the student’s focus for the 40-hour, full-time work week. 
  2. Students will refrain from conducting activities associated with their regular duty assignment, including, but not limited to, meetings, calls and work deliverables.
  3. Depending on agency requirements, accepted students will be required to complete an SF-182 within the first two weeks of the cohort. Applicants should discuss the requirements of this program with their supervisor to ensure course requirements can be fulfilled. 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.
  4. During the Skilling Academy’s instruction periods, the student is required to be on camera and in business casual attire for every class.
  5. By applying for this course, the student confirms that they do not have scheduled annual leave during the course dates outside of the two previously identified one-week breaks.
  6. To ensure the student does not fall behind, missed instruction days and lab work must be made up by accessing class recordings and self-study materials. Class recordings are available for two weeks after each session.
  7. If the student fails to complete the required work assigned in the allotted class time, the student agrees to complete the required work as soon as possible.
  8. If a student misses eight or more classes or 20% of the labs in the Skilling Academy, the student will be marked as incomplete and will not graduate from the program. The student may, however, apply to future cohorts.
  9. Due to the accelerated nature of the program, students will need their supervisor’s approval to withdraw from the program after the cohort begins.
  10. Students must have access to the following to participate in the Skilling Academy:

Minimum configuration requirements:

  • Personal or GFE laptop or desktop computer with Windows 10 or newer 
  • Speakers or headset 
  • Camera 
  • Microphone 
  • Internet bandwidth: 10 Mbps 
  • CPU: 1.1 GHz, Dual Core 
  • RAM: 4.0 GB 
  • Browser: IE, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Safari
  • Apps: MS Teams, Skillable
  • Email: Routine 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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Application:

  1. What type of resume should be submitted?

An applicant’s federal resume should be submitted. There are no minimum or maximum length requirements. See USAJOBS Help Center for more information on federal resumes.

  1. When will I hear about my application status?

The Skilling Academy will notify all applicants of the status of their application by 5:00 p.m. ET Friday, October 14, 2022. The Skilling Academy Committee may contact some applicants with additional questions in advance of the notifications.

  1. Can I receive my career assessment score results?

Yes, you will see your score upon completion of the assessment. The career assessment scores are only one factor in an applicant’s overall application to the Skilling Academy.

  1. How soon after I send an email to the Skilling Academy will I get a response?

For questions, email SkillingAcademy@cisa.dhs.gov. The Skilling Academy will generally respond to all emails within three business days.

  1. Will my supervisor’s permission be required to join 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 (.pdf, 211KB). Please ensure the appropriate supervisor signs the form.

  1. Can I apply if I am an Active Duty service member?

No, the Skilling Academy is open to full-time, civilian DHS federal employees in any job series, grades GS-5 - GS-11.

  1. Do I need to submit an SF-182 to apply to the Skilling Academy?

No, you do not need to submit an SF-182 to apply to the Skilling Academy. Depending on agency requirements, students accepted into the Skilling Academy, will be required to complete an SF-182 within the first two weeks of the cohort.

  1. When will I be able to apply for future cohorts?

Information about future cohorts will be available in Fall 2022. Please note that students are only eligible to attend the cohort that they applied for specifically. Students will need to submit a separate application for each cohort they wish to attend. Continue to check the Skilling Academy website for the most up-to-date information and cohort dates.

Resources and Materials Needed for the Skilling Academy:

  1. Do I need a laptop or desktop?

Yes, a laptop or desktop with an up-to-date browser is required for the self-study portion, and connection to the lab environment will be necessary. We recommend Google Chrome as your web browser. The virtual instruction will take place on Microsoft Teams. Students can use their personal or government furnished equipment (GFE) computer, as long as students can access their government email and meet the additional minimum configuration requirements identified in the following question.

  1. What are the configuration requirements to participate in the Skilling Academy?

Students will need access to the following to participate in the Skilling Academy:

Minimum Configuration Requirements:

  • Personal or GFE laptop or desktop computer with Windows 10 or newer
  • Speakers or headset
  • Camera
  • Microphone
  • Internet bandwidth: 10 Mbps
  • CPU: 1.1 GHz, Dual Core
  • RAM: 4.0 GB
  • Browser: Google Chrome (recommended), Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari
  • Apps: MS Teams, Skillable
  • Email: Routine 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
  1.  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.

  1.  Are there any recommended books or reading materials that we are encouraged to read outside of the program?

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:

  1.  How much of my time will the Skilling Academy take up?  

The Skilling Academy is an intense, full-time, three-month program where students step away from their current roles to focus on their professional growth. Students will be required to attend Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, excluding federal holidays. Students will not be able to maintain their Alternative Work Schedule during the cohort. Missing class without notifying the Skilling Academy before taking sick leave or emergency personal leave is considered taking unplanned leave. The course runs from October 31, 2022, through February 10, 2023, with two week-long breaks during the weeks of November 21 and December 26. During the breaks, students return to their permanent position duties. 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.

  1.  Where will the training take place?

The training courses are 100% online. Courses are live and instructor-led via Microsoft Teams. Class recordings are available for two weeks after the original recording date, so students can review content. Missed days are considered unplanned leave or sick days. The recorded videos do not allow students to take the class outside of the pre-defined schedule.

  1.  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. 

  1.  How will the Skilling Academy instructors teach the cohort?

Skilling Academy instructors will interactively deliver PowerPoint training and use real-time demonstrations, examples and online labs that will teach the information to a multitude of learning styles. The learning will be reinforced through both an instructor-led guided lab environment and an unguided lab environment. This lets participants engage, test, practice and hone their newly acquired cybersecurity knowledge, skills and abilities in a virtual environment. Students will receive lab assignments after instructional delivery to reinforce and practice what is taught.

  1.  Are there any certifications associated with this cohort training?

The last two weeks of the cohort will be dedicated to delivering training that aligns directly with the CompTIA Security+ exam SY0-601. Please note, the Security+ training is not the main focus of the Skilling Academy training program. Students will have time at the end of the cohort to test for the CompTIA Security+ certification.

  1.  What will the Skilling Academy cohort and CompTIA Security+ certification prepare me for?

This Skilling Academy helps civilian federal employees develop their cyber defense skills through training in the baseline knowledge, skills and abilities of a Cyber Defense Analyst (CDA). The CompTIA Security+ certification will assist in validating the skills you learn during this cohort. For more information on the certification, visit the CompTIA Security+ website.

  1.  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. Previous Skilling Academy graduates found it very useful to study outside of the allotted class time, so students may want to consider this practice. As a reminder, the class materials, recordings, resources and labs remain available outside of class hours as described herein.

If a student misses instruction days and lab work, it is the student’s responsibility to review those as soon as possible so as not to fall behind in the curriculum. If the student fails to complete the required work assigned in the allotted class time, the student agrees to complete the required work as soon as possible.

  1.  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.

  1.  Does this course guarantee a cybersecurity position or affect my pay grade upon completion of the program?

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 Cyber Defense Analyst role. Students will receive a voucher to take the CompTIA Security+ certification exam in class, near the end of the three-month cohort.

  1.  If I am a CISA employee, does graduating from the Skilling Academy automatically qualify me to participate in the Cyber Pay Enhancements Program?

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.  

  1.  Must I share my screen or activate my webcam during class or assignments?

Students may be required to share their screens during class. 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 your instructor in advance to seek an exemption.

Compensation and Leave:

  1.  Are we allowed to take leave during the course?

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 course. This is to ensure students do not fall behind. If a student misses more than eight classes or 20% of the labs in the Skilling Academy, the student will be marked as incomplete with the option of applying to future cohorts. If you have scheduled, or plan to schedule, leave outside of the breaks listed, please apply to a future cohort. To avoid falling behind, 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. This cohort has a limited capacity, therefore, those who apply are committed to attend, participate and complete the entire rigorous three-month program. Due to the accelerated nature of the program, supervisor approvals will be needed to withdraw after the cohort begins.

  1. 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 cohort end date. Class recordings are available for two weeks after each session.

     
  2. Will I be paid for my time required to take the course, 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.

  1.  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. Online learning platforms often offer free or low-cost content that learners can take on demand, at their own pace. In addition, 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. This guide 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 future cohorts. Information about future cohorts will be available in Fall 2022.

  1.  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 upon completion of the training.

Supervisors:

  1.  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.

  1.  Who qualifies as a supervisor? 

A supervisor is defined as any person who has the ability to approve leave for the applicant. For TSA applicants who work for individual airports, your Federal Security Director (FSD) or Assistant Federal Security Director (AFSD) must sign the Supervisor and Applicant Agreement and Approval Form, not your first-line supervisor.

  1.  Can supervisors ask students to conduct tasks related to their regular duty assignment?

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.

  1.  Who may I contact for more information?

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

 

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