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CHESTERFIELD, Mo. - Malicious hackers can wreak havoc, making security breaches extremely costly to companies and government agencies, so people who know how to protect computer systems against hackers and viruses are in high demand.

The high demand means salaries are soaring and local colleges are trying to graduate more cyber security professionals.

Lisa Nichols is CEO of Technology Partners in Chesterfield, a national staffing company for information technology jobs. Her corporate clients want to hire cyber security professionals.

"In terms of titles it could be a security engineer, cyber security specialist," said Nichols.

But there aren't enough qualified applicants.

"Nearly every client that we're servicing has those needs right now," she said.

That's great news for James Gall, a junior majoring in cyber security at Fontbonne University.

"I'm actually doing an internship with the Department of Homeland Security this summer," said Gall.

He wants a career in federal law enforcement.

"You can catch those who've already committed cyber attacks, or you can find the vulnerabilities in the system and patch those holes before they're exploited," said Gall.

Dr. Albert Carlson is an instructor in Fontbonne's year old cyber security undergraduate program. Carlson says the demand for cyber security professionals reflects a world where hackers intrude on our lives on a daily basis.

"You're going to see more and more attacks. These are proliferating every day. More than 180,000 of them occur every day worldwide," he said.

For young people like James Gall, with skills in math, science, and computers, well-paying jobs await.

Webster University recently announced it was expanding its graduate program in cyber security to four more campuses: St. Louis, San Antonio, Orlando, and Washington D.C.

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