What is MCO?

In an age where a lot of what we do is controlled by the push of a button, the click of a mouse, or the swipe of a credit card, knowing and understanding what Mission Critical means is crucial to all of our well beings. The official definition we use for mission critical is as follows:

Any operation requiring round-the-clock supervision of systems and is aimed at combating the evolving threat of critical infrastructure operations failure.

A business that relies on continual operation is defined as mission critical. Mission critical operators are individuals whose job is to keep those facilities running and protected. The need for mission critical operators is on the rise.

MCO careers can be in data centers, power plants, transportation, 911 call centers, and many other industries. The skills needed to excel at a career in MCO vary according to the specialized field, but the focus on reliability and the need to keep the MCO organization running twenty-four hours a day – seven days a week stays the same. These skills include knowledge based in operations technology like automation, HVAC, power management and more and information technology like networking, database administration, and cybersecurity.

SME, the Society for Manufacturing Engineers, is currently in a campaign to boost workforce readiness and promote employee development. They say that, “despite high general unemployment, a critical shortage of skilled workers threatens the future of manufacturing in America and experts say that, if not addressed now, the crisis will dangerously accelerate in the next decade.”

The Automation Federation states that, “Our Companies cannot possibly succeed in the long term without attracting talent from future generations.” They also spell out the shortage of employees that is caused by a retiring baby boomer generation.”

Although industrial and Information Technology positions may top the list of those jobs that are available in the Mission Critical field, they are far from the only careers in the area that require knowledgeable employees.

Below is a sample of some of the career choices that you may not have considered while searching out and preparing for a Mission Critical Operations career.

  • Business
  • Business Intelligence
  • Business Intelligence Analyst
  • Construction
  • Electrical
  • Emergency Response Services
  • Energy
  • Facility Maintenance
  • Critical Facility Technician
  • HVAC
  • Information Technology
  • Computer Network Defense Auditor
  • Systems Administrator
  • Technicians
  • Security

Mission critical operations are vital to the continuation of very important services that people rely on everyday. That’s why we say that these skills are “the skills necessary to keep America running.” For further information about what MCO is, please read this article from NCMCO project manager Mitchell Sepaugh, that was published in the January/February 2014 edition of the International Society of Automation’s InTech Magazine: Developing a Career Pathway for a Mission-Critical Workforce


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the MCO Program?

The Mission Critical Operations curriculum prepares graduates for employment in a wide range of positions in information technology (IT), operations technology (OT), and maintenance. Course work includes the development of a student’s ability to maintain technically sophisticated systems for business continuity and near continuous uptime using engineering, information technology, industrial management and maintenance skills. The course work emphasizes analytical and problem-solving skills required to sustain high availability national security interests and includes instruction in electromechanical systems, networking, automation, cybersecurity, emergency management and systems integration.

Where Can I Take Classes?

Currently, classes are available at each of the participating partner colleges: Cleveland Community College, Nash Community College, Southern Regional Technical College, and Wake Technical College. Different classes are offered at the different institutions based on certain areas of focus.

Can I Take Classes Online?

YES! Absolutely. Our courses are available to take online from anywhere around the world.

What Classes Do I Have to Take?

The mission critical program offers degrees, diplomas, and certificates to meet your needs. Here is an example of what the Associate Degree in mission critical operations looks like at Cleveland Community College.

Mission Critical Operations – Information Technology (AAS)

Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
ACA 115 Success and Study Skills 1
CIS 110 Intro to Computers 3
CTS 120 Hardware/Software Support 3
MCO 110 Intro to MCO 3
MCO 115 Critical Infrastructure 3
NOS 110 Operating System Concepts 3
SEC 110 Security Concepts 3
NET 125 Networking Basics 3
NOS 120 Linux/Unix Single User 3
NOS 130 Windows Single User 3
ATR 112 Intro to Automation 3
COM 110 Intro to Communication 3
CTS 115 Info Systems Business Concepts 3
ENG 111 Writing and Inquiry 3
ISC 112 Industrial Safety 3
MCO 210 Critical Site Operations 3
MNT 222 Industrial Systems Schematics 3
WEB 287 Web E-Portfolio 3

For more information on the other credentials and offerings at the different, member institutions visit their online course catalogs at the links below:

You can get a sneak peek at our courses and content by checking out our CourseSites courses that are available through our Students page.

How Can I Get Help with Course Materials?

MCO Digital Study

Find additional resources for extra practice or to help study for tests.

MCO Digital Learn

Ask questions about mission critical related content and get answers from instructors and industry professionals.

How Much Does it Cost?

Listed below are links to partner college information on tuition and fees.

Powerpoint Presentation

This Powerpoint presentation contains much of the same information that is already on this page, but displays it in a different manner. It is also available for download from the link below.

Download this presentation: NCMCO Overview (EXTERNAL)

Want to Know More?

Contact information, and a general email form, can be found on our contact page. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions that you may have.