Cybersecurity

Defend against data breaches and half hackers in their tracks as cybersecurity experts.

What is Cybersecurity?

A relative newcomer to the technology field, cybersecurity is the method used to protect online data from compromise. As more information is stored online, from credit card information to government files, the need for additional security has become non-negotiable.

Falling under the information technology umbrella, the job is complex and requires cybersecurity analysts to stay one step ahead of Internet criminals. Tasks include safeguarding an organization’s files and network, developing security plans, implementing firewalls and monitoring safety measures and activity. If a breach occurs, cybersecurity professionals must act fast to minimize damage. You’ll often find careers in industries that have a large amount of confidential information such as government agencies, banking institutions and major retailers.

Who Should Get a Cybersecurity Degree

Looking to make a difference in the world? Earning a cybersecurity degree allows you to blend your love for technology with your desire to make a positive impact. Information security analysts do much of their work behind the scenes, but without them, the data we share online would be regularly compromised.

If you’re interested in a career path that offers challenge and allows you to solve problems on a regular basis, a degree in cybersecurity can get you started. If you’ve been thinking about returning to school for technology-related studies, now is a great time because the demand for cybersecurity professionals is expected to grow.

Traits & Aptitudes

Hackers don’t stand a chance against a cybersecurity professional with these traits.

Ethical

You’ll be entrusted with highly sensitive information and must be discreet.

Detail-Oriented

A sharp eye will catch gaps in the system and prevent future problems.

Organized

A sense of order is necessary as you juggle multiple projects and protect data.

Problem Solver

Make sense of intricate networks and programs to identify a solution.

Critical Thinker

Use logic and reasoning to develop protection plans.

Ethical

You’ll be entrusted with highly sensitive information and must be discreet.

Detail-Oriented

A sharp eye will catch gaps in the system and prevent future problems.

Organized

A sense of order is necessary as you juggle multiple projects and protect data.

Problem Solver

Make sense of intricate networks and programs to identify a solution.

Critical Thinker

Use logic and reasoning to develop protection plans.

Degrees in Cybersecurity

Information security analysts and other cybersecurity professionals are responsible for keeping information safe and secure. Even if you have basic knowledge of information technology, a degree or certificate in cybersecurity can solidify your expertise and prepare you for a fulfilling career.

Since cybersecurity is a newer field in information technology, you’ll find that some schools offer quick certificate programs that allow you to strengthen your existing IT skills. For more advanced education, some schools offer an information technology degree with a specialization in cybersecurity while others have created a separate degree program that stands alone. Within that program, you can then choose specializations such as cybersecurity management or software development and security.

Online Degrees in Cybersecurity

Not only do online degrees offer flexibility and convenience, especially for working adults, but what better environment to learn about cybersecurity than online?

All levels of cybersecurity education, from certificates to master’s degrees, can be found in an online format. Since a career in this field will require you to work on computers, you’ll gain hands-on experience by way of a virtual lab. Here you’ll be given the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned from lectures and readings.

Instead of battling traffic to get to campus, fight simulated hackers and complete your coursework on your time.

How It Works

Before enrolling, investigate the type of online experience a school provides their students. Take a tour of the course delivery tool to ensure it’s easy to use and intuitive. Find out how classes are set up, especially if you’re already balancing a busy life. Some programs provide modules which contain coursework, videos and other learning materials. You’ll be able to access these on your own schedule and once you complete a module, you’ll move to the next one. Other computer and electronics programs are synchronous, which means you’ll be expected to log in at certain times for live lectures.

You’ll also have plenty of opportunity to interact with other students. Ask questions, post comments and gain feedback using a discussion board set up for a particular class. Your instructors will also provide you with the best method to reach them and many hold office hours where you can discuss your progress.

Benefits

In response to the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals, more schools have designed online programs in this field. They understand that most students entering this area of technology are working adults who want to advance their education or make a change in their career.

Schedule flexibility is just one of the benefits of online. Affordability is another. Without a brick-and-mortar campus to run, schools can offer classes at a lower tuition.

Want to move at a slower or faster rate? Many schools allow students to complete their degree at different paces. Want to get into the workforce sooner? Speed up the process. Can only fit one or two classes into a semester? No problem.

Another perk: Distance learning demonstrates your ability to work well with technology while collaborating with others.

Why Get a Degree in Cybersecurity?

Potential Career Paths

Armed with a specialized cybersecurity certificate or degree, you’ll be qualified to take on roles at any number of organizations in a wide range of industries.

Your skill set will equip you for a career as an information security analyst, security policy analyst, cybersecurity software engineer or computer security specialist. Have an advanced degree? You can set your sights on research, policy and homeland security.

Job Outlook

Most of us probably don’t think much about cybersecurity until our personal information is compromised, but private organizations and government agencies recognize the importance of this evolving role. This explains why the job demand is particularly high for information security analysts. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to grow 18 percent through 2024.

Salary

Many factors, such as degree level and career path, contribute to the kind of salary you can earn as an information security analyst or other type of cybersecurity professional. However, the median annual pay for information security analysts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook, is $88,890.

Use the Latest Technology

If you’re fascinated by cutting-edge technology, you’ll find that a career in cybersecurity gives you access to the latest tools, programs and electronics. Because you need to stay ahead of cyber criminals, you’ll constantly be learning about new technology.

Educational Paths

Certificates

Highly focused classes give you the cybersecurity education you need to excel in a short amount of time.

Program Length

Designed for working adults who want to begin a cybersecurity career or want to add to their existing skills, certificates offer a quick way to learn about the field.

What You’ll Study

Due to the complicated topics and advanced skill set needed for cybersecurity careers, the most common type of certificate is at a graduate level. For those looking to enhance their existing credentials, a certificate program gives you the specialized courses you need. If you’re considering earning a master’s degree in the future, a certificate in cybersecurity offers you an introduction into the field. Many schools allow you to use credits from a certificate program toward a graduate-level degree.

Tacking on a cybersecurity graduate certificate onto your existing degree can help you move into information security analyst roles. It also equips you with the skills to lead a cybersecurity team. While financial institutions and government agencies employ information security analysts, many actually work for computer systems design companies.

Some cybersecurity professionals also specialize in certain areas, such as homeland security or policy, making their career path more defined.

These short programs usually includes courses such as ethical hacking, cryptology and network security, enterprise and cloud cybersecurity policy and white collar crime.

Associate’s

Build a foundation for a cybersecurity career with studies in network security or information assurance.

Program Length

Associate’s degrees are designed to take approximately two years. However, online programs may allow you to finish sooner.

What You’ll Study

Few schools offer an associate’s degree in cybersecurity, but you can find programs in related fields that can serve as a stepping stone. Network security courses will teach you how to install firewalls and build secure networks for all types of organizations.

Most cybersecurity jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. However, with an associate’s degree you’ll be qualified to work in a related field. Look for entry-level positions in network security or as a computer support specialist to build your experience. Because your education focused on cybersecurity, you’ll bring a unique perspective to the job. It’s a great opportunity to hardwire your skills and pursue further education in the future.

Some of the courses you may find in an associate’s degree program include cyber defense, system assurance security and organizational security.

The material in your associate’s degree courses will also prepare you to take industry certification exams.

Bachelor’s

With practical coursework at the forefront of the curriculum, a bachelor’s degree gives you a well-rounded education to fight online criminals.

Program Length

Bachelor’s degrees take about four years to complete, but some schools offer an accelerated pace.

What You’ll Study

Programs tend to use a multidisciplinary approach as you’ll need to be well versed in topics related to law, technology, business and government. With an emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving, students learn everything from basic software installation to advanced security principles.

With a comprehensive education under your belt, a bachelor’s degree prepares you for roles as a cyber security software engineer, information systems security administrator or information security analyst.

Courses for an undergraduate degree may include such topics as fundamentals of Information Technology, cybersecurity in business and government organizations, and human factors in cybersecurity.

A bachelor’s degree can help prepare you for industry certification exams, such as CISCO and CompTIA, which may be required for your job.

Master’s

Secure your future with graduate-level study. Designed for professionals who are at a crossroads in their technology career.

Program Length

Courses are designed for professionals at a crossroads in their technology careers.

What You’ll Study

Prevention and detection are always the goal, but a cybersecurity professional with advanced skills can efficiently address problems if and when they do arise.

With a master’s degree, you’ll be able to oversee a team of information security analysts or head up risk management initiatives. Interested in teaching others what you know? Cybersecurity professionals often work as instructors at colleges and universities, especially as this field continues to grow.

A solid understanding of computer hardware and software is necessary before enrolling in a master’s program.

You’ll study many topics, including secure software engineering, cryptography and coding, intrusion detection and prevention and cyber crime investigation.

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