Network Security

Fight computer hacking and identity theft with a degree in network security.

What is Network Security?

Perhaps nothing is so important in today’s Information Age than protecting computers from hackers. Companies and organizations store their clients’ personal information and their own proprietary data electronically, and any intrusions can have disastrous effects. Cybercriminals sell confidential information on the black market, and some people even think that this market is now more profitable than the illegal drug trade. That means there’s plenty of incentive for hackers to try to break into computer networks.

And that’s exactly why network security specialists are needed now more than ever: to protect computer networks for companies, organizations, schools and governments.

If you understand that preventing, detecting and battling cybercrime is a top priority, a career in network security might be your calling. As a network security specialist, you’ll be on the front lines of cyber warfare, defending computer systems against outside threats, such as viruses, hackers and spyware.

Who Should Get a Network Security Degree

Network security specialists keep digital information safe from hackers, identity thieves, and other cyber criminals who want to take advantage of weak firewalls.

If you’re good with computers, curious, a stickler for details, and want to pit yourself against those who seek to break into computer networks, then you might be a good candidate for a career in network security.

To become a network security engineer, you’ll generally need to earn a Bachelor of Science in computer science with a concentration in network security.

Traits & Aptitudes

If you have a passion for technology and love to do creative troubleshooting, read the following personality traits to see if you’d be a good fit for a network security career.

Analytical

Evaluate the weaknesses in computer firewalls and networks.

Problem Solving

Think through and develop effective solutions to computer breaches.

Decisive

Find the best course of action, considering costs and benefits to your organization.

Curious

Acquire new skills and certifications to keep up with the changing demands of network security.

Service-Oriented

Focus on your company and its employees because you know the value of confidential information.

Analytical

Evaluate the weaknesses in computer firewalls and networks.

Problem Solving

Think through and develop effective solutions to computer breaches.

Decisive

Find the best course of action, considering costs and benefits to your organization.

Curious

Acquire new skills and certifications to keep up with the changing demands of network security.

Service-Oriented

Focus on your company and its employees because you know the value of confidential information.

Degrees in Network Security

More and more colleges and universities offer degrees in network security both on campus settings and online—or a mix of the two.

Online programs are great for working adults with busy lives, and there are online degrees at every level: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and specialized certificate courses. With an online degree, there’s no need to relocate to go to school. You won’t even need to spend time commuting to campus or pay for gas and parking. Online programs let you study at the time and place that’s best for you.

Online Degrees in Network Security

Today’s colleges are changing to meet students’ needs with more online learning options. With year-round admissions, flexible start dates and mobile apps, college has really changed with the times.

But before you enroll in any college or university, make sure that it is accredited. Accreditation is your guarantee that the school meets recognized quality standards. And don’t forget that federal financial aid is only available to students enrolled in accredited schools.

How It Works

An online degree in network security will, by necessity, have you spending a lot of time on your computer. Before you commit to a school, ask if you can test drive its course delivery system. There are several popular programs in use today, including Blackboard, Moodle and eCollege.

Once your courses begin, you’ll listen to lectures and participate in class. You’ll also work in hands-on computer labs, download reading materials, and interact with instructors and other students with tools like Google Hangout, Skype or Adobe Connect.

But don’t expect an easy grade just because your program is online. Online degrees must meet the same high standards as on-campus ones, and schools insist that you do, too.

If you need help, go to your teacher’s virtual office hours, or find a tutor to help you get up to speed. Many schools have academic counseling and tutoring. Take advantage of this help to keep from falling behind and ensure an on-time graduation.

Benefits

If you’re looking to start (or advance) a career in network security but can’t ignore your other responsibilities, online education gives you many advantages:

You’ll have more a more flexible schedule: You can log in and learn wherever and whenever it fits into your daily routine: early in the morning over a cup of coffee, after the kids are asleep, on Sunday when nobody’s home.

Online schools are widely accepted: Companies understand that many of their employees now get online degrees. Businesses today are more concerned with your knowledge and skills—not whether you got your degree in a classroom or online.

Expedited degrees: Some online programs offer efficient, quick-to-completion degrees, if you have some extra time to put in.

On-the-go Schools: With mobile apps you can take your schoolwork with you, and complete it little by little, or when it’s most convenient. No need to miss class if you’re going on vacation. Just put aside some time every day to stay on track.

Why Get a Degree in Network Security?

Potential Career Paths

With a network security degree, you’ll be qualified for jobs in a wide range of industries.

Your skill set will qualify you for a career as a network security engineer, information security analyst, cybersecurity engineer or computer security specialist. If you pursue an advanced degree, you can aim for senior and managerial positions.

Job Outlook

Similar to network security, U.S. News & World Report ranks the related profession of information security analyst as the third best technology career for 2015. It’s one of the most growth-oriented technology professions today, and demand is predicted to grow by 18 percent through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Salary

Network security analysts are well paid for the important work they do. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016-17 Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates the median annual pay for the related career of information security analyst at $88,890.

Lifelong Learning

Computer hackers are always looking for new ways to break into computer systems, so network security specialists must stay on the cutting edge. Most computer security analysts continue to take classes and earn certifications throughout their careers to make sure their knowledge and skills stay up to date.

Business-Minded

A degree in network security will prepare you to do more than just install firewalls and update passwords. You’ll learn project management skills and how to work with senior leadership teams to keep your company up and running so it can remain profitable.

Educational Paths

Certificates

Specialized certificates are the proven way to increase your skills, learn new computer languages or programs, or get continuing education credit.

Program Length

Most certificate programs in network security take nine to 18 months.

What You’ll Study

If you’re just starting out, you may find entry-level jobs such as network security officer or analyst, risk consultant, security administrator, and more. Whether you want job security or career advancement (or both), earning a certificate in network security is a great option.

You can polish your skills with a certificate program that covers the essentials of network security. You may study access control, administration, audit and monitoring of computer networks, or risk, response and recovery. In other certificates you may explore the finer points of data encryption, the highest level of computer security.

Some certificate programs prepare you to sit for industry certification exams, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional exam (CISSP®).

Associate’s

Associate’s degrees are a great way to get your foot in the door, and your credits may transfer to a bachelor’s degree if you decide to further your education later.

Program Length

An associate’s degree in network security normally takes about two years.

What You’ll Study

An associate’s degree in network security can lead to entry-level jobs at companies across the country. This is a field with tremendous potential. Once you get your first position, learn on the job, and get the additional education you need, you can set your sights on ever-more-challenging roles.

An associate’s degree in network security provides a foundation in the latest security procedures and technology. You’ll discover how secure networks support your organization’s success, and learn about the technologies that protect critical business and customer information.

Some of the common courses you’ll take in an associate’s degree in network security include security concepts and programming.

In many cases, relevant associate’s classes earned in an accredited school will transfer to a bachelor’s program.

Bachelor’s

A bachelor’s degree is required for many jobs in the field, so a B.S. in network security is the go-to degree.

Program Length

A bachelor’s degree in network or computer security usually takes four years to complete.

What You’ll Study

A bachelor’s degree will help you harness your passion for network security and prepare you to fight cybercrime.

With your bachelor’s in hand, you can work as a network security administrator, engineer or analyst, among other positions. You may work in risk management, network security, data loss prevention, and more. While you may be able to get into computer security with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s in network security is required for many jobs and will increase your career options.

Many students find the coursework both challenging and exciting. You may enjoy bachelor’s-level classes such as advanced information systems security, computer networks and security and ethical hacking.

Master’s

A master’s degree may give you a leg up on the competition, will prepare you for higher-level jobs, and often aligns with the Common Body of Knowledge for CISSP® certification.

Program Length

A master’s degree in network security normally takes about two years.

What You’ll Study

Put your master’s degree to work in high-level positions such as senior network security engineer, security architect, director of cybersecurity, all the way up to chief information security officer.

Network security engineers work at companies, organizations and universities, and in every field imaginable. If you’ve already worked in network security and are thinking of career advancement, a master’s degree can prepare you for more senior positions within your organization. A master’s degree will teach you how to navigate real-world cybersecurity challenges such as setting up ever more secure networks, securing servers and responding to security breaches.

As you develop your technical knowledge and skill, you’ll also learn to integrate cybersecurity solutions into an overall business context.

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