Last Updated: August 11, 2021
Career Prospects for Cyber Security Degree Holders
Along with the passage of time, society is becoming ever more reliant on technology. But with all the sensitive information that is being exchanged across the web and stored on servers around the globe, ensuring the security of this information from cyber-attacks is posing an increasing challenge to businesses and governments alike.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s annual report on cyber-attacks, the number of U.S. data breach incidents tracked in 2017 hit a new record high of 1,579 breaches - a drastic increase of 44.7 percent over the record-high figures reported for 2016. Once again, of the five industry sectors tracked by the ITRC, the business category topped the Data Breach List with 55 percent of the overall total number of breaches. The Medical/Healthcare industry followed in second place with 23.7 percent of the overall total number of breaches, and the U.S. Banking/Credit/Financial sector came in third with 8.5 percent of the overall total. As the evidence makes clear, cyber-attacks pose a continuing threat to information caches across the economy.
Despite the increasing demand for well-qualified individuals to help protect companies, governments, and other entities against cyber-attacks, the harsh reality is that there are not enough candidates to meet the demand. This opens up enough career opportunities for candidates who wish to pursue this field and an endless list of job options for them.
Benefits of Studying Cyber Security
Candidates who take up Cyber Security as their desired field of study will be able to learn concepts like ethical hacking, security concepts, firewall implementation, firewall configuration, etc. which can all be useful to them with or without an additional degree in other subjects. Once the candidate has chosen to study Cyber Security, they will be able to choose careers that have a high growth potential due to the evolutionary nature of the field and the advancements that are made in it year after year.
While the growth in job potential and job growth is real, this often suggests that candidates will have to keep learning and relearning concepts they know in order to flourish in the field. The advancements that are made will require them to keep their knowledge updated. They will be able to work in both full-time and part-time jobs and also for the public and private sector according to their interests. Candidates who have specialized in a specific field under Cyber Security will be able to receive higher pay within their designated jobs.
Courses Covered in a Cyber Security Degree
Candidates who have started researching and looking for the various degree options and specializations they might need to be a Cyber Security expert, will have to consider the course content in the institution they are applying to. The course content and specializations offered by different institutions can vary according to what the institution wants to focus on. Candidates will also have to understand that irrespective of what is being taught in the institution, they will have to put in the extra effort to learn the topics that will help them in the practical world and prepare themselves accordingly.
Most universities will have their curriculum designed in such a manner that the first two years of study will typically be spent focusing on general education requirements and prerequisites for upper-level coursework. Once the candidate reaches their junior year, they will be able to expect a majority of their courses to be dedicated to the graduation requirements. This can also be concentrated on the specialization the candidate has chosen to study.
The common courses that candidates will have to take while studying Cyber Security are as follows-
- Advanced Networking
- Security Systems Auditing
- Network Routing and Switching
- Malware Reverse Engineering
- Computer Forensics
- Ethical Hacking
Qualifications Required for Advanced Career Prospects
As companies become increasingly dependent on technology for everyday operations, protecting those systems is a top priority. Therefore, companies are willing to pay high salaries for extensively qualified IT security professionals. In order to secure a job as a Cyber Security expert, most companies require candidates to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, Cyber Security, or a closely related field.
Fortunately, there are many options candidates can choose from to earn a degree in Computer Science or Cyber Security. For both these courses, they will have the option of pursuing classes that are online or offline. Irrespective of the method the candidate chooses, they will have to complete 120 credits for completing the course.
The most competitive candidates for these critical jobs will have completed internships during the duration of the course and will have earned at least one specialized security certification. While deciding on the preferred course of study, it is ideal for candidates to find a program that offers internships, and specializations as part of the course.
Top 10 Security Certifications for 2021
While a degree in Computer Science or Cyber Security is enough for procuring a decent job in the field, candidates will be able to find high-paying jobs and better working conditions if they have the necessary certifications. There are over 300 different certifications under the field of Cyber Security, each of which is relevant in its own way and most of which will provide candidates with excellent jobs. Out of them, the following 10 certifications have been sought out most by the career market in the US.
- EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- CompTIA Security+
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
- Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM)
- Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)
- CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)
Career Outlook for Cyber Security Experts
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs available for information security analysts is expected to increase 56 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average of 7 percent for all occupations. Additionally, experts expect a shortage by 2022 of 1.8 million qualified workers worldview in the area of information and network security. In 2017, annual salaries for computer security specialists ranged from $60,060 to $163,300, while top-tier security analysts earn upwards of $170,000 per year.
Graduates with a degree in Cyber Security are eligible to apply for positions in many different sectors of the economy. Their job is to monitor and protect their organization’s information networks and computer systems, and develop response plans for a data or security emergency. Cyber Security experts are responsible for installing protective software onto employees’ computers and company networks, and may also need to train colleagues in proper security procedures. They create and review security assessments, examine infrastructure and fix security flaws to minimize threats. Not only are Cyber Security experts responsible for the proper functioning of security protocols, but they are also required to ensure the company’s information systems comply with laws and internal policies.
Popular Career Options for Cyber Security Experts
- Information Security Analyst- Their job description includes the planning and execution of security measures for the protection of computer networks, data, and systems within the organization. This will entail the installation and maintenance of firewalls, data encryption programs, etc. They will also have to report the security breaches the organization has to face and offer timely prevention measures.
Median Salary- $103,590 per year.
- Cryptographer- Candidates who have an additional degree in mathematics or are well-versed in the subject with additional knowledge in programming will be able to opt for this job. The job requires candidates to store governmental information and data in an encrypted format.
Median Salary- $101,040 per year.
- Security Software Developer - Their job description includes the creation and designing of software that improve the safety and security of the computer systems within their organization. They will also have to conduct test runs and maintain the quality of existing systems by upgrading them from time to time.
Median Salary- $110,140 per year.
- Security Architect- Their job description includes the maintenance of software that pre-exists within the organization for the protection of the company. They will also have to focus on preventing possible cyber-attacks and creating safeguards in anticipation of the same.
Median Salary- $116,780 per year.
- System Administrator- Candidates working as system administrators will have to ensure the smooth functioning of existing systems that employees use and maintain their connection to the main server.
Median Salary- $84,810 per year.
Other Career Options for Cyber Security Experts
The other occupations and titles Cyber Security experts can work as are-
- Incident Responder
- Vulnerability Assessor
- Information Security Manager
- Security Auditor