First, the bad news: Our increasingly interconnected world, as you are probably aware, is susceptible and becoming more fragile by the day.
Crazy hacker activity, malware, spyware, social engineering, and dreaded computer viruses all seem to be in the headlines on a regular basis.
As key information (not just our personal information like vital records and financial data, but also extremely essential corporate and government data) migrates to data centres, clouds, and internet servers, the risk of it being stolen or corrupted increases.
It’s what security experts and analysts refer to as an expanding attack surface. As the internet becomes increasingly important for almost every function, the risk that some criminal organisation will try to steal data grows tremendously.
After all, data is now as valuable as cash.
So, here’s the good news: the burgeoning sector of cybersecurity offers a plethora of (and profitable) options. Cybersecurity is now a growing profession covering a variety of different types of employment needing various backgrounds and skill levels. It was once the territory of government contractors and computer experts with specific abilities.
In-house cybersecurity professionals are being sought by businesses of all sizes. Firms and organisations that specialise in cybersecurity issues — anything from ethical hacking and penetration testing to information technology infrastructure and networking — are also increasing in number, in order to meet the growing need for safe and secure computing.
There are a few ways to get started in this rapidly expanding sector. Obtaining an associate’s degree in cybersecurity is a fantastic place to start.
An associate’s degree was traditionally a two-year programme at a college or university that provided entry-level instruction (the curriculum equal of the first and second years of a four-year degree) for students seeking a higher education than a high school diploma.
An associate’s degree was a good way to learn the skills needed to get hired into a skilled entry-level career-track work in some industries, such as nursing, or professions such as data entry or occupations like paralegal.
The types of associate’s degree programmes available today are expanding, and the new options are meant to help students land high-demand employment in a booming area.
The Upside of a Cybersecurity Associate’s Degree
So, how does an associate’s degree in cybersecurity fit into the picture of a successful cybersecurity career? Hands-on expertise and industry credentials are the two things that employers seek for when hiring for cybersecurity positions, according to research.
And cybersecurity associate degree programmes excel in obtaining skills and experience, as well as preparing for cybersecurity industry certifications. Whether as stand-alone programmes or as part of broader funnels to serve as stepping stones to higher cybersecurity education, such as a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a cybersecurity master’s or Ph.D.
Another factor that attracts many students to associate degrees is that they are now available in a variety of formats, including on-campus, online, and a hybrid method that combines online learning with more traditional campus-based study.
Finally, many cybersecurity associate’s degree programmes offer scheduling flexibility, making them an excellent choice for students who need to work or have other obligations that prevent them from enrolling full-time.
What to Look for in a Cybersecurity Associate’s Degree Programme
A variety of factors will determine whether or not a cybersecurity associate’s degree programme is a good fit for prospective students. Other elements such as the possible return on investment and career services and support should also play a vital role in assessing whether or not certain cybersecurity programmes are worth pursuing.
When considering enrolling in a cybersecurity associate’s degree programme, geography and schedule are always important factors to consider. And new programmes that provide online or self-paced teaching help with schedule and location (since students are no longer need to reside near the institution they attend), making this type of education more accessible.
The entire programme cost is another important factor for prospective cybersecurity associate degree programme students – perhaps the most important. Like any other undergraduate or graduate school, associate degree training is measured in terms of credit cost and then overall programme cost. The good news is that an associate’s degree is usually the most economical option among all post-secondary career preparation alternatives because it only requires half the number of credits as a bachelor’s programme.
Tuition for associate’s degree programmes in cybersecurity varies greatly, ranging from $3,000 to $4,000 for entirely remote, online degree programmes to $18,000 to $20,000 for on-campus instruction.
Some associate degree programmes in cybersecurity may be organised under a school’s computer science or information technology departments. Other schools, on the other hand, have separate cybersecurity programmes with specialised resources and services. One thing to bear in mind is that cybersecurity has many different components, thus colleges and universities may have different concentration areas.
A couple of popular cybersecurity focus areas are as follows:
- Network security is the study of how things like passwords, firewalls, and hacks function in order to protect networks from assault or corruption.
- Computer security experts are concerned with securing individual machines on a network, which typically necessitates familiarity with the security requirements of particular hardware and software components.
- Information security, often known as InfoSec, is the study of how to secure and preserve data such that it remains private and only the intended users have access to it.
Length of Programme
In most cases, associate degrees in cybersecurity require 60 credit hours to accomplish. Those credit hours are split between general education classes and cybersecurity training that is more targeted and specialised.
A cybersecurity associate’s degree can take anywhere from two to four years to complete, depending on the number of courses available and how frequently they are offered, as well as the degree requirements.
Cybersecurity Associate’s Degree Admission Requirements
The prerequisites for a cybersecurity associate’s degree are quite conventional, and they are similar to those for associate degree programmes. Prospective candidates must possess a high school diploma, have completed prerequisite math and scientific courses (precise criteria vary by degree), and be skilled in English.
General Associate Degree Level Career Outlook
An associate’s degree in cybersecurity can help you launch a successful career.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), entry-level cybersecurity positions such as information security analysts will rise by about 30% over the next few years, outpacing chances in other industries.
For more information on specific programmes, look through these school lists.