10 Reasons Why a Cyber Security Degree is Worth It
There are several reasons why pursuing a cyber degree is worthwhile. In reality, you might claim there are 3.5 million reasons based on one key metric: the projected number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide by 2021, up from about 1 million today.
Or, as Forbes.com points out, there are 420,000 reasons why getting a cybersecurity master’s degree is well worth the money ($420,000 is the top end of the salary scale for a Chief Information Security Officer in San Francisco; total average: $240,000). Yes, a master’s degree is required for that position.
Why are there so many cybersecurity job openings? What’s more, why is this burgeoning industry willing to pay top dollar for top talent? There are a trillion factors, according to a recent McAfee survey, which reports that global cybercrime losses now reach more than $1 trillion.
The bottom line is that the challenge is immediate, the stakes are enormous, and there aren’t nearly enough highly trained and skilled employees to fulfill the demand. That’s why well-trained cybersecurity professionals command high salaries, and why pursuing a cybersecurity master’s degree could be the best investment you ever create.
Companies Hiring Cybersecurity Graduates
Professionals in the field of cybersecurity are in high demand across a broad range of industries. A recent LinkedIn search for the term “cybersecurity” yielded over 50,000 results, including:
- Deloitte has more than 1,500 employees.
- Booz Allen Hamilton has over 1,000 job openings.
- Approximately 5,000 jobs are listed on ClearedJobs.Net.
- ClearanceJobs with a salary of more than 6,000 dollars
ClearedJobs.Net and ClearanceJobs provide a wide range of government and contractor jobs.
A similar search on Indeed yielded the following companies and the number of cybersecurity job openings (the most recent results can be found here):
- Army Department of the United States (1,394)
- Deloitte & Touche LLP (1,177)
- Accenture is a consulting firm that specializes in (410)
- PayPal is a service that allows you to (318)
- Leidos is a company that specialises in the (299)
- CACI (California Association of (294)
- Information Technology at General Dynamics (272)
- ManTech International Corporation is a private corporation based in the United States (267)
- Booz Allen Hamilton is a consulting firm based in the United States (231)
- Amazon.com Services LLC is a subsidiary of Amazon.com (181)
AT&T, Venmo, IBM, Parsons, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Oracle, GuidePoint Defense, JP Morgan Chase Bank, and Apple are among the other well-known companies with cybersecurity job openings on Indeed.
Some sectors are more affected than others, with a critical shortage of skilled and trained cybersecurity professionals. There are some of the best sectors to work in if you’re looking for a career in cybersecurity:
- Services in the financial sector
- the federal government
- Health-care services
- Industrial production
- The retail industry
The Value of a Master’s Degree in Cyber Security
Many universities and colleges have developed new graduate degree programs in cybersecurity in response to rising knowledge and concern about the growing cyber threats that face companies, governments, and individuals alike.
Although several of these projects are still in their early stages, others have been carefully crafted with feedback from field experts, local and national stakeholders, and business thought leaders to equip cybersecurity professionals with lifelong learning skills and the ability to overcome adversaries from both theoretical and tactical perspectives.
Although a master’s degree is not required for all work, according to Tripwire.com, the benefits of obtaining a master’s degree in cybersecurity include better wages, job security, and increased career opportunities. However, not all cybersecurity education is created equal, which is why choosing a graduate program should be done with caution.
10 Reasons to Get a Master’s Degree in Cyber Security
A Cybersecurity Degree Ensures Job Protection
There has never been a better time to start a career in cybersecurity. The demand for cybersecurity specialists is far outpacing the supply, as cyber threats and attacks become more frequent and sophisticated. This ensures that work protection for experienced cybersecurity experts is virtually assured.
According to Forbes, by 2022, there would be 1.8 million cybersecurity work openings.
By 2021, 3.5 million jobs will be unfilled worldwide, according to Varonis.
Veronica Mollica, founder and executive information security recruiter at Indigo Partners, told Forbes.com, “The cybersecurity job market is on fire.” “Multiple firms are making competing offers to our applicants, with pay rises averaging over 30%. Current employers are struggling to keep talent on board, making counter proposals such as 10% and higher pay increases for information security team members.
Cybersecurity professionals make a lot of money
Because of the scarcity of qualified employees, cybersecurity specialists are among the highest paid in the technology industry, with a paid premium of 9% over IT employment in general.
- According to Ziprecruiter.com, the average salary for an entry-level Cybersecurity Analyst is $82,565 a year.
- According to Payscale.com, the median wage for a Cybersecurity Engineer is $96,478.
- According to Indeed.com, the median salary for an IT Security Specialist is $96,152.
- The average annual wage for cybersecurity positions in the United States is $94,716 [Ziprecruiter.com].
Your earning capacity increases significantly as you progress up the cybersecurity career ladder, for example, to Chief Security Officer (CSO) or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
- In San Francisco, the top end of the CISO salary scale is $380,000 (average: $240,000). [Source: Forbes] .com]
- In the United States, the total wage for CISOs and CISO equivalents is $273,033 [SecurityCurrent] .com]
- The median base salary for a Chief Information Security Officer in the United States is $217,768 [www.salary.com] .com]
According to University of San Diego cybersecurity professor Ashton Mozano’s article on BusinessInsider.com (“Most American students are ignoring an entry-level position with an $80,000 salary”), even entry-level jobs will start at $80,000.
To summarise, the cybersecurity job market is booming, with high wages and high demand. However, to land the best cybersecurity jobs with the best businesses, you must have a degree, and the higher the degree, the better.
Advanced Cybersecurity Education Repays Itself
The cost of a master’s degree varies depending on the program, but a cybersecurity degree would usually cost between $20,000 and $70,000. Although it is a substantial investment, the payoff shows that it is worthwhile. “If any college student asked me what profession would most assure 30 years of stable, well-paying jobs, I would reply, ‘cybersecurity,’” Alec Ross, senior advisor for innovation at the State Department, told the Washington Post.
Cybersecurity Careers Are Growing at a Faster Rate Than Other Industries
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for information security analysts is expanding at a rate of 31%, which is “much faster than (the) average” for other occupations. Although there are numerous opportunities and job openings in the cybersecurity sector, the education level required to obtain these positions can be very large. According to CyberSeek, a graduate degree was expected or preferred by 25% of employers recruiting for a cybersecurity architect role (23 percent for a cybersecurity engineer; 21 percent for a penetration tester). Those with the right qualifications and experience, on the other hand, have a plethora of options, with job openings in nearly every state and every industry, both private and public.
Let’s look at cybersecurity employment by level of experience. A recent LinkedIn search turned up the following job openings in the cybersecurity field:
- 560 hours of internship
- Rate of entry: 21,808
- 19,412 associates
- 6,552 at the mid-senior stage
- 1 235th Director
- 331 Executive
For several upper-level occupations, a master’s degree is either preferred or expected.
So, what are some of the most common cybersecurity careers and jobs? Let’s take a look at how it works:
Information security analyst, IT security analyst, and senior security analyst are all terms used to describe a cybersecurity analyst. A cybersecurity expert develops and implements security measures to secure a company’s or organization’s computer networks and systems. You may also assist in the creation of a disaster recovery plan, which an IT department would implement in the event of a data breach or other security incident.
- Security Auditor: A cybersecurity auditor collaborates with businesses and organizations to conduct thorough audits of online security systems. These audits usually include a detailed report on current systems, evaluations of their performance, and recommendations for protocol and technology improvements.
- Cybersecurity Specialist: This job, also known as an information (IT) security specialist or a network security specialist, is responsible for protecting businesses’ and other organizations’ information systems.
- Cybersecurity Architect: This frequently senior-level position’s duties include planning, designing, testing, implementing, and maintaining an organization’s computer and network security infrastructure.
- Cybersecurity Consultant: Also known as a security specialist, security consultant, physical security specialist, and staff security specialist, cybersecurity consultants are independent contractors hired by businesses of all sizes to protect their systems, networks, and sensitive data.
- Network Administrator: One of the top 10 in-demand tech positions for 2020, this position’s duties include network monitoring, network equipment ordering, network configuration/racking/testing, and network troubleshooting.
- Penetration Tester: This job entails finding security flaws in both systems and policies.
CyberSeek also offers the following career paths:
- Cybercrime Investigator/Analyst
- Manager/Administrator of Cybersecurity
- Engineer in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity degree programs are available in a variety of formats.
Working adults need a great deal of flexibility. For many cybersecurity professionals, the ability to earn a degree online while juggling a full-time job and family responsibilities has proved to be a career game-changer.
Many colleges and universities also offer online options, such as hybrid or entirely online degrees. Students can access the best cybersecurity programs, teachers, and colleges no matter where they are located, pay less for materials (expensive textbooks are sometimes replaced with digital content that can be accessed online or printed), and connect with students from all over the country and the world through online learning.
Cybersecurity Skills: You’ll Learn the Basics – Plus Leadership, Management, and More
The extra administrative and leadership training you can obtain as part of a master’s degree in cybersecurity is one of the most significant advantages. These types of business skills are not taught as part of the curriculum of most technology undergraduate programs. However, you’ll need the right skills, including keen business acumen, to advance in the sector and land high-ranking leadership roles.
Students in the highly regarded Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership program at the University of San Diego, for example, are taught cybersecurity theory and how to put it into practice, gaining specific knowledge and skills in the areas of technology, law, policy, enforcement, governance, intelligence, incident response, and management. Immersive experiences are emphasized heavily in the USD program, giving students the real-world experience they need to be fully successful in the field.
The USD program includes courses ranging from Cyber Security Foundations to Cyber Incident Response and Computer Network Forensics. The following courses are available as well:
- Cryptography in Practice
- The architecture of Safe Systems
- Risk Management of Cybersecurity
- Operational Policy for Cyber Security
- Cybersecurity and management
- Design and Development of Secure Software
Networking Opportunities Abound in Cybersecurity Graduate Programs
Networking is important for anyone hoping to get the best out of their graduate program. Graduate school is the ideal place to interact with friends, alumni, and faculty since it attracts communities of like-minded individuals with common interests in particular fields, such as cybersecurity. Graduate school interactions can be extremely beneficial not only when you are completing your degree by providing additional insights, experience, and diversity of opinion, but also after you have graduated and are looking to start or advance your career.
Furthermore, the University of San Diego’s online master’s degree is designed to maximize interaction with seasoned faculty experts and fellow cybersecurity practitioners from across the nation. This is an excellent opportunity to network with and learn from colleagues from across the cybersecurity industry.
Financial Incentives are Abundant for Cybersecurity Students
Due to the high demand for cybercrime practitioners in both the private and public sectors, a variety of financial benefits are now being provided to those who wish to obtain a degree in cybersecurity. A variety of scholarships are available from the Center for Cyber Safety and Education for those who are new to the sector. Scholarships for women in cybersecurity are available in a variety of forms. The Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP) and the National Science Foundation Scholarship for Service are two major scholarship programs supported by the US government (SFS). Yellow Ribbon colleges, such as the University of San Diego, also help veterans by providing yearly scholarships that are matched dollar for dollar by the VA. In US dollars, that works out to around $17,000 a year.
Cybersecurity Offers Unique and Interesting Ways to Make a Difference
Some cybersecurity experts, for example, are focusing on devising novel ways to attack the systems they are tasked with protecting to uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.
Today, there is an increasing number of so-called bug bounty schemes under which professional white-hat hackers operate to undermine their black-hat counterparts’ illicit and disruptive efforts through detecting and repairing flaws in cybersecurity protection systems. A cybersecurity executive at Booz Allen Hamilton, global protection, management, and IT consulting company, talks about setting up fake computers in a bogus, deliberately insecure network that acts as a “virtual mousetrap” to trick cyber adversaries into revealing sensitive details about their identities, strategies, and intentions.
Cybersecurity Work is Meaningful and Vitally Important
Perhaps you’ve read alarming stories in The New York Times or The Washington Post about the vulnerability of America’s next generation of weapons systems to cyber-attacks and hacking by our adversaries. A career in cybersecurity may provide both personal and professional satisfaction while also assisting in the defense of one’s country.
Cybersecurity protections are essential for businesses of all sizes to protect against hacker intrusions that can cost millions, if not billions, of dollars. But when it comes to America’s future safety and security, the stakes are much higher, as our ability to fight high-tech warfare waged with advanced computer technology will become increasingly important.
Many cybersecurity professionals are responding to the call, including military veterans looking for new challenges. The National Institute for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies at the Department of Homeland Security provides guidance, resources, toolkits, and free training to veterans interested in cybersecurity, noting that demand for cybersecurity experts is “rising 12 times faster than the current U.S. job market,” making the profession “one of the most sought-after careers in the world.”
Earning an advanced degree in cybersecurity isn’t the end goal — you’ll need to commit to a lifelong learning curve in this fast-paced industry — but it can help you change your career path and improve your earning potential while having a positive impact on society.
The online Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership and the online or on-campus Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering are two groundbreaking graduate degree programs offered by the University of San Diego that can be completed in as little as 20 months.