Many people ask if they can get a job in cybersecurity without a degree. This is likely due to the large number of persons who have not attended college but are interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity. Plus, college is a lot of effort and money (see our guide on how much cybersecurity training and education costs for proof). Whether or not you can get a career in cybersecurity without a degree is determined by various criteria, which we will examine here.
Is it possible to work in cybersecurity without a degree?
If you have passed IT or military experience, have a security-related certification such as CompTIA Security+, and are searching for an entry-level job, you can acquire a career in cybersecurity without a degree. However, if you don’t fit into one or more of these categories, your options for finding cybersecurity employment may be limited.
Even with this possibility, you should consider that your lack of a college diploma would limit your cybersecurity employment prospects. So let’s look at what a cybersecurity degree can accomplish for us and, more significantly, what cybersecurity employers think about individuals with and without a college diploma.
Which cybersecurity careers necessitate a bachelor’s degree?
According to research conducted by Burning Glass a few years ago, more than 80% of cybersecurity job ads required a bachelor’s degree or higher (many of these jobs were higher-level positions such as Cybersecurity Analysts, Engineers, or Penetration Testers). This was a higher percentage than the number of positions requiring certification or clearance. In addition, over 80% of these job advertisements required a minimum of three years of experience.
So, does this mean that you need a college diploma to acquire a job or that you won’t be able to work in the sector until you have a bachelor’s degree? No, I don’t believe so. You’ll notice that I mentioned that 80% of the jobs required a degree or work experience. Many jobs have been filled by people who did not meet the job posting’s minimum education criteria. This occurs for a variety of reasons.
Why you can obtain a career in cybersecurity without a degree?
The market is in the employee’s favor, for starters. But, first, keep in mind that what an employer wants does not always equate to what the employer receives. Because the cybersecurity job market is expanding so quickly, firms are having difficulty filling vacancies, forcing them to explore employing people with less education or work experience and training them in-house. But, again, I’ve witnessed numerous instances where employers were willing or forced to do so.
Reason #2: A college diploma isn’t a legal requirement. Cybersecurity is a field that does not have a governing body or structure by definition. For example, consider the requirement for a medical degree in the field of medicine. However, this is not the case in technical domains such as cyber security. Therefore, employers have complete discretion over who they hire, including people without a college diploma.
Reason #3: Certifications can be used in place of a degree. Alternative qualification possibilities, such as certifications, abound in the realm of cybersecurity. Because of certificates, you and I in the cybersecurity profession aren’t trapped in a circumstance where we can only verify our knowledge with a degree. Thousands of technology professionals have benefitted from this fact throughout the years, allowing them to pursue a career without attending college. Check out our guide to the finest certifications for beginners.
Reason #4: College is not the only place where you may study. For cybersecurity workers, there are a variety of alternate learning choices. Returning to the medical school example, I believe that a university program is the only way to learn medicine legitimately. In the case of cybersecurity, however, this is not the case. Outside of a collegiate context, cybersecurity offers a variety of study alternatives, including trade schools, technical schools, and online learning programs. O’Reilly’s Safari Books Online, Cybrary, Udemy, and Pluralsight are excellent examples of online programs. And, for the most part, these options are less expensive and more convenient than college.
Reason #5: Many current cyber workers and recruiting supervisors lack formal education. When you get into the cybersecurity area, you may find that many of the experts, team leaders, and managers who are well-known in the field don’t have a degree because those in the tech field for 15 or 20 years got into the field when degree programs relevant to information technology or cybersecurity were few and far between. This is more typical than in other professions. In addition, many successful senior-level professionals, managers, and business owners lack a cybersecurity-related degree, if they have one at all.
Alternatives to a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity
Even though more than 80% of cybersecurity job advertisements require a bachelor’s degree or above, an associate’s degree will most likely cover the hole for many of those positions, especially given the job market and employers’ high demand. The good news is that an associate’s degree is a reasonably short college program that can be completed in the evenings, online, or part-time in most situations. And an associate’s degree signifies “some college” to an employer, which is preferable than “no college.” If a bachelor’s degree is out of reach in terms of time or money, an associate’s degree may be a better option. In fact, an associate’s degree may be your best option in many instances.
What should I look for in a cybersecurity program at a college? Any college cybersecurity program that provides a realistic schedule and hands-on lab practise chances where you can master the skills is worth considering. Exam cram programs or boot camps that are prohibitively expensive, or programs that only allow full-time enrolment, may not be the best option for most people.
Is it possible for me to get into a college program if I haven’t attended school in a long time? When you haven’t been in a classroom in a long time, returning to school might be scary and difficult. Always remember that you aren’t the only one in that scenario. Transitional coursework choices are available in colleges, particularly community colleges, to help you get back up to speed on academic abilities you haven’t used in a while. These programs frequently have extensive transitional options in place to assist those who are returning to school after a break.