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Is a Cybersecurity Degree a Good Choice For Me?
Cyber security (or cybersecurity).
Information technology security.
Information systems security.
Whatever you call it, this is one of the most attractive, lucrative, rewarding (and dare we say, sexy?) “it” careers.
That’s because the topic of, the business for, and the jobs in cyber security are white-hot right now.
You've probably noticed it’s nearly impossible to read, hear or listen to news and social media feeds without learning of a new cyber threat, computer attack or data breach.
In fact, a recent U.S. News & World Report look at online cybersecurity bachelor’s degrees stated that almost half of U.S. adults had personal information exposed by cyberattacks. It’s a big---and growing---problem and concern.
From local nonprofits, to small firms, to multinational companies, no business, organization or individual is immune.
And the antidote requires more than just dealing with the aftermath. It requires detecting and preventing hacks, hazards and attacks in the first place.
Enter the field of cyber security.
So what is cybersecurity?
Merriam-Webster.com defines it as “measures taken to protect a computer or computer system (as on the Internet) against unauthorized access or attack.”
A sub-specialty within information technology (IT), cyber security involves addressing challenges and threats in light of business goals, missions and objectives.
So while IT typically is considered a business cost center (that means it’s a necessary part of the organization but does not have a role in making a profit), lack of IT security or an underdeveloped cyber security program can cost organizations of all types and sizes--and it can cost them big-time.
From stealing money, to disrupting services, to destroying records, malicious cyber hacks put people, governments and organizations at risk.
For that reason, cyber security as a profession has become mission-critical.
Businesses, and even the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, need qualified, degreed people who can understand, analyze, calculate and categorize risks, exploits and vulnerabilities.
They need security professionals who can determine which factors expose them to risk.
And, most importantly, they need experienced people who can help make smart counterintelligence recommendations and cyber-confident decisions.
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A Bright & Growing Career
Perhaps that’s why O*NET, one of the nation’s primary sources of occupational information, designates information security occupations as having a:
- “Bright outlook”
- Median wage of nearly $90,000 annually
- Faster-than-average job growth of 22%---or higher
- 39,200 project job openings between 2012-2022
Demand for professionals is high, and getting higher.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 50,731 job openings related to information security in 2012, with 7,130 students completing degree programs in information security that same year.
That’s an astounding ratio of 1 graduate for every 7 openings!
From encryption, to authentication, to infrastructure, to surveillance, career opportunities for cyber security grads is exploding at all levels.
In fact, the General Accounting Office cited these staggering statistics about the federal government:
- Spent $938 million on cyber security in 2000
- Budgeted $13 billion for cyber security just 15 years later
Clearly, demand has never been higher.
Here are just a few of the many, many job opportunities in the field:
- Application Security Tester
- Computer Security Specialist
- Corporate Security Manager
- Cyber Forensic Analyst
- Cyber Intelligence Analyst
- Cyber Security Analyst
- Cyber Security Architect
- Cyber Security Engineer
- Cyber Security Team Leader
- Cyber Systems Administrator
- Cybersecurity Consultant
- Data Security Analyst
- Director, IT Security Governance
- Identity Management Specialist
- Information Security Administrator
- Information Security Analyst
- Information Security Engineer
- Information Security Manager
- Intelligence Analyst
- IT Security Analyst
- Lead IT Auditor
- Malware Analyst
- Manager of Information Security
- Network Security Specialist
- Security Administrator
- Security Architect
- Security Program Specialist
- Security Systems Specialist
So, is this fast-growing specialty of information technology right for you?
We’ll let you decide, but here are a couple of things to consider first:
Are you collaborative and cooperative?
Much of information security’s success is predicated on continually sharing information about attacks and solutions with others---even those outside your organization. It’s important to check your personal ego at the door.
Are you a hacker or a helper?
Ethics is a huge topic in security, so if you’re more into hacking than helping, then an IS degree probably is not for you. It’s of the utmost importance to learn how to use information technology security tools responsibly.
Are you logical, dependable and calm?
When it comes to information security, it’s not a matter of if you’re going to get breached, but when---and what you’re going to do about it. This career requires people who can remain calm in the face of chaos, while thinking critically and communicating clearly.
Don’t get us wrong; we’re not trying to talk you into or out of an information security degree. We just want you to consider your options and make the choice that’s right for you.
Because this is still an emerging field, you’ll want to enroll in the best information security major and cyber security degree program for you; one where you’ll learn the “defense in-depth” approach to comprehensive information and electronic defense.
Cyber security degree program coursework includes such critical topics and issues as:
- Architecture & Controls
- Business Continuity & Operations
- Disaster Recovery
- Network Security
- Risk Management
- Security Law & Compliance
- Web Application Security
A cyber security degree can prepare you to become an expert in the prevention, detection and fight against digital crime.
Ready for a rewarding career in one of the hottest careers around? Do you have any questions, or would you like to bounce some ideas off someone?
We're here to help. No pressure, either.