Bookmark and Share

Cybersecurity is one of the most sought after careers in the world today. In high demand, cyber professionals are helping to ensure the safety of computer networks and systems in both the public and private sectors. The following information is intended to act as a road map to help you prepare for a career in cybersecurity and continue to grow as a professional. Click below to jump to any step on the road map.

Degree Options          Certificates          Professional Certification          Work Experience

Cybersecurity Degrees

Bachelor’s Degree

It is highly recommended that you obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree in computer programming, computer science, information science, or computer engineering if you want to become a cybersecurity expert.

Related programs include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (concentration in Cybersecurity)
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Management and Cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (concentration in computer and information security)
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – IT
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Cybercrime and Security
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology – Security

Classes in these programs may cover topics such as:

  • Cryptology
  • Unix and Network Security
  • Database Design and Administration
  • Computer Forensics
  • Digital Forensics
  • Advanced Operating Systems
  • Advanced Computer Security
  • Software Engineering
  • Criminal Justice
  • Mathematics
  • Technical Writing
  • Cybercrime
  • Information Assurance

Associate’s Degree

Earning a two-year associate’s degree is another option, which may consist of subjects such as:

  • Operating System Security
  • Computer Forensics
  • Security Procedures
  • Network Security Applications
  • Encryption
  • Fundamentals of Information Security

Master’s Degree

Once you progress in your career, you may choose to acquire a master’s degree (or even a doctoral) in cybersecurity. These degrees are designed for mid-career professionals who want to meet the challenges posed by increasing cyber threats, and they tend to provide students with a broad analytical framework for evaluating and solving cybersecurity problems.

Related master’s degree programs include:

  • Master of Science in Management – Information Systems Security
  • Master of Science in Computer Science – Computer Systems Security
  • Masters – Information Technology: Security Management
  • Masters – Information Technology
  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy
  • Master of Science in Homeland Security – Cybersecurity Policy
  • Doctorate – Computer Science: Information Assurance
  • Doctor of Management – Technology Management
  • Doctorate – Computer Science

Cybersecurity Certificates

Another option for those who are thinking about entering the cybersecurity arena – or who simply want to expand their knowledge base – is getting a cybersecurity certificate. These are usually one-year programs offered by colleges and universities that are focused on practical security knowledge and skills. Many of these programs are tailored to schedules of working adults.

There are two types of certificates:

Undergraduate CertificateGraduate Certificate
Designed to get you up to speed on core cybersecurity issues/skills. Some students start with an undergraduate certificate before committing to a bachelor’s degree.

Topics include: Network Security, Auditing/Assessment, Risk Management, Cyber Crime, Computer Science, and Information Technology

Intended for professionals who already hold an undergraduate degree and are looking to improve their knowledge, increase their job prospects or take the first step towards a master’s degree.

Offerings include: Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigation, Homeland Security Management, Information Assurance, Healthcare Security, Advanced Engineering, Cybersecurity Policy and Privacy, and Cyber Law


Professional Certification Requirements

Unlike cybersecurity certificates, which are academic qualifications offered by colleges and universities, a cybersecurity certification is a professional credential that can increase your job opportunities and earning potential, and a large number of employers actually require it. By getting certified, you are showing your master of a body of knowledge. 

Some of the most important cybersecurity certifications include:

  • CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional
  • CISM: Certified Information Security Manager
  • CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker
  • GSEC: SANS GIAC Security Essentials
  • CompTIA: Security+
  • CPTC: Certified Penetration Testing Consultant
  • CPTE: Certified Penetration Testing Engineer
  • CSTA: Certified Security Testing Associate
  • GPEN: GIAC Certified Penetration Tester
  • OSCP: Offensive Security Certified Professional
  • ECSA: EC-Council Certified Security Analyst
  • CEPT: Certified Expert Penetration Tester

Certification can be obtained through training institutes or computer product vendors. Some of these include:

  • CERT
  • Certified Wireless Network Professional
  • Cisco
  • CompTIA
  • DRI International
  • EC-Council
  • International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc.

  • Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC)
  • Information Assurance Certification Review Board
  • Infotec pro
  • Learning Tree

  • McAfee Institute
  • Mile2
  • Security University
  • Logical Operations
  • American Board for Certification in Homeland Security (ABCHS)
  • Offensive Security

The cost of taking these exams can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Work Experience

Once you have completed your educational requirements (academic certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree), you may apply for jobs such as data security administrator, information technology specialist, or computer specialist.After you have gained years of practical work experience, you may advance into a management or supervisory position, such as an information security analyst. These professionals work to protect an organization’s computer information by investigating security breaches, developing security standards, installing security software programs, and teaching employees how to use security software. 

A few examples of cyber security jobs in government and the private sector are:

  • Security
  • Network Security Engineer
  • Systems Analyst
  • Information Systems Auditor
  • Application Programmer
  • Security Administrator
  • Security Consultant/Specialist

  • Systems Administrator
  • Network Administrator
  • Database Administrator
  • Business Unit Representative
  • Systems Analyst
  • Security Architect
  • Information Assurance Technician

  • Computer Crime Investigator
  • Security Software Developer
  • Virus Technician
  • Vulnerability Assessor
  • Web Penetration Tester
  • Forensics Expert
  • Source Code Auditor
  • Intrusion Detection Specialist

In a field where more than 209,000 jobs in the U.S. are unfilled and postings are up 74 percent over the past five years, there have never been greater opportunities for those who want to pit themselves against cybercriminals and hackers. The cybersecurity market is burgeoning, and by gaining the education and experience necessary, you can set yourself up in a career that is both lucrative and job secure.

Author: Jack Roth