Cybersecurity Education Offerings
If experience is the currency of the cybersecurity job market — why pursue further education? Smart cybersecurity professionals, as well as the managers who hire them, know the value of continuing their cybersecurity education.
While we live in a digital society, we also live in a highly credentialed one, and candidates whose resumes go beyond the expected work experience can have a big advantage when applying for top cybersecurity jobs — especially ones with higher-than-average salaries.
Cybersecurity Certification or Cybersecurity Degree?
While industry certifications are attractive, and can help job seekers and career advancers address an immediate skills gap or demonstrate an expert fluency in a specific functional area, a certificate or master’s degree from an accredited institution can offer job seekers and those who want to advance their cybersecurity career the better value.
Students who decide to enroll in a cybersecurity program can gain the knowledge needed to sit for some of the leading industry exams and certifications. If time and cost are a factor, many institutions offer graduate certificate programs that can be completed faster, and in some cases, courses taken as part of the certificate curriculum can also count toward an eventual master’s degree in the same field.
The ROI of a Cybersecurity Degree
A cybersecurity degree can also push you into a higher salary bracket, or qualify you for a higher starting salary. Cybersecurity professionals with bachelor’s and master’s degrees are better paid than those without, and are more suitable for internal advancement opportunities within their organization. Finding a job is easier with a degree as well. Consider that the number of job openings that require at least a bachelor’s degree is about 600 percent higher than jobs that don’t require degrees.
Top Cybersecurity Schools
Cybersecurity Education: Benefits of a Cybersecurity Master’s Degree
Cybersecurity professionals with a master’s degree in cybersecurity, information security or a cyber-related area are extremely qualified for top leadership positions — jobs that not only come with the respect and admiration of an industry but can also pay substantial salaries.
For instance, the median annual salary for an Information Security Manager — a position generally filled by someone with a bachelor’s degree — is $100,000. Once you’ve mastered the soft skills and business expertise needed to rise to the C-suite, you could secure the role of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and its median annual salary is $145,000. Many CISOs make well above $200,000 a year with salaries varying based on geographic region.
The leadership skills and business acumen these C-level executives have were gained in graduate school. Master’s degree programs include management and leadership coursework in their curricula, while bachelor’s degree programs are usually more focused on the technical aspects of the field.
How to Choose a Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Program
When looking at master’s degree to further your Cybersecurity education, the first decision to make is whether to learn online or in a classroom. While some students prefer traditional classrooms, they may not find a cybersecurity graduate program near their home. Online programs give a student more flexibility in terms of location and schedule, making it easier to go to school while working full time.
Another advantage of an online master’s degree is that it puts students in touch with a much broader network of professionals from across the country, and at times globally. Classmates in online programs make connections that can benefit them throughout their careers and the relationships forged could be the key to future opportunities.
Accreditation is an important factor in choosing a master’s degree program as well. Much cybersecurity work takes place in the homeland security, defense, government or military sectors. These jobs require degrees from institutions that are National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Education (CAE IA/CD) program, an accreditation sponsored by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Students should make sure the schools they consider have this accreditation.