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How to Earn a Cyber Security Certificate and Make It a Master’s DegreeUnsure of how to advance your cyber security career? Why not explore a cyber security certificate? Gain a specialization that will help you stand out from the crowd.

There’s no doubt that Information Technology (IT) offers an interesting, varied, and financially rewarding career. The IT industry is constantly changing, so it’s vital to stay current with the latest trends.

Ginni Rometty, IBM chairwoman, president and CEO, spoke for the whole IT industry when she said: “Data is the phenomenon of our time. It is the world’s new natural resource. It is the new basis of competitive advantage and it is transforming every profession and industry. If all of this is true – even inevitable – then cyber crime, by definition, is the greatest threat to every profession, every industry, every company in the world.”

Growth in cyber crime has sparked a huge surge in cyber security job openings and career opportunities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for information security analysts will grow by 18 percent between 2014 and 2024, and in 2015 the median salary was $90,120.

Given this demand, IT professionals are investing in their education and career advancement with specialized cyber security certificates that can easily transfer into advanced master’s degrees. The ability to earn a specialized certificate that is part of a Master’s Degree program or that can later be applied toward a Master’s degree is desirable from multiple perspectives. This is rather than opposed to industry certifications.

So, what’s the difference between a cyber security certificate and a regular industry certification, and what path should you choose?

Industry Certification Versus College Qualification

As any IT professional knows, there are two education streams they can use to advance their career. The first, industry certifications. The second, formal college qualifications.

There is no doubt that industry certifications have their place. Some IT degrees include industry certification as part of the curriculum.

Nevertheless, for IT professionals seeking specialized cyber security training to enter the field, having a recognized cyber security certificate has some clear advantages.

A Clear Upgrade Path

If you want to get started quickly, you can complete a cyber security certificate in 12 months. Whether your focus is cyber security or information assurance, there are a wide variety of online courses available. There are plenty of options out there – you just need to find the best schools for cyber security degrees.

Typically, candidates for a cyber security certificate should already have a bachelor’s degree in a similar IT-related field. As such, these certificates are perfect for managers or professionals with a strong background in cyber security. A cyber security certificate may not be the right fit for a new graduate or a professional in a non-IT industry.

For example, successfully completing a certificate may require passing 18 credit points consisting of subjects such as: managing a secure enterprise; securing and protecting systems, applications and data; computer forensics; network forensics; and software assurance and risk management.

This provides a solid basis to build upon and lends the opportunity to pick the right specialization for you. Common specialization options are likely to include intelligence, computer forensics, cyber operations, malware analysis and electronic crime.

Fortunately, the work you do in the certificate program transfers easily into a master’s program to earn your advanced cyber security degree.

A master’s degree involves a greater time investment than a certificate. However, it also allows IT professionals with a technical background to dive deep into specific specialized areas and boost their career options.

Investing in the certificate-to-degree route allows you to earn a credential with academic and industry value prior to completing a full Master’s Degree program. In many cases, the certification provides a solid stopping and starting point in the event that you are unable fulfill the requirements needed to complete a full Master’s degree due to life obligations, financial commitments, or other unplanned event. A good comparison is an AA degree being a foundation degree that leads to a Bachelor’s degree.

Whichever degree path you choose to pursue, a certificate course in cyber security or information assurance can give you the technical skills and know-how to advance your cyber security career.

If you already have cyber certifications or a related Master’s Degree,  what education options paved your cyber security career path? What advice would you give to someone considering a certificate program?

How to Earn a Cyber Security Certificate and Make It a Master’s Degree
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How to Earn a Cyber Security Certificate and Make It a Master’s Degree
Want a career in information security? Take the first step with a certificate in cyber security.