What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the process designed to recover and protect devices, programs, and networks from any unauthorized access. It may also be referred to as information technology security.
Cyber attacks are formulated by hackers to access sensitive information from companies, employees, and individuals. They use such information to blackmail, destroy sensitive data, terrorism, and to extort money. In turn, end up damaging people’s reputation, finances, and destroying businesses.
Cybersecurity professionals must cultivate strong analytical skills in order to improve security policies and protocols, be detail-oriented in order to spot subtle changes in performance that could indicate a security breach, and have problem-solving skills in order to respond to and mitigate damage from a cybersecurity attack.
It is also important to note that many employers prefer to hire analysts who have previous experience in a related role, such as network or computer systems administrator. Employers may consider industry experience when hiring; for example, if the role is in systems security, a computer systems analyst could make for a strong candidate.
In other words, a master’s degree in cybersecurity is well worth your time, effort, and money. Enrolling in a master’s degree program provides a practical way to network with like-minded professionals. The connections are useful both during the studies and after graduation. They could make it easier to secure top positions when aiming to advance your career.
The program provides additional leadership and managerial training, which prepares you for management roles. Here are ten reasons why you should acquire a master’s degree in cybersecurity
1. High demand for Cyber Security Specialists
With the continual advancements in technology and the increasing sophistication of cybercriminals, cybersecurity has moved to the forefront as organizations and governmental agencies scramble to protect their data and information. As such, cybersecurity professionals have come to play a critical role in preventing and protecting organizations against these attacks. This presents an opportunity for IT and cybersecurity professionals to make an impact on the business, consumer, and government safety.
In the light of the massive shortfall in talent, job security in this field is strong. Analysts at the US Department of Labor are forecasting a dramatic increase in the number of cybersecurity jobs that will be added to the US economy by the year 2024. They’re predicting a whopping 18 percent growth in the number of information security analyst jobs that will be available by that date.
2. High Pay
Cybersecurity is a gold mine. It’s in high demand while there aren’t enough specialists to cover the need. According to the law of supply and demand, if you have a significant shortage in supply and a surplus of demand, prices are going to soar.
With the cybersecurity degree, it can land you a position hovering around $90,000 up to six figures, depending on your level in the company. Whichever way, your work will be compensated well.
For instance, an information security manager averages $100,000 a year, and a chief information security officer sits at about $145,000 annually. And those are median salaries. It’s not unusual to see wages more than $200,000 a year as you move up the ladder.
To sum things up, the cybersecurity job outlook is fantastic — salaries are high, and demand is soaring. But to land the best jobs in cybersecurity with the best companies, you need a degree, and when it comes to cybersecurity, the higher the degree, the better.
3. Scholarship Opportunities Abound
Many scholarship programs can help cut down the costs of getting a master’s degree. For example, two government programs – the Information Assurance Scholarship Program and the National Science Foundation Scholarship for Service – are available for students pursuing cybersecurity degrees. Another one is the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security, also referred to as SWSIS. Finally, several schools participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, where the school matches tuition funds for veterans who qualify.
4. Opportunity for networking
For anyone looking to make the most out of their graduate program, networking is key. Because graduate school attracts groups of like-minded people with similar interests, it is a perfect place to connect with peers, alumni, and faculty. The connections made in graduate school can not only help you while you are completing your degree but can also be helpful upon graduation as you look to launch or advance your career.
5. Cybersecurity job opportunities typically increase with education level
Across all industries, it’s a general rule of thumb that the more education you acquire, the fewer barriers you’ll face when seeking employment. We decided to put this theory to the test for the cybersecurity field. After scanning the job postings in our analysis, we were able to identify the total number of job postings based on education level.
Here’s the breakdown:
- High school diploma: 7,987 job postings
- Associate’s degree: 3,033 job postings
- Bachelor’s degree: 82,773 job postings
- Master’s degree: 2,442 job postings
- Doctoral degree: 716 job postings
You’ll notice that most employers are seeking candidates with a Bachelor’s degree. So if you’ve been on the fence about the education, consider this: Earning a Bachelor’s degree makes you eligible for around ten times as many jobs as an individual with no degree. This represents a valuable opportunity to engage with and learn from peers across all sectors of the cybersecurity industry.
6. Leadership and Management skills
Most cybersecurity bachelor’s programs don’t teach leadership skills or provide managerial training. As part of your master’s program, you’d be exposed to those essential business tools and learn how to lead a team. These are fundamental qualities and skills if you want to advance in the cybersecurity field and land those senior positions.
In most technology undergraduate programs, these types of business skills are not taught as a part of the curriculum. However, to advance in the field and land high-ranking leadership positions, you’ll need to possess the right qualities, including keen business acumen.
For example, Leadership students are taught cybersecurity theory and how to turn that theory into practice, gaining specific knowledge and skills in the areas of technology, law, policy, compliance, governance, intelligence, incident response, and management. The program places significant emphasis on immersive experiences, which gives students the real-world exposure they need to be genuinely useful in the field.
7. Cyber Security Offers Unique and Interesting Ways to Make a Difference
For example, some cybersecurity specialists are focused on using creative methods to attack the very systems they are aiming to protect. They use the avenues to discover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.
Today, there are more and more so-called “bug bounty programs” in which skilled white-hat hackers’ work to disrupt the illegal and destructive efforts of their black-hat counterparts by finding and fixing weak spots in cybersecurity defense systems. A cybersecurity student will learn global defense, management, and IT consultancies. In turn, they are configuring fake computers in a phony, intentionally vulnerable network that functions to lure cyber adversaries. Then, they take the bait and reveal valuable information about your identities, tactics, and intentions.
8. You Can Become a Hybrid
This section is an extension of the salary and job security discussion. Some of the most challenging cybersecurity jobs to fill are the ones that require knowledge in another industry. For example, professionals who are well-versed in HIPAA on the health services side or accounting on the finance side are difficult to find and consequently, compensated well for their services. According to Burning Glass, these jobs take 17 percent longer to fill than the average cybersecurity job. The benefit of going back to school is that you can choose an additional industry to focus on and make yourself into the perfect hybrid cybersecurity professional.
9. Employers Prefer to Hire Well-Educated Information Security Analysts
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree is the typical entry-level requirement for becoming an information security analyst. If you do decide to earn a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, it’s a good idea to make sure you gain experience with a broad variety of other technological niches.
You’ll be more readily employable if you take some classes that teach computer database management skills. Some candidates find they have been able to maximize their employment opportunities by earning a bachelor’s degree in a general computer-related topic, gaining a year or more of work experience and earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity.
It’s impossible to overlook the importance of cybersecurity in today’s digital world. Too much of our lives and information are encoded for us not to stand up to cybercrime. Whether you’re excited by earning potential or motivated by the high demand and potential for advancement, you should get that masters degree in cybersecurity.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Software Developers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Network Architects
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cyber Attacks
- McAfee, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Economic Impact of Cybercrime – No Slowing Down, [accessed April 16, 2019]
- (ISC) ², “Cybersecurity Workforce Study, 2018.”
1E, “Getting Your House in Order.”