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Is a Cyber Security Degree Worth It?


According to NSA statistics, at least nine out of ten companies are hacked at least once every year. Even the big companies such as Home Depot, Yahoo, and Target have all fell victims to hackers in recent years which reveal the harsh reality of cybercrime in the modern digital world. In fact, for many businesses today, the question is no longer whether they will be hacked but when.

This harsh reality is one of the major contributing factors to the rise of cybersecurity field which mainly focuses on protecting information systems and networks from a wide range of digital attacks aimed at accessing or destroying sensitive business information. Technology experts who take up cyber security jobs usually work on a wide range of assignments ranging from helping businesses understand how to protect their information systems to performing security threats, detecting potential intrusions, and developing information system security strategies.

Career experts agree that cybersecurity is one of the hottest fields today and the rising number of cyber security jobs confirm it. But if you’re still wondering “Is a cyber security degree worth it?” these factors, combined with a zero unemployment rate in this field, more than make the case.

The Outlook for Cyber Security Jobs

Today, the cybersecurity field is experiencing a severe shortage of professionals with the right cybersecurity certifications. According to several estimates, the cybersecurity workforce will have at least three million unfilled positions by 2021. The explosive cybersecurity job growth makes the problems more severe.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow by an average of 28% between 2016 and 2026 compared to the average seven percent growth across the other fields of work. This demand is good news to the already existing experts with the right cyber security certifications and the new graduates who will be entering the job market to pursue their career.

One of the biggest elements that will make a difference in your job search is cyber security certifications. Some of the most popular cyber security certifications, and in-demand by employers, include:

  • CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker
  • CISA: Certified Information Systems Auditor
  • CISM: Certified Information Security Manager
  • CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional
  • CompTIA Security+
  • GCIH: GIAC Certified Incident Handler
  • GSEC: GIAC Security Essentials Certification
  • OSCP: Offensive Security Certified Professional
  • SSCP: Systems Security Certified Practitioner

Most of the time, earning these certifications will require taking some continuing education courses, passing a certification exam, and, for some, renewing or taking further continuing education units annually.

Computer Science vs Cyber Security Degree: Which is For Me?

It’s not quite fair to pit a degree in computer science vs cyber security degree, but those interested in the best return on their education investment should really consider the difference. A degree in computer science is going to be a generalist degree, unless you specialize; a degree in cyber security, on the other hand, is a specialization. Cyber security degree requirements will be more focused and most specialized than a generalist computer science degree. You will probably have to take more advanced courses in cybersecurity, and have less choice in electives – everything you do will need to meet the cyber security degree requirements. But the job-market value of the cyber security specialization will make a computer science vs cyber security degree an easy choice.

One of the hot topics that will always come up when evaluating computer science vs. cybersecurity is the cost of the degree. Although the total cost for a cybersecurity degree or masters varies from school to school, the average cost of a cybersecurity degree will be anything between $20,000 and $70,000. While this might sound so expensive, the truth is that it is worth it given the wide range of opportunities that lie ahead.

As mentioned earlier, there is a critical shortage of these experts countrywide, and the demand is far much higher than the supply. Anyone who decides to pursue a career in cybersecurity is guaranteed of better return in the future. Furthermore, the cyber security degree requirements will be engaging and even fun, if cyber security is interesting to you, and anyone who loves technology and mathematics can pursue a career in this field and succeed.

Cyber Security Degree Salary and Return on Investment

Given the critical role that cybersecurity experts play in an organization, employers are always willing to make significant investments in this group of employees. The cyber security degree salary is above the average earnings for almost all the other industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the average annual cybersecurity salary for security analysts was $95,510 in 2017. This salary is more than twice the national average for the other occupations.

This average salary reflects the average earnings of cybersecurity professionals regardless of their education level, location, specialization, or experience. Each of these factors will also play a significant role in determining the overall salary of an individual. Generally, the cybersecurity experts on the low-end of the spectrum take home approximately $53, 760 every year while the more experienced and highly educated experts take home at least $147, 290 every year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When you’re looking for the best cyber security undergraduate programs, the search can get overwhelming. By the time you earn your degree and get your first cyber security job, however, you’ll find that all of the effort is absolutely worth it. A little knowledge can help you make the most of your security degree.

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