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Should I Get an Associate’s or a Certificate in Cybersecurity?


Cybersecurity Certificate vs Associates Degree. Which one is better, or even worth it? This is the question of the day. Well, let us dive into why Cybersecurity in the first place. Here is one of the best reasons to choose this field.

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing industries of the 21st century. Many prospective undergraduates have made the cybersecurity field their choice of interest and study. In fact, it has become one of the best ways for IT professionals to keep up with this constantly changing field.  By pursuing either an associate degree or receiving a certificate, students can find employment in the cybersecurity industry much easier. Each one will provide the student with the right education for the job they are seeking. Whether it be a comprehensive program or an interdisciplinary approach to information technology and cybersecurity.  In certain cases, some employers may require candidates or current employees to possess specialized technology certifications.  This may help in providing further validation of the prospective candidate’s skill set and core competencies. Yet, is there really a difference in the two options? Here is a quick look at the two choices. 

Cybersecurity Certificate vs Associates Degree

cybersecurity certificate vs associates

Cybersecurity certificate programs are offered to both undergraduate students and graduate-level participants. Many certificates can take anywhere from a few academic weeks to a couple of years to complete. Depending on the program and school, most certificate programs range from 12 credits to 24 credit hours. If you are taking undergraduate certificates, then the program most likely will cover the basics of cybersecurity. However,  graduate-level certificates in cybersecurity may cover specialized topics such as engineering, cybersecurity law,  or healthcare securitySome cybersecurity certificates require the student to hold a minimum GPA of 3.0, while others may only consider a passing grade from previous education. In some certificate programs,  the school  may include a capstone project graded by peers or an instructor. However, the biggest benefit to earning a certificate is once you earn it, you have it for life. No continuing education requirements needed.

A little bit of Certifications…

STEM classes may also be available as part of a certificate program. For example, CompTIA Security+ exam certifications, which is the basic security skills needed in IT job roles and entry-level cybersecurity jobs such as the cybersecurity analyst.  Other examples may be CompTIA CySA+ and the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+). The Cost are usually between $300 and $500 for CompTIA cybersecurity certifications. This may not include the cost of study materials and/or classes required to graduate.

What Cybersecurity Degrees have to offer

As far as Cybersecurity Degrees, such as the Associate in Cybersecurity, the programs will offer more in-depth information compared to the certificate. Most associate degrees are about 60 credits and take from 18 month to two years.  As far as cost, most cybersecurity associate degrees are slightly more than the cost it takes to complete the certificate. In fact, more than 80 percent of Cybersecurity jobs will require candidates to have either  an associate degree or even a bachelor’s degree in the cybersecurity field to be hired; about four percent of employers may require a graduate-level degree. College degrees can be pricey, however, the average tuition cost to attend an in-state school is around 72% less than the full  price of private colleges, according to the US News and World report

So, here’s the Bottom line on Cybersecurity Certificates vs Associate degree

Experience: Ask yourself, how much experience do you need for the job, or do you have enough already? For those with no experience in the cybersecurity field, then deciding on a certificate over a degree may be a good start.  Especially if you need credentials for a position ASAP. 

Time: Again, going for a certificate or even certification will be faster than a degree. However, if you are looking for increased knowledge of cybersecurity and want a more well-rounded education, then going for an associate’s degree in Cybersecurity will be the better choice.

Cost: As mentioned above, the cost of just a certificate will be way less expensive than a degree program. However, it really comes down to the student’s desire to learn and how much can they afford to spend. Most certifications, as well as certificates are the least expensive, but they are also out of pocket costs. However, associate degrees can be covered by financial aid, if the student needs assistance. 

Whether it be a Cybersecurity certificate or degree, each one will provide the credentials needed for the field. Each position in cybersecurity may require different education levels. Students should evaluate what the job entitles them to do, understand the job requirements, and research the options to make the right choice.

Related Rankings:

TOP 10 ONLINE INFORMATION SECURITY AND ASSURANCE MASTER’S

TOP 10 ONLINE INFORMATION SECURITY AND ASSURANCE BACHELOR’S

TOP 10 ONLINE CYBER SECURITY ASSOCIATE’S


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Securitydegreehub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.