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Concerns about cybersecurity permeate contemporary life. Cyberattacks not only endanger national security but they also threaten the operations of industries that depend on the transmission and protection of secure data, including financial institutions, retail businesses, and healthcare organizations. Identity theft and credit scams grow more frequent as consumers use mobile devices and laptops to make purchases, payments, and banking transactions.
As security risks spread throughout the global economy, trained cybersecurity professionals have never been more in demand. An online cybersecurity degree leads to rewarding and challenging employment opportunities in a variety of settings. This guide presents a comprehensive overview of the cybersecurity field, career prospects, and earning potential for graduates.
What is Cybersecurity?
Career opportunities abound for cybersecurity experts with backgrounds in computer programming, cloud computing, and big data. These professionals can spot security vulnerabilities and prevent and repair data breaches. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 13% employment growth for computer and information technology positions between 2016 and 2026. These professionals earn a median annual wage of $84,580, which ranks significantly higher than the national average salary across all professions.
This versatile, multidisciplinary degree provides graduates with a solid foundation in computer science, information technology, and digital forensics. Most online cybersecurity degrees allow students to specialize in areas that match their interests and career goals, such as database applications, systems and network administration, and data recovery. Students also access a variety of well-compensated careers with high job security. Because of the shortage of skilled cybersecurity specialists, graduates can expect to find openings in the public and private sectors as systems administrators and analysts, database managers, security architects, risk assessors, and IT consultants.
An online bachelor's provides a strong foundation for graduate and advanced training while enabling students to continue working in the field. Though most employers hire graduates with a bachelor's in cybersecurity or a related information science degree, post-baccalaureate education and certifications open doors to opportunities requiring specialized technical expertise. These positions include cryptographer, penetration tester, and ethical hacker. A master's degree also provides a pathway to managerial and leadership roles.
What Can I Do with an Online Cyber Security Bachelor's Degree?
Graduates of an online cybersecurity bachelor's degree acquire proficiencies in computing programming, information technology, and digital forensics. They learn how to deal with the risks and vulnerabilities in the information technology landscape. They also learn how to apply their knowledge in industries and government organizations to combat threats and protect data and computer systems. This section discusses how the skills and knowledge gained in cybersecurity programs translate into a variety of career possibilities with favorable salary potential.
Skills and Knowledge Gained
The best online cybersecurity degrees provide students with a solid foundation in computer science, statistics, and information technology. Graduates also acquire analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills and an understanding of law, policy, and ethics that set them apart in the workplace. Because cybersecurity professionals can enter specialized careers in various industries, including law enforcement and healthcare, students should make sure their prospective programs support their educational and career goals.
Most programs offer a bachelor's of science in cybersecurity that emphasizes computer programming and technological applications. However, some schools offer a bachelor's of science in cybersecurity and criminal justice that appeals to students interested in cybercrime. Other students may prefer the behavioral focus of a bachelor of arts in cybersecurity and psychology.
Once students complete core requirements, they should select concentrations and electives that sharpen the skills they need for their intended careers. They should also take advantage of internships and field experiences that provide them with real-world experience and a competitive edge in the job market. For example, students interested in positions as system administrators and information security analysts should study system architecture. Learners may also want to pursue courses and, if possible, an internship on ethical hacking and virus prevention. Information assurance specialists must become familiar with risk assessment and acquire training in various technological tools such as firewalls and antivirus software. Students looking to enter the rapidly growing wireless and mobile device security field should develop expertise in mobile networking, WiFi, Bluetooth, and GSM, along with malware, spyware, and cloud computing development.
Careers and Salary Potential
Ideal candidates for cybersecurity positions enjoy working with computers, technologies, and data. These professionals are also problem-solvers who can incorporate and adapt to new approaches. While career opportunities continue to expand in a variety of settings, major employers of cybersecurity specialists include government and law enforcement agencies, healthcare institutions, educational institutions, and media organizations. This section describes possible employment options and provides information about career possibilities and salary prospects for cybersecurity graduates.
- Computer Systems Design and Related Services: These firms plan and design computer systems for corporate or nonprofit clients. They employ computer systems and cybersecurity analysts to integrate hardware, software, and communications technology into appropriate systems for their clients' needs.
- Information: Information industries comprise various organizations that use computer technology to store, transmit, and manipulate data and information. They hire information security specialists, database analysts, and other cybersecurity professionals to manage all types of information distribution technologies.
- Educational Services: Educational institutions employ chief information officers and cybersecurity technicians to protect institutional data, such as grade records, transcripts, and financial information. Cybersecurity challenges in educational settings include phishing, hacking, and security breaches to learning management systems.
- Finance and Insurance: Financial and insurance companies face constant cybersecurity threats to their operations. They rely on cybersecurity specialists and advisers with expertise in risk management and assessment, ethical hacking, malware, ransomware, and wire transfer and fraud vulnerabilities.
- Management of Companies and Enterprises: Cybersecurity breaches threaten all companies, including small businesses and transnational corporations. Management teams depend on cybersecurity specialists to perform risk assessments, protect operating systems, secure networks, implement antifraud services, and educate all employees about safe practices.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Annual Median Salary : $81,100
These administrators direct the day-to-day operations of computer networks and systems, including local area networks, wide area networks, intranets, and email platforms. They also update and monitor security permissions and evaluate network security .
Computer Systems Analysts
Annual Median Salary : $88,270
These specialists design and install computer systems to help organizations operate more efficiently. They conduct research on daily operations and technology usage, create customized systems, and protect hardware and software from threats.
Information Security Analysts
Annual Median Salary : $95,510
Information security analysts protect and recover information from computers and other digital storage devices, monitoring threats and implementing solutions to data breaches and attacks. They also install and maintain software, such as firewalls or data encryption programs.
Information Assurance Engineer
Annual Median Salary : $85,581
These professionals oversee the security of an organization's data and develop plans for network control and maintenance. They conduct risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and reduce the chance of breaches.
Information Technology Auditor
Annual Median Salary : $64,811
IT auditors work with departments across organizations to increase compliance and manage risk. Their main responsibility involves planning and conducting audits to evaluate risks and monitor performance of specific technological functions.
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