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Professor Aaron Jones on the Value of the Network Security Degree

Interested in a Future in the Field of Network Security?

Aaron Jones, the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) Cyber Security Program Chair, is an incredible resource to gain a glimpse into the Network Security degree and what happens after you graduate.

When not training the next generation of cyber security industry experts at the University (UAT), Professor Jones is also an AZ Peace Officer Standards and Training certified General Instructor, a software developer who creates applications for law enforcement agencies and an experienced public speaker. Read on to learn what to expect from UAT's Network Security degree straight from the subject matter expert.  


Why is a degree focused on Network Security valuable? 

A degree in Network Security from UAT is valuable because it functions as the litmus test necessary to enter the job market. It is common for influencers and even news organizations to make wild claims about how technology is an open career path that requires little or no education. The truth is that many jobs do, and will continue to, require a degree to enter. Some of the most lucrative career paths will continue to require higher education for admittance.

Obtaining a network security degree will help you get into the fields that matter. A cursory glance at LinkedIn job search using a Bachelor of Science in Network Security reveals jobs such as Web Application Developer, Project Engineer, Cloud Engineer and Cybersecurity Analyst II to name a scant few of the positions that require a degree.

It is important to remember that career attainment follows a sliding scale. You will be in competition with individuals from a wide array of backgrounds and experiences, so it is important to not only obtain the skills necessary but to also be able to demonstrate how those skills make you a better choice than the next person. Therefore, obtaining a network security degree while pursuing internships, externships and other job-related pursuits will each combine to allow you to beat out the individuals you may be in competition with.

What kind of student would enjoy a network security career?

Students who fancy themselves guardians and protectors will enjoy network security. Your job will be to protect networks, users, and their data. You will be a vital player in most aspects of the business, and your job will oftentimes require experience in, and mastery of, many different aspects of the cyber world. You will often be required to brief others on situations and come up with plans for recovery when times are tough.

The most important aspect of cyber security is a willingness to tackle tough challenges, immerse yourself in continuous education, and to have a desire to be better every day. You cannot enter a career in cyber security with a desire to grow stagnant. You will need to constantly familiarize yourself with new tools, understand your enemy, and be prepared to take action as needed. It's a lot of effort, but if you like to be active, you will enjoy cyber security.

What does the path to a Network Security degree look like? 

Your experience will vary, and I would be remiss if I did not urge you to consider how you plan to participate in your education journey. You can choose to sign up for school, participate at a baseline level, and then graduate without any additional effort or expenditures. Don't do this. Your journey can consist of events, competitions, and opportunities that you should take advantage of. As a student, you should be seeking out methods to make yourself stand out from others. You are in direct competition with every other candidate, and you should treat it as such.

A student who wants to see success after they graduate will sign up for classes, network with their instructors and fellow students, and participate in the variety of opportunities available to them. This can include numerous events that would be available, and at UAT will be advertised during classes, by the faculty or in the cyber security student Discord channel.

The journey of earning a degree in Network Security can be daunting but with perseverance and a willingness to make the most of it, you will find it to be fun and exciting. You will also develop relationships that may last years or decades after you graduate. You will discover that the cyber security field is remarkably tight-knit and full of interesting characters you will run into again and again.

What types of special projects, internships etc are available? 

For UAT students, there are special projects, internships and more that they will get exclusive opportunities for. Students can work as interns for several government agencies, participate in externships with numerous companies, and many have been employed by companies in the local area as well. Our students are often urged to give back to the community, and several of our students have participated in supporting educational institutions, such as local high schools, worked as interns in law enforcement cyber positions and provided technical support for high school level cyber competitions.

The UAT factor is a willingness to give back to the community and to work towards improving the cyber footprint of not only Arizona but also the United States as a whole.

What should incoming students know before choosing UAT?

Be ready to work, volunteer when you can, and don't hesitate to ask questions and stretch your comfort level. You will need to familiarize yourself with a plethora of tools and be ready to constantly learn. The potential for success in this field is high, and you will discover that every effort will be rewarded if you are willing to try. Don't hesitate to pursue your interests in cyber security, even outside of the field because many professors and mentors at University of Advancing Technology are willing to give you a hand if you try.

What innovative field developments are happening right now?

Multiple regional conflicts have contributed to an increase in attacks on American infrastructure and cyber security expertise is in high demand. Now is the best time to get started in pursuing cyber security as a career and your skills will be put to use in almost every field you may be interested in. The sky is the limit, especially right now.

What are some potential Network Security degree outcomes?

I am of the opinion that the cyber security field is a high potential outcome field with plenty of opportunities. Cyber security is an important aspect of nearly any business and the need for professionals who can work in this field does not seem to be slowing down. You simply cannot run a business successfully without securing that business, and while some are willing to take the risk, we are consistently seeing that any hubris is rewarded with severe damage to the business.

You can work in the cyber security field in a generic role, in a security operations center, as an analyst, in systems administration, or as a software developer to name a few jobs available to someone with a degree in Cyber Security. You should begin looking for jobs as you enter your first year in school. I recommend this because it gives you time to start choosing jobs that interest you while aligning your choices of class and extra-curricular activities towards a convergence that gets you into the position you desire.

How to take the next step toward Network Security #TechRespect

University of Advancing Technology is a designated Center of Academic Excellence - Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) institution through the National Information Assurance Education Training Program (NIETP). Sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), NIETP operates under national authority as the national manager for cyber defense education and training relating to national security systems.

Ready to get started? First, request more information about UAT's Network Security degree and get connected to an admissions advisor to get all of your questions answered and explore life at UAT further to help you decide if this is the right path for you.

Already done all that? Register for our next UATx, schedule an in-person or virtual tour led by a UAT Student Ambassador, or apply for acceptance today! Your future creating and innovating technology awaits!


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