Cyber Security: Is a Degree Worth It?
It seems you can hardly go a week without reading about a security or data breach. With cyber security on the mind, it’s no wonder that people are turning to this field as a possible career choice.
In fact, there has been a notable shortage of cyber security professionals, making this field appear even more lucrative and enticing. And with that, more individuals are going to college to earn a degree in cyber security.
But is a college degree in cyber security really worth it? Do you need one in order to be successful?
In this guide, we are answering these questions and more so you can make the best, most financially sound decision for yourself.
What is Cyber Security?
The field of cyber security (also written as “cybersecurity”) focuses on securing computer systems, servers, networks, mobile devices, and more against malicious attacks and intruders.
Hackers often launch attacks against digital devices in order to access private data; cyber security professionals protect individuals and businesses from these threats.
What is a Cyber Security Degree?
A cyber security degree will give you the foundation, skills, and coursework to help you pursue a career in cyber security. At most institutions, this comes in the form of a bachelor’s or master’s degree with an emphasis on information security.
This degree tends to be more rigorous and challenging than many other degrees but can lead to a very fulfilling and lucrative career.
Popular Areas of Cyber Security
The field of cyber security is broad and far-reaching, but most individuals tend to focus on a few key areas of computer science. These are the areas that are in the highest demand, but you can always specialize according to your own unique interests and skillset.
Network security professionals work to help individuals and businesses better protect the integrity of their network and data access. They defend networks against data breaches and other security threats – often using antivirus software, firewalls, VPNs, network analytics, and more.
Also known as “digital forensics”, technology forensics involves the investigation and recovery of information and data found in digital devices. These professionals help individuals and businesses recover “lost” data, defend against cybercrime, and report on their computer system’s performance.
Network engineers design, construct, and manage networks to ensure they are functioning at optimal performance. Individuals and organizations need optimized and secure networks in order to maintain uptime, keep their data secure, and stay connected across devices.
Why Study Cyber Security?
If recent news stories are any indication, it’s becoming increasingly more dangerous for businesses and individuals to ignore digital security threats. With more touchpoints for hackers to take advantage of, we see an increasing need for cyber security professionals to come to the defense.
You might want a degree in cyber security if you:
- Love solving complex problems
- Enjoy working with computers and systems
- Are interested in designing and building networks
- Are looking for a field that is challenging yet fulfilling
- Want to enter a field with massive job opportunities and growth
- Want a high salary and unending earning potential
- Want a Recession-proof industry/job
- Corporate and government job opportunities
- Want to make an investment in your future by entering a lucrative field
Is It Worth Getting an Undergraduate Cyber Degree?
We can say outright that Yes, getting a degree in cyber security is definitely worth it. While the benefits of entering the field of cyber security are limitless, earning a degree is the best way to set you up for success from the get-go.
Here are some reasons why earning an undergraduate degree in cyber studies is the best path:
A degree is more applicable than free resources.
Many aspiring cyber security professionals turn to free resources in order to obtain their skills and experience on a budget. But these free resources can only take you so far.
For one, you risk learning outdated or inaccurate information. Second, this “unofficial” education very rarely translates well (in the eyes of hiring managers) when it’s time to apply for cyber security jobs. For these reasons and others, it’s best to take the traditional path and earn a degree from an accredited institution.
You gain access to a wide range of resources.
Colleges not only provide degrees but help set students up for success by providing access to a wide range of resources, events, skill-building sessions and more.
Most colleges offer internship opportunities, networking events, career counseling, and other services to help students not only gain more skills in their field but be better prepared to land a job after graduation.
A degree lands you a higher starting salary and better job prospects.
The reality is that earning a degree in cyber security opens the door to a higher starting salary and better job prospects compared to jumping straight into the field with no education or experience.
In fact, recent studies show that a degree in cyber security can boost a job applicant’s “appeal factor” and lead to a higher salary. Also, keep in mind that many companies actually require applicants to have a degree in order to land the job.
Is a Master's Degree in Cyber Security Worth It?
A master’s degree in cyber security can also help you appear more attractive to hiring managers and present an opportunity to improve your skills, specialize in a specific area, and/or pivot to a different area of focus.
The average starting salary of someone with a Master’s of Science in cyber security is higher than that of someone with a bachelor’s degree.
And with online learning options available, plus on-campus and hybrid options, getting a master’s degree is more accessible than ever.
Can I Land a Cyber Security Job with No Experience?
In short, yes, it is possible to land a cyber security job with no experience. But is it easy? Not necessarily.
In one of our recent posts, UAT professor Aaron Jones shared his thoughts on getting a cyber security job right out the gate:
“Information technology is hyper-competitive and the level of success you attain will often directly correlate with the amount of effort you are willing to put into it…
The degree is part of the equation… If the job does not require one but favors that degree, I have put myself above all other seekers lacking that degree.”
In other words, a degree may not be required in order to land a cyber security position, but it definitely helps. For your best chance of landing a high salary, we recommend earning at least a bachelor’s degree and attending an accredited college that can set you up for success.
Cyber Security Career Outlook
Anyone considering a cyber security career can view the most recent and relevant job descriptions and median salary information through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The career outlook for cyber security analysts is 31%, which is much faster than the national average. And, recent projections anticipate the field of cyber security adding over 40,000 new jobs between 2021 and 2029.
“Demand for information security analysts is expected to be very high, as these analysts will be needed to create innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or causing problems for computer networks.” – bls.gov
How to Get a Job in Cyber Security
One of the best ways to prepare you for a career in cyber security is to attend a college that offers internships, networking opportunities, and access to career services. These resources will help you prepare for job interviews, gain hands-on experience, and find job opportunities through your college’s exciting connections.
Plus, earning an advanced degree in cyber science is a great way to land an even better position and increase your earnings.
Applying for Cyber Security Jobs
Here are some tips for applying to cyber security jobs:
- Read job descriptions thoroughly and write your cover letter to match the requirements the company is looking for.
- Have a friend or advisor review your resume, checking for errors and providing tips on how to make it more appealing to hiring managers.
- Look into additional certifications to improve your skills and appeal to employers.
- Practice your job interviewing skills to master your interviews.
- Follow up with employers via email to keep your name top of mind and thank them for their consideration in interviewing you.
Earn a Degree In Cyber Security at UAT
UAT offers a Master’s of Science in Cyber Security, as well as bachelor’s degrees in Network Engineering, Network Security, and Technology Forensics. Our Cyber Security Degree for Ethical Hackers and Network Security Curriculum has been certified through the NSA/DHS National Information Assurance Training Program in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense.
Designated as a Center of Academic Excellence by the National Centers of Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE), UAT’s Network Security Bachelor’s of Science degree prepares students to take on the ever-evolving world of information security.
If you believe a career in cyber security may be right for you, request information about our degree programs. At the University of Advancing Technology, we’re passionate about helping students enter STEM fields and acquire the skills they need to land a rewarding career in cyber security and beyond.