What You Should Know About This Degree
When considering an information security career, you should understand the difference between a cybersecurity degree and similar educational programs. There are a variety of computer degrees available, including data science, network administration, programming, and systems design, that touch on data security topics. However, cybersecurity programs provide detailed, specific knowledge and skills that explore advanced tools and techniques to protect computer data and systems from cyberattacks.
Finding an accredited cybersecurity program helps ensure you get full value for your educational investment. The two leading cybersecurity accreditation groups are provided by the federal government’s National Security Agency and the privately run ABET.
Certifications aren’t mandatory to work in cybersecurity, but they help you start or advance your career. The most widely sought designation is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), held by more than 140,000 people globally. There are a number of other certifications available in specific areas, such as internet security, or for vendor-specific software platforms, such as Microsoft or Cisco.
The sector’s 31% growth rate is almost three times higher than the 11% forecast for all computer positions and far above the 4% projected across all occupations.
Here are some questions to consider when exploring cybersecurity degree programs:
- Am I eligible for this degree? Undergraduate and certificate programs in cybersecurity typically have the same requirements as other programs, although aptitude with technology and mathematics is definitely helpful. Master’s programs generally expect candidates to hold an undergraduate degree in computer science, plus possibly some work experience in the field.
- What licensing or certifications are required? Cybersecurity certifications aren’t required to enter the field, but they’re recommended to help you start or advance your professional career.
Your research into cybersecurity degree programs should begin online by checking out school websites. If you narrow your choices to an on-campus program, you should also visit its facilities and make sure the technology is up-to-date. Review the admissions requirements, particularly for postgraduate work, and keep track of application deadlines to help ensure the admissions process goes smoothly.
Also, give some thought to how you will finance your education. Research the kinds of scholarships, grants, and other forms of assistance available through your school of choice. You might also be able to take advantage of tuition reimbursement programs if you’re employed.