In our everyday lives, we may not think much of cybersecurity beyond frequent requests for two-factor authentication. However, for corporations, both large and small, and governments around the world, the business of protecting critical data is a daily task, and business is booming. That’s where an online cybersecurity degree comes into play. With a cybersecurity degree, there are a vast number of opportunities available, which is just one of many reasons why a degree in the growing field is worth it. Read on to learn more about what you can do with a cybersecurity degree.
How Many Cybersecurity Jobs Are Available?
According to CyberSeek, there were 1,053,468 cybersecurity professionals employed in the U.S. from October 2020 to September 2021, but there were also 597,767 job openings, with the largest number of openings in California and Texas – two states with large concentrations of tech companies and tech workers. With demand in no danger of slowing down, an online cybersecurity degree can give you the needed skills, knowledge, and confidence to break into this growth industry.
Among the employment sectors with the most cybersecurity job openings, according to CyberSeek:
- Professional Services - 204,024
- Finance and Insurance - 115,258
- Manufacturing - 70,407
- Information - 40,751
- Educational Services - 23,632
Why Are Professionals With Cybersecurity Degrees in Demand?
Cyberattacks that expose personal information, such as the one that impacted a Florida health care system in October 2021, are a daily threat. A University of Maryland study found hackers try to breach safety protocols every 39 seconds and 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses.
These repeated attacks, as well as the evolving methods used by hackers – spear phishing emails, malware, identity theft, and other social engineering attacks, among others – have opened the door for cybersecurity graduates to rise to the challenge.
Globally, employers are not just stepping up with “Help Wanted” signs. They’re also making massive investments, with spending on information security alone expected to reach $175 billion by 2024, according to Statista.
What Jobs Can I Get With an Online Cybersecurity Degree?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the agency that tracks employment data throughout the country, estimates that the number of computer and information technology jobs will grow 13% – faster than average – through 2030.
“Demand for these workers will stem from greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security,” the agency predicts.
Cybersecurity graduates will find a number of job opportunities within those categories. Among them:
Information security analyst
The demand for information security analysts (often referred to as security analysts) is projected to grow 33% through 2030, much faster than average for all occupations and 20% more than other computer-related occupations, according to the BLS. While they are heavily involved in drafting and executing security strategies for organizations large and small, “their responsibilities are continually expanding as the number of cyberattacks increases,” the agency reports.
Typically, an information security analyst is responsible for:
- Monitoring an organization’s networks for security breaches and investigating violations when they occur
- Installing and using software, such as firewalls and data encryption programs, to protect sensitive information
- Preparing reports that document security breaches and the extent of the damage caused by the breaches
- Conducting penetration testing and simulating attacks to look for vulnerabilities in systems before they can be exploited
- Researching the latest information technology security trends
- Developing security standards and best practices for their organization
- Recommending security enhancements to management or senior IT staff
- Helping computer users when they need to install or learn about new security products and procedures
A bachelor’s degree is typically required to be hired as an information security analyst, and the BLS cites many of the aforementioned soft skills among those that analysts must possess.
The role of information security analyst can also be a fit for adult learners looking for a career change, as well as those seeking remote work. AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) ranks information security analyst No. 10 on its list of “15 Work from Home Jobs that Are in Demand in 2022.”
“I deal with businesses to identify ways of securing their IT systems,” explains cybersecurity consultant Elka Torpey in an interview with the BLS. “I also mentor staff and make sure the company meets its regulatory requirements.”
Torpey earned her college degree online, taking advantage of life-learning credits – earning real-world experience that counts toward college credit. She recommends a degree for anyone getting into her field, “Because it gives you the discipline to develop skills for lifelong learning.”
A cybersecurity specialist is responsible for testing and analyzing the effectiveness of an organization’s security systems. A specialist role is typically a junior- or entry-level role, although job seekers may find the salary for these roles to their liking – an Indeed search can show you how much companies are willing to commit for qualified cybersecurity specialists.
Network security specialist
When organizations build or purchase hardware and software to protect their information, a network security specialist is the one responsible for ensuring that it works before it’s implemented. According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), network security specialists are often hired to:
- Deploy, test, and maintain security systems such as VPNs, firewalls, and email security
- Ensure hardware and software are well-maintained and up-to-date with security requirements
- Confirm that the current network system security is suitable for future requirements
- Work with external suppliers to source solutions
- Generate performance reports
- Communicate with management to promote security best practices
Data security officer
A data security officer (also referred to as a data protection officer) acts as a compliance officer for an organization and trains others on regulations related to data privacy. The role is fairly new and was created in response to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) put forth by the European Parliament, European Council, and European Commission.
In addition to these roles, a college graduate with an online cybersecurity degree can explore opportunities in fields that include:
The U.S. government defines information assurance as “measures that protect and defend information and information systems by ensuring their availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation. These measures include providing for restoration of information systems by incorporating protection, detection, and reaction capabilities.”
Security risk management
Risk management will be a focus of your studies as an online cybersecurity student. As a career path, it involves an ongoing process of identifying, evaluating, and addressing risks to an organization’s IT structure and the processes put in place by management.
Five Benefits of Earning Your Cybersecurity Degree Online
Cybersecurity is a field that requires up-to-date knowledge and technical expertise to match a foundation of computer literacy. All of this can be obtained through an online college education.
1. You’ll gain next-level hard and soft skills
Application development security, cloud security, and risk management are among the fastest-growing (read: in-demand) cybersecurity fields in today’s workplace. A cybersecurity degree from an accredited online university like the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC) will immerse you in these and other relevant topics, including, among others, cryptography, computer forensics, the Open Web Application Security Project’s (OWASP) top 10 threats to web applications, and the threat classifications of the Web Application Security Consortium (WASC).
Beyond the hard skills, your degree can help you develop the soft skills – problem-solving, critical thinking, analytical and research capabilities, organization, and time management – that will serve you well in a cybersecurity role.
2. You’ll be learning and working online
Cybersecurity professionals must, above everything else, be comfortable working with – and around – technology. That makes an online cybersecurity degree even more beneficial to your development and success, as the technology tools used to communicate with classmates, research and complete assignments, and network with other professionals will help you acclimate to a career in a technology field and develop invaluable soft skills.
3. You’ll be learning from the best
An accredited online university will put its cybersecurity curriculum in the hands of professionals that have been there and done that. UAGC, for example, employs information technology faculty with experience at leading technology corporations. Among them: Dr. Raj Parikh, whose experience includes roles at Verizon, AT&T, and Fidelity, among others, and Dr. Tahereh Daneshi, whose previous experience includes roles as a senior engineer, director of research and development, and application business advisor for companies such as WorldCom and FedEx.
4. You’ll get scholarship opportunities
If college tuition is an obstacle, there are a number of cybersecurity-related scholarships that can help you fund your education. These include scholarships specifically designated for women, such as the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS).
5. You’ll have job security and flexibility
Presenting yourself to an employer as an online security expert with credentials earned through an online university can greatly enhance your chances of landing your dream job. Further, the “Great Resignation” has sparked serious concerns, as companies contend with employee burnout and the risk of security threats slipping through the cracks. These fuel the aforementioned demand for qualified, educated cybersecurity professionals to shore up the defenses.
How Do I Get Started in Cybersecurity?
As more people worldwide move further online and concepts such as the metaverse become more than just a casual conversation topic, employers will rely on cybersecurity graduates to oversee their most valuable information. A college education is key to unlocking your career potential, so if your passion for cybersecurity matches the demand for qualified graduates, contact an Enrollment Services Advisor about your Bachelor of Science in Cyber and Data Technology today.
Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.