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What can I do with a degree in cybersecurity?

A 2017 study conducted by Accenture shows that the average cost of cybercrime incurred by organizations to manage incidents or recover from the damage done to their business after a cybercrime has been committed is estimated to be $11.7 million a year, and this cost is expected to grow 22.7 percent a year.

With the threat of cyberwarfare constantly looming, there's a pressing need to train new digital crime fighters who can shield government, business and personal networks from crippling online attacks.

If you are interested in this challenging field but don't have the time for a traditional, on-campus education, you'll find the flexibility of an online information systems security degree, also known as cybersecurity degrees, a good way to balance work and life, while still being able to earn that degree you long for.

What to Look for in an Online Cybersecurity Degree Program?

Many universities and colleges are now featuring dedicated online information systems security degree programs, either as standalone majors or concentrations within their business, computer science, or IT programs. Others are diving even deeper with programs in areas like digital forensics and application security. Depending on your professional interest, you can choose from online cybersecurity degree programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree level.

Some institutions have been recognized by the National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE), a program jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency. CAE recognizes and designates certain two- and four-year institutes as centers of academic excellence in cyberdefense. Earning an online cybersecurity degree from a college or university recognized as a CAE in cyberdefense is something you'll want to think about as it can give you a competitive edge when you enter the job market.

Apart from CAE recognition, you'll want to look for online cybersecurity degree programs that offer a holistic approach to the subject of information security systems. Programs that don't merely focus on security systems but also emphasize management skills, computer science, technical and legal issues related to information security systems can help mold your professional profile.

Careers after a Degree in Cybersecurity

Typically, entry in this field requires a bachelor's degree in information systems security with some amount of experience in the field. Some of the more common occupations in this field include information security analysts, information assurance managers, penetration testers, firewall engineers, or computer forensic analysts. Responsibilities can include researching new cybersecurity trends, watching networks for signs of cyberattacks, analyzing information systems, and creating security policies.

Job Outlook (2016 to 2026, BLS)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for information systems analysts is projected to grow 28 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and 15 percent higher than other computer occupations.

  • Information systems analysts - 28 percent growth
  • Computer occupations - 13 percent growth
  • Average for all other occupations - 7 percent growth

Earning Potential (May 2016, BLS)

Information systems analysts are amongst the highest paid in the IT industry.In May 2016, information systems security analysts earned

  • $53,760 (lowest 10 percent)
  • $92,600 (annual mean wage)
  • More than $147,290 (highest 10 percent)

Best Industries for Cybersecurity Analysts (annual mean wages, BLS 2016)

  • Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers - $130,740
  • Securities and Commodity Contracts Intermediation and Brokerage - $112,390
  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services - $111,010
  • Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers - $110,640
  • Commercial and Service Industry Machinery Manufacturing - $110,170

Best States for Cybersecurity Analysts (annual mean wages, BLS 2016)

  • District of Columbia - $123,850
  • New York - $115,690
  • New Jersey - $113,990
  • California - 108,780
  • New Mexico - $107,900

For those who love problem-solving and a good challenge, a job fighting cybercrime can regularly bring fresh challenges in this ever-changing age of technology. To learn more about where an online cybersecurity degree could take you, check out the infographic below.

Sources: 2017 Cost of Cybercrime Study: Insights on the Security Investments that Make a Difference, Ponemon Institute LLC and Accenture, 2017. https://www.accenture.com/t20170926T072837Z__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/PDF-61/Accenture-2017-CostCyberCrimeStudy.

Degree in Cybersecurity
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