In today's world, nearly everything is connected by computers. We use them daily in both our personal and professional lives. Information is stored everywhere, a convenience that is also ripe with security risks. That is why information systems security, also known as InfoSec, is more important than ever. InfoSec professionals are charged with keeping information safe from would be thieves, and ensuring that the integrity of the data and information remains protected. Additionally, this information must be stored in a way that it can be easily and safely accessed by those who need to use it.
Earning an information systems security degree is a great way to start a career in this in-demand profession. As cyber-attacks become more complex and information breaches more common, information systems security professionals must continue learning new ways to fend off these dangers. Pursing an online degree in information systems security can help you gain the necessary knowledge for success in the field. Additionally, since the degree deals with computers and systems security, online learning tends to be a great fit -- especially for those already working in the industry.
How to Choose the Right Information Systems Security Degree
While pursuing an information systems security degree, students can expect to take courses in computer programming, information sciences and technology, security and risk analysis, network security, telecommunications, and more. As such, potential students should have an interest in computers, information technology, and cybersecurity. Graduates of online degrees programs in information systems security may go on to find careers in security analysis, database administration, or network security, to name just a few options.
Because an information systems security degree can lead to a number of different career paths, the level of education needed is highly dependent upon one's career aspirations. Most entry-level positions in the field require at least a bachelor's degree, however, some positions may require more or less education. Online degrees in information systems security are available at almost all degree levels, ranging from associate degrees to doctoral programs. The chart below outlines the different degrees available, as well as some possible career outcomes for each:
Length of Completion
Associate in Information Systems Security
Associate degrees typically take up to two years of full-time study to complete, often in preparation for a bachelor's degree.
Computer Systems Analyst, Network or Computer Systems Administrator
Bachelor's in Information Systems Security
These programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.
Information Security Analyst, Computer Systems Analyst, Network or Computer Systems Administrator, Database Administrator, Computer Network Architect
Master's in Information Systems Security
These programs take up to two years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor's degree.
Computer or Information Systems Manager, Computer Network Architect
Ph.D. in Information Systems Security
These programs take three to four years of study after earning a bachelor's degree. A master's degree may be a prerequisite to enrollment.
Computer or Information Research Scientist
Before choosing an information systems security degree program, prospective students should carefully consider which type of career they would like to pursue. Additionally, students should note that some positions require work experience in order to advance to the upper levels.
What to Expect in an Information Systems Security Program
Students interested in pusuring online degrees in information systems technology should possess excellent analytical and problem solving skills. Additionally, they must be able to communicate complex computer issues to those without the same type of knowledge.
InfoSec majors are typically trained in a variety of IT related disciplines. While specific curriculum varies by institution and degree type, some common courses may include:
- Fundamentals of Operating Systems
- Introduction to Networking
- Software Logic and Design
- Database Design and Administration
- Introduction to Programming
- Problem Solving for Information Technology
- Security Risk Analysis
- Information Security
- Law and Ethics for the Internet
- Fundamentals of Business
Information Systems Security Degree Specializations
An information systems security degree can open the door to a wide variety of careers in the information technology and security field. InfoSec professionals are needed in nearly all companies and at all levels. Some graduates work for individual systems security firms while others work in the IT department at large companies. Some specializations may include:
- Information Security Analysis
- Information Systems Management
- Computer Systems Analysis
- Network and Systems Administration
- Database Administration
- Network Architecture
Although some of these specializations may be available during school, many graduates choose a specialty after graduation. As with many computer and information technology degrees, much of what is learned during college can be applied to numerous areas of the industry. That being said, some positions do require more specialized training and knowledge, such as specific coding languages. Additionally, many degrees require an internship prior to graduation.
Benefits of an Online Degree in Information Systems Security
Online degrees in information systems security are a great way for InfoSec professionals to advance their careers while keeping their current job. The online environment is flexible, allowing working students to study on a schedule that suits their needs. Whether students are looking to gain access to entry-level jobs or advance to upper-management positions by acquiring a graduate degree, online learning may be the perfect fit for these students.
In addition to flexible scheduling, online degree programs are particularly well suited for students in computer related fields. Most topics in information technology and information systems security can easily be taught and studies online. Lessons are typically delivered via video lectures, online texts and reading assignments, and through other online assignments. Students can often communicate with their professors and classmates through video chat, email, and message boards.
In most cases, educational materials and lectures are accessible 24 hours a day. This flexible arrangement is perfect for working adults and students with family commitments. Students can study at a time of their choosing and create a study schedule around their already busy lives.
Careers in Information Systems Security
A degree in information systems security provides students with fundamental IT skills and security knowledge that can translate to a number of different career options. With practically all businesses in need of protecting their information and computer systems, jobs in this niche are expected to be plentiful in the future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the opportunities for employment in the information systems security industry will continue to grow over the next 10 years.
The BLS states that most entry-level positions in the field require a bachelor's degree or above. Depending on the position sought, some employers may only require an associate degree, while others may prefer candidates with a master's degree. In general, researchers are typically required to hold a graduate degree, often a Ph.D.
Listed below are some potential careers options for graduates of information systems security degree programs. Wage and employment data is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.
Projected Job Growth 2014-2024
Mean Annual Wage in 2015
Information Security Analysts
Computer Network Architects
Computer Systems Analysts
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Computer and Information Research Scientists
An information systems security degree is an excellent way for students to prepare for careers in cybersecurity or information technology. The degree is also broad enough to lead to a number of other career options. Although some positions require more or less education, in general, a bachelor's degree can help graduates obtain entry-level employment in most of these career fields.
To browse available programs, or learn more about specific online information systems degrees, visit any of the school websites listed below.
Computer and Information Research Scientists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm
Computer and Information Systems Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
Computer Network Architects, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-network-architects.htm
Computer Systems Analysts, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm
Database Administrators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm
Information Security Analysts, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
May 2015 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Network and Computer Systems Administrators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm