Cyber Security is a Growing IT Career Path
It seems that with every 24 hour news cycle we hear about a new data breach or security vulnerability that can have serious consequences for national interests, consumers, and businesses of all kinds. With more and more sensitive information being stored electronically, including credit card, healthcare, and other personal data, the field of cyber security continues to grow along with our reliance on technology in every aspect of our lives.
For those who want to enter the field of information technology, there are cyber security specific certificates and degrees that can be earned through online and campus programs at most accredited colleges and universities.
What is Cyber Security & What Does it Entail?
In short, cyber security entails keeping computers, networks, programs and electronic information safe from falling into the wrong hands. When data systems are breached or compromised, there can be serious consequences.
For instance, when credit card information is stolen, thieves can make scrupulous charges, and access other forms of identity, such as social security numbers that can be used to further the damage. When businesses have their information compromised, their proprietary information about their practices and processes can be shared with competing firms or exposed publicly. There are obvious reasons why our nation's military and security agencies would not want their information and data to fall into the wrong hands, especially hostile foreign governments.
All these reasons result in a critical need for all businesses and agencies to be proactive and have a cyber security plan in place for day-to-day operations, as well as plans for action if data is breached.
This is such an important issue that even our nation's military considers the threat of 'cyber terrorism' to be as great and damaging as any other physical threat from our enemies. In addition to the damage cyber crimes pose to our national security interests, the financial impacts are extreme as well. According to one estimate, cyber attacks cost the United States anywhere from $300 billion to $1 trillion per year. That statistic alone explains the growing need for skilled cyber professionals.
Want proof that a cyber security degree can offer a secure career path? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Security Analysts who hold a Bachelor's Degree in a computer-related field earned a median wage of $90,120 per year ($43.33 per hour) in 2015. And the future for professionals in this field is expected to grow 18% between 2014-24, which is much faster than the national average of 7%.
How Can You Earn a Cyber Security Degree?
The great thing about cyber security degrees is the opportunities to earn one through a reputable online program. With the growth of online learning, most employers now recognize online degrees as credible as on-campus programs. Even many campus-based programs utilize online tools because they have proven effective in helping students achieve critical learning outcomes.
Since cyber security professionals use computers to perform their tasks, this type of degree program translates perfectly to the online format.
There are several types of degrees that flow naturally into cyber security jobs. These types of bachelor's programs can include: Cyber Security, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Mathematics. Although a degree such as mathematics may not be directly related to this area, some schools offer concentrations in IT security that can give students the kinds of coursework to develop the appropriate qualifications for this role.
Courses that prepare students to work in cyber security can often approach a variety of topics, such as: database applications, project management, programming, statistics, disaster recovery, audit/compliance, computer forensics, ethical hacking, and others.
To prepare for this type of degree at the high school level, you should have a strong academic standing in mathematics, including statistics and calculus level classes. If you want to strengthen your prospects for getting into a program, you can find several free online courses and tests that relate to this area. Universities even have short-term camps for students interested in pursuing these degrees and careers.
If you are searching for an IT career that can have long-term security and make you an important part of all types of organizations, the field of cyber security is worth looking into.