Here’s the fact of the matter: you can get a job in cybersecurity without a degree. All you need to prove that you can do the job is a certification, and with relevant experience, cybersecurity professionals can enter all sorts of industries – banking, education, technology, and government. So is a cyber security degree worth it? Yes, for one simple reason – a certification only takes you so far. Certifications are fine for learning the current technology, but they don’t provide the foundation for learning new technologies, much less developing new technologies. That’s what you get in a computer science or cybersecurity degree program, and that’s what makes a cyber security degree worth it. Some employers will even pay for you to complete your degree.
What is the Difference Between a Computer Science vs Cyber Security Degree?
Computer science vs cyber security degree programs are sometimes hard to differentiate. However, there are some gaps between them. A student with a computer science degree may study artificial intelligence (AI), health informatics, computer graphics, and design solutions, and theoretical studies – cybersecurity is just one possible specialization out of many in a computer science program. Students will learn problem-solving and computer networking, much like cyber security. However, courses will be geared more toward practical, scientific, and theoretical knowledge. Software engineering is included, along with the study of algorithms and coding theory.
To help distinguish between computer science and cyber security, consider these factors. A Cyber security degree deals with anti-virus software, identity theft and Malware protection, and hacking techniques. A student who is going for a cyber security degree will need some background in computer science, along with network security, information technology, application security, and information assurance. Hacking programming and encryption software courses are also cyber security degree requirements. Of course, a master’s degree in cybersecurity can provide another step forward.
Cyber Security Jobs: Outlook and Salary
There are many specialized responsibilities for those working in cyber security jobs. Some duties include monitoring computer systems, researching data, and analyzing reports. Implementing state-of-the-art technology and maintaining internal and external policy compliance is part of the job as well. Other duties of cyber security degree requirements are the ability to monitor operations and infrastructure. The skills needed for cyber security positions are problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and collaboration, and mathematics.
A cyber security degree salary has had a much-projected growth over the past several years. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the 2016 report shows cyber security jobs are rising by 28% over the next decade. The average cyber security degree salary range is between $75,000-$95,000 annually. In fact, the average salary for cyber security or Information security jobs is $95,510 per year. The more experienced, the higher the pay rate offered. Students or graduates who have obtained cyber security certifications, as well as degrees, may be put into a higher salary bracket. Many entry-level cyber security jobs do not require a degree. However, to earn a six-figure salary, an education will more than likely be required, and you can earn that degree while still working (and save money) with an online program. With just one or two years, an online bachelor’s can change your career.
Bottom Line, is a Cyber Security Degree Worth it?
With a cyber security degree, the possibilities are endless. Many graduates will find work in the private sector, working for businesses or corporations that will pay top dollar for someone to protect their assets and keep their information from being hacked. Other students may find employment with governmental agencies. Places like the NSA or FBI are always looking for new candidates willing to not only protect against those trying to scam the government but also serve their country through security measures. For those still asking, “Is a cyber security degree worth it?” then ponder on this. Many cyber security certifications are available at most colleges or universities, however, they are sometimes available through the NSA, FBI, or CIA offices, making cyber security jobs even more worth it. Homeland security is another government agency known to hire for cyber security positions.