EDUCATION IN CYBER SECURITY—COURSES OVERVIEW
With cyber crime making the news and companies and businesses having to do due diligence on security systems to protect information and user PII, those who can implement security plans and technologies in a timely fashion may find their education in cyber security or information systems technology pays off.
Universities are striving to create degree and cyber certificate programs in their existing computer science, business and engineering departments. New cyber security courses and bootcamps are being developed by academics and professionals in response to real-world needs both in the public and private sectors.
If you are in an information technology program, it could be beneficial to take courses in security and consider specializing in the field of cyber security. If you are a student or an academic in a technology field, it might be beneficial to investigate Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Workforce Framework which seeks to provide context and a course of study and implementation.
DECIDE ON THE LEVEL OF EDUCATION TO PURSUE
You cyber security education can come in the form of a cyber associate's degree, as part of a bachelor's in cyber or information technology, or from a certificate program. An associate's degree can be achieved in about two years of full-time school, while a bachelor's may take around at least four years. A certificate program is likely to take less time but can take as much as a year to complete.
Two-year master's degree programs in cyber security are also available once you finish your undergraduate education. If you already have a bachelor's degree and are considering a certificate, check to make sure that your credits can apply towards a master's degree.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of roles require a four-year bachelor's degree. An associate's degree may land an entry-level position, but be prepared to continue your education at least through the bachelor's level for more advanced careers, or management positions.
COMMON UNDERGRADUATE CYBER SECURITY COURSES
It is important to research universities prior to enrollment and make sure that their programs will provide the very best courses and education. While undergraduate programs are likely to have their own unique approach to core curriculum requirements, you might want to make sure you'll find subjects similar to the following in your school's degree program:
- Operating Systems
- Network Security
- Information Assurance
- Digital Forensics
- Computer Ethics and Privacy
- Object-Oriented Programming
- Project Management
Your coursework should feature plenty of projects that you'll work on with fellow students as well as faculty. It will be vital to form good working relationships to maximize the educational value of the experience and to form contacts that may be of mutual benefit after you graduate.
COMMON GRADUATE-LEVEL CYBER SECURITY CLASSES
If you choose to extend your learning to the master's level, your coursework will be more intense and focused. Sometimes these cyber security courses are found in MBA programs through the business department, though they are more frequently in the computer science, library science, or engineering departments. Some graduate-level courses you might take include the following:
- Computer Forensics
- Cyber Law
- Introduction to Data Mining
- Telecommunication Systems
- Secure Software Design
- Risk Analysis
ROLES CYBER SECURITY COURSES PREPARE YOU FOR
Once you have completed your cyber security program and begin working in your area of interest, you may see the benefits of your hard work. Though salaries may vary according to your city and state, and level of experience, some professionals earn solid salaries.
There is a wide range of jobs available to those with cyber security training. Depending upon the type of education program you pursue, you may be able to consider one of these other tech careers:
- Computer forensic specialist
- Information security analyst
- Computer forensic examiner
- Cyber security engineer
- Government cyber security manager
- Cyber intelligence analyst
- Chief security officer
- Cyber security manager or administrator
- Cyber security architect
- Cyber security operations analyst
Plus, the job market for this field is expected to grow at more than twice the rate of the average IT field through at least 2031. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook states that they expect growth to reach 34.7% for information security analysts through 2031.
Additionally, the 2021 BLS reports a median annual wage of $102,600 for these professionals.
RESEARCH PRIOR TO ENROLLING IN CYBER SECURITY CLASSES
Many schools offer programs in cyber security, and there may even be a good fit in your immediate area. When you seek out a school, do your research before jumping in. If you are already in the IT field, it's likely that your colleagues know a lot about programs in the area and their classes.
Use your networking skills and ask them about their experiences with their cyber security programs and what courses they took. If they are already working in the field, it may give you an indication of whether the school has programs in the area you're interested in, and has accredited status from a professional agency or regional accreditation office.
As you research schools and ask questions, you may discover that you are more drawn to cyber security policy and a multidisciplinary approach to the subject of cyber crime. Other people might be more interested in a hands-on approach and seek coursework in forensics and investigating cyber crimes.
When you research programs, you can begin to determine which of the many cyber security career paths interests you the most. If you are uncertain, you might look at programs that offer classes in programming and other areas of information technology so that you have a strong base upon which to support your eventual career.
ON-CAMPUS VS ONLINE CLASSES FOR CYBER SECURITY
Consider whether you would prefer to study online or in a traditional classroom. Both have their positives and negatives, and each is suited to particular types of students.
For instance, a working parent might find the flexibility of an online program allows them to continue working and tending to family responsibilities while taking classes and making strides toward completing their education. Others might be able to attend classes during standard working hours. For them, the question is whether or not they need the added structure and interaction of a traditional course or not.
Though many opt for online courses due to the flexibility in scheduling, there are some online programs that require that students log in at particular times to participate in chat room-based studies or to virtually attend a lecture. Keep in mind that if you are working on a group assignment your classmate might be in different time zones and find that scheduling times to collaborate is difficult. Before you enroll, it will be beneficial to discover how the school addresses these types of issues.
FACULTY BACKGROUND AND DEPTH
One aspect of a cyber security program that you may wish to research is the background of its faculty members. Try to discover how many of the professors have hands-on experience in the field, and how they have interacted with companies or government agencies. It may be important to see how diverse the faculty is at your school, as one of the key attributes of the most successful programs is an interdisciplinary focus.
GET STARTED WITH CYBER SECURITY CLASS ENROLLMENT
In today's paperless society, cyber security is more important than ever, as the people who choose to earn an education in the field provide reassurance to a public threatened by data breaches and identity theft on a daily basis.
Just about any sort of business wants to protect its databases, users, and websites from outside interruption, particularly financial institutions, high-volume retailers who store credit card information, government and insurance agencies, and anyone else with a valuable or sensitive database. Be a part of the solution, use our Find Schools widget on this page to match with a school and start your journey to becoming a cyber security expert.