Cyber security, the process of protecting computers, networks and data from outside access, has become extremely important in both our personal and business lives. Cyber security is a growing field that you can become part of by earning an associate degree. Learn more about this career and what an associate degree in cyber security all entails.
Earning an associate degree in cyber security typically takes two years of studies and completion of at least 60 credits. Students complete not only courses related to the major but also general education courses like math, English, communication, composition and psychology. Major-related courses might include network security, computer operating systems and maintenance, database fundamentals and networking essentials.
Associate’s in Cyber Security Curriculum
Because programming is such a big part of cyber or network security, a student may also take many programming courses. In addition to the classroom studies, students may be required to complete internships in real work settings so that they may gain work experience in the field but in supervised environments.
Individuals who have careers in cyber security usually have bachelor degrees; however, many are hired for entry level positions with associate degrees in this field or a similar field such as information technology or computer science. While students may not find as many associate degree programs in cyber security as bachelor degree programs, they are still many schools that offer this program. Cyber security is so closely related to network security that many programs that focus on cyber security are actually listed as network security programs. In fact, cyber security associate degree programs may be found in programs offering computer technology, network systems administration, information technology or emergency management, among others.
Limited Concentrations for AS in Cyber Security Degrees
Cyber security programs at the associate degree level do not usually offer concentrations because cyber security is usually offered as a concentration for another field such as computer science or information technology. One example that tends to be at numerous universities is an Associates of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in cyber security.
Online Associate’s in Cyber Security Degrees
Cyber security associate degree programs are also available as online programs through many colleges. Students in online programs may take slightly longer than two years to earn the degree. Online students learn through various educational tools such as DVDs, streaming videos, lectures and more. Online programs may be offered in one of two formats: real time or self-paced. Students in a self-paced program work at their own pace at their convenience. Students in a real time setting do the work at home online but meet with other students in a “virtual” classroom and discuss assignments much like in a real classroom.
As an online student, you’ll take almost the same courses you’d take in an on-campus setting other than the internship. Online students can often make arrangements with the school to use their labs to complete assignments if necessary. Upon completion of many of these programs, the student is eligible to take industry certification exams such as A+, Network+ or Security+ and many more.
Here are a few program names we found to keep an eye open for: Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Network Security program through distance learning, Associate in Network Security Management. This program is offered both online and on campus.
Career Options for Cybersecurity
The most common careers for associate degree holders of cyber security programs are information security analysts or network and computer systems administrators. Both of these careers offer excellent job growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that information security analysts can expect employment growth of thirty-seven percent between 2012 and 2022 while network and computer systems administrators could see a twelve percent growth. In fact, the BLS predicts that by the year 2022, more than 27,000 more jobs will be created for information security analysts.
As of May 2014, information security analysts earned an average annual wage of $88,890 and network and computer systems administrators saw an average of $75,790, according to the BLS. Salaries may vary by geographic location, experience and level of training. Associate degree holders often obtain entry-level training and receive on-the-job training. Many students also earn associate degrees as stepping stones to advanced education. They earn the degree, find work in the field and pursue higher degrees through distance learning.