Cyber security, also known as network security or computer security, is a field that’s growing every day and one that offers various career opportunities. U.S. News & World Report states that about fifty percent of the nation’s adults were victims of cyber attacks from May 2013 through May 2014. Most individuals who have careers in cyber security have completed bachelor degree programs in cyber security or related fields. Learn how to obtain a career in cyber security and what the degree programs all entail.
A bachelor’s degree in cyber security generally takes a full-time student four years to complete. Although some individuals enter this career with an associate degree or pursue a master’s degree for several years, bachelor’s degrees are the most common for cyber security careers. The first year or two entails completing general education or prerequisite courses.
The final two years are spent learning about computers and computer science with a large focus on network and cyber security, which is the process of protecting computer networks from invasions such as hacking and fraud. Internships are often a big part of the program and may be a requirement for graduation. Completing an internship provides the student with hands-on training in a real working environment. Students may get internship assistance through the school.
Courses to Expect for a BS in Cyber Security
As a student in a cyber security baccalaureate program, you can expect to take courses like digital forensics analysis, network security, ethical hacking and information technology. You’ll also learn basic computer troubleshooting and will become familiar with computer programming. Other courses may include cybercrime law, ethics, criminal investigations and information security. The program teaches students how to identify security risks, assess the user’s security needs and implement a security system that will protect the network from invasion.
While completing the academic requirements of the program, the student will also be eligible for several industry certifications regarding computers, networking and cyber security. Certifications the graduate may earn include Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM), CompTIA Security+, among others.
Schools with Bachelor’s in Cyber Security Programs
The University of Maryland University College offers bachelor degree programs in software development and security; cybersecurity management and policy; and computer networks and cybersecurity. Pennsylvania State University offers a bachelor degree in Security and Risk Analysis with a concentration in information and cyber security. Utica College offers a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity. A bachelor’s degree in cyber security is offered at Colorado Technical University.
Online Bachelor’s in Cyber Security Degrees
Cyber security bachelor degree programs are also available online, also known as distance learning, at many colleges. Online programs are very similar to on-campus programs; some online programs even offer the same instructors. The major difference is that online students can work at their own pace from the comfort of their homes. They log into the schools site to submit assignments, take tests and take part in lectures. Other learning tools include streaming videos, DVDs, email assignments and podcasts. With the increased popularity in online learning, more and more schools are offering their programs as online education.
Specializations for Bachelor’s Programs
Cyber security also offers different areas of concentrations so students can focus on one specific area of study. Possible areas of concentration may include cybercrime investigations and forensics or information assurance. A student choosing a concentration in cybercrime investigations and forensics will learn to use digital evidence to solve cybercrimes such as credit card fraud or money laundering. A concentration in information assurance, on the other hand, teaches students how to protect users from being victims of cyber crimes.
The UMUC offers a minor in cybersecurity, which can be taken with any of the three cyber security programs it offers. U.S. News & World Report lists one good option as a bachelor’s degree in information technology with specializations in cyber security or computer systems and network administration. The cyber security program at Utica offers five areas of concentration: digital forensics and intrusion investigations; fraud investigations; homeland security and emergency management; cyber operations, and information assurance.
Demand and Career Outlook for BS-Cyber Security Degree Holders
According to Burning Glass Technologies, the demand for qualified cybersecurity specialists far outweighs the supply. Job postings for cybersecurity specialists increased to about seventy-four percent from 2007-2013. BGT also reports that cybersecurity jobs pay more than $15,000 higher nationwide than other IT positions. Graduates of cyber security bachelor degree programs may find a variety of career possibilities including information security analyst, network and computer systems administrators, and network security specialists.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that information security analysts earned annual wages ranging from $50,000 to more than $140,000 as of May 2014 while network and computer systems administrators saw wages from $46,000 to more than $120,000. The BLS also predicts these careers could see employment growth of anywhere from 12 percent 37 percent between 2012 and 2022. In addition to working in the computer systems industry, cyber security specialists may find work in finance and insurance, education, manufacturing and telecommunications, to name just a few.