An associate degree in network security can help you obtain an entry-level position in network security as a network administrator or a computer support specialist. It generally takes two years and completion of about 60 credits to complete an on-campus associate degree program, but online education allows you to work at your own pace. However, you can complete it in the same two years if your schedule permits. About the only prerequisite for an associate degree program is a high school diploma. The first year of the program you’ll complete general education courses like math, English, sociology and composition. The second year focuses on computer and network security courses.
Most network security specialists have bachelor’s degrees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Professions obtained by holders of bachelor’s degrees include information security analyst, network and computer systems administrator, computer network architect, computer systems analyst, and computer and information systems managers. Bachelor’s degree programs generally take about four years to complete and require completion of about 120 credits. Associate and bachelor degree programs often require the student to complete an internship at a business that deals with network security so that hands-on experience can be obtained.
Master degree programs take at least an additional two years to complete in addition to already having a bachelor’s degree, which is usually a requirement. Purdue University offers an online master’s degree in information technology with a concentration in information security, cyber forensics and homeland security. A graduate student might take courses like social, legal and ethical issues on the Internet, computer security, database systems and security, risk analysis, and leadership development.
Some businesses prefer their network security specialists or information security analysts also have a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Some colleges offer dual-degree programs that allow the student to earn the computer-based degree as well as the MBA through distance learning.
Students in a master’s degree program may be required to complete a senior project such as a thesis or some other type of written report. However, many online master degree programs have other requirements to take the places of projects that would be required in an on-campus program. A doctoral degree in network security may also be found at a few schools. Graduates of these programs usually are interested in teaching or performing research.
Network security degree programs may occasionally offer various concentrations so the student can learn more about his or her specific area of interest. However, network security is more often offered as an area of concentration to a computer science or information technology program.
Online programs make it easy to earn a degree while the student continues to work and meet other obligations. Once the student is registered as a student, he or she logins into the school’s site and finds assignments and exams, submits homework, and can even participate in classroom discussions. This can all be done through e-mails, videos, online lectures and DVDs. The student is actually part of a virtual classroom but in the comfort of his or her home.
According to BLS, network security specialists can expect an excellent growth in employment between 2012 and 2022. An example of this is with information security analysts, which should see growth of up to thirty-seven percent. These professionals’ annual wages averaged about $88,890 as of May 2014. Network and computer systems administrators, who saw wages of about $75,790 in 2014, are expected to see a twelve percent growth in employment. Computer support specialists are predicted to see a growth of seventeen percent, and this career can typically be obtained with an associate degree.