8 Reasons to Get Your Masters Degree in Cyber Security
Today, cyber security professionals are in high demand. In fact, the demand for cyber security professionals is estimated to reach 6 million globally by 2019. Yet, while the job outlook looks fantastic for those in the field, there aren’t nearly enough highly educated and qualified workers to fill the demand, which is one of the many reasons a cyber security degree can be so beneficial. If you work in the technology sector you may already know this and may be weighing your options along with the pros and cons of taking the graduate school plunge. If that’s the case, we have eight reasons why a master’s degree in cyber security makes so much sense.
1. Job Security is Almost Guaranteed
If there ever was a time to enter the cyber security field, it’s now. With cyber threats and attacks continuing to increase, the demand for cyber security professionals is far outpacing the supply.
Between 2010 and 2014 Cyber security job postings have grown 91% and the field is projected to grow by 37% over the next ten years, adding roughly 27,400 jobs to the workforce. U.S. News listed Information Security Analyst as number 8 in their list of the 25 Best Jobs of 2015. Simply put, the job outlook for those entering the cyber security field is very, very good.
2. Salary Increases
When it comes to the technology sector, cyber security professionals are among the most highly compensated, posting a 9% salary premium over IT jobs in general. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net OnLine, the median annual wages for cyber security professionals ranges from $70,000 to $118,000. And due to the high demand for cyber security professionals, salaries are rising.
3. It’s Worth the Investment in the Long Run
Tuition for a master’s degree varies from school to school but the total cost of a degree in cyber security will typically run anywhere from $20,000 – $40,000. And while that may sound steep, the payoff proves it is worth it. According to Bloomberg Business, the Pentagon plans to triple its cyber security staff by 2016 and the FBI plans to hire 1,000 agents and 1,000 analysts in the coming year. As Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation at the State Department said in a Washington Post article, “If any college student asked me what career would most assure 30 years of steady, well-paying employment, I would respond, ‘cybersecurity.’”
But there is a major shortage when it comes to qualified cyber security workers. Due to this shortage in a critical area of national security and following the law of supply and demand, those who work in cyber security can expect to earn top dollar. For instance, on average, chief security officers will make over $220,000 annually.
If you’re still not sure though you can use LearnVest’s Grad School Calculator to determine the lifetime value of your degree.
4. Career Options Open Up
A report by Burning Glass Technologies showed that 84% of cyber security postings specify at least a bachelor’s degree and 23% require at least a masters. While the opportunities and job openings in the cyber security field are many, the education level needed to land these jobs is high. Yet, for those with the right education and experience, the opportunities are vast – with job openings in almost every state and across almost every sector, both private and public. That’s why obtaining a master’s in cyber security makes so much sense for professionals in the field.
5. Networking Opportunities Abound
For anyone looking to make the most out of their graduate program, networking is key. Because graduate school attracts groups of like-minded people with similar interests in specific areas, such as cyber security, it is the perfect place to connect with peers, alumni, and faculty. The connections made in graduate school can not only help you while you are completing your degree, by offering additional knowledge, insight, and diversity of opinion but can come in extremely helpful upon graduation as you look for job opportunities or advancements within the cyber security field.
6. Flexible Degree Programs Are Available
Flexibility is of great importance for working adults. In order to balance school with a full-time career and family obligations, the option to obtain a degree online can present an opportunity that otherwise may have been impossible. Today, many colleges and universities offer online options, either hybrid programs or in some cases 100% online degrees. In addition to flexibility, online learning has a number of benefits for students including the ability to access the best cyber security programs, professors and universities despite physical location; pay less for materials (often times textbooks are replaced with digital content that can be viewed online or printed); and interact with students from around the country and globe.
7. Financial Incentives are Abundant for Cyber Students
With cyber crime professionals in such high demand, both in the private and public sector, there are a number of financial incentives that are now being offered to those who wish to pursue a degree in cyber security. The ICS Foundation and the SWISS program grant a number of scholarships to those entering the field with a focus on women in cyber security. Two major scholarship programs are funded by the U.S. government: the Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP) and the National Science Foundation Scholarship for Service (SFS). And yellow ribbon schools, such as the University of San Diego, offer support to Veterans through yearly scholarship money that is then matched dollar for dollar by the VA. At USD that equals $14,896 per year.
8. Gain Leadership and Managerial Skills
The main benefit of getting a master’s degree in cyber security is the additional managerial and leadership training you will receive. In most technology undergraduate programs these type of business skills is not taught as a part of the curriculum. However, in order to advance in the field and land high-ranking, leadership positions, you need to possess the right qualities including keen business acumen.
At the University of San Diego (USD) we offer a 100% online Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership degree that was designed to be completed in as little as 20 months. To learn more about our nationally ranked program visit our program page.