Master of Science in Cyber Security

Is a Master’s Degree Worth It? Examining Cyber Security Salaries and Outlook 

If you are considering furthering your career and are interested in a master’s degree in cyber security, there could not be a better time to enter or advance in the field. The job outlook is fantastic, cyber security salaries are high and demand is soaring. But in order to land the best jobs in cyber security with the best companies, you need a degree and when it comes to cyber security, the higher the degree, the better.

In 2014 some of the largest companies in the country were victims of cyber crime, including J.P. Morgan, Target and The Home Depot among others. In response, there has been a sharp uptick in the demand for cyber security professionals across almost every sector. This spike in demand has caused a severe talent shortage. And it goes beyond simply not having enough workers.

“We are not just facing a shortage of cyber security professionals; it is a gaping skills gap. Just over half of those surveyed — in “The State of Cybersecurity: Implications for 2015 study conducted by ISACA and the RSA Conference — or 52 percent, said that less than a quarter of applicants for cybersecurity positions have the necessary skills for the open position. As a result, 53 percent said it can take three to six months to find a qualified candidate,” according to The Hill.

Similarly, 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 master’s degree. The demand for cyber security professionals is estimated to reach 6 million globally by 2019.

Job Outlook

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 out pacing 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. 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. 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.

Where are the Jobs Concentrated?

The increase in demand has been the greatest in industries managing increasing volumes of consumer data such as Finance (+137% cyber security job growth over the last five years), Health Care (+121% cyber security job growth), and Retail Trade (+89% cyber security job growth).

Perhaps not surprisingly, California, home to Silicon Valley, the tech capital of the world, has the most cyber security job postings of any state in the United States, with 28,744 total job postings for cyber security professionals in 2014. Trailing California are Virginia, Texas, New York, Illinois, Maryland, Florida and Georgia. “On a per capita basis, the leading states are Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and Colorado; all have high concentrations of jobs in the federal government and related contractors,” according to Burning Glass Technologies.

California and the Washington D.C./ Baltimore, MD area have become the leading cyber security hubs in the nation due to the national security and defense agencies that already exist there.

In San Diego, CA, where some of the largest Navy and Marine bases in the nation are located, as well as the United States Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), cyber security brings more than $1.5 billion into the local economy. In response to the urgency for increased cyber security education and talent and the growing need for collaboration between the public and private sector to fight cyber crime, the city has established a Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE), a public-private partnership founded by a collection of world-class cyber companies with operations in San Diego.

Cyber Security Salaries and Career Opportunities

According to 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, cyber security salaries are rising. Based on data from PayScale, the top five best cyber security titles, in terms of compensation are as follows:


Job Title Median Salary
Chief Information Security Officer 131,322
Security Architect 109,794
Security Director 104,775-116,245
Security Manager 100,215
Security Engineer 86,996

Master’s Degree,Deputy CIO/CTO/CISOTo see specifically how much you will make based on title, years of experience, certifications and location, MeriTalk has created a Cyber Security Calculator. For example, according to the calculator:

5-9 years experience,
= $125,192

Cyber Security Manager
Master’s Degree
5-9 years
= $112,263

Cyber Security Manager
Master’s Degree
District of Columbia
1-4 years,
= $109,381

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. And according to U.S. News, “the information security analysts that are compensated the best work in the securities and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage industry.” In terms of geography, it is in Sacramento, California; Norwich, Connecticut; and New York City that cyber security professionals make the highest salaries.

But no matter what industry you work in, if you are an experienced and educated cyber crime professional, companies want you, both in the private and public sector. And they want you today, as the severe lack of talent in the cyber crime field continues to threaten every person and business across the United States and world.

The University of San Diego offers a 100% online Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership that has been designed for those who desire to effect positive change in mitigating cyber security threats and become leaders in their organizations. Learn more about our nationally accredited program by visiting our program page.


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