Master of Science in Cyber Security

How to Know if a Cyber Security Engineering Degree is Right for You 

Michelle Moore, PhD

Michelle Moore, PhD

To get a job in the cyber security field, or more specifically in cyber security engineering, you’re going to need education, likely a cyber security engineering degree, and experience paired with the right skill set. This isn’t a field you can just jump into without the right qualifications and skills. So what exactly do you need to get accepted into a master’s program and then consequently work in the field? And how do you know if a career in cyber security engineering is right for you? Read on to find out!

Your Education and Experience

In order to gain the qualifications necessary to land a job as a cyber security engineer, many obtain a master’s degree in the field. A master’s degree is beneficial to those looking to enter or advance in the field of cyber security because it offers a truly specialized approach. But to get accepted into a master’s program it is essential to have a background that has prepared you adequately. That means that you should have an undergraduate degree in engineering or computer science and/or currently work in one of these areas.

It is important for cyber security engineers to have a technical background (including areas such as configuration and testing) and a deep breadth of knowledge around the different concepts and tools used to fight cyber crime. In order to design and innovate new security solutions as well as troubleshoot current systems, this knowledge and understanding is essential.

cyber security engineering degree

Your Strengths and Skills

Engineers design, invent and innovate. In order to be successful in the field these are passions you must possess. As Fred Kerby instructor at the SANS Institute and formerly an information assurance manager at the Naval Surface Warfare Center said in an article by The Business of Federal Technology, “You have to have a passion for what you’re doing. You have to have that natural sense of curiosity about how things work. It’s not something you can just get a certificate for and check that box on your resume.”

Most successful cyber security engineers share the following traits and skills:

  • A natural curiosity about the way things work
  • A desire to break things down, getting to the nuts and bolts of something
  • Mathematical and science minded
  • Detail oriented
  • Methodical
  • Collaborative
  • Ability to handle stress and fluid situations
  • Willingness to work on-call 24hrs/day

Does this sound like you? If so, cyber security engineering may be a great career path for you. And your timing couldn’t be any better to enter the field, as cyber security workers are now commanding a 9% salary premium over other IT workers and cyber security job postings have grown 91% from 2010-2014, according to Burning Glass Technologies.

How to Choose a Program

There are a few different paths available to you if you feel that cyber security engineering is a good fit and you meet the above criteria in experience, education and skill strengths. Depending on your specific goals combined with your background and financial situation you can decide which option is best for you.

Most of the time, the best choice for those who know they want to work in the field of cyber security engineering is to obtain a Master’s Degree in Cyber Security Engineering. An advanced degree in this field is highly sought and frequently required. By getting a degree in cyber security engineering you are gaining a holistic and focused education in a specialized field, which is looked upon very favorably by employers.

If you are comparing master’s programs be sure to evaluate the strength of the curriculum, the organization of the program, the faculty make-up and how well the program format lends itself to working professionals. Beware of computer science master degree programs with a specialization in cyber security. Unless you want a broad computer science degree, this option typically only gives you a few classes in cyber security and is not nearly as focused as a degree in cyber security engineering.

If you aren’t yet ready for a master’s degree there are a plethora of certifications you can rack up while you determine if a degree program is right for you. Certifications can really enhance your resume and are a great way to keep current and hone your skills.

There is currently a huge shortage of talent in the cyber security field, which has created an enormous opportunity for those looking to enter or advance their careers in this discipline.

At USD we offer a Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering that focuses on the engineering aspects of software and hardware security and can be completed in as little as 20 months. To learn more about our nationally accredited program visit the program page.


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