What Kind of Job Can I Get With a Cyber Security Degree?
Cyber Security and Information Assurance have gone from fringe concepts to vitally important aspects of any organization with sensitive information. Within the last few years there’s been wanton, unchecked pilfering of personal information, both by organizations people willingly use, and nefarious, independent actors. People’s computers have been hijacked and their information held hostage for ransom, social media giants have been exposed for selling off intimate details about their users, and the presidential election was at least influenced by the theft of information and the perversion of social media algorithms.
In this climate, it makes a lot of sense to consider getting a Cyber Security degree. It’s a constantly developing field that many organizations haven’t truly accounted for, but will likely need to in the near future. Either that, or they’ll face the consequences. Say you know you want to get a Cyber Security degree, but you’re unclear what you’ll do with it afterwards. Here’s a quick guide to some of the options you’ll have for work after becoming proficient in Cyber Security.
Example One: IT Security Consultant
Because this field is developing so rapidly, one position you might consider is working as an IT Security Consultant. Many organizations don’t have the foresight, understanding, or resources to hire a full time Cyber Security expert, but they still need the essential services of protection, information assurance and in the case of cybercrime, a technical investigator who can figure out where a system was weakest, and use digital forensics to look for clues that might identify perpetrators. As a consultant, you’ll have far more flexibility in terms of working hours, payment, length of time working for specific organizations, and much more. It’s also a great way to develop contacts that might lead you towards full time work with one organization, if you’re interested in doing so.
Example Two: Information Security Analyst
Another similar position is working as an Information Security Analyst. Here you’ll more likely work for one organization. Information Security Analysts prepare and institute a security strategy to protect an organization’s networks and systems. They often work for computer companies, consulting firms, financial companies, among many other organizations. In this role, your responsibilities will likely expand to meet evolving cyberattacks, organizational goals and infrastructures. A Bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security is often the minimum experience needed for these positions. The median wage for Information Security Analysts was $92,600 in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Going forward, the outlook for these positions is superb. Between 2014-24, BLS estimates an 18% growth in hiring for Information Security Analysts, which equates to about 14,800 new jobs.
Example Three: Computer Forensics Investigator
In Cyber Security, people often specialize in either protection or investigation. A Computer Forensics Investigator or Forensic Analyst works with law enforcement, or private firms to retrieve and recover lost or attacked information, systems and networks, and analyze evidence to profile or identify cyber criminals, or at least prove illegal attacks occurred. Computer Forensics Investigators may be called upon to help protect computers and systems, figure out how an attack was successful, and much more. In these positions, you can work for a governmental or law enforcement agency, or an organization that is very likely to be the victim of cyber attacks. In 2015, the median salary for these roles was $85,800, according to BLS. BLS also predicted an employment growth rate of 21% from 2014 to 2024 for these positions. If you want to work as a Computer Forensics Investigator or Forensic Analyst, you’ll probably need at least a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Technology or Cyber Security, as well as the Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE) certification.
Example Four: Penetration Tester / Ethical Hacker
A fascinating yet uncommon position in the field is working as a Penetration Tester. Also known as Ethical Hackers, Penetration Testers explore, identify and demonstrate weak points and vulnerabilities in websites, applications, networks and systems. For either reformed hackers, or people who are fascinated by the challenge of defeating security systems, this is an engaging, exciting job that combines psychology, profiling, hacking and helping an organization secure its information and systems. Penetration testers often design tools to exploit security weaknesses, use existing tools/means of targeting, attacking or stealing information, all in an effort to simulate real cyber attacks, then figure out how to respond to them.
Example Five: Cryptographer / Encryption Engineer
Another area of Cyber Security that is often overlooked is cryptography, or encryption work. Biometrics, public key encryption, and multiple-sourced authentication have all become forms of protecting information and systems. Unfortunately, these methods are still wildly under-utilized, leading to a real opportunity for Cyber Security professionals to further develop them, raise awareness, or create their own companies providing these services. A great example of this disruptive innovation is HYPR, a biometrics company that was founded in 2014. The company uses decentralized biometric encryption to create password-less authentication on computers, in mobile and other systems. They raised $3 million dollars in capital in 2016, after an initial investment of $800,000. HYPR takes biometric information, encrypts it and then converts it into a temporary, non-sensitive “token.” Their company is founded on 4 principles:
Example of Cryptography-Centered Corporate Goals. Sound interesting to you? You might be a good candidate for going into cryptography.
- “Authentication channels should not be based on centralized biometrics storage.”
- “Users may have the option to choose the biometric authenticators they would like to utilize.”
- “Isolation of biometric data from the rich operating system on a user device.”
- “Relying parties may have the capability to set policies to use biometric authenticators.”
Work to secure passwords, systems, information and organizational integrity is nowhere near complete. By taking a step towards earning a degree in Cyber Security, you’re preparing to enter a wealth of careers, or work for yourself developing methodology, practical tools and other means of information assurance that will be relied on in the future. For more information on what degree program to enter, check out our in-depth degree page. If you’re interested in more information on how to prepare for specific careers, or just to see what’s out there, check out our careers page. Or if you’re looking for a online program in cyber security, check out our rankings page.