Cyber crime is big business. In the first half of 2019, data breaches released 4.1 billion records, exposing millions of consumers and businesses to identify theft, misappropriated resources, scams, and more.
As businesses work to thwart cyber criminals and secure consumer data, careers in cybersecurity grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 32 percent growth in information security analyst roles between 2018 and 2028. A degree in cybersecurity gives you the training you need to meet the security challenges of businesses small and large, making you a competitive applicant even during a recession.
Here’s how this degree can grow your career and change your life.
Cybersecurity: A Booming Industry
Virtually everything has gone digital in the last decade—medical and bank records, therapy sessions, even doctor’s appointments. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic showed how much of our lives we can conduct online. Although many people are seeing the convenience of virtual meetings, distance therapy, and remote elementary school, the pandemic also peeled back an additional layer of exposure. When everything is online, a security breach has truly far-reaching implications.
Every type of business with any online presence at all now needs cybersecurity support. Some companies hire dedicated cybersecurity experts. Others contract with outside contractors or hire companies that offer cybersecurity support. Apps and other platforms also need security experts to ensure that a data breach doesn’t endanger the business. The average data breach costs $8 million—far more than many small businesses and startups can manage. Sixty percent of small businesses go out of business within six months of a data breach. These companies want to protect their future and their investment.
Most tech jobs are booming in an economy that is increasingly digital and cloud-reliant. Cybersecurity jobs stand out even in this rapidly growing market. Jobs preventing cyber crime are the fastest growing tech role of all. Microsoft estimates that the worldwide market demands 744,000 cybersecurity experts. Within the next five years, it projects that figure will rise to 6.38 million.
Now is the time to get ahead of this trend by investing in a job with immense security and high growth potential.
Serving Your Community with Cybersecurity
Cyberattacks are more than just an inconvenience. They destroy lives, businesses, and sometimes futures. Cybercriminals can gain access to personal information, photos of your home, your child’s school records, your medical history, and much more. They can use this data to guess passwords or access financial data. They can also use it as a tool of extortion and a way to endanger a family’s sense of privacy and safety. They steal money that consumers and businesses may be unable to get back. They can even impersonate their victims.
Through a career in cybersecurity, you are actively working to thwart the harmful efforts of people who:
- Violate people’s privacy
- Endanger and threaten children
- Bully others online
- Steal money and other resources
- Use privacy violations to extort or intimidate others
- Intrude on private meetings to threaten or harass attendees
- Access personal computers to steal family records such as photos
It’s difficult to put a price on the suffering that cybercrime causes. One estimate projects a worldwide cost of $6 trillion by 2021. Cyberattacks are the biggest threat to most businesses, yet many lack the capacity to prevent or manage these crimes. You can change that.
Benefits of a Degree in Cybersecurity
A college degree remains one of the best investments you can make. In 2019, college graduates earned median weekly incomes of $1,248 compared to $833 for people who attended college but never graduated and $746 for those with just a high school diploma. Returning to school now is one of the best things you can do to improve your future prospects.
A degree in cybersecurity can kick your options for the future into overdrive. Salaries vary depending on the industry you choose, geographic location, and other factors, but many digital security experts earn well over six figures, and almost all earn significantly more than the average college graduate. So what else can this career offer you? Here are some reasons a degree in cybersecurity should top your list of options:
- Job security. College graduates enjoy low unemployment. Those with a degree in cybersecurity benefit from even greater job security. By 2021, Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that there will be about 3.1 million unfilled jobs in this niche. That means employers will have to fight for you—not the other way around.
- Growth potential. There are roles in cybersecurity at every level of the career ladder. Start in an entry-level position, then work your way up to chief of security, owning your own company or advising a large multinational corporation about data protection.
- Serving others. Data breaches exact a real human toll. By stopping them before they start, you support your community, nurture small businesses, and help fight crime.
- A better life. A good job is about more than money. The right career opens new doors: a better neighborhood, a higher-quality school for your kids, more benefits, more vacations, and a chance to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Great Jobs in Cybersecurity
Virtually every type of business needs cybersecurity support—from small startups developing their first app to multinational conglomerates that serve millions of consumers. Some of the best jobs in cybersecurity include:
- Contractor/small business owner: With sufficient experience and contacts, you can start your own business as a contractor or consultant. Offer expert insight to companies of all sizes, or focus on a specific niche. You’ll control your own hours, and the only limit on your earnings is how many clients you can recruit.
- Information security analyst: U.S. News and World Report ranks this as the fourth best IT job, with typical earnings of just under $100,000 annually. Information security analysts take a big picture approach, assessing and adapting a company’s security plan as needed. They may work on specific projects or oversee the entire security apparatus.
- Penetration tester: With typical earnings hovering around $100,000, penetration testers act like hackers, but support businesses. Your role would be to find security glitches by thinking like a criminal, then identify them and potentially recommend solutions.
- Chief information security officer: Chief information security officers enjoy earnings above $100,000 at most companies. They serve in a managerial role while working directly on tech issues. They may hire and manage security experts, develop and implement security plans, or advise the board or other executives about potential security breaches. When there is a security crisis, security officers are usually the first people a company calls.
- Cybercrime investigator: If you prefer to work in public safety, a degree in cybersecurity can prepare you for a role as a cybercrimes investigator. Work at your local police department or in higher positions, such as at the FBI. Some cybercrimes experts eventually start their own companies, serving as expert witnesses or contracting with government entities.
Own Your Future With a Cybersecurity Degree
Returning to school can feel daunting. The rewards far outweigh the risks, particularly in a field as lucrative and challenging as cybersecurity. At the right school, you can pursue a degree while working and raising a family.
SNU believes that everyone deserves a chance at a brighter future, without giving up everything that makes life worth living right now. We offer a degree program for adult learners that’s 100% online with rolling enrollment, and a shortened timeline to graduation. No matter where you are in your career or how much money you have, an SNU degree can help you earn more, do more, and live better.
To learn more about funding your degree, check out our free guide, The Complete Guide to Financial Aid.