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Cybersecurity Careers – Education Requirements & Career Opportunities

Cybersecurity professional looking at code on a computer.

Cybersecurity degrees are some of the most popular in the modern workforce for a good reason. Cybersecurity is a growing field, and there are plenty of opportunities for consistent employment. The right cybersecurity degree can set one up for a lifetime of success and a stellar cybersecurity career.

However, there are different types of cybersecurity degrees to pursue. Furthermore, cybersecurity students need to know what jobs they want to acquire post-graduation. These can be challenging questions to answer alone.

Today, let’s break down the 15 best jobs for people with degrees in cybersecurity. We’ll go over jobs that require all types of cybersecurity degrees, ranging from bachelor’s degrees to doctoral degrees.

Cybersecurity Degrees

Cybersecurity degrees are available at every educational level. While there are a few associate’s level degrees and many certificates, most degrees start at the bachelor’s level. Here’s a breakdown of what each cybersecurity degree type offers in professional preparation.

Cyber Security Bachelor’s Degrees

Bachelor's degrees in cybersecurity are often considered the standard degree type. These popular degrees are almost always Bachelors of Science, though a few BAs exist here and there. In any event, bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity:

  • Teach the fundamentals of cybersecurity operations
  • Often include education for one or two programming languages, if not more
  • Give students an excellent overview of many cybersecurity practices and topics
  • Often allow students to specialize in one or another area of the broader cybersecurity field

Because of this, many cybersecurity-related careers require a bachelor’s degree in the field. A bachelor’s degree is usually enough to train a student to work as a cybersecurity tech or something similar.

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Cybersecurity Degree Master’s

However, graduate-level degrees in cybersecurity are also worthwhile. Master's degrees in cybersecurity further specialize one’s educational background. Some are generalized cybersecurity degrees. Others may be masters in cyber forensics, cybersecurity code writing, and etc.

Most cybersecurity master’s degrees also offer opportunities for students to learn more programming languages or acquire certificates. These are great opportunities to tailor one’s resume for a future position. Master’s degrees are better for acquiring cybersecurity administrative or managerial positions.

However, a master’s degrees in this field could make one overqualified for entry-level positions. Therefore, most students who pursue master’s degrees in cybersecurity already have a job. They pursue the degree part-time and online to enhance their cybersecurity career prospects or get a promotion more quickly.

Doctoral Degrees

The rarest type of cybersecurity degree is a doctoral degree. These degrees are typically only pursued by academics or cybersecurity researchers. Generally, a professional does not require a doctorate in cybersecurity.

Still, these degrees can be advantageous if one wants to become a cybersecurity professor. Alternatively, cybersecurity doctoral degrees can be helpful in research positions. For example, cybersecurity enthusiasts who wish to create their own software would benefit from a doctoral program’s advanced education.

Top 15 Cybersecurity Degree Jobs

As noted earlier, the cybersecurity field is snowballing. As more companies take their business online and as data protection becomes more vital, cybersecurity positions have become necessary everywhere. The BLS reports information security analysts to earn an average salary of over $100,000 per year. The BLS predicts a growth rate of 33% over the next decade, which is much higher than the national average.

Let’s look at the 15 best jobs for cybersecurity degree holders.

1. Cybersecurity Specialist

The first cybersecurity career on the list is that of a cybersecurity specialist. Cybersecurity specialists are baseline cybersecurity professionals. In a nutshell, they maintain an organization’s automated or manual security systems. Their responsibilities may include:

  • Overseeing employee identification databases
  • Making sure that company cybersecurity is up to snuff
  • Monitoring antivirus and other software
  • Handing out ID badges and other security tools to employees when necessary
  • Ensuring digital safety for end-users, such as clients using corporate computers
  • Helping to onboard new employees safely and securely
  • Forming and helping enforce guidelines about network use or company policies

Cybersecurity specialists handle all of the necessary work to ensure a company or group’s cybersecurity is online and running. They often handle routine monitoring or security updates. They may also report cybersecurity developments or update requirements to superiors, like executives.

The specialist in the title refers to one of several specializations a professional can take. Depending on the degree program chosen, a cybersecurity specialist can concentrate on one of several areas. They may acquire multiple certificates or programming language proficiencies. In these ways, cybersecurity specialists can pursue specific jobs or industries.

Cybersecurity specialists typically require a bachelor’s degree. Some organizations also require applicants to have between five and seven years of experience. But this is heavily dependent on the organization and its unique requirements.

Some cybersecurity specialists have additional responsibilities or managerial roles. For example, senior specialists may oversee new cybersecurity workers or front-line engineers. They can get more management experience and eventually progress to administrative positions in these ways.

Cybersecurity specialists earn average salaries of $102,600 per year.

2. Cybersecurity Consultant

A bachelor’s degree can lead to a cybersecurity consultant career. Often operating as freelance professionals, consultants offer expertise to companies, nonprofits, and more.

Cybersecurity consultants are essentially security advisors. They don’t do a lot of the front-line code development or writing work necessary to ensure that cybersecurity works 24/7. Instead, they frequently:

  • Take a look at a company or group’s current cybersecurity setting and features
  • Take notes about potential vulnerabilities or weak spots
  • Offer recommendations about how the group or company can improve its cybersecurity features

These consultants usually have lots of experience, however. Therefore, new professionals with a fresh degree in cybersecurity are unlikely to be hired as consultants immediately. Instead, they need to acquire several years of experience in the field to pad their resumes.

Cybersecurity consultants may find better opportunities with a master’s degree, as graduate programs offer more networking and experiential opportunities. A consultant must be known in the industry and trusted as a freelance consultant.

Note that not all cybersecurity consultants are freelance. Some are kept on retainer by companies or are used as their go-to consulting choices when necessary. Furthermore, some cybersecurity consultants specialize in one or another type of consulting.

For example, one consultant may specialize in malware protection. Another may specialize in employee digital hygiene practices. So they may help executives come up with cybersecurity practice seminars for their workforces. Cybersecurity consultants have many options, and their salaries can vary massively to reflect this.

Cybersecurity consultants often earn up to $87,310 per year.

3. Cybersecurity Engineer

Those with bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity may become cybersecurity engineers. In this cybersecurity career, these professionals protect private or corporate data from cyber attacks, like malware intrusions. Among their various duties, they may:

  • Intimate different security procedures or software, like firewalls
  • Assess the current risk for data breaches or malware intrusions
  • Conduct regular tests to find vulnerabilities and weaknesses in company architecture or software
  • Recommend security measures to executives or other decision-makers

Some cybersecurity engineers may also help to develop personalized or company-specific security software. However, it’s usually common with cybersecurity engineers who have a lot of experience. To become a cybersecurity engineer, one needs several certifications, such as CISSP certification. The more certifications earned, the better the applicant will look to companies.

These professionals often work in tandem with cybersecurity specialists and others. They usually work for specific companies rather than operating on a freelance basis. The best cybersecurity engineers are those with powerful analytical and technical skills. But they must also be creative problem solvers. After all, they have to determine vulnerabilities or software breaches and develop unique and practical solutions.

Cybersecurity engineers earn up to $97,841 per year.

4. Cryptographer

Cybersecurity has a lot in common with cryptography. Cryptography is the art of decoding and encoding information, a cornerstone of modern antivirus and cybersecurity software. For example, most security software operates under the assumption that encrypting information takes too long to “brute force” breakthrough.

Those with bachelor’s degrees in cyber security are natural fits for many cryptography jobs. In a nutshell, cryptographers encode sensitive corporate or private information and protect it from unauthorized access. They may create specific cybersecurity code using tools such as algorithms. In this way, they stop cybercriminals from getting access to sensitive information.

Furthermore, many cryptographers analyze encryption systems. They may use ciphers to identify and correct security weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Cryptography is evolving and is now more critical as hackers create new ways to break through encryption algorithms.

The best cryptographers have strong minds for mathematics and algorithm training. They love to solve puzzles and decode secrets. They can then bring these interests to work for companies and protect sensitive data instead of stealing it.

Some cryptographers may work as “ethical hackers” by showing a company’s current vulnerabilities in their systems. They could, for example, develop code to break through encryption algorithms and show companies how they did it. Then they can coach other cybersecurity personnel on how to prevent the problem from repeating.

Cryptographers earn average salaries of approximately $119,000 per year.

5. Cybersecurity Architect

A cybersecurity architect helps companies build complex information systems that meet their security requirements. In this cybersecurity career, these specialized professionals work for enterprises or larger organizations’ unique needs. They often have significant responsibilities, including but not limited to:

  • Security planning and testing
  • Designing and then implementing security protocols
  • Revising or organizing security practices

Think of cybersecurity architects as the people who design whole security systems. They may not personally code antivirus or security software. Instead, they oversee groups of individuals and administrate company security practices.

Because of this, most computer security architects have master’s degrees in the field rather than just bachelor’s degrees. They need to know a lot about cybersecurity as a whole, including topics like network security, network protocols, and hardware configuration.

Most cybersecurity architects have between five and ten years of experience. They frequently find employment in important industries such as finance, aerospace, government, and defense.

Cybersecurity architects can earn up to $128,118 per year.

6. Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects oversee the creation and maintenance of broader computer networks, which interlink multiple nodes. They’re also responsible for overseeing network security. They can find employment at private organizations, the federal or state governments, and many commercial enterprises.

Most computer network architects have bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity. However, a master’s degree may qualify a professional for higher-paying employment opportunities. Note that computer network architects don’t usually create networks themselves. Instead, they oversee other computer programmers or network specialists and manage the entire operation.

Computer network architects earn up to $120,520 per year.

7. Forensic Computer Analyst

Forensic computer analysts help organizations and specialists determine who was responsible for a past cyber attack. For example, in the aftermath of a malware breach, a forensic computer analyst will:

  • Collect data that may point law enforcement personnel to where the identity of a hacker
  • Help cybersecurity personnel close breaches or vulnerabilities
  • Determine what kind of attack took place and how it succeeded or failed

They work with law enforcement personnel extensively. As a result, they often work for state or federal governments. Some cybersecurity degrees allow students to specialize in law, explicitly preparing them for this position.

A master’s degree in computer forensics will prepare one for these positions. However, a bachelor’s degree is usually all these professionals need in education. Most positions require several years of experience, too.

Forensic computer analysts earn average salaries of $74,798 per year.

8. Information Security Analyst

This cybersecurity career focuses on protecting their organizations from cyber attacks and other breaches by:

  • Identifying cyber attacks as they occur or are about to occur
  • Finding network or system weaknesses
  • Lamenting new security procedures

More specifically, information security analysts perform work similar to that of forensic analysts and identify improvements or security flaws for the future. Information security analysts may also help train personnel in a company for better digital hygiene or security practices.

Information security analysts earn approximately $102,600 per year.

9. Chief Information Security Officer

Chief information security officers, also called CISOs, manage cybersecurity needs for entire organizations. As a result, their wide-ranging duties include:

  • Overseeing cybersecurity professionals
  • Developing and maintaining security systems
  • Minimizing security breach risk through a variety of methods
  • Speaking to executives about cyber attacks
  • Supervising digital forensics investigations

Generally, cybersecurity majors can only become CISOs with extensive management experience. A master’s degree is recommended, as are several years in the industry at minimum. Furthermore, certification is standard among these professionals. While it’s possible to get hired without it, it will be more difficult.

Chief information security officers earn up to $167,021 per year.

10. Incident Analyst

Those with cybersecurity degrees could become incident analysts. These require a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity but not certification. Thus, they are some of the most accessible cybersecurity professions in the industry.

These professionals investigate cybersecurity incidents like attacks or breaches. They:

  • Identify how network weaknesses allow the attack to occur
  • Develop strategies to stop those incidents from recurring in the future

If an incident analyst doesn’t have an incident to investigate, they monitor networks. They may also develop and implement security practices to ensure their employer is as safe as possible.

Incident analysts earn approximately $62,838 per year.

11. Penetration Tester

Alternatively, degree holders could become penetration testers. One needs a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity to qualify. Once again, certification is recommended but not necessarily required.

Also called “ethical hackers,” penetration testers deliberately try to breach cybersecurity defenses for their employers. After doing so, they give feedback and help other cybersecurity personnel develop new security procedures or software.

To do this, they simulate comprehensive cyber attacks to test computer networks and systems. They use a lot of typical hacking strategies to find vulnerabilities. Depending on the position’s requirements, they may test continuously or only during certain time frames.

Regardless, penetration testing is an integral part of holistic cybersecurity. Those who like to solve puzzles or build strong defenses will find this position enjoyable.

Penetration testers earn around $87,860 each year on average.

12. Cybersecurity Administrator/Manager

Cybersecurity administrators and managers lead teams of other cybersecurity personnel. They frequently have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in the field and several years of experience in a cybersecurity context.

Using this experience, they:

  • Interview and hire new cybersecurity personnel for their employers
  • Make sure that teams/individuals complete cybersecurity projects on time
  • Report to executives about cybersecurity statuses and weaknesses
  • Take responsibility for breaches

Cybersecurity administrators or managers can earn up to $80,600 per year or more.

13. Cybersecurity Software Developer

As the name suggests, cybersecurity software developers create new software like firewalls and antivirus systems. These developers often need bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity, focusing on programming and code writing.

These professionals are more similar to traditional programmers or developers than other cybersecurity specialists. However, they’re essential for commercial organizations and other companies. For instance, commercial organizations may hire them to write security software they can sell.

Alternatively, cybersecurity software developers may work for other organizations. They can develop in-house, specialized software specifically for their employers’ needs. As software developers gain experience, they may oversee small teams of similar professionals. More experience usually coincides with a pay increase.

Cybersecurity software developers only need a bachelor’s degree in the field to qualify for these positions. However, a master’s degree can be advantageous if one looks for employment at a competitive company.

Cybersecurity software developers earn up to $110,140 per year on average.

14. Cybersecurity Auditor

A cybersecurity auditor is a security specialist who checks the code work of others. Specifically, they examine cybersecurity software, like antivirus software, and:

  • Make sure the code doesn’t have any major vulnerabilities
  • Ensure the professional standards of code for business defenses
  • Perform penetration testing to check for issues

Depending on their expertise, cybersecurity auditors may perform additional tasks. For example, they may look at all the cybersecurity efforts for an organization and make recommendations for improvements.

Different elements of cybersecurity auditing include checking:

  • The digital hygiene of employees, such as password policies or leaving ID badges lying around
  • When software is updated to incorporate new security patches
  • For good Wi-Fi login practices, like not logging in to an unprotected network on a company computer

Thus, a cybersecurity auditor can examine all the security elements of an organization. They may look directly at code, behavioral patterns, or other factors. Once auditors have gathered the necessary information, they present it to executives and make recommendations.

This cybersecurity career is important because many corporations overlook significant flaws or vulnerabilities. They don’t know what to look for. A cybersecurity auditor does, so these professionals may come around regularly or quarterly.

Other cybersecurity auditors are retained over the long term. They provide regular security checks for their employers.

Cybersecurity auditors earn around $81,850 a year on average.

15. Source Code Auditor

The final cybersecurity career on the list is that of a source code auditor. Like a cybersecurity auditor, a source code auditor works directly with a corporate database and core codebase. Instead of auditing code for cybersecurity programs or software specifically, source code auditors:

  • Take a look at the complete codebase for an organization. They look at all the software a company uses to identify any vulnerabilities.
  • Perform vulnerability tests on the codebase
  • Offer suggestions to executives or superiors so they can make cybersecurity improvements.

For example, a company might have an excellent cybersecurity program or even cloud-based security. However, that company’s core software is old and vulnerable to intrusion by malware or other viruses.

A source code auditor can identify these weaknesses and recommend improvements. That way, a company can have top-tier cybersecurity software. It can also make sure that its core codebase doesn’t open it up to cyber threats in the future.

Because of the overlap, individuals with code auditing or writing specializations in their degrees can often work as either source code auditors or cybersecurity auditors. It depends on their preferences or what positions are open at their companies.

Source code auditors earn approximately $61,293 a year.

Summary

All in all, there’s a suitable cybersecurity career available for almost every degree level. Most cybersecurity jobs are available starting at the bachelor’s degree level. But many higher-paying positions require a master’s degree in the field.

Regardless, students should consider online degree programs when pursuing higher education. The right online university can help you get the perfect cybersecurity degree for your career goals. Fortunately, GetEducated.com has a detailed list of great online cybersecurity degrees. Check out the top online cybersecurity programs today!

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