As technology evolves, so does criminal activity. With more information stored virtually than ever before, how is it kept safe? Protecting sensitive information is imperative to keep personal details private for both massive corporations and individuals. This is why information security has become a lucrative asset these days.
But what does an information security degree entail, where do you get one and what job prospects can you expect upon graduation? Read on to discover what your career path could look like if you pursue an information security degree online.
What is an Information Security Degree?
Information security degrees prepare students to create innovative solutions and implement security systems while evaluating computer and network systems. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Information Security will ensure your career trajectory gets off to the right start.
According to the InfoSec Institute, information security majors nearly always get hired right after graduating from their colleges and universities. This is because there is a shortage of information security professionals.
A bachelor’s degree in information security prepares students for a career in one of the fastest-growing fields. This degree typically takes four years to complete. The number of credits needed to graduate vary from program to program, but is usually around 125 to 180. Often, students will get an internship during their education.
There are many options to earn an information security degree and various certificates at your convenience from online schools. Searching for the best information security degree programs and schools can be tedious, so we have compiled a list below to help with your search.
But before we get to the list, it’s important to note that the National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations was created by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Its goal was to promote higher education, create cyber defense professionals and research cyber defense. You can see if a school is on the NSA/DHS CAE-CD list here.
Best Information Security Degree Schools
Degrees Offered: BS in Information Technologies-Cybersecurity; BS in Information Technologies; BA in Information Technologies; BS in Information Technologies-Database Administration; and a BS in Computer Science.
Requirements: High school graduate or GED
Tuition: About $320 per credit hour
Southern New Hampshire is a private university with online and on-campus classes. It has a 300-acre campus catering to 3,000 students. Its online programs give 135,000 students access to remote education. In 2020, it was named the Most Innovative University in the North as well as one of the Nation’s Best Regional Universities by US News & World Report.
Degrees Offered: BS in Information Technology-Cybersecurity Technology; BS in Criminal Justice: Computer Forensics; BS in Information Systems-IT Project Management; and a BS in Information Systems-Technology Management.
Requirements: High school graduate or completed GED
Tuition: $324 per credit hour
Strayer University is currently offering a new laptop to any new student who enrolls to earn their bachelor’s degree in person or online. The school serves 50,000 students with more than 400 courses, 31 degree programs and 75 concentrations. It offers great financial incentives and has flexible programs as 89 percent of its students are part-time.
Columbia Southern University (Online)
Degrees Offered: BS in Information Systems Security; BS in Information Technology; and a BSBA in Information Technology.
Requirements: High school graduate or GED
Tuition: $375 per credit hour
Columbia Southern University boasts that its tuition is less than half that of its competitors. It is also proud to offer flexible programs that can be suited to any lifestyle. For over 25 years, Columbia Southern University has strived to help adult learners use education to advance their careers.
Here is a list of courses commonly found within the above degrees related to information security:
- Cybersecurity and Crime: Prepares students for fraud, network intrusion and general computer crime events.
- Cyberwarfare and Application: Introduces students to social engineering, intrusion detection, network administrator activity and prevention.
- Principles of Digital Forensics: Prepares students for the procedures of investigative digital forensics and legal knowledge.
- IT Ethics and Professionalism: Students will learn about ethical conduct, philosophy, Internet laws, liability, intellectual property and more.
- Security Application Development: This course teaches students about organizations’ asset protection, secure applications and databases.
- Disaster Recovery: Prepares students for the disaster recovery process and business continuity practices in terms of information security.
- IS Security Capstone: The final capstone project will display a student’s knowledge of disaster recovery, digital forensics, planning and auditing.
Certifications to Buttress Your Information Security Degree
A bachelor’s information security degree is the normal level of education for an entry-level job position. However, you can supplement this with certificates to improve your professional knowledge and skill set. This will allow you to stand out in your field.
Recruiters may be looking for certifications on your resume. Even if they are not specifically looking for it, having it there can prove your abilities and dedication to the field. Below is a list of certifications you may consider working towards.
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
The Certified Information Security Manager Exam was created for IT professionals working to secure, control and audit information. Holders of CISM have proven their knowledge in incident management, security risk management and program development.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
This advanced certification is for experts in the information security field. It is highly sought after by recruiters and employers. The areas covered include risk management, security architecture, network security, security assessment and identity management.
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
This certification is globally recognized and highly esteemed for professionals to have in the audit control, assurance and information security fields. Certified Information System Auditors have proven that they are knowledgeable in auditing, asset protection, acquisition and service management.
Required Information Security Skills
Just like in any other field, you will need a set of both soft and hard skills to succeed in the information security sector. Let’s explore some of them before moving onto your job prospects as an information security major.
- Communication: Regardless of the specific position, your goal will be to please your customer/client and work together with a team. This is applicable in a service, product or leadership position. You must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently.
- Critical Thinking: Of course, this skill is important for nearly all positions. But it takes on a different meaning in the information security field. The job is to prevent information leaks preferably before they happen, not only identify the problem after it arises. To do this, you must be able to predict what potential hackers will try or what mistakes the system could make.
- Scripting: Learning the language your company uses is vital. Learning Perl or Python ahead of time can put you at an advantage when onboarding to a new company. With prior knowledge, you will not have to start completely from scratch.
- Data Analytics: Massive amounts of data companies accumulate are useless until they have someone to actually analyze and understand them. Understanding algorithms, information technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning can help you transform data into information.
- Knowledge of Security Tools: Detailed knowledge of tools and programs allows you to work faster and more efficiently. If you do not understand everything you do and why, it can leave an opening for a security threat.
Information Security Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the information security field will grow by 32 by 2028. Job security is unstable because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Entering a career with such a high growth rate can offer a level of security.
As mentioned earlier, there is a shortage of information security professionals. The information security field is not too saturated and will not be for the foreseeable future.
There is a huge need for information security professionals, with many entry-level jobs available. The upward mobility in this field is also attractive. There is a need for experts in this industry just as much as entry-level workers.
The average salary of an information security professional in 2019 was $99,730 per year, or $47.95 an hour. This is significantly higher than the national average household salary. It has also been reported that the top 10 percent of information security professionals make about $153,000 or more yearly.
Information Security Jobs
There are several different places you can work with an information security degree. This includes security consulting firms, computer companies and financial or business companies. Even the Department of Homeland Security needs specialists to avoid cyber attacks.
There are many different positions and job titles you are qualified for after graduating with an information security degree, such as:
Average yearly salary: $82,235
A penetration tester’s job is to search for vulnerable areas and potential security risks in a network, application or system. They must try to pinpoint potential security problems before they occur. This way, steps can be taken to prevent the event from ever occurring. While the average salary is $82,235, you can expect anywhere from $56,000 to $132,000 at different stages in your career.
Forensic Computer Analyst
Average yearly salary: $71,772
Forensic computer analysts are basically the crime scene investigators of the cyber world. They work with law enforcement to gather evidence from computers and technology. These analysts can provide expert testimony during trials, create technical reports and compile evidence. Knowledge of forensics software, cryptography, eDiscovery tools and programming languages is important. The average salary is $71,772, but you can expect to see wages anywhere between $47,000 to $117,000.
Information Security Analyst
Average yearly salary: $75,308
These security specialists run tests for vulnerable areas, and examine the security of company networks and computer systems. This position requires knowledge of computer networking, computer security and ethical hacking. This position is ranked the 16th fastest-growing occupation throughout all industries by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This entry-level job was also ranked the 2nd best technology job by the US News & World Report in 2018. Information security analysts yearly wages start at around $49,000 and can be as high as $114,000.
Average yearly salary: $88,416
This position is typically for mid-level employees. The role’s responsibilities include building firewalls, researching intrusions and testing new security software. Skills needed for this role include a strong background in penetration testing, encryption technology and troubleshooting network systems. While the yearly salary can go as high as $128,000 per year, starting out at $59,000 is to be expected.
If you’re still not convinced you should get your degree in information security, here’s a quick roundup of the benefits of this degree:
- Many entry-level jobs
- Industry is growing rapidly
- Above average salary
- Good upward mobility
- Job opportunities in almost every industry
- Always something new to learn
- Makes a positive impact
- Interesting field
- High demand all around America
- Can work from home or abroad
An information security degree can unlock many doors for your career. Now, more than ever, employers are looking to hire information systems specialists to protect their data and you could fill one of those high-paying positions.