There are thousands of data breaches exposing billions of private records each year. In our increasingly connected world, cybersecurity is a growing priority.
That means it’s also a growing career opportunity. Many adults are returning to college to pursue degrees in the area of cybersecurity as a way to get qualified for jobs in this field.
So what can you do with a cybersecurity operations degree? And are the opportunities in the field as good as they seem? We explore those questions and more below.
What is cybersecurity operations?
Cybersecurity is about keeping information and the systems that store it safely. When you think about how we generate, share, and store information, you realize that this is a big job. It includes securing networks, mobile devices, internet traffic, and the programs we use to create and work with data.
This safeguarding of information and systems itself has several components. Cybersecurity operations is a broad term that encompasses everything that is part of enterprise information security, including:
- Threat detection and response: Monitoring networks and systems for actual attacks and dealing with any damage they may do
- Vulnerability testing: Analyzing an organization’s IT infrastructure and assets to see where there might be weaknesses and improving security in those areas
- Systems engineering: Designing systems, policies, and procedures to ensure data security and deploying security tools and software
These days, every type of organization has to think about information security. Large organizations may have an in-house cybersecurity team while smaller organizations may outsource all their cybersecurity operations.
Is cybersecurity a good career choice?
If you’re considering pursuing a degree in this field, you’ll first want to know something about your job prospects. Is this a career that offers a lot of opportunity not just today, but in the years ahead?
We’re pretty confident the answer is yes.
First, consider the cybersecurity job market today. CyberSeek, a website supported by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, notes that there are hundreds of thousands of jobs that require cybersecurity-related skills and nowhere near enough qualified workers to fill them.
This isn’t just a problem in the U.S. There is a global talent shortage in cybersecurity, according to analysts.
That’s one reason why we have confidence for the future. Closing a global gap of several million workers doesn’t happen overnight.
Another reason is the demand for workers skilled in cybersecurity is likely to continue to grow. With each passing year, businesses and other organizations become more reliant on information technology and hackers become more sophisticated. There’s no reason to expect that trend to reverse in the foreseeable future.
The Bureau of Labor Services agrees. It expects jobs for information security analysts, one of the most common positions in cybersecurity, to grow by 35% between 2021 and 2031. This is much faster than the projected growth for the overall job market.
This strong job growth is matched with great pay. According to CyberSeek, the average salary for an entry-level cybersecurity specialist is $107,000.
What will I study in a cybersecurity operations degree program?
Clearly, it’s a career with plenty of opportunity for those with the right training. But when you earn a degree in cybersecurity operations, what will you learn to get you ready for a job?
Almost all cybersecurity programs include foundational courses in computer science and the basics of cybersecurity. Program emphases, however, can differ a lot.
Some programs, for instance, focus on the technical side of things, including operating systems, networking, programming languages, and how vulnerabilities can be found and exploited.
The cybersecurity program here at Athens State, in contrast, is a management-focused degree that includes courses on strategy, operations, leadership, and the larger business environment in which decisions about information security take place.
What are the career options open to me with a cybersecurity operations degree?
This will depend upon the focus of your training.
If you earn a degree focused on the technical side of cybersecurity, you could find a position in areas like threat detection and response or vulnerability testing. One common role here would be a cybersecurity specialist, as we mentioned above.
On the other hand, if your degree concentrates on the business and management side of information technology, you can move into entry-level positions in areas like risk management, information assurance management, and cybersecurity policy development and implementation.
A simple way to think of these two broad areas is this: Some positions within cybersecurity are concerned with handling threats and vulnerabilities on a day-to-day basis. Others are focused on establishing and managing the systems, policies, and resources that create the environment in which this ongoing work is done.
Both of these are high-demand areas that pay well.
Launch your cybersecurity career at Athens State University.
If you’re like many other working adults, you can see the opportunity presented by cybersecurity but wonder if it’s really possible to return to college to complete your degree in this area.
At Athens State, we get it. We’re a unique university that only serves students who began their degrees elsewhere but are ready to finish strong. We know the challenges you face as an adult learner. That’s why we offer flexible, affordable programs designed to fit your schedule and your budget.
Our Bachelor of Science in Management of Cybersecurity Operations is an ideal program for those who want to pursue a career in the management side of this growing field. You’ll get a solid foundation in cybersecurity and business so you’re able to understand information security within the larger business context.
Combine this with a minor in information systems management to earn a degree recognized for excellence by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
We offer programs on campus or fully online so you can complete your coursework in the way that fits best into your schedule.