4 reasons why it’s the right time for a career in cybersecurity

Any company that uses digital technology puts itself at risk of attack. To mitigate that risk, many companies look to cybersecurity or information security experts to defend their organization against increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.

But as a relatively new field with demand currently well above supply, cybersecurity professionals can be hard to come by. This gives job seekers four major advantages:

1. Plentiful job openings

Enter “cybersecurity” into any online job board and you’ll see thousands, if not tens of thousands, of openings across the country. Industry watchdog CyberSeek calculated that there were more than 300,000 cybersecurity jobs up for grabs in the U.S. in 2018. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a steep 28 percent growth rate for cybersecurity positions between 2016 and 2026 – that’s 300 percent higher than the prediction for all occupations.

2. It’s a candidates’ market – for now

CyberSeek estimates that for every U.S. job opening requiring cybersecurity skills, only 2.5 qualified candidates exist. Those odds get tighter the further you get from major metropolitan areas. In comparison, the national average across all job types is 6.5 candidates. But this job market eutopia won’t last long as more people rush into an ever-increasing number of cybersecurity training and education programs.

3. Name your price

Companies routinely pay top dollar for cybersecurity and information security expertise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for information security analyst came in at $95,510 in 2017. That’s above the $84,580 average for other computer-related positions and well more than twice the national median salary for all U.S. jobs ($37,690).

4. Job security

Hacking and data breaches aren’t a passing trend. With every advance in technology, hackers explore new methods to infiltrate information systems, disrupt service, and steal sensitive information. Cybersecurity experts play critical roles in keeping companies and their customers safe.

Do you have what it takes?

Most cybersecurity professionals start out in traditional IT jobs, such as systems administrator and helpdesk support. By gaining additional education and training, you can move into more specialized roles.

Reading industry books and taking professional development courses can give you a base understanding of how to prevent and combat security threats. Industry certification programs, like CISSP and CompTIA Security+, can earn you some cybersecurity responsibilities within your current IT position. But you’ll need more than basic professional development and certifications to make cybersecurity your primary job function.

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree with a focus in cybersecurity helps to beat out the competition when it comes to landing a promotion or new job.

Yes, the thought of going back to school can be overwhelming. But you don’t necessarily need to start from scratch or quit your day job. As a working IT professional, you likely already have college credits in computer science and technology or an associate’s degree. You know the fundamentals of computer science, networking, and information systems. Take advantage of that strong foundation and select an accredited degree program, like the one at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, that builds on your existing education and IT background.

Finding the right university program

To land a top cybersecurity position, look for a school with features like:

  • Technology focus: Science and tech schools are uniquely equipped to prepare students for highly specialized career paths like cybersecurity.
  • Expert curriculum: In a field that changes rapidly, you want courses developed by experts currently living and breathing the role.
  • Experiential learning: Getting your feet wet with hands-on projects as a student ensures you’ll be a coveted candidate when you enter the job market or seek a promotion.
  • Transferrable credits: If you already have an associate’s degree or other college credits, it makes sense to select a school that will honor the work you’ve already completed.
  • Flexible schedule: Programs geared toward adult learners tend to offer online classes, shorter semesters, accelerated scheduling and allow you to jump in and out of the program.

As a STEM institute (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), Harrisburg University focuses solely on science and technology degrees. Students take classes targeted to their field of study and are required to gain real-world experience through extensive hands-on research projects and occupational practicums.

When building its newest tech program, Harrisburg University partnered with experts working in the industry today to uncover exactly what skill and competency gaps they saw in the current workforce. The school listened and designed its Cybersecurity Operations and Management curriculum specifically to bridge those gaps. The cybersecurity curriculum also aligns with industry and government criteria, including those developed by the:

  • National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework
  • National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD)

Because the Online Bachelor’s Degree Program primarily works with adult students, Harrisburg University’s cybersecurity program takes place completely online and is scheduled in flexible seven-week terms. And the school has agreements with many colleges to seamlessly transfer any existing college credits. The University also offers online degrees in other hot technology fields, such as e-business, business analytics, and digital marketing.

Advance into leadership roles

Maybe you’re already working in an IT position but need something more. Take another step forward in your career (and your paycheck) by opting for a degree program that zeroes in on the leadership and management aspects of cybersecurity. Courses should build on your existing tech knowledge by focusing on design, engineering, ethics, legal, planning, policy development, governance, organizational behavior, and operations management.

With this type of degree, you’ll have the expertise to jump from technician-level roles to advanced job titles such as:

  • Compliance and Information Manager
  • Cyber Compliance Assessor
  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Cybersecurity Architect
  • Director of Governance, Risk and Compliance
  • Information Assurance Director
  • Information System Security Manager (ISSM)
  • Information System Security Officer (ISSO)
  • Manager of Information Security
  • Risk Manager

The accelerated bachelor of science degree in Cybersecurity Operations and Management at Harrisburg University leverages instructors who work in the field and two concentration tracks to ready students to hit the ground running when they score a job.

The right time to earn a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity is right now

This window of opportunity won’t last forever as more people train in this high-growth, high-paying field. Level up in your career with an online bachelor’s degree in Cybersecurity Operations and Management from Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

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