Students pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Cyber Security have chosen their career path wisely. And those who continue their studies to obtain a Master’s of Science in Cyber Security could hardly be positioned better for job prospects.
Cybercrime damage is predicted to reach $6 trillion by 2021 and, consequently, cyber security spending will reach nearly $1 trillion between 2017 and 2021, according to Cyber Security Market Report Editor-In-Chief Steve Morgan in his 2017 CSOOnline.com article, “Top 5 Cybersecurity Facts, Figures, And Statistics For 2017.”
Consequently, cyber security graduates are going to become a hot commodity over the next several years and demand for managerial leadership in cyber security will rise as well.
Pursuing graduate studies in cyber security will continue to yield fruit for years to come, but how exactly does one prepare for graduate school and how does one get admitted into a master’s program in cyber security in the first place?
Cyber Security Program Entrance Requirements
As with all master’s degree programs, students must meet minimum requirements to qualify for admittance to a cyber security program. Students will typically need a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and a completed application for enrollment.
Many universities require letters of recommendation or professional references and an admissions essay written by the student. A good essay sells the student’s strengths and determination to excel.
When composing an admissions essay, students should provide original content with a good narrative flow. Other advice (from “Tips For Writing Your Graduate School Application Essay” on Quintessential Blog at LiveCareer.com): Pay close attention to the introduction. Build a sense of mystery and intrigue to entice the admissions officers to read further. Focus more on vivid imagery rather than wordiness and repetition.
Students who already have a work history in the field for which they are applying (which frequently is the case for graduate students) should include an up-to-date resume with their completed application and essay.
Be A Hybrid
If the demand for cyber security professionals has grown, the demand for hybrid cyber security specialists has increased even more. Cyber security does not exist in a vacuum. Rather it interacts with and flows through any and all other disciplines that utilize information technology in any way.
So, cyber security specialists who also have expertise in other fields are invaluable to employers.
“Some of the most difficult cyber security jobs to fill are the ones that require knowledge in another industry,” claims government hiring practices expert Jennifer Cary in her blog article, “8 Reasons To Get Your Master’s Degree In Cyber Security,” on ClearanceJobs.com. “For example, professionals who are well versed in HIPAA on the health services side or accounting on the financial side are difficult to find and, consequently, compensated well for their services.”
Students who have bachelor’s degrees in a non-cyber security field can still enroll in a cyber security graduate program – though they might want to brush up on computer and network knowledge ahead of time.
Certifications, Certifications, Certifications!
Part and parcel with an education in cyber security are the many certifications available through third-party organizations. Students who are certified in specific software packages will be attractive to both graduate schools and, eventually, to employers looking specifically for candidates with a particular certification.
Cyber security students will have the opportunity to receive some certifications during their program, but nothing prohibits students from obtaining other certifications outside of class. Software engineer Ben Dickson lists some of the more popular certifications in his ITCareerFinder.com article, “10 Hot Cyber Security Certifications For 2017.” Some of them are:
- CompTIA Security+
- GSEC: GIAC Security Essentials Certification
- SSCP: Systems Security Certified Practitioner
- CISA: Certified Information Systems Auditor
- CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional
Students should research security-related certifications, weigh them against what employers are looking for, which security issues may become larger threats in the future, and which direction students wish to take in their careers.
With certifications, more is better. Certifications make a resume very attractive to potential employers.
A Brief Word On Clearances
Cyber security work deals with sensitive data, which sometimes may be classified information. Students considering a career in cyber security may want to determine whether they would be able to obtain a confidential, secret, or top-secret clearance.
Some of the biggest employers of cybersecurity personnel are government agencies, government contractors, and businesses that work either directly or indirectly with government contractors. The Departments of Defense, Justice, State, and Homeland Security rely heavily on a well-oiled cyber security workforce.
“A Quick Guide To Security Clearances” on CyberDegrees.org lists the most popular reasons why a security clearance could be denied:
- Criminal convictions
- Use of controlled substances
- Mental incompetency
- Dishonorable discharge
- Unwillingness to surrender a foreign passport
- Serious financial problems
- Intentional false statements
- Repeated alcohol abuse
- Pattern of rule violations
Students who have any of these issues will most likely be denied a security clearance. They may still be able to work in cyber security, but denial of clearance does limit their options.
Maryville University – Online Degree in Cyber Security
Maryville University’s online cyber security degree offers advanced training in cyber security, network and wireless security, ethical hacking, and digital forensics. All skills are learned and practiced in Maryville University’s virtual training lab.
Upon graduation, students may qualify for high-paying positions such as networking consultant, information security manager, security analyst, or network architect in some of the world’s largest tech companies. Contact Maryville University for more information.