Why Study Cybersecurity in College?

By Traci Williams

Cybersecurity student looking at coding

In today’s culture of connectivity, earning a cybersecurity degree is worth your investment for many reasons. Cybersecurity professionals meet an increasingly critical need for businesses around the world. In fact, the number of cybersecurity job postings has grown 94% since 2013 compared to only 30% for IT positions overall.¹

Why Choose Cybersecurity: 5 Reasons to Pursue a Cybersecurity Degree

You may be wondering, “Why choose cybersecurity? Is a cybersecurity degree worth it?” This blog will help you answer these questions and more by exploring five reasons to earn a cybersecurity degree.

1. Cybersecurity Professionals Are in High Demand

In the past, cybersecurity professionals worked primarily in the government and private sectors. However, cyber threats can now affect anyone who is online. According to a recent report from McAfee, global losses from cybercrime have increased substantially.**

As the threats continue to increase and cybercriminals become more savvy, many companies in a wide variety of industries are desperately seeking experienced cyber specialists to protect their data and assets. Industries with the most urgent need for experienced professionals include:

  • Financial services
  • Government
  • Healthcare
  • Retail
  • Manufacturing

If you search “cybersecurity” in a job listing site, you’ll find many large, well-established companies looking for experienced cyber professionals, including:

  • Accenture
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Deloitte
  • IBM
  • JP Morgan Chase Bank
  • Lockheed Martin
  • PayPal
  • Oracle

The major issue currently facing this industry is a shortage of well-educated, qualified cybersecurity specialists to meet increasing demand on a global scale.

2. Technological Knowledge

As the world continues to become more technologically advanced, the need for professionals who understand information technology increases. Technological knowledge can be beneficial not only in your career but also in other aspects of life. Familiarity with details of cybersecurity empowers you to help others, as well as yourself, with issues pertaining to cyber defense.

3. Cybersecurity Experts Are Well Compensated

Employment follows the same law of supply and demand that trade does. Cybersecurity is a field that requires a specialized skill set and educational credentials, and because there aren’t enough graduates with cybersecurity degrees, employers are willing to pay high salaries to fill cybersecurity positions.*

This field offers plenty of room for promotions and wage increases, especially if you decide to earn your master’s degree. Since employers want cybersecurity experts on their staff, they may be willing to pay for your advanced education in addition to offering a higher salary. It’s worth it to them to take on the cost because the education of their employees is an investment that pays dividends in the long run.

4. Real-World Course Topics in a Cybersecurity Degree Program

In a cybersecurity degree program, students are provided with the tools and resources to be successful in the field after graduation. Some topics cybersecurity majors might explore include:

  • Perspectives on cyberwarfare
  • Programming
  • Hacking
  • Information technology
  • Professionalism in science and technology
  • Information assurance

In addition, you can expect the curriculum to include hands-on research and design projects to help prepare you for this fast-paced, technical field. You will also take well-rounded coursework that includes the following areas:

  • Platform and network technologies
  • Cyberlaw and privacy in the digital age
  • Cybersecurity and ethical hacking
  • Cyber forensic investigations
  • IT business case planning for global enterprise
  • Security-driven systems administration
  • Analysis, design and management of secure corporate networks

5. Growth Potential

The information technology field is broad and has many subfields. As a result, it offers a wide range of routes for career advancement. The potential for growth in information technology, specifically in the area of cybersecurity, is endless. Employers in many diverse fields will continue to look for competent, well-informed experts in IT.

Starting Your Career in Cybersecurity

1. Earning an Undergraduate Degree

For those who are interested in contributing to the technological world and keeping the cyber atmosphere safe, the first step is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity. When you earn a degree in cybersecurity, you gain the knowledge and skills to:

  • Prevent data breaches and protect systems against various types of cyberattacks
  • Address vulnerabilities in current systems
  • Adapt quickly to fast-evolving technology and industry standards
  • Apply critical thinking to real-world threats

Is Cybersecurity a Good Major?

If the idea of protecting and defending against security threats inspires or intrigues you, a degree in cybersecurity is a solid degree to pursue, qualifying you to fill a variety of positions and jobs. Undergraduate students may want to major in cybersecurity or choose to get their BS in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity.

If you are not quite sure whether cybersecurity is the right choice for you, you may want to check out other technology-related major programs, such as:

2. Advancing Your Cybersecurity Career With a Master’s Degree

Not all cybersecurity jobs require an advanced degree. However, there are many advantages to earning a master’s in cybersecurity, including higher pay, greater job security and more career opportunities. Experts are needed in most industries throughout the world, so the more experience you have, the more likely you are to land the job you want, where you want.

If you already have your bachelor’s degree and you’re an entry-level cybersecurity employee, obtaining your master’s degree might be easier than you think. Many master’s programs offer flexible online course scheduling options, so you can earn new credentials while maintaining your other obligations. 

Students pursuing a master’s in cybersecurity receive intensive, hands-on training throughout the program. The benefit of an immersive program is that it gives students the real-world exposure they need to be effective in the field. You'll learn how to stay ahead of emerging threats as well as keep current on attack vendors, incoming trends and new technologies. In this program, you'll also examine and develop core competencies in the following areas:

  • Digital forensics
  • Penetration testing
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Exploitation techniques
  • Cyberwarfare
  • Cyber defense

If you currently hold a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field of study, you may want to consider earning a certificate in cybersecurity before applying for a master’s degree. Students interested in a career change can use the certificate program to acquire foundational knowledge and skills that prepare them for success in the master’s program.

3. Professional Certifications in Cybersecurity

Your education doesn’t end after earning an advanced degree in cybersecurity. Success in this fast-paced, dynamic field requires commitment to ongoing learning opportunities. Among these opportunities are certification courses specific to your position or area of interest. This option is especially relevant for those in leadership or management roles.

A few certification programs designed for cyber professionals include:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Security
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
  • Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)

Career Opportunities for Cybersecurity Professionals

Cybersecurity work is a highly valued, lucrative career direction with room for advancement. With the right education and experience, the doors are wide open for you in this field. Job postings in cybersecurity range from internships and entry-level positions to mid-level and executive positions. Some of the top careers in cybersecurity include:

  • Corporate information security officer (CISO)
  • Cybersecurity technician or specialist
  • Cybersecurity consultant
  • Cybersecurity architect
  • Security auditor
  • Network administrator
  • Penetration tester
  • Malware analyst
  • Digital forensic technician

The opportunity to make a difference in the world and improve the lives of others is precious. If your passion lies in IT, you may be able to use your skills to protect people’s sensitive information and save them from possible financial ruin. Another option is to work for a government agency, which can bring personal and professional satisfaction while helping to defend your country.

Is a Cybersecurity Degree Worth It?

If your goal is to enter the world of cybersecurity, earning a cybersecurity degree is a crucial step on your journey. A cybersecurity degree can give you the edge you need to find a fulfilling career — and your purpose.

Build a career you’ll love with a BS or graduate degree in cybersecurity from Grand Canyon University. Our College of Science, Engineering and Technology invites you to apply for admission to our Master of Science in Cybersecurity degree program. Our cybersecurity programs can be completed online or on our beautiful campus. Click on the Request Info button at the top of this page to get started today. 

Retrieved from:

¹Burning Glass Technologies, The State of Cybersecurity Hiring in June 2019

**McAfee, New McAfee Report Estimates Global Cybercrime Losses to Exceed $1 Trillion in August 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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