8 Reasons to Get Your Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity

Cyber attacks are on the rise and more and more companies are turning to cybersecurity professionals to safeguard their important data. With such a high demand for trained professionals, those with bachelor’s degrees have their pick of jobs. And if you think that’s nice, consider the candidates with master’s degrees. Forget the uphill battle, it’s more of a waltz toward the corner office. Need to be convinced? Check out these eight reasons you should consider getting your master’s degree in cybersecurity.

1. Job Security

Cybersecurity professionals have the type of job security most of us dream about and few of us actually achieve. Let me drop some statistics on you. According to Burning Glass, cybersecurity openings are growing three times faster than overall IT postings. Not only were there 238,158 postings for cybersecurity-related jobs in 2014, but job postings have grown 91 percent between 2010-2014. No question, the demand is there. But it should be noted that the demand is fueled by companies that want educated employees. About 84 percent of job postings require at least a bachelor’s degree and many want someone CISSP certified, which is the primary credential in cybersecurity work. Basically, if you spend the time and money to further your education, there should be lots of job opportunities waiting for you.

2. You Can Make More Money

Straight up, cybersecurity professionals are well paid. They earn about 9 percent more than the average IT worker with an information assurance specialist averaging about $75,000 annually. Even better, if you get your master’s degree you have the potential to earn more at the managerial level. An information security manager averages $100,000 a year and a chief information security officer sits at about $145,000 annually. And those are median salaries. It’s not unusual to see salaries more than $200,000 a year as you move up the ladder.

3. You Can Become a Hybrid

This ties back into making more money and job security. Some of the most difficult cybersecurity jobs to fill are the ones that require knowledge in another industry. For example, professionals who are well-versed in HIPAA on the health services side or accounting on the finance side are difficult to find and consequently, compensated well for their services. According to Burning Glass, these jobs actually take 17 percent longer to fill than the average cybersecurity job. The benefit of going back to school is that you can choose an additional industry to focus on and make yourself into the perfect hybrid cybersecurity professional.

4. Leadership Skills

Most cybersecurity bachelor’s programs don’t teach leadership skills or provide managerial training. As part of your master’s program, you’d be exposed to those important business tools and learn how to lead a team. These are essential qualities and skills if you want to advance in the cybersecurity field and land those senior positions.

5. Scholarship Opportunities abound

There are many scholarship programs that can help cut down the costs of getting a master’s degree. For example, two government programs – the Information Assurance Scholarship Program and the National Science Foundation Scholarship for Service – are available for students pursuing cybersecurity degrees. Another one is the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security, also referred to as SWSIS. Finally, there are a number of schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program where the school matches tuition funds for veterans who qualify.

6. Great for Networking

In the military, you go to specialized schools to develop new skills and while you’re there, you meet others who are training to do the same job. In turn, they become part of your professional network. Graduate school is no different. You’d attend classes with your peers and have the opportunity to learn from professors and other subject matter experts. When you graduate, you’ll have a much larger network to pull from whether you’re looking for a new position or need advice.

7. Online Flexibility

People who are earning their master’s degrees are often simultaneously holding down a full-time job and juggling personal obligations. Luckily, more universities – like the University of San Diego – are offering a master’s degree in cybersecurity online.This gives students the flexibility to complete coursework on their own time, in the comfort of their own homes. Other schools that offer online master’s degrees include the University of Maryland University College, Champlain College and the University of Denver.

8. You’ve Already Got a Leg Up

If you’re reading this post, chances are good that you either have a security clearance or are in a good position to get one. In 2014, there were 25,654 cybersecurity postings that required a government security clearance and those jobs took about 10 percent longer to fill than the average posting. Add a master’s degree to those qualifications and think about how marketable you’d become.

Getting your master’s degree is not something to take lightly. It can be expensive, time consuming and at times, frustrating. But when it comes to an advanced degree in cybersecurity, the pros far outweigh the cons. Invest in yourself and before you know it you’ll be cashing a larger paycheck and enjoying a higher level of job security.

Jennifer Cary is a freelance writer, blogger and former government employee. You can visit her website here.

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