Many service members transitioning out of the military know they want to get a degree in something, but many are not sure which field of study to pursue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers with a bachelor’s degree make on average $24,000 per year more than their counterparts without a degree.
However, if undecided as to which field to go into, one of the better choices for those that like working with computers and computer networks is information security, and specifically within that field, cybersecurity. But many service members coming out of the military cringe at the thought of spending their next four years in school.
Shortcuts to a Degree
The good news is there are some ways to cut down on the time needed to get that cybersecurity sheepskin in hand. In this article we discuss 3 methods to shorten your time to a degree:
1. JS Transcripts
If you don’t know, the military taught you things that easily translate into college credits. Even if you do not have experience in a computer-related field, there are still credits you can claim. For example, an Army 11B30 Infantryman can use the following credits:
- 3 credits – Human Relations
- 3 credits – Intro to Communications
- 3 credits – Supervision
- 3 credits – Public Speaking
The above 12 credits apply to an associate degree or lower level of a bachelor’s degree and could be applied to electives. At the 11B40 level, additional credits include 3 upper division credits each in management and leadership.
If you have a computer-related military background, you can get even more credits. For example, a 17C30 Cyber Operations Specialist can get 3 lower division credits in each of the following:
- Critical Thinking and Decision-making
- Scripting Languages
- Information Assurance
Upper division credits include:
- 3 credits in cyber intelligence
- 3 credits in cyber risk management
These credits can easily cut off a semester or more off your time to a degree. This not only saves time, but also GI Bill entitlement that can be used to earn certifications or work toward an advanced degree. Request your JST to see how many credits you could receive.
DANTES is a credit by examination program whereby passing a test, service members can get the credits without taking the course. For military members, taking tests on subjects is free the first time; if retesting is required, the test must be paid for by the service member.
There are two types of tests: CLEP and DSST. CLEP test cover five different test knowledge areas; DSST covers six knowledge areas. Both types of test have several different subjects with each knowledge area. Most of the credits earned by either type of test can be credited to 1st or 2nd-year college courses.
Something new in the Information Security field are cyber apprenticeships, in particular the Purdue Cyber Apprenticeship Program (P-CAP). Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training, students work for an employer while learning and gaining industry experience in the cyber field at no cost to the student. Once the apprenticeship is complete, students will have earned an associate degree in IT or a bachelor’s degree in computer and information science majoring in cybersecurity.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 94% of apprentices complete their program; ninety-one percent of apprenticeship graduates remain working for their first company nine months after graduating. Many apprentices end up getting hired by the company sponsoring them.
Fill the Cybersecurity Talent Gap
Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing fields; the BLS projects growth at 31% (much faster than average) between now and 2029. Translated into the number of jobs, this article in the New York Times cites a recent projection that up to 3.5 million jobs will be open in 2021.
And if you have a security clearance, the job opportunities are even greater and at a higher staring salary. If you want to be on the cutting edge in a fast-moving career field, cybersecurity is a good choice.