Dubbed “cyber security valley,” Phoenix is home to headquarters for cybersecurity teams for big names like Honeywell, Charles Schwab, American Express and Securosis. The environment is ideal for master’s-prepared cybersecurity specialists looking to land a position with a large firm. In fact, in 2015 Burning Glass Technologies ranked Arizona among the top 15 states with the most available cybersecurity jobs.
Here’s what’s been happening on the cyber front in Arizona:
- In 2000, the Arizona Cyber Threat Response Alliance was formed to build partnerships among industries in the state and collaborate on how best to respond to state-wide and local cyber threats.
- During 2010-2014, Arizona experienced a staggering 87% job growth rate in the cybersecurity field, making it one of the best places in the US for cybersecurity specialists to build their careers.
- In a 2015 report, Network World called Arizona Laboratories for Security & Defense Research (AZ Labs) a “cyberfortress.” The lab is certified at the highest level of security–above Top Secret. In order to maintain the top level of security, AZ Labs employs a team of highly trained cybersecurity engineers and analysts.
A Federal Trade Commission report estimated that 8.5 million Americans were victims of internet scams and fraud in 2013, and cybersecurity professionals in the US are working to change that number. Cybersecurity specialists in Arizona have the opportunity to work for up-and-coming firms, such as Zap Fraud. Founded in 2015, this Arizona based company develops security algorithms designed to reveal email scams.
Although Burning Glass ranked professional services, finance, and manufacturing and defense as the leading employers of cybersecurity specialists nationwide, these analysts are also vital to information security in IT firms, government offices, the healthcare sector, and virtually every other industry.
Earning a Master’s Degree or Certificate in Cybersecurity in Arizona
Arizona is home to three in-state schools offering master’s degree programs in information security that have received designations through the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The NSA and DHS designate two classifications of schools that offer graduate programs in information security:
- CAE-CDE- National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (qualifying colleges and universities offering bachelor’s, master’s, and graduate certificates)
- CAE-R – National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (schools that participate in research initiatives and that integrate a strong research component into the curriculum of bachelor’s and graduate programs)
Students may also choose from a variety of online programs that have received these designations.
Master’s programs in cybersecurity are typically 30 credits, with 15 core credits and 15 electives. These programs can be completed in 15 months.
Post-bachelor’s certificate programs are about half the length of a master’s program, requiring 15 credits.
Admissions Requirements for Cybersecurity Master’s Programs in Arizona
In order to be considered for admission to a cybersecurity master’s program, students must bring an excellent educational history, strong entrance exam scores, and knowledge of advanced mathematics and programming.
At minimum, students must hold a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline, which may include degrees in computer science, engineering, applied mathematics, or information security.
Students are often expected to submit excellent GRE scores:
- GRE verbal score of 150 or higher
- GRE quantitative score of 155 or higher
- GRE analytical score of 650 or higher
Entrance exam requirements may be waived altogether for those with a 3.0 or higher in undergraduate studies.
Admissions departments expect applicants to possess the following skills:
- One year of calculus
- One mathematics course beyond calculus: discrete mathematics, linear algebra, or differential equations
- A Java or C++ programming course
Core Courses and Electives
Core courses will cover the following topics:
- Information Assurance and Security
- Software Security
- Advanced Computer Network Security
- Data and Information Security
- Computer and Network Forensics
- Distributed and Multi-Processor Operating Systems
- Software Verification, Validation, and Testing
Electives may include the following:
- Cybercrime and Criminal Law
- Applied Cryptography
- Algorithm Design and Analysis
- Software Engineering Principles and Practices
- Advanced Mobile Services
NSA and DHS Designated Research and Education Institutions in Arizona
As of 2016, the following schools have met the rigorous criteria required to earn the NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) designation for their master’s programs:
Arizona State University, Information Assurance Center
- Master of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in information assurance
The University of Arizona, Tucson, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Master of Science in Management Information Systems with an emphasis on information security
University of Advancing Technology
- Master of Science in Information Assurance
Opportunities Available to Master’s-Prepared Cybersecurity Analysts and Engineers in Arizona
Arizona is well-known as a hotspot for technological innovation, and the cybersecurity industry is no different. With the opportunity to step into senior positions in information security teams, master’s-prepared professionals are highly sought after in many industries throughout the state.
The following job opportunities, sourced in May 2016, are shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to guarantee employment. They represent the types of employment that may be available to master’s-prepared cybersecurity professionals in Arizona.
Information Security Engineer with Wells Fargo
- Minimum 5 years of information security experience
- Must have prior experience with firewalls, IDS or IPS, and security frameworks
- Performs research, analysis, design, testing and implementation of firewalls
- Identifies security solutions for networks and applications
Information Security Engineer with Republic Services in Phoenix
- Minimum of bachelor’s degree in related field; master’s preferred
- Certifications in Global Information Assurance, Systems Security Certified Practitioner, Cisco Certified Network Associate, And SourceFire Certified Professional
- Minimum of 4 years of experience in an information security role
- Designs, administers and maintains security infrastructure
- Analyzes security events and determines solutions
- Drafts configuration manuals and cross-trains other members of the team
Information Security Risk Manager with PayPal in Scottsdale
- Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in related discipline; master’s preferred
- Manage firewall security and implement new measures as needed
- Lead cross functional teams in data security
- Perform ongoing integration of information security