Information security, also called cybersecurity, is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2018 there were 112,300 information security analysts working across the country, making an average annual salary of $99,730 (2019 statistic). And that’s just one occupational category of cybersecurity. Cyberseek.org, an industry organization, sets the number of cybersecurity workers in the U.S. even higher, at 922.720 (with 507,924 job openings as of July 2020).
More K-12 school systems have begun offering education in cybersecurity to students, not only to increase their awareness but also to spark interest in cybersecurity careers among the younger generation. Cybersecurity affects all industries no matter what job title you hold. Information technology, healthcare, finance, education, and entertainment are just a few examples of industries that are affected by information security.
Cybersecurity is a field that you can usually enter into with a bachelor’s degree (some cybersecurity jobs will accept an associate degree or undergraduate certificate, but a bachelor’s degree is quickly becoming the standard educational benchmark). Bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity can be found all across the United States, at colleges and universities, as well as in hybrid and online formats, to meet the needs of all types of students who are interested in learning about and working within information security.
The BLS notes that the job outlook for information security analysts is quite good. From 2018 to 2028, employment opportunities for information security analysts are expected to grow by 32 percent – a rate that is much faster than that of the average of other occupations. If you are considering working in the innovative field of cybersecurity, keep reading to discover how you can take the first step towards achieving your goal – getting a bachelor’s degree.
Find Info For Your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Accreditation for Bachelor’s Degrees in Cybersecurity
Any bachelor’s degree program in cybersecurity that you choose should be accredited. This accreditation can be through institutional accreditation, programmatic accreditation, or both. Below, we will discuss the various types of accreditation for bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity in the United States.
Whatever school you choose, it should hold institutional accreditation through an accrediting organization that Is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the US Department of Education (USDE). Most of the “larger” colleges and universities will hold regional accreditation through one of the following CHEA-recognized regional accrediting organizations (updated May 2020):
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
Other types of institutional accreditation organizations recognized by CHEA include faith-based organizations, as well as career and technical-related organizations. A few examples of these include (but are not limited to):
- Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation (ABHE)
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
- Council on Occupational Education (COE)
- Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC)
Cybersecurity bachelor’s degrees may hold programmatic accreditation from CHEA and USDE-recognized accreditation organizations. These accreditations are not “mandatory,” like institutional accreditation, but are desirable, and include:
- Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (CAE) – a recognition program of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that recognizes cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programs as one of the following:
- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) – a programmatic accreditation organization for baccalaureate-level cybersecurity programs
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)– this organizations offers programmatic accreditation for cybersecurity programs that are housed within a college or university’s business school
- FEMA Emergency Management Institute – Some Homeland Security bachelor’s degree programs that include cybersecurity are accredited by this organization
Titles of Bachelor’s Degrees in Cybersecurity
Colleges and universities across the country will call their baccalaureate-level cybersecurity degree programs different things. A few examples of some of the many bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity available across the United States include:
- Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science- Cybersecurity Concentration
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology – Cybersecurity Concentration
- Bachelor of Science in Information Security
- Bachelor of Science in Information Assurance
- Bachelor of Science in Digital Forensics
Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Program Coursework
Just as titles of bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity vary from one school to the next, class titles do, too. However, core topics and concepts that you can expect to be taught in a baccalaureate-level cybersecurity degree program will remain constant. They include:
- Foundations of Cybersecurity
- Principles of Cybersecurity
- IT Systems Components
- Scripting & Programming
- Network Defense
- Operating Systems Concepts
- Cyber Threats
- Planning & Management in Cybersecurity
- Cybersecurity Policy, Legal, Ethics & Compliance
- Security Program Management
- Security Risk Analysis
Professional Cybersecurity Certifications
Besides holding a bachelor’s degree, cybersecurity professionals are usually expected by potential employers to hold certain professional certifications. These measure a job candidate’s level of excellence and commitment to quality in the profession. Per Business News Daily, the top five cybersecurity certifications that professionals hold in 2020 are:
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) – an intermediate-level credential offered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council)
- Requires passing an examination after taking a five-day training course
- Certified Information Security Manger (CISM)- top credential for those who manage, offered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
- Requires five years of security experience
- Must pass an examination
- CompTIA Security+- a vendor-neutral security certification
- Must have two years of work experience
- Must pass an examination
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)- advanced-level certification of the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (also known as (ISC) 2)
- Must have five years of experience
- Must pass an examination
- Certified Information Security Auditor (CISA)- known as the gold standard for information security professionals, offered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
- Must have at least one year of experience
- Must pass an examination
Job Titles Available with a Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is a broad field with jobs available in a wide variety of industries. There is a myriad of job titles for cybersecurity workers. According to Cyberseek.org, the top job titles in cybersecurity in the United States, as of 2020, are:
- Cyber Security Engineer
- Cyber Security Analyst
- Cyber Security Consultant
- Cyber Security Manager/Administrator
- Systems Engineer
- Network Engineer/Architect
- Software Developer/Engineer
- Vulnerability Analyst/Penetration Tester
- Cyber Security Specialist/Technician
“2020 Knowledge Units.” Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. https://www.iad.gov/NIETP/documents/Requirements/CAE-CD_2020_Knowledge_Units.pdf.
“CHEA- and USDE-Recognized Accrediting Organizations (as of May 2020). https://docs.google.com/gview?embedded=true&url=https://www.chea.org/sites/default/files/other-content/CHEA_USDE_AllAccred-May2020_1_0.pdf.
“Cyberseek Supply/Demand Heat Map.” Cyberseek.org. https://www.cyberseek.org/heatmap.html.
“Information Security Analysts.” US Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm.
“National Centers of Academic Excellence.” National Security Agency Central Security Service. https://www.nsa.gov/resources/students-educators/centers-academic-excellence/#defense.
Tittel, Ed, Kim Lindros and Mary Kyle. “Best InfoSec and Cybersecurity Certifications of 2020.” Business News Daily. 3 February 2020. Accessed 25 July 2020 at https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10708-information-security-certifications.html.