Are you interested in a career in cyber security but unsure of where to start? While degree options are available, they aren’t the only path forward. Certifications and self-education have helped thousands of people achieve successful careers in the industry.
For those unfamiliar with the field, cybersecurity leans on a variety of technologies, programs, and procedures to defend computers from cyber attacks. Cybersecurity specialists work to prevent data breaches and other forms of exploitation through computer systems.
As processes continue to move online, almost every industry requires these kinds of services. Today, demand is so high that the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects over 140,000 new jobs to hit the market over the next ten years.
So, do you need a degree for cyber security? Not always. In this article, we’ll discover alternative ways to break into the field along with important skills to develop as you go.
Can I Get into Cyber Security Without a Degree?
The simple answer is yes – Cyber security is among the few industries where you can excel without a college degree. Thousands of individuals across the country have successfully broken into the field after attending educational boot camps or certification programs.
Each option offers different perks and different drawbacks. Before you decide which educational path to pursue, it’s important you think about how you learn best.
Of course, ditching degree requirements doesn’t mean that employers are doing away with credentials altogether. Many careers in the cyber security industry demand proof of certain certifications or specialized training.
5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Degree to Pursue Cyber Security
Companies Are Trashing Degree Requirements
A growing number of companies are extending their talent pool by removing degree requirements. That group includes Google, Apple, and IBM. The idea is to make the field more open and accessible to those interested in it. Remember, there is a major talent shortage when it comes to cybersecurity. Businesses are looking for anyone with the knowledge and skills needed to protect their data, whether they have a college degree… or not.
The Cyber Security Job Market is Growing At Record Speed
The disparity between existing talent and demand is significant. Because the industry is expanding so rapidly, companies are having difficulty filling vacancies. They now have the incentive to consider applicants with less education or work experience and train them in-house.
Certificates are Becoming Increasingly Accepted
In today’s world, a degree isn’t always necessary to validate your knowledge in a certain subject. Certifications are becoming increasingly commonplace. Employers also know that these programs can be completed in a shorter amount of time and are more focused and affordable for the vast majority of individuals interested in a cybersecurity career.
The organizations that sponsor certifications are also highly respected. The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), for instance, has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and maintains partner programs with thousands of academic institutions, not-for-profits, job corps centers, and other organizations.
Many Current Cybersecurity Professionals and Recruiting Managers Lack a College Degree.
Once you break into the cybersecurity industry, you may discover that many experts, team leaders, and managers don’t possess a college degree either. Remember, a lot of cyber security experts today got their start years ago before courses dedicated to information security became popular.
The Industry Doesn’t Have Regulated Requirements
There is no regulating body for the American cybersecurity industry. Unlike disciplines like medicine or law, there are no standardized requirements that individuals must satisfy before earning their title.
Though there is some push from individuals in the industry to change things, others maintain that standards are hard to set in such a fast-evolving field. While implementing a set of standards may help dissuade certain behaviors, they cannot isolate all gradients that exist on the cybersecurity continuum.
So How Can I Get Started in the Field?
There are lots of ways to get into cybersecurity. As previously discussed, you can pursue different certifications to help solidify your skillset. Military experience, internship programs, and self-study also offer pathways into the industry. Below, we’ve outlined the three most important points to follow.
Earn Your High School Diploma or GED
To work as a cybersecurity professional, you must first graduate from high school or obtain a GED. During this time, you can enroll in courses to help you develop cybersecurity abilities. Courses in computer science like computer programming and software development will serve as a great foundation for a future career as a cybersecurity expert.
If you want to work as a cybersecurity expert but don’t have the time or resources to pursue a four-year degree, certifications are a great alternative. They’re also widely accepted across the industry. Some of the most recognized programs include:
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Certification is part of a new program offered by the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants that requires some knowledge of cyber security defense and popular hacking methods. Individuals must demonstrate two years of software experience to sit for the certification exam.
This certification verifies an individual’s knowledge of cybersecurity issues and solutions along with their ability to work with software systems. It is intended for IT professionals who have some prior experience. This credential must be renewed every 3 years.
Learn more about the CompTIA Security+ Boot Camp program at ICOHS College.
Certified Informations Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
This degree is based on a 250-word test that takes several hours to complete. The test is designed for cybersecurity professionals with more than five years of experience looking to secure their position as Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
This certification informs individuals on how to manage threats and security vulnerabilities in software systems. While there is no baseline experience required to take this certification exam, a few years of experience working with software may help you pass.
Get Some Experience
Another way to get started in the cybersecurity field is to get some exposure. Securing relevant experience is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and expand your skillset. Whether it comes in the form of an entry-level position, volunteer setting, or an online competition, the undertaking will serve as a valuable addition to your resume.
Jobs That Do Require a Cyber Security Degree
Cyber Security Engineer
A cyber security engineer must test networks for vulnerabilities, keep an eye out for security breaches, and create security plans and procedures for future defense. The role demands strong math and communication skills, as well as a thorough working understanding of computer operating systems and languages.
To work as a security engineer, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in engineering (electrical engineering is preferred) or computer science. Many businesses may require previous work experience and/or professional certification(s) in the sector. The average annual wage for this position is $120,708 with opportunities to advance into managerial roles.
Cyber Security Analyst
A cyber security analyst is largely responsible for preventing cyber attacks on a company’s network and systems. That involves staying up-to-date with IT trends, developing contingency plans, analyzing suspicious activity, reporting security breaches, and educating the rest of the team about security precautions.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming, or a related discipline is usually the minimum educational requirement for this position. A master’s degree will also help you secure a job as a cyber security analyst.
Salaries for cyber security analysts are determined by a variety of criteria such as experience, qualifications, abilities, industry, and location. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts can earn upwards of $100,000 per year. This position also offers opportunities to advance into positions such as cyber security architect or engineer.
Cryptographers encrypt data and create algorithms and ciphers to safeguard computer and information technology systems. They create and evaluate cryptography theories and techniques, as well as implement new or updated encryption systems.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, cybersecurity, or mathematics is typically required for this kind of work. More advanced degrees can also help you stand out from the competition and qualify for higher-paying positions.
As of Apr 15, 2022, the average annual pay for a cryptographer in the United States is $145,356 a year. Individuals can also use their skills to pursue positions as security software developers or consultants.
Benefits of Starting a Career in Cybersecurity Without a Degree
Outlined below are just some of the many advantages of entering the cybersecurity field without a degree.
The cost of tuition for obtaining a four-year degree greatly surpasses the cost of obtaining cybersecurity certifications. Students can kick off their careers as cybersecurity professionals without the burden of college loans.
Speedy Workforce Integration
Because certification programs can be completed within such a shorter window, you can break into the workforce much faster than you would with a degree program. Certifications remain acceptable criteria for a number of entry-level jobs. They can also help establish job security and lead to pretty generous earnings.
Working and Studying
Most certification courses can be taken online. This makes it easy to secure additional education while tending to work or family responsibilities. Many individuals who are enrolled in certificate programs maintain full-time work schedules.
One of the advantages of certificate programs is that they are so niche. The training revolves around highly specialized and marketable technical skills. All you need to do is figure out what area of cyber security interests you most and find a relevant program. It shouldn’t be too hard – today, there are over 200 industry certifications available.
What Skills Are Employers Looking For?
Employers are looking for candidates who favor an innovative, people-oriented approach to the work, while also possessing the knowledge and skills needed for success. While certain skills are better tailored towards specific areas of the industry, there are a few things any cyber security specialist should be able to pull off.
Attention to Detail
In a field where a minor system flaw could result in the release of sensitive corporate or consumer data, meticulous attention to detail is essential.
The cybersecurity industry needs ethical hackers. You will be able to better detect risks and resolve flaws if you can put yourself in the shoes of an intruder and understand how they might approach a system.
When you work in cybersecurity, you must keep your skills up to date. Because technology is forever evolving, you must remain flexible and open to adopting new approaches is essential.
Knowledge of Operating Systems
A basic understanding of how operating systems are designed and handled on a practical level is an absolute must for any cybersecurity job.
Knowing how to protect data and secure mobile devices throughout a company could make the difference between keeping unethical hackers away and unwittingly allowing them in.
Scalable, consolidated systems are critical for rapidly growing businesses. While cloud systems can facilitate this expansion, they are not without flaws. As a cybersecurity professional, you will need to detect and prevent cyber threats to the company’s cloud systems.
Threats can sometimes slip through the cracks. If you’re new to cybersecurity, you’ll need a basic understanding of how to respond to a breach. Understanding the fundamentals of digital forensics and what tools to use when investigating an incident is essential.
Being able to code means learning programming languages like Java, Python, and C++. This skill comes in handy for you to work as a software engineer and is also relevant for other cyber security jobs.
The Internet of Things(IoT)
The Internet of Things is bringing the digital and physical worlds together to make the world smarter and more responsive. At the same time, it also makes us more vulnerable. Therefore it is important you understand protocols for detecting and preventing firewall breaches to maintain network security.
So, do you need a degree in cybersecurity to break into the field? In short, no. Certificate programs and boot camp training are more than sufficient for an entry-level position. Not only are companies doing away with degree requirements, but demand continues to grow at an exponential rate. So long as you possess the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed as a cybersecurity specialist, you can do without the degree.
The Certified Cyber Security Program at ICOHS College can be completed in just 12 months and prepares students to pass the following industry certifications: j
- CompTIA A+
- CompTIA Network+ +
- CompTIA Security +
- CompTIA PenTest+
- CompTIA Cloud+
- CompTIA CSA+
Scholarships and title IV funding are also available to help students cover the cost of tuition. Call us to speak to one of our representatives (858) 581-9460 or contact us via email for more information on financial assistance.
Students attending ICOHS College will have full access to our career counseling program. They’ll also receive lifetime job placement assistance after graduation.
ICOHS College is accredited by the ACCET(Accrediting Council for Continuing Education). To learn more about ICOHS College accreditations and licenses, visit our accreditation page.
What is the Entry-Level Cyber Security Salary?
As of Apr 15, 2022, the average annual pay for an Entry Level Cyber Security Analyst in the United States was $82,565 a year, or around $39.69 an hour. That amounts to $1,588/week or $6,880/month.
Can You Get Into Cybersecurity with a Computer Science Degree?
Cyber security is a rapidly expanding field open to applicants with a wide range of background knowledge. Many cybersecurity professionals hold degrees in related disciplines, such as computer science, computer engineering, or even mathematics.
Is Cybersecurity Hard To Get Into?
With the right skills and knowledge, it shouldn’t be too difficult to land a job in cybersecurity. The field is rapidly expanding, and demand is heavily increasing. As of now, there are more open positions than there are applicants available to fill them. So long as you demonstrate your ability to navigate.