How to Get into Cybersecurity With a Master of Science in Cybersecurity

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Cybersecurity is one of the broadest and most rapidly evolving professional fields across all industries today. In addition to keeping up with the increasingly sophisticated tactics of malicious hackers, cybersecurity professionals also work to remain on the cutting edge of data protection, information governance and system administration.

With so many different areas of study and specializations in this sector, though, it can be difficult for professionals to decide where to begin. However, the demand for trained security practitioners is significant. According to statistics from Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be more than 3.5 million cybersecurity roles requiring applicants by 2021. What’s more, many of these job titles come with exciting and interesting work responsibilities, alongside attractive salaries.

Professionals with an interest in information security, data networks, computer science and other technical skills can put themselves on a path toward success with the right degree. The Online Cybersecurity Master of Science program at the University of Nevada at Reno provides students with the robust education they need to pursue advanced cybersecurity careers, including those involving information security, cloud protection, counterespionage, data forensics and more.

Let’s take a look at how graduates can get started with a career in cybersecurity.

Build the right technical skills with higher education

A program like the Master of Science in Cybersecurity includes a strong, focused curriculum that covers a wide range of technical skills. Students don’t need to have a cybersecurity or digital data background in order to pursue this type of degree – anyone with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, mathematics or science, alongside a computer science or computer engineering minor, can begin the master’s program.

The University of Nevada at Reno’s online cybersecurity degree provides students with experience and expertise in key disciplines including:

  • Internet security
  • Digital forensics
  • Cryptography
  • Blockchain
  • Mobile security and data privacy
  • Cybersecurity law and ethics

In this way, students build skills in cornerstone areas like data protection and mobile computing, while also being introduced to advanced and emerging concepts like blockchain.

While some companies will consider applicants for cybersecurity careers who don’t have a degree in this field of study, an increasing number of businesses now prefer their employment candidates to be professionally trained in cybersecurity. An advanced degree like the Master of Science in Cybersecurity may provide graduates a competitive edge when pursuing cybersecurity careers.

Consider specializing in a specific area of study

The cybersecurity industry is considerably broad. It not only includes protection of mobile apps and online platforms, but internal company networks and databases. Professionals must have a considerably varied set of skills, but depending on their interests and the particular career path they’d like to pursue, it can help to focus their studies in a certain area and specialize their knowledge according to their career goals.

For instance, technology provider Itegria points out that there are typically six main areas of cybersecurity that professionals can specialize in. These align with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) cybersecurity audit practices, as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Cyber Framework:

  1. Governance and risk assessment, which involves the controls and risk mitigation practices and procedures that govern an organization’s sensitive data and compliance  
  2. Access rights and controls, which prevent unauthorized access while ensuring that approved users can login to and use network resources and applications  
  3. Data loss and controls revolve around disaster recovery, business continuity and downtime. Professionals with expertise in this area craft disaster recovery procedures and help ensure that the business’s downtime is limited, should it be impacted by a breach or utility interruption.   
  4. Vendor Management, where cybersecurity professionals ensure proper relations and service levels from their third-party technology providers  
  5. Training is an increasingly important area as the cybersecurity industry continues to quickly change and advance. Professionals must keep abreast of the latest standards and best practices in order to safeguard assets and stay ahead of hackers.  
  6. Incident response, which covers an organization’s response plan, in the event that they are the victims of a data breach or their systems are compromised

The courses of a master’s level cybersecurity degree program can help students gain skills and experience in these key areas, and more, and help provide a foundation for specialization.

Build soft skills in addition to technical skills

While technical knowledge and expertise in certainly important for all cybersecurity job titles, there are also some soft skills that can help students succeed in their careers:

  • Work ethic and adherence to deadlines. These are habits that students can practice during their higher education program, preparing them for the demands of professional cybersecurity work.
  • Communication and understanding. Depending on their role, security practitioners may be required to explain their work or findings, verbally or in writing. It’s important that professionals have strong communication skills, particularly when it comes to collaborating and explaining concepts to those without a technical background (such as C-suite executives). These skills also come in handy for user training.
  • Research and maintaining up-to-date knowledge on the latest practices and strategies emerging in the cybersecurity industry.

Leading cybersecurity job titles for master’s degree graduates

Because a master’s degree is an advanced program that provides in-depth skills and knowledge, graduates can reach beyond entry-level positions and pursue more advanced career opportunities.

Some of the top job titles graduates with a master’s degree can consider include:

  • Information security analyst: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is a role that will see a 32% job outlook through 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. These professionals establish and monitor network security, install necessary protection and cryptography software, develop their organization’s security best practices and procedures and prepare reports detailing these processes. Currently, information security analysts earn a median annual wage of $99,730.
  • Computer network architect: These professionals – sometimes also called network engineers – plan and establish an organization’s data and communication networks, and are responsible for maintaining and updating these components. These roles are growing about as fast as average, with 5% expansion expected through 2028. Computer network architects earn median annual wages of $112,690.
  • Chief information security officer: This executive-level role helps ensure that cyber and information security remain a top priority, including within the C-suite. These chief officers oversee and supervise the planning and deployment of all cybersecurity practices and procedures, and help ensure their organization’s compliance with industry data security standards. In addition, the CISO assists in incident response planning, and supervises all IT security deployments and updates. PayScale found that the average salary for CISOs was $162,037, but the top earners can receive pay of up to $225,000 annually, alongside profit sharing and bonus opportunities.

In addition to these in-demand roles, graduates with a masters degrees in cybersecurity can also consider job opportunities like cloud security architect, counterespionage analyst, digital forensics analyst, and Internet of Things security specialist.

How to get into cybersecurity: Begin with an advanced degree

The first step toward an exciting and fast-paced career in the field of cybersecurity is building the right skills and expertise through an advanced degree. The University of Nevada at Reno’s Online Cybersecurity Master of Science is a flexible program where students can learn the most current best practices from experts in the field.

To find out more, check out our website and connect with one of our enrollment advisors today.


Recommended Readings:

Cyber Security Engineer Career

How to Get into a Cyber Security Career



Cybersecurity Ventures, Cybersecurity Talent Crunch to Create 3.5 million Unfilled Jobs Globally by 2021

Itegria, Understanding the “Cyber 6” Areas of Focus for the SEC Cyber Security Exams

National Institute of Standards and Technology, Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Security Analysts

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Network Architects

PayScale, Average Chief Information Security Officer Salary