What Can Cybersecurity Professionals Earn in Salary with a Master’s Degree?

With the online world growing larger, faster and more interconnected by the day, careers in cybersecurity have exploded. On a daily basis, computer users are blindsided by attacks that cripple their laptops, desktops, mobile devices and network connections. Adding insult to injury is the exposure of their sensitive data, an issue from which no one can entirely hide, particularly businesses. According to the National Cybersecurity Society, 70% of all cyberattacks affect small businesses, even though large enterprises are typically the ones that get the headlines. And even though laws often require businesses to disclose whether they’ve ever been affected by cybercrime, industry experts believe many often go unreported (National Cybersecurity Society, 2019).

Software engineers and organizations are constantly trying to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals’ subterfuge, but as they alter their strategies, so too do the perpetrators of cybercrime. Given that these cyberattacks affect businesses of all sizes, causing losses of $200,000 on average, the stakes couldn’t be higher (Hiscox, 2019).

Cybersecurity professionals are on the case, but because of the increasingly sophisticated nature of the viruses attackers place on their victims, employers need professionals with extraordinary expertise.

High-level training and learning are available with an online Master’s degree in cybersecurity through the University of Nevada, Reno. This 100% online program can provide you with the experience, comprehension and practical tools businesses and everyday individuals need from cybersecurity professionals to protect them from the dark side of the information era.

Is a master’s degree worthwhile?

Some wonder if obtaining a master’s in cybersecurity is worth the investment in terms of how much more money people stand to earn with a graduate degree. A graduate degree brings a higher level of experience and understanding of cybercrime, which typically results in higher income. Exactly how much you stand to earn largely depends on your level of experience and the positions that you seek, as there are many types of cybersecurity professionals. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cybersecurity specialist
  • Cybercrime analyst
  • Incident analyst
  • Information security analyst
  • IT auditor
  • Cybersecurity engineer
  • Cybersecurity consultant
  • Vulnerability/Penetration tester
  • Cybersecurity architect

Take cybercrime analyst as an example. Although it may be an entry-level role, cybercrime analysts earn an average of $92,000 (Cyber Seek, 2019). Master’s in cybersecurity salary averages may be even more. Plus, graduate level degrees often satisfy the requirements that many employers list as prerequisites in job descriptions.

A more mid-level position within the cybersecurity field is information security analyst. While a cybersecurity analyst focuses on combating or deterring specific viruses or malware, an information security analyst carries out defensive measures designed to protect an organization’s networks and data. Because they are more comprehensive, cybersecurity salaries for these positions are typically more remunerative. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for these cybersecurity jobs is $98,350, which averages out to around $47 per hour (BLS, 2018).

As their title more or less suggests, cybersecurity architects are charged with developing the structures that keep large organizations from breaches. These tools may include creating software or determining which are the best networks that reduce the chances of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. Because there’s greater pressure and stakes involved, cybersecurity architects are usually very well compensated. Based on estimates from Cyber Seek, average annual salaries are upwards of $133,000.

Do you need a degree to work in cybersecurity?

While none of these positions by nature require a master’s degree, earning potential may be greater with the additional expertise graduate degree programs offer (Cyber Seek, 2019). And the more years of experience, the more likely it is that salary ranges increase. An undergraduate degree is almost always a prerequisite.

What makes someone a good fit for cybersecurity?

As with most positions, cybersecurity professionals must utilize a combination of hard and soft skills to be effective at their craft. Chief among these is problem-solving. By definition, cybersecurity jobs involve recognizing problems and determining the best way to resolve them quickly and efficiently. There’s no shortage of predicaments, as cyberattackers never let up. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were roughly 1,244 breaches in 2018. Additionally, more than 446.5 million consumer records were exposed last year, which was a 126% increase from 2017 (Identity Theft Resource Center, 2019).

If you’re creative and enjoy problem-solving, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice within the cybersecurity field.

Attention to detail is another quality that makes someone a good fit for this line of work (BLS, 2018). Frequently, cyberattacks don’t produce symptoms that are readily detectable. Sometimes, they can be just a click away if employees click on a link that looks legitimate but contains a virus. Phishing is one of the more common scams and perpetrators are improving their ability to make counterfeit websites look like the real thing. Cybersecurity professionals must be able to pinpoint clues that only the trained eye can detect.

Who hires cybersecurity professionals?

According to the BLS, most employers are in the computer systems design field. However, because so many organizations have been hit by viruses in recent years, companies are increasingly devoting IT teams to address these incidents when they occur. Employees may have a few basic skills in how to defend themselves and what websites to avoid, but not the kind of working knowledge they need to identify the more nuanced attacks that infiltrate networks, never mind how to respond.

Finance and insurance, information and administrative are other industries that employ cybersecurity professionals.

Online threats are complex and require practical skills to resolve. An online Master of Cybersecurity from the University of Nevada, Reno can provide you with the training you need to diagnose and defend networks and plug gaps. Contact us to learn more.

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University of Nevada, Reno Online Master of Cybersecurity



ISACA – National Cybersecurity Society

BLS – Information Security Analyst

Cyber Seek

Identity Theft Resource Center

Hiscox – Cyber Readiness Report