Five Reasons Why a Cybersecurity Degree Is Worth the Effort
To appreciate the value of a cybersecurity degree, it is helpful to place it in the context of some informative—and disturbing—statistics:
- Cyberattackers have been on a rampage since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cyberattacks jumped 50% worldwide in 2021 compared with the previous year (Check Point Research, 2022).
- The estimated global cost of cybercrime, including monetary losses and investments in cybersecurity, exceeded $1 trillion in 2020, amounting to roughly 1% of the global economy (Lewis et al., 2020).
Today, skilled cybersecurity professionals are in demand due to these trends and for countless other reasons. The number of unfilled cybersecurity positions worldwide reached 3.5 million in 2021, and the likelihood of closing that gap soon appears dim (Morgan, 2021). What that means for those interested in entering the field, however, is that career prospects are bright.
If you are already working in the information security industry, you probably are aware of the call for more cybersecurity specialists, and you may have noticed how rapidly the profession is evolving. The need to adapt to sudden changes underscores the importance of continuing education. The good news is that there are many paths to a career in cybersecurity.
With the COVID-19 pandemic driving demand for more cybersecurity specialists, some companies are revisiting the requirements job candidates must meet. Many are leaning toward certifications because certification course content is specifically targeted toward building cybersecurity skills, enabling participants to quickly ramp up their abilities. Further, many employers currently do not require prior cybersecurity experience for entry-level posts (Cook, 2021).
Yet the demand for cybersecurity professionals is not limited to entry-level ranks. There are pressing vacancies for roles at the middle management and executive levels, as well. For those positions, cybersecurity degrees typically are required. Educational programs that have certifications built in, like those at EC-Council University (ECCU), cover all the bases.
Breaking It Down: Cybersecurity Degree Benefits
Because there are many ways to prepare for a role in cybersecurity, anyone considering it—whether as an initial career choice or a mid-career shift—would do well to consider the advantages of getting a cybersecurity degree. The following are five compelling reasons to go the degree route.
1. Wider Career Options
To demonstrate the level of expertise necessary to combat sophisticated attacks, appropriate leadership soft skills—such as problem-solving, eagerness to learn, and ability to communicate effectively—are essential. The cybersecurity industry is in dire need of experts with specific technical skill sets, as well. Highly prized skills include cloud security, risk management, artificial intelligence, governance and compliance, and threat analysis.
ECCU offers several accredited online programs: a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity, a Master of Science in Cybersecurity, and a Graduate Certificate. The bachelor’s program focuses on fundamental cybersecurity principles, applications, tools, and techniques. The master’s program prepares information security professionals to assume cybersecurity and information assurance leadership roles, with special emphasis on organizational behavior and structure, research, and writing. The graduate certificate is appropriate for participants who want to develop competencies that would suit them for managerial and director roles in cybersecurity, including at the C-level.
A degree program is an efficient and effective way to develop the most in-demand cybersecurity skills and expand the horizons of job seekers in the industry.
2. Real-World Experience
The labor shortage in the cybersecurity industry has become critical. “It’s a talent war. There’s a shortage of supply and increased demand,” Bryan Orme, principal at GuidePoint Security, told CNN Business (Duffy, 2021).
Job candidates with cybersecurity credentials will have little difficulty landing interviews for vacancies, but even with soaring employer demand, those with a combination of education and experience have an edge.
ECCU incorporates hands-on experience into its course offerings through dedicated practical labs. Its internship and capstone projects go further by providing students with opportunities for applying and honing their skills, both nontechnical and technical, outside the classroom. Internships can fill experience gaps on many job seekers’ resumes, giving them a competitive advantage over other applicants.
3. Long-Term Rewards
A cybersecurity degree offers assurance to prospective employers that the job candidate has demonstrated the level of knowledge, proficiency, and experience the credentialing institution has established for its degree program. That is an undeniable plus.
One question that arises for those considering a degree program is cost. Tuitions vary dramatically, depending on the type of degree and institution.
ECCU helps students defray costs in several ways: accepting credit transfers for related college-level coursework or industry certifications, establishing flexible payment plans, offering a variety of scholarships, and providing fellowships through EC-Council Foundation.
A degree in cybersecurity can be an excellent long-term investment, as it opens the door to better-paying positions. A cybersecurity degree can pay for itself in a few years through higher earning potential.
4. Robust Networking Opportunities
One indirect benefit of a degree program is the networking it facilitates. Students can reap dividends from interacting with one another and with faculty members, mentors, and professionals they encounter in internship programs. Relationships built while pursuing a degree can lead to valuable career advice, job leads, referrals, and recommendations, and learning to network as a professional is a skill in itself.
ECCU faculty have both teaching expertise and substantial real-world experience as information security professionals. They not only guide students through the required coursework but also act as sounding boards and mentors as graduates prepare to embark on their cybersecurity careers.
5. Nontechnical Capabilities
Effective communications, leadership, and management skills are equally important as technical skills for many cybersecurity roles, particularly in the middle and upper tiers of an organization. Security professionals must engage with staff at every level to provide crucial information about the policies, practices, and procedures necessary to safeguard and protect their company’s infrastructure. The best security strategy cannot succeed without strong, consistent leadership that wins buy-in and results in widespread compliance.
ECCU’s master’s degree and graduate certificate programs prepare students to assume leadership roles in government agencies, small and mid-sized businesses, multinational corporations, and nonprofits. A set of core courses guides students in developing a broad range of soft skills to complement their technical capabilities.
The Value of Online Learning
For some students, the greatest obstacle to pursuing a cybersecurity degree is juggling academic requirements with full-time jobs and family obligations. The flexibility offered by an online degree program can put an achievement that might have seemed impossible within reach.
With the freedom to learn anywhere and anytime, participants in online degree programs can flourish. Whether they are starting out in their careers, switching to new fields, or building skills to advance in their current jobs, there are online programs that can meet their needs without disrupting their personal or professional lives.
ECCU’s degree programs are completely online and tailored to provide students with maximum flexibility. ECCU programs provide a framework to keep students on track with their coursework and are designed to be adaptable to individual learning styles. Supervising faculty members can also offer time-management guidance when needed.
The COVID-19 pandemic spurred a tectonic shift from working in office environments to transacting much more business online. Students who complete an online degree program will gain expertise with communications technologies and virtual collaboration tools that have applications well beyond their educational pursuits and will serve them well in many employment scenarios.
Check Point Research. (2022, January 21). Check Point Software’s 2022 security report: Global cyber pandemic’s magnitude revealed [Press release]. https://www.checkpoint.com/press/2022/check-point-softwares-2022-security-report-global-cyber-pandemics-magnitude-revealed/
Cook, S. (2021, March 25). Cybersecurity jobs overview: Earn a high-paying job in cybersecurity. Comparitech. https://www.comparitech.com/blog/information-security/cybersecurity-jobs/
Duffy, C. (2021, May 28). Wanted: Millions of cybersecurity pros. Salary: Whatever you want. CNN Business. https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/28/tech/cybersecurity-labor-shortage/index.html
Lewis, J. A., Smith, Z., & Lostri, E. (2020). The hidden costs of cybercrime. Center for Strategic and International Studies in partnership with McAfee Corp. https://www.mcafee.com/enterprise/en-us/assets/reports/rp-hidden-costs-of-cybercrime.pdf
Morgan, S. (2021, November 9). Cybersecurity jobs report: 3.5 million openings in 2025. Cybercrime Magazine. https://cybersecurityventures.com/jobs/