Cyber security is among the world’s fastest-growing professional fields. There’s good reason for that: approximately 25 percent of all Americans have experienced cybercrime at some point. Even more staggeringly, a 2018 study found that 43 percent of businesses were victims of cyberattacks during the previous year. Most took more than six months to realize their businesses had been compromised.
Any organization that collects data—including national security organizations, healthcare companies, dating apps, and social media platforms—needs qualified cyber security professionals. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the demand for information security analysts (just one career path in the field) will grow by 35 percent between 2021 and 2031. Compare that to the overall rate of job market growth—between 6 and 7 percent—and you get a sense of just how hot the cyber security job market is.
There are currently not enough applicants to fill these positions. A recent (ICS)2 study determined a worldwide shortfall of over 3 million cyber security professionals in 2023.
So, is now a good time to get a master’s degree, or a good time to go look for a job? It’s both, actually. Yes, you should be able to find an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree, and you’ll learn while you earn on the job.
You won’t learn as much or advance as far, however, as you would by earning a master’s degree. If you have your sights set on a high-paying job with lots of responsibility, you will probably need a master’s degree at some point. If you can pursue the degree while continuing to work, so much the better. If not, committing a couple of years to a master’s program should advance your career faster than two years at a low-level gig.
In this article on cyber security master’s jobs we will cover:
The master’s in cyber security is a STEM-based program that teaches how to identify and combat security threats. Like most master’s programs, a cyber security degree focuses on helping graduates attain senior jobs. The online Master of Information and Cybersecurity program from University of California – Berkeley, for example, “prepares students with the cybersecurity skills needed to assume leadership positions in private-sector technology companies as well as government and military organizations.”
Cyber security is a massive field with many specializations. You can concentrate in one of these areas at some—but not all—cyber security degree programs. For example, if you are interested in the legal aspects of cyber security, Tufts University offers a Master’s of Science in Cybersecurity and Public Policy. It prepares students to become specialists in cyber security policy.
The University of Arizona offers two concentration options in its Master of Science in Cybersecurity: information systems and physical systems. Students on the information track focus on topics like managing system security, data mining, and ethical hacking. Physical systems students complete machine learning, cloud security, and systems engineering coursework.
Not every program offers every concentration. In fact, it’s safe to say that none offers all possible concentrations, and most offer only a handful. Before you commit to a program, make sure that it provides adequate instruction in your area of interest. If it doesn’t, keep looking. Another one surely does; you just have to find it.
In its 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, (ISC) estimates the size of the the global cyber security workforce at 4.7 million. It also indicates that the current workforce is 3.4 million workers short. That’s over 3 million positions waiting to be filled by qualified cyber security experts (nearly half a million of them in North America alone). (
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, top-paying employers in cyber security analytics include those in:
- Information services: $149,500
- Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial instruments: $142,000
- Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences: $129,000
- Scientific research and development services: $128,500
- Software publishers: $126,000
- Publishing: $125,700
The average salaries of professionals with a Master's degree are between $91,000 and $109,000, respectively. About half of all professionals in this field hold a graduate degree. ( )
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Though landing a job—especially a high-paying one—is never easy, opportunities abound in the cyber security field. The demand for experienced and educated cyber security specialists exceeds the supply. Having an advanced degree can push your resume to the top of the pile.
Jobs available to those holding a master’s in cyber security include:
Below we describe some of the best job opportunities available to graduates of a master’s in cyber security program.
CIS managers are integral to the IT department. They are responsible for ensuring that a company’s network runs at optimal efficiency. Because information security management and protection are critical aspects of IT, a master’s in cyber security represents an excellent qualification. These professionals work in the government, private enterprise, or the nonprofit sector. The highest-paid CIS managers work in biotech and insurance.
With a master’s in cyber security, you are practically made for a job as a cyber security architect. To succeed in this position, you will need to know how to create and maintain a company’s computer system. You may be asked to manage other employees. This job requires someone well-versed in hacking who can anticipate and block malicious intrusions.
The CISO is an executive-level position that oversees security policies on a company-wide level. It will likely take quite a few years of leadership experience to get this level, even with a master’s degree. CISOs need excellent analytical and risk management skills to evaluate and eliminate threats, or potential threats, to their organization’s system. A CISO needs to be well-versed in data privacy, including relevant laws. Finally, good CISOs have financial training because they are also in charge of securing project funding. They must be able to perform an accurate cost-benefit analysis of their programs.
The cyber security director is in charge of day-to-day security operations. They typically report to the CISO or CIO.
These professionals monitor a company’s security, overseeing encryption and firewall functions. Information security analysts must be up-to-date on the latest security trends. They also need expertise in penetration testing, the process of finding a weakness in the company’s system before someone else does. Though it is possible to become an information security analyst with just a bachelor’s degree and work experience, a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an information systems concentration, or an MS in cyber security, is typically preferred. Having one can even lead to a raise or the opportunity to manage your own security team.
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