There is no secret that the Cyber Security industry is growing rapidly. With more jobs comes more opportunity, there a lot of people looking to enter or transition into the field of cyber security. This begs the question, is a cyber security degree worth it?
Is a Cyber Security Degree Valuable? The cyber security industry is experiencing a massive shortage of skilled workers. Cyber security degrees ensure that candidates possess the necessary skills needed to secure companies. Cyber security degrees pay very handsomely (Median Salary $99,730) and ensure a very high level of job security.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cyber Security Analysts are expected to see an increase in employment opportunities of 32%. Cyber Security is necessary for all industries so this comes as no surprise as companies are realizing the importance of improving their security posture. According to Forbes, “A groundbreaking new report by Emsi finds that the United States has less than half the cybersecurity candidates that it needs to handle increasing demand. In other words, help wanted!”
Cyber Security is a very unique industry in that having a college degree is not the most important factor in deciding whether you will get (most) jobs. Experience, technical ability, projects, and certifications all play a role in securing the job.
Shortage of Qualified Cyber Security Professionals
With the rapid expansion of the industry comes an extreme shortage of cyber security professionals. The number of workers that need to be trained and transition into the Cyber security industry is staggering. This also presents a serious time concern, if every person entering the field had to have a college degree for cyber security we would be doomed. Stated more simply, being able to demonstrate your knowledge and skills is more important than having a college degree and having no skills.
Why Does the Cyber Talent Gap Exist?
In standard economic models, talent gaps do not exist because workers efficiently reallocate across jobs. For example, if the relative wage in one sector declines, marginal workers might exit and move to another sector. With the 2019 Median Pay for an Information Security Analyst sitting right under six-figures at $99,730 why do we not have a flood of people reallocating to the industry?
Why is Cyber Security in Demand?
Cyber Security is still a relatively new industry. That doesn’t sound right, but hear me out. People have been tinkering with and securing computers since their invention. That is not what I mean when I say that Cyber Security is new. The industry is new, organizations are finally realizing how vital a Cyber Security Program is to their continued success.
Cyber Crime used to be a hobby, now it is an organized business model. Bad actors have figured out how to efficiently monetize their crimes. CEOs now finally understand that a Cyber Security program is not a money sink. CEOs and CISOs are now running complex models and calculating their return on cyber security investment (ROSI).
Is a Cyber Security College Degree Worth it?
Cyber Security degrees are worth the time and the money spent to obtain them. Students will see their four-year investment pay very handsomely (Median Salary $99,730) and will never have to worry about job security. According to Rasmussen College who did an analysis of 143,000 cyber security job postings, 93% of the postings mentioned at least a Bachelor’s Degree.
This is not meant to put down the degreeless cyber security path. For some people, college is simply not an option and that is ok. Four years of your valuable time and tens of thousands of dollars are a massive price to pay.
Can You Get into Cyber Security Without a College Degree?
Getting into Cyber Security without a college degree is possible. If you work hard to display your technical abilities through certifications, project contributions, and content that you contribute to the cyber security community you can set yourself up well to land a job in the industry.
Don’t let the 93% figure scare you away. The opportunity is there. Generally, in tech, job postings are infamous for listing massive amounts of requirements that someone in HR found might be relevant to the job. An unfortunate reality is that a lot of recruiters are not technical and simply do not understand the actual requirements of the job. I’m sure everyone reading this has seen examples of Junior level jobs that ask for 5 years of experience. Bottom line is that you should not let this stop you. If you think that you are a good fit for the job, then you should apply.
When compared to other college degrees, cyber security degrees are absolutely worth it. The job outlook, the median salary, the exciting work are all great factors to pursue a degree in cyber security. Does this mean that going the degree route is the only way to get into cyber security? Absolutely not! Here is a video on my YouTube Channel where I share my experiences as a student and present both sides of the topic. At the end of the video, I detail what I would change if I could go back in time.