A 2-year associate's degree program in IT security helps students learn the skills necessary for protecting and maintaining a secure computer network. Graduates may qualify to seek optional professional certification in the industry. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED for admission into the program.
Associate's Degree in Information Technology Security
These programs teach students about a variety of operating systems through classroom lectures and laboratory studies. Students learn to protect networks with firewalls, intrusion detection systems, virtual private networks (VPNs), and other E-commerce security methods. Students may also attend seminars and complete supervised internships. Course topics may include:
- TCP/IP and network routers
- Linux/Unix operating systems
- Statistics and data analysis
- Firewalls and network security
- Programming logic and design
- Intrusion detection and prevention
Popular Career Options
Graduates of this program should be trained in all aspects of IT security and can qualify for employment positions in many industries. Possible career titles include:
- Computer security specialist
- Desktop support
- Network technician
- Network administrator
- Computer systems administrator
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that information security analysts might see 18% employment increase from 2014 until 2024, while network and computer systems administrators were predicted to see 8% growth in employment. In comparison, the employment growth for computer support specialists could be as much as 12%. The BLS found that the median salary for information security analysts was $90,120 as of May 2015. In comparison, network and computer systems administrators earned a median wage of $77,810, while computer user support specialists saw $48,620 in median annual earnings.
Although computer network and systems administrators may be hired with an associate's degree and work experience, employers often prefer workers with bachelor's degrees in this field. For some positions, such as database administrators and network architects, candidates are required to complete bachelor's degree programs. Graduates may choose to pursue higher education or join the work force immediately.
Professional certifications can enhance employment opportunities as they demonstrate proficiency in this particular area, as well as a commitment to keeping up with the latest technology. Certification can be obtained through certifying associations or computer product vendors. Some training programs also offer courses that prepare students to take certification exams. Examples of possible certifications include Certified Cisco Network Professional (CCNP), Certified Cisco Network Associate (CCNA) and CompTIA Net+.
An associate's degree in IT security prepares students for entry-level careers in positions such as desktop support or network technician. Graduates may also continue their education in a bachelor's degree program or through professional certification.