Computer technical security certificate programs allow individuals to achieve the level of expertise needed to protect computer systems and data from unauthorized access. Offered by public and private colleges and universities, some graduate certificates can be earned concurrently with a master's degree.
Undergraduate Certificate in Computer Security
Certificate programs are offered in this field as computer and network security, computer security, and cyber security programs. Classroom and laboratory work teach students how to create a secure infrastructure that provides privacy and stops attacks. Students may also learn the ins and outs of building computers, setting up operating systems, working with specific types of software, and troubleshooting problems as they come up. A high school diploma or GED is generally needed to enroll. Some community college programs offer coursework to high school students who qualify.
Students learn about particular hardware and software, while also studying networking, data analysis, and regulations within the field. Coursework may also include instruction in ethics and communication. Along with required courses, graduates will usually have a list of electives to choose from. Course topics may include:
- Information Assurance
- Securing Networks
- Laws and Regulations
- Electronic Commerce
- Web security
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Graduate Certificate in Computer Security Overview
The rapidly evolving field of computer security requires that information technology professionals continuously increase and update their knowledge. Graduate certificate programs allow professionals to learn the newest methods of attack and prevention, explore technological innovations, and become familiar with current regulations. Programs can be found online, as well as in a typical classroom setting. Programs are typically several months to two years long for a master's degree.
A bachelor's degree, usually with a minimum GPA (grade point average), is required to enroll in this program. Course requirements may include advanced math and computer language concepts. Some programs may allow for work experience to replace specific course requirements. Certain programs also make it possible to earn the certificate in conjunction with a master's degree.
To provide practical and relevant knowledge to employed IT professionals who may be in management, a broad spectrum of courses both technical and theoretical may be offered. Subjects may include:
- Computer security techniques
- Security policy
- Network security
Popular Career Options
Graduates of an undergraduate certificate program will improve their chances with prospective employers by gaining hands-on experience. Employment opportunities include careers in the following areas:
- Information assurance
- Computer networking
- Homeland security
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of a certificate program who wish to expand their education can pursue an undergraduate degree. Programs are available in related fields, such as network security and information systems. Master's degree programs are available for those who wish to further their education at the graduate level.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed information security analysts is expected to rise 18% between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than average. As of 2015, the median salary among these professionals was $90,120.
Certifications can be earned from professional organizations throughout the career path of the computer security professional, based on the length of work experience achieved. For example, Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) is available in a variety of areas once one has passed the required exams (www.giac.org). No specific training is required, though course instruction may be offered. Examples of the various GIAC credentials include Security Essentials Certification, Information Security Professional and Certified Intrusion Analyst, among others. The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc. (www.isc2.org) also offers various certifications. A benchmark is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential for the professional with at least five years of experience.
Certificate programs in computer technical security prepare students for work in fields such as information assurance and computer networking. Programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate degree levels.