Employers of database administrators, programmers or computer network architects typically prefer job applicants who hold at least a bachelor's degree. An associate degree can be a stepping-stone to getting a bachelor's degree, and graduates may find an entry-level job in information security. Bachelor's degree programs in information security, also known as cybersecurity, are designed to prepare graduates to join the workforce as a professional. Admission to a master's program usually entails prior completion of an IT-related bachelor's program; some master's program coursework is available via distance learning.
Associate Degree in Information Security
Associate programs in information security give a background and hands-on experience with current technologies for security procedures. Fundamental education is provided in defending and securing servers and networks, as well as operating systems. Students also explore the ethical and legal issues of securing information systems.
Some associate programs in information security have a strong focus on learning a single network, while other programs focus on multiple network security. Additionally, students gain hands-on experience with current hardware and software used in the field. Other subjects covered include:
- Operating systems
- Network basics
- Foundations of network security
- Administering Microsoft server
- Router security
Bachelor's Degree in Information Security
Within this program, students explore new security technologies to safeguard and offer disaster recovery to business computer systems. Through classroom lectures and hands-on experience, students learn to train and educate company employees regarding their part in network security. Some programs include not only technical aspects, but also managerial duties.
The core curriculum in a bachelor's program trains students in secure networks, databases and programs. Students investigate new software and technologies implemented to protect information systems including computers, networks and the Internet. Subjects covered include networking, database applications, scripting and the following:
- Disaster recovery
- Computer defense
- Computer forensics
- Computer math
- Scripting and Linux
Master's Degree in Information Security
Master's degree programs in information security allow students to blend the technical aspects of information security with information technology and management. Students are trained to develop and manage secure information systems. The programs are grounded in security practice, theory and policy, as well as federal laws. In addition to thesis and non-thesis options, concentrations are available in technical security or policy.
A bachelor's degree and specific GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores are a part of the prerequisites for most programs. Often the bachelor's must be in computer science or a related field such as information science, information technology or computer engineering.
Graduate coursework combines information security and management policies. Students may be able to tailor their coursework to meet their specific concentration; however, courses often required include:
- Architecture of computer systems
- Computer science logic
- Engineering secure software
- Information assurance methods and models
- Network security
Those with a bachelor's degree in information security have the theoretical knowledge and practical expertise to qualify for entry- to mid-level careers in information security and assurance. These jobs include:
- Administrator of a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Database administrator
- IT security specialist
- Specialist in authentication
Graduates are prepared for entry-level employment in Internet and network security, as well as information technology. Specific job titles include:
- Assistant IT auditor
- Junior security specialist
- Secondary network specialist
- Security technician
- Support specialist in desktop security
Employees in the field of information security constantly update their knowledge and expertise to keep up with new advancements within information systems. Individuals with a bachelor's degree in information security may choose to take courses to test for one or more of the many available certifications in the field including the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and the Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) from (ISC)2. Other certifications available include the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) offered through the Information Systems Audit and Control Association.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected an 18% job increase for information security analysts from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Network and computer systems administrator jobs are anticipated to grow 8% during the same decade, according to the BLS. Discussions of most jobs included a statement that those who had training or experience in information or data security would be in most demand for data communications and network systems careers. The median annual salary of information security analysts in May 2015 was $90,120, stated the BLS; for network and computer systems administrators, it was $77,810.
For those who have an interest in a degree in information security, there are associate's, bachelor's and master's programs available. These programs emphasize topics such as foundations of network security, server administration, recovery, computer forensics and software engineering security.