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While the field of cyber security is constantly evolving, a Master’s degree can help give you an edge when it comes to securing a position. A Master’s in Cyber Security can also help you earn more income; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with master’s degrees have more opportunity and out-earn their less educated counterparts.
If you love computers and information security, then getting your master’s degree in this field qualifies you for a variety of positions. This is a rapidly growing area as concerns about data breaches, hacking and malware become more prevalent for businesses of all sizes.
Learning more about the different roles you could hold after you earn your Master’s degree can help you make the best decisions for your future. Some possible job options include forensic analysis, penetration testing and even a corner office as a C-Suite executive once you obtain your degree. Jump to Why Choose a Masters in Cybersecurity.
#1 Chief Information Security Officer
The pinnacle of the security field, the Chief Information Security Officer works to protect a brand or organization at a high level. Supervising other operators and IT staff, this senior manager needs a birds-eye view and in-depth understanding of the cyber security field. New threats are constantly emerging, so this key member of management needs to be able to accurately assess risk, oversee the creations of emergency management plans, plan for the replacement of equipment and software and oversee the human side of cyber security.
The CIO is one of only a few top-level managers in any given organization and needs a deep understanding of technology and its applications and impact on business. A Master’s degree in Cybersecurity can provide some of the in-depth knowledge needed to successfully claim this role. Extensive experience and professional expertise is also needed to become a CIO of a brand or organization. Someone in this role would:
- Take a high-level view of the organization’s risk and security needs
- Train other IT professionals
- Interact with other key members of management to identify risk and create actionable solutions
- Create plans for strategic growth of the network and the replacement of assets over time
- Select SaaS, software and other assets
- Create a security policy to be implemented by IT staff and followed by all
- Outline BYOD, cloud access and other protocols and procedures
- Recruit and hire IT talent and network security professionals
According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for C-Suite managers is $230,090 per year. That figure can vary wildly based on the business size, assets and performance.
#2 Information Security Analyst
In Information Security Analyst uses a variety of methods to detect malicious activity within an organization. An individual in this role is responsible for helping secure a company network from both insider and outsider threats and needs to be aware of the latest trends in malware and cyber security. While an entry level Information Security Analyst may have only a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s is often required for job growth and to access the best paying positions.
Common duties of Information Security Analysts include:
- Monitoring company networks and assets for threats and issues
- Creating and implementing emergency plans and strategies to cope with breaches or data loss
- Provides ongoing maintenance and support for the organization’s IT needs
- Proactively maintains systems and equipment
- May provide training for employees to reduce the risk of phishing, ransomware and hacking
- Monitor passwords and access to the network
- Administer the BYOD program if the organization has one
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is a rapidly growing field and the median wage for an Information Security Analyst is $92,600 per year.
#3 Forensic Computer Analyst
While other cyber security jobs focus on prevention, the Forensic Computer Analyst is a more investigatory role. If you love solving mysteries and figuring out how something happened, then a career in this growing field would be a good match for you once you have your Master’s in Cyber Security degree. Someone working in this field would research what happened after a breach or event using specialized software and tools.
A Forensic Computer Analyst will often find employment with law enforcement, but can be employed by a private organization or even work as a consultant. The results of investigations are often used in court cases, so attention to detail and precise documentation is required. Some responsibilities for this role include:
- Handling hard drives and other storage devices to locate deleted files
- Reviewing computers and files to determine how a breach happened
- Reviewing security policies and providing expert level training for employees
- Offering expert witness testimony in court
According to Payscale.com, a Forensic Information Analyst earns a median salary of $68,236 per year; this figure varies based on the employer and location of the job.
#4 Penetration Tester
If you love solving puzzles and the idea of hacking – without being one of the “bad guys”, then you can put your Master’s in Cyber Security to work for you in a role as a Penetration Tester. These ethical hackers attempt to breach security for a brand or business (with permission) and discover vulnerabilities that may have been missed. By penetration testing, a business or organization can discover where they are vulnerable and take steps to mitigate risk without losing any data.
A penetration tester can work for a brand or business, for the government or even as a consultant, providing objective, third-party testing and information for clients. As a penetration tester, you would:
- Attempt to hack into an organizations system using a variety of methods
- Discover vulnerabilities, including software, security and even human components
- Prepare comprehensive reports so the organization can act and shore up their defenses.
According to Payscale.com, a penetration tester has a median salary of $78,936 and workers in this growing field report high levels of job satisfaction.
#5 IT Security Consultant
This IT professional offers their services to a variety of clients, brands and organizations and provides objective third party security support. If you use your Master’s in Cyber Security to become a consultant, you could work for a business specializing in this service or form your own company. No matter which structure you choose, you’ll help clients form strategies to protect their businesses from harm. In many cases, you’ll work with smaller brands that don’t have the capital to hire someone with your expertise full time, so they hire you as a consultant to set up and oversee their systems. The actual daily monitoring would be done by their internal employees.
In addition to providing services for other brands, an IT Security Consultant who runs their own firm needs to be a capable manager and have general business savvy.
According to Payscale.com, the median salary for an IT Security Consultant is $79,899 and varies depending on whether the consultant is self-employed or working for an agency.
- Chief Security Officer (2017, August 19) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes111011.htm
- Information Security Analyst (2017, August 19). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
- Forensic Information Analyst (2017, August 19). Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Forensic_Computer_Analyst/Salary
- Penetration Tester (2017, August 19). Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Penetration_Tester/Salary
- IT Security Consultant (2017, August 19) Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Security_Consultant,_IT/Salary