According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), the median annual wages for information security analysts was $95,510 per year as of May 2017. This is one position in the realm of cybersecurity. The BLS based the salary on a Bachelor’s degree and less than five years experience. In addition, the outlook is favorable with a projected 28% increase in this category through 2026. This translates to the change in 28,500 jobs.
The United States government started a program called CyberCorps as a means to increase the number of qualified cybersecurity professionals through education. The federal government in 2015 determined that there were up to ten thousand positions in cybersecurity that lacked the requisite personnel.
The above program along with monetary incentives, in the form of stipends, was instituted. Undergraduates could earn up to $22,500 and students in graduate programs could receive a maximum of for the 2017 academic year. Students, enrolled in approved institutions, had to use the funds to cover school expenses including tuition and fees. Learning institutions involved in this program require certification from the National Security Agency (NSA) to be certified as a Center of Academic Excellence.
There are conditions attached to these scholarships. You must agree that you will work in an approved federal cybersecurity position upon graduation for a specified time. The time frame will equal the years it took you to complete your degree. For example, if a two-year master’s degree would require you to work in a government job for at least two years post-graduation.
Military veterans should research the Post 9/11 GI Bill. This is only one of the benefits offered to veterans who are eager to advance their education. For students enrolled in a public learning institution, this GI Bill might save you money on your tuition and fees (not books). The caveat with a master’s program is that they can cost more than some baccalaureate degrees. The result could result in the depletion of the funds before you finish your degree.
The GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program initiated after 9/11 is a program offered at certain learning institutions that will help with a students education expenses. These colleges and universities sign a Agreement with the Veterans Association indicating the total tuition and fees the school will pay. In turn, the VA matches that amount, which is paid to the school directly. More details of the Yellow Ribbon Program are available at benefits.va.gov.
If you aim to work for government agencies like the FBI, CIA, DEA, Department of Homeland Security, or National Security Agency (NSA), the master’s degree will generally pay more. The pay system for government civil employees uses what they call the General Schedule (GS) classification. This applies to federal workers in clerical, administrative, and other positions, including professionals. The higher grade translates to a higher salary. The schedule consists of geographical areas with the respective annual rate of pay and hourly rates. In addition, each grade has ten steps that equate to the range for the grade.
For example, a cyber-related job in a government position is a GS-07 level. Using the Chicago area as an example, a GS-07 has a pay range of $45,703-$$57,889. At this level, graduates may apply with an undergraduate degree. Individuals with a master’s degree, the pay grade is GS-09 with a range of $55,905-$72,677 annually (Chicago).
Not only will a master’s degree in cybersecurity have financial benefits, but it will also help you stand out from other applicants. Your graduate degree may improve your chances of securing a job with the NSA. According to intelligencecareers.gov, the agency’s five top careers, are:
- Intelligence Analysis
- Foreign Language Analysis
- Business, Accounting, and Budget
- Security and Counterintelligence
The FBI is an enviable place to work for many. The agency investigates all aspects of cyber crimes—such as website intrusions, data theft, and illegal hacking into computer systems. denial of service attacks. To work in this arena at the FBI, the preferred educational degrees involve computer sciences, cyber security, malware analysis and detection, and digital or computer forensics, and more.