Security breaches are ubiquitous. A security breach occurs when an individual or an application illegitimately enters a private, confidential, or unauthorized logical IT perimeter. It is one of the earliest stages of a security attack by a malicious intruder, such as a hacker, cracker, or nefarious application. Security breaches happen when the security policy, procedures, and/or system are violated. Depending on the nature of the incident, a security breach can be anything from low-risk to highly critical. For example, the attack on Yahoo in 2015 compromised the real names, email addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers of 500 million users.

IBM published the results of a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute in 2018. The data revealed that the average breach of a U.S. company is $7.91 million. The average breach will cost the company $148 per lost or stolen record (multiply that by 500 million!). The average time to identify a data breach is 196 days, according to this study. These startling numbers support the benefit of a degree in either network security or cybersecurity.

There are benefits for both. Either degree can launch your career into the field of computer security.

The Same but Different

Will either degree provide the same result? First, we need to look at the difference between network security and cyber security. Security experts like to use the analogy of defending a castle. Cyber security is more concerned with threats from outside the castle. Network security worries about what is going on within the castle walls. Cyber security is watching for intruders who might be storming the castle’s gate or breach the parapets. The two areas have a lot of overlap, but their areas of concern are quite different.

Network security is a subset of cybersecurity. It focuses on defending IT infrastructures against malware, denial-of-service attacks, and network intrusions. Cyber security generally refers to the practice of protecting digital data and computer networks from unauthorized access.


Which degree results in a higher salary? However, both degrees will provide job opportunities in the field of computer security. What do the job titles reveal about the potential salaries of each?

Mondo attests to be the largest national staffing agency specializing exclusively in high-end, niche IT, Tech, and Digital Marketing talent. They list Network Security Analyst as one of the highest-paid cybersecurity jobs. The average salary is between $90,000 and $150,000. While the median salary for this role inches closer to the lower spectrum, highly qualified placements for this role net the highest salary offered ($150,000) based on 2017 placement data.

A cybersecurity analyst earns an average annual salary between $90,000 and $185,000, according to Mondo. Qualified candidates may earn towards the lower end of this range. Senior-level analysts can be at the higher end of the salary range due to their elevated strategic thinking and proven in-depth analytical capabilities.

One of the benefits of a degree in Network Security is the job roles offered with this degree. You can have a career as a security analyst, security architect, security auditor, security specialist, and vulnerability assessor. Your degree in network security can be applied to other security-related jobs. Studies show that 46% of those who transition from IT to cybersecurity say their IT career helped them gain experience with different types of technologies.

A degree in cybersecurity is equally beneficial in the job market. This degree also provides a variety of positions, such as cloud security administrator, cyber intelligence analyst, information security auditor, information security specialist, and ethical hacker.


There does not appear to be a distinct benefit of one degree over the other. Due to the diversity and plentiful nature of jobs in the field of security, you can be assured of employment. By tailoring your coursework, you will have several opportunities in network or cybersecurity regardless of your degree choice.

For Further Reading: 

What Degree Do I Need to Be an Intelligence Analyst?

How Much Can I Make With a Degree in Digital Marketing?

What Degree Do I Need to Be a Policy Analyst?