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In assessing the attractiveness of a degree, some of the criteria would be demand, great pay, diversification, and growth. Cybersecurity and jobs related to computer security issues meet all of these.

Demand

The demand for cyber security employees exceeds the supply. This is one of the most prominent reasons to pursue a degree in this field.

The projected demand could rise to 6 million (globally) by 2019, with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million.

According to a 451 Research recent study, based on responses from more than 1,000 IT professionals, primarily in North America and EMEA (Europe/Middle East/Africa), security managers reported significant obstacles in implementing desired security projects due to lack of staff expertise (34.5%) and inadequate staffing (26.4%). Given this challenge, only 24% of enterprises have 24×7 monitoring in place using internal resources.

The need for more cyber-workers also explains why infosecurity is one of the best jobs out there – for the next seven years. U.S. News and World Report ranked a career in information security analysis eighth on its list of the 100 best jobs for 2015. They state the profession is growing at a rate of 36.5 percent through 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2017 that Information Security Analyst positions would increase at a rate of more than 28 percent through 2026, resulting in 28,500 new jobs.

High Salary

U.S. News and World Report ranked a career in information security analysis eighth on its list of the 100 best jobs last year. These (entry-level) positions offer a median annual salary of approximately $90,000, and pay more than six-figures in New York, California, and Virginia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of May 2017, according to the BLS, Virginia employs the most in Information Security with 13,190. This state also has the highest job concentration at 3.48 per 1,000 jobs.

Median salaries can be deceptive as they are averages. Therefore, the majority of reported salaries have some level of experience. Recruiters advise that recent college graduates need to accept entry-level positions. Employers are still going to look for the most talented individuals who possess the tangible (technical) skills and intangible skills (communication).

Specialization

Machine learning (ML) is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that refers to technologies that enable computers to learn and adapt through experience. It emulates human cognition – i.e. learning based on experience and patterns, rather than by inference (cause and effect). ML software has the ability to “learn” from the consequences of past events in order to help predict and identify cybersecurity threats.

Eighty-seven percent of U.S. cybersecurity professionals report their organizations are currently using AI as part of their cybersecurity strategy.

Overall, 99 percent of U.S. cybersecurity professionals believe AI overall could improve their organization’s cybersecurity. These stats reported by Webroot, the first company to harness the cloud and AI to stop threats in real time.

To specialize in the field of AI, you will need a master’s degree. Many schools integrate the AI coursework into their computer science graduate degree. Courses may include brain theory and AI, Advanced AI, machine learning, robotics, and brain-computer interfaces.

Another hot area in this field is ransomware. Ransomware is a form of malicious software (or malware) that, once it has taken over your computer, threatens you with harm, usually by denying you access to your data. Attackers might target universities because they tend to have smaller security teams and a disparate user base that does a lot of file sharing, making it easier to penetrate their defenses.

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Job Selection

There are numerous titles in cyber security. Here is a taste of the diversity of the profession taken from job postings:

  • Cyber Security Developer: The National Security Agency (NSA) seeks an entry-level candidate to perform-software/hardware engineering, reverse engineering, high-performance computing, computer security, and networking, in order to design and develop advanced tools, techniques, and systems.
  • Cyber Security Programmer: Requires the ability to research and develop creative solutions to cyber security These solutions may involve application development and/or infrastructure modifications.
  • Machine Learning Software Engineer: Innovate new ways to use existing technologies, incorporate novel open source technologies, and come up with their own solutions to our machine learning problems.
  • Cyber Security Consultant: Work with Federal clients to mitigate cyber risk and threats. In addition, the candidate will identify opportunities for efficiencies in the work process and innovative approaches to completing the scope of work.

Job Growth

Burning Glass/Careers in Focus reported in 2015 that the fastest increases in demand for cybersecurity workers are in industries managing increasing volumes of consumer data such as Finance (+137% over the last five years), Health Care (+121%), and Retail Trade (+89%). Finance and IT skills are rarely trained together, which creates a deficiency in finance-educated individuals with computer science skills to match.