What career opportunities are there for someone with a master’s degree in cybersecurity?

BY Rich GrisetJune 30, 2022, 1:25 p.m.

They entered through the air conditioning. In 2013, hackers breached the digital defenses of retail giant Target after a third-party HVAC vendor fell prey to a phishing email scam. Since Target had CVC units connected to the Internet to allow remote access, hackers were able to use vendor credentials to gain access to the company’s payment system. The hack, which has been called the second-largest retail data breach in history, compromised the data of 40 million shoppers’ credit and debit cards and resulted in Target paying an $18 settlement. .5 million to those affected.

For cybersecurity experts, the Target episode is just one high-profile example of how important their field has become.

“Everything is computerized now,” says Jimmie Lenz, director of the master of engineering in cybersecurity and master of engineering fintech programs at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering. “Once you get into a computer system, you kind of have control over a lot of places.”

As virtually every aspect of daily life now has a digital component, cybersecurity threats have grown and so has the field intended to combat them. To meet this demand, an increasing number of schools are offering master’s programs in cybersecurity.

But what job opportunities are available to someone with a master’s degree in cybersecurity? Keep reading to find out.

How big is the demand for cybersecurity workers?

From 2013 to 2021, the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs increased by 350%, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, a researcher and publisher that covers the global cybereconomy. By 2025, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts there will be 3.5 million open cybersecurity jobs worldwide.

“That’s huge,” Lenz says of the request. ” It’s really unbelievable. Right now, corporations and governments and all kinds of places are looking for people with that kind of perspective.

With virtually all digital interactions, Lenz says there’s a possible opening for bad actors to cause harm; last year, when President Joe Biden moved into the White House, there were even concerns that his Platoon posed a cybersecurity risk.

“Every aspect of your online interaction involves an element of cybersecurity,” says Lenz. “Whether you’re dealing with an app you download or online websites or anything in between, there’s an element of cybersecurity in every online interaction.”

Cybersecurity threats are no longer just the stereotype of a lonely guy in a hoodie hacking into a computer, says Joel Caminer, faculty director of New York University’s master’s program in cybersecurity risk and strategy and senior director of the NYU Center for Cybersecurity.

“The field of cybersecurity is so much broader than that,” says Caminer. “It’s really about protection. It’s about protecting data and protecting our organizations, our critical infrastructure, our online sensitivities, our online information.

Because the demand is so high, students who earn a master’s degree in cybersecurity often present several job offers before graduating.

What opportunities are available to someone with a master’s degree?

Just as cybersecurity spans the breadth of the digital realm, so do job opportunities.

“The roles are almost limitless at this point,” says Lenz.

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Education reports that the cybersecurity field includes nearly three dozen specialized fields and more than 50 professional roles. Entry-level positions in the field typically involve working solely in the cyber realm, such as a security analyst or security operations center (SOC) analyst.

“These people are kind of on the front line,” Caminer says. “They get some of the alerts and the tactical workflow of things that need to be looked at and assessed and maybe put into action.”

As you move up the ranks, cybersecurity professionals can work in more specialized areas. As cloud computing has become increasingly mainstream, Caminer says the industry is “one of the most in-demand fields and also one of the most lucrative and highest-paying fields.”

Some cybersecurity jobs may involve fewer engineering and technical activities, such as managing governance, risk, and compliance, running large programs, and interacting with auditors, regulators, and governing bodies. senior governance within an organization. Other opportunities include becoming an ethical hacker, cybersecurity manager, or pursuing specialized jobs in a cybersecurity field, such as digital forensics or cryptography.

While smaller businesses and organizations may not have the volume or finances to have their own full-time cybersecurity manager, Caminer says these types of career opportunities are still a good idea.

“Every organization really should have someone who can do cybersecurity, even if they don’t do it themselves,” says Caminer.

Common Career Paths for Graduates with a Masters in Cybersecurity

Although the sky is seemingly the limit when it comes to career opportunities in cybersecurity, there are a few common career paths that graduates of master’s degree programs often pursue.

Cybersecurity analysts can work within an organization’s IT department or as independent consultants. These analysts must have an in-depth knowledge of their clients’ internal IT systems to monitor them for bad actors.

Network security engineers work to protect all of an organization’s computer systems from threats, including hacking attempts, bugs, and malware. This role is intended to identify existing problems within an IT system and protect against future threats.

Cybersecurity engineers use electrical engineering and computer science to protect organizations, and develop and design software services to protect organizations against cyberattacks and threats. These engineers also assess an organization’s existing computer systems and work to protect them.

Computer and information systems managers, also known as IT project managers or IT managers, manage an organization’s overall IT operations and assess its IT goals.

Many domestic and international technology companies also have chief information officers, chief information security officers, and chief technology officers which can be filled by someone with a master’s degree in cybersecurity. These roles are the senior executives who manage and implement information and computing technology.

While many graduates with a master’s degree in cybersecurity are quickly snapped up by the Microsofts and Googles of the world, some also continue to work for the federal government. Especially in the era of digital espionage with Russia and China, Caminer says there is growing interest in working for the federal government, even for professionals already established in the private sector.

“You’re not married to one side or the other,” Caminer says. “There is a lot of passion and a lot of interest among people working in companies that are starting to be reintroduced into the public service.”

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