Computer Security Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Find out which majors can prepare you for a career in computer security, and explore job options in the field. Also, learn about available certifications and potential earnings. Schools offering Computer Forensics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Careers Can Computer Security Graduates Get?

In a computer security program, you'll learn planning and implementing measures to ensure that an organization's computer systems aren't vulnerable. You could qualify for several jobs after graduating, such as database administrator or information security analyst.

Information security analysts are involved in testing systems and networks for vulnerabilities to hackers or outside access and monitor to make sure data is secure. They need to be aware of common threats, the latest hardware and software security measures and encryption methods. This is typically an on-call position, and information security analysts need to be able to think and act quickly to prevent or limit damage by cyberattacks.

Security is also a concern for database administrators, in addition to their work in database maintenance and merging old and new systems. You may be responsible for setting up and testing computer databases, ensuring security and working with network administrators to coordinate efforts to ensure safety. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Information Security AnalystsDatabase Administrators
Degree Required Bachelor's degree; Master's degree sometime preferred Bachelor's degree
Certification Optional certifications available Vendor or product based certifications offered
Key Responsibilities Design, analyze and troubleshoot computer security systems' software and hardware Design, analyze and troubleshoot computer information systems
Job Growth (2014-2024) 18%* 11%*
Median Salary (2015) $90,120* $81,710*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is Computer Security?

Digital information security is an important aspect of businesses. Cyberattacks can destroy the functionality of computer networks, rendering some businesses inoperable. Hackers may also steal valuable private information, such as customers' payment information or new product designs in progress. Computer security professionals protect this information by searching for potential security breaches and coming up with disaster plans in case of a cyberattack.

What Computer Security Majors Are Available to Me?

To prepare for careers in computer security, you may find bachelor's degrees in information security, networking technology and network administration security at schools nationwide. Computer security majors generally take four years to complete and may be available online or in an on-campus format. Schools may offer part-time options for degree completion. You can expect to complete courses in information security, data recovery, operating systems and computer programming.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

In 2015, according to O*Net Online, computer security specialists earned an average of $43.33 per hour, or $90,120 annually ( http://online.onetcenter.org). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), database administrators earned a median annual wage of $81,710 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). There were 120,000 individuals employed as database administrators nationwide in 2014, also per the BLS.

What Professional Certifications Are Available?

The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc., (ISC)2, provides information security professionals with certifications that can provide current and future employers with documentation of enhanced skills. Certifications related to computer security include Systems Security Certified Practitioner, for individuals with experience in access controls; cryptography; security operations administration; or risk, response and recovery (www.isc2org).

Other certifications include Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional or Certified Information Systems Security Professional. In each of these certifications, a computer security professional must meet certain requirements, including relevant work experience. Certification can be obtained through one of four ways, including auditing, testing, certification or endorsement. Recertification is required every three years.

Cisco also offers several certifications, including Cisco Certified Network Associate Security (CCNA) certification, Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) and Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert - Security (CCIE) certification, according to the Cisco Learning Network. To obtain any of these certifications, you must complete an education program and examination (https://learningnetwork.cisco.com).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Like security analysts, computer programmers need to know a lot about computer coding and how applications and software work. In fact, it is their job to ensure that the design from a software developer functions properly and to alter the coding to make sure that it follows the correct protocols. Similarly, computer systems analysts are also constantly examining the programs in use by a business; they may be even more comparable to security analysts in that they are searching for problems within a computer system already utilized within a workplace. Instead of looking for security breaches, however, computer systems analysts look for inefficient or ineffective procedures and search for ways to streamline and improve them. Professionals in these positions must have a bachelor's degree in a field related to computer science.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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