what can you do with a master’s degree in cyber security

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

A master’s degree is a postgraduate degree that expands your knowledge in a specific field while increasing your earning potential. You can add advanced problem-solving and deductive reasoning skills to your list of skills with this type of degree.

What is a Master in Cyber Security? The Master in Cyber Security is a computer-based degree that includes studying communication networks and technologies while including a discussion of legal and ethical issues in computer security. You have the opportunity to learn about forensic issues that help find the source of a data hack. Most master’s degrees include a research or thesis project as part of the program, which gives you a chance to focus on a specific area of interest.

10 Reasons Why a Cyber Security Degree is Worth It

Earning a master’s degree offers many benefits. You may have the opportunity to work as an intern in a private business, which builds your resume and skill set. Meeting others in the field and working with professors is a great chance to network.

The cost of your degree will vary by university. Most programs will take two to three years to complete, depending on the amount of time you can commit to classes. However, once you do finish your degree, it increases your earning potential.

With your Master in Cyber Security, you have many opportunities in your career. Cyber threats face every business and government in every country. Your degree makes you more competitive in your field. A master’s degree increases the chance that you can step into a management position. Large and small companies need your skill set to protect their data. With your degree, you also are qualified to teach at a university level. You may also choose to pursue a higher degree, the PhD, and work in research or teaching at the academic level.

Also Read: What Can You Do With A Master’s Degree In Cyber Security, cyber security jobs, masters in cyber security with no experience, cyber security degree worthless.

What Can You Do With A Master’s Degree In Cyber Security

A Degree in Cybersecurity Equals Job Security

If there was ever a time to enter the cybersecurity field, it is now. With cyber threats and attacks increasing in both frequency and sophistication, the demand for cybersecurity professionals is far outpacing the supply. This means that for qualified cybersecurity specialists, job security is practically guaranteed.

According to Forbes, there will be 1.8 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2022

According to Varonis, there will be 3.5 million unfilled jobs globally by 2021.

“The cybersecurity job market is on fire” Veronica Mollica, founder and executive information security recruiter at Indigo Partners, told Forbes. “Our candidates are facing competing offers from multiple companies with salary increases averaging over 30%. Current employers are scrambling to retain talent with counter offers including 10% and higher salary increases for information security team members to remain on board.”

Cybersecurity Professionals Earn High Salaries

Due to the severe shortage of skilled workers, cybersecurity professionals are among the most highly compensated in the technology sector, posting a 9% salary premium over IT jobs in general.

  • $82,565 is the average salary for an entry level Cybersecurity Analyst
  • $96,478 is the median salary for a Cybersecurity Engineer
  • $96,152 is the median salary for an IT Security Specialist 
  • $94,716 is the average annual salary for cybersecurity jobs across the U.S.

Once you climb further up the cybersecurity career ladder, for example to Chief Security Officer (CSO) or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), your earning potential gets considerably higher.

Master's in Cybersecurity Online Degree | Liberty University
  • $380,000 is the upper end of the CISO salary spectrum in San Francisco (average: $240,000)
  • $273,033 is the average salary for CISOs and CISO equivalents in the United States
  • $217,768 is the median base salary for a Chief Information Security Officer in the U.S.

In an article in BusinessInsider.com (“Most American students are ignoring an entry-level job with an $80,000 salary”), University of San Diego cybersecurity professor Ashton Mozano reports that even entry-level jobs can start at $80,000.

To sum things up, the cybersecurity job outlook is fantastic — salaries are high and demand is soaring. But in order to land the best jobs in cybersecurity with the best companies, you need a degree and when it comes to cybersecurity, the higher the degree, the better.

Investment in Advanced Cybersecurity Education Pays for Itself

Tuition for a master’s degree varies from school to school but the total cost of a degree in cybersecurity will typically run anywhere from $20,000-$70,000. While that is a significant investment, the payoff proves it is worth it. As Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation at the State Department, told the Washington Post, “If any college student asked me what career would most assure 30 years of steady, well-paying employment, I would respond, ‘cybersecurity.’”

Cybersecurity Career Options Are Growing Faster Than Other Sectors

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job market for information security analysts is growing at a rate of 31%, which the BLS characterizes as “much faster than (the) average” for other lines of work. And while the opportunities and job openings in the cybersecurity field are many, the education level needed to land these jobs can be high. According to CyberSeek, 25% of employers hiring for a cybersecurity architect position required or preferred a graduate degree (23% for a cybersecurity engineer; 21% for a penetration tester). Yet, for those with the right education and experience, the opportunities are vast — with job openings in almost every state and across every sector, both private and public.

Let’s break cybersecurity jobs down by experience level. A recent LinkedIn search revealed the following cybersecurity-related job postings:

  • Internship: 560
  • Entry level: 21,808
  • Associate: 19,412
  • Mid-senior level: 6,552
  • Director: 1,235
  • Executive: 331

In many cases, a master’s degree is either preferred or required for the upper-level jobs.

So what are some of the top cybersecurity jobs and career paths? Let’s break it down:

  • Cybersecurity Analyst: This position may also be known as an information security analyst, IT security analyst and senior security analyst. A cybersecurity analyst plans and implements security measures to protect the computer networks and systems of a company or organization. You may also help create a disaster recovery plan, which an IT department will follow in the event of a breach or security emergency.
  • Security Auditor: A cybersecurity auditor works with companies and organizations to provide comprehensive audits of online security systems, which typically include a detailed report about existing systems, analyses of whether the systems run efficiently and recommendations on changes to protocols and infrastructure.
  • Cybersecurity Specialist: This position, often called an information (IT) security specialist or network security specialist, plays a central role in securing the information systems of businesses and other organizations.
  • Cybersecurity Architect: The responsibilities of this often senior-level position is to plan, design, test, implement and maintain an organization’s computer and network security infrastructure.
  • Cybersecurity Consultant: Also known as a security specialist, security consultant, physical security specialist and personnel security specialist, these consultants are independent contractors employed by companies across all industries to safeguard systems, networks and valuable data.
  • Network Administrator: Listed as one of the top 10 in-demand tech jobs for 2020, the responsibilities of this position include monitoring the network, ordering network equipment, configuring/racking/testing networking equipment and network troubleshooting.
  • Penetration Tester: This position involves identifying security weaknesses in both systems and policies.

Other career paths from CyberSeek include:

  • Cyber Crime Analyst/Investigator
  • Cybersecurity Manager/Administrator
  • Cybersecurity Engineer
  • Flexible Cybersecurity Degree Programs Are Available

Flexibility is of great importance for working adults. The option to obtain a degree online while balancing school with a full-time job and family obligations has proven to be a career game-changer for many cybersecurity professionals.

Today, many colleges and universities offer online options, either hybrid programs or 100% online degrees. In addition to flexibility, online learning offers key benefits for students, including the ability to access the best cybersecurity programs, professors and universities no matter where you are located; pay less for materials (costly textbooks are often replaced with digital content that can be viewed online or printed); and interact with students from around the country and globe.

Cybersecurity Skills: You’ll Learn the Basics – Plus Leadership, Management and More

One of the most important benefits of earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity is the additional managerial and leadership training you will receive. In most technology undergraduate programs these type of business skills are not taught as a part of the curriculum. However, in order to advance in the field and land high-ranking leadership positions, you’ll need to possess the right qualities, including keen business acumen.

For example, in addition to cybersecurity leadership skills, students in the University of San Diego’s highly regarded Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership are taught cybersecurity theory and how to turn that theory into practice, gaining specific knowledge and skills in the areas of technology, law, policy, compliance, governance, intelligence, incident response and management. The USD program places significant emphasis on immersive experiences, which gives students the real-world exposure they need to be truly effective in the field.

Courses in the USD curriculum range from Foundations of Cyber Security to Cyber Incident Response & Computer Network Forensics. Additional courses include:

  • Applied Cryptography
  • Secure Systems Architecture
  • Cyber Security Risk Management
  • Cyber Security Operational Policy
  • Management and Cyber Security
  • Secure Software Design and Development
  • Cyber Intelligence
  • Network Visualization and Vulnerability Detection
  • Networking Opportunities Abound in Cybersecurity Graduate Programs

For anyone looking to make the most out of their graduate program, networking is key. Because graduate school attracts groups of like-minded people with similar interests in specific areas, such as cybersecurity, it is the perfect place to connect with peers, alumni and faculty. The connections made in graduate school can not only help you while you are completing your degree, by offering additional knowledge, insight and diversity of opinion, but can also be immensely helpful upon graduation as you look to launch or advance your career.

Additionally, the University of San Diego online master’s degree is structured to emphasize maximum engagement with experienced faculty experts, as well as fellow cybersecurity professionals from around the country. This represents a valuable opportunity to engage with and learn from peers across all sectors of the cybersecurity industry.

Financial Incentives are Abundant for Cybersecurity Students

With cybercrime professionals in such high demand, both in the private and public sector, there are a number of financial incentives that are now being offered to those who wish to pursue a degree in cyber security. The Center for Cyber Safety and Education grants a number of scholarships to those entering the field. For females, various scholarships are available for women in cybersecurity. Two major scholarship programs are funded by the U.S. government — the Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP) and the National Science Foundation Scholarship for Service (SFS). Also, Yellow Ribbon schools, such as the University of San Diego, offer support to veterans through yearly scholarship money that is then matched dollar for dollar by the VA. At USD that equals roughly $17,000 per year.

Cybersecurity Offers Unique and Interesting Ways to Make a Difference

For example, some cybersecurity specialists are focused on using creative methods to attack the very systems they are aiming to protect, in order to discover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.

Today, there are more and more so-called bug bounty programs in which skilled white-hat hackers work to disrupt the illegal and destructive efforts of their black-hat counterparts by finding and fixing weak spots in cybersecurity defense systems. A cybersecurity executive at global defense, management, and IT consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton talks about configuring fake computers in a phony, intentionally vulnerable network that functions as “a virtual mousetrap” to lure cyber adversaries, who take the bait and reveal valuable information about their identities, tactics, and intentions.

Also Read: masters in cyber security requirements, masters in cyber security salary, ms in cyber security in Canada, why study cyber security personal statement.

cyber security jobs

Cyber security analysts help to protect an organization by employing a range of technologies and processes to prevent, detect and manage cyber threats.

As a cyber security analyst, you will protect IT infrastructure (including networks, hardware, and software) from a range of criminal activities. You will monitor networks and systems, detect security threats (‘events’), analyze and assess alarms, and report on threats, intrusion attempts, and false alarms, either resolving them or escalating them, depending on the severity.

Broadly, you can work in one of the following areas:

  • consulting, offering advisory services to clients
  • working to protect the security of the organisation you work for.

Job titles vary and may include information security analyst, security analyst, information security consultant, security operations centre (SOC) analyst and cyber intelligence analyst.

Cyber Security Salaries Make the Case for a Master's


As a cyber security analyst, you’ll need to:

  • keep up to date with the latest security and technology developments
  • research/evaluate emerging cyber security threats and ways to manage them
  • plan for disaster recovery and create contingency plans in the event of any security breaches
  • monitor for attacks, intrusions and unusual, unauthorised or illegal activity
  • test and evaluate security products
  • design new security systems or upgrade existing ones
  • use advanced analytic tools to determine emerging threat patterns and vulnerabilities
  • engage in ‘ethical hacking’, for example, simulating security breaches
  • identify potential weaknesses and implement measures, such as firewalls and encryption
  • investigate security alerts and provide incident response
  • monitor identity and access management, including monitoring for abuse of permissions by authorised system users
  • liaise with stakeholders in relation to cyber security issues and provide future recommendations
  • generate reports for both technical and non-technical staff and stakeholders
  • maintain an information security risk register and assist with internal and external audits relating to information security
  • monitor and respond to ‘phishing’ emails and ‘pharming’ activity
  • assist with the creation, maintenance and delivery of cyber security awareness training for colleagues
  • give advice and guidance to staff on issues such as spam and unwanted or malicious emails.


  • Starting salaries for cyber security analysts typically fall between £25,000 and £35,000.
  • Experienced and senior cyber security analysts can expect to earn from around £35,000 to in excess of £60,000.
  • In higher-level leadership or managerial roles, you may receive salaries up to, and in excess of, £70,000.

Salaries vary depending on a range of factors including your skills, experience and qualifications, your location, the type of employer you work for (e.g. in-house or consultancy) and the sector you work in (e.g. financial services).

You’ll usually receive a range of employee benefits that may include a bonus, company pension scheme, private medical insurance, gym membership, and sponsored training and development opportunities.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Working hours are typically 35 to 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday. You may need to work outside of 9am until 5pm depending on projects and the specific nature of the work.

Some companies may require you to work on a shift basis, which can include evenings, nights and weekends. You may need to work as part of a 24/7 call-out rota, to allow for quick responses to cyber security incidents.

Job sharing and part-time work are not common. However, some companies offer flexible working arrangements.

Short-term contract work is possible, particularly through recruitment agencies or if you work on a self-employed basis as a consultant.

What to expect

  • Work is likely to be office-based and you’ll typically be using a computer for extended periods of time. However, if you are a consultant then you may need to travel to meet with clients.
  • Self-employment is an option for experienced analysts. You could set up your own cyber security company or work as an independent cyber security consultant. You could also work as a contractor through an agency.
  • Some roles will require you to have security clearance, particularly if they’re for a government agency or private organisation which handles highly-sensitive information. You may also be restricted in terms of what you can say about your work.
  • There are a higher proportion of roles in major cities, with many roles based in the South East of England (including London). In Scotland, many roles are found in Edinburgh and Glasgow. In Wales, roles are typically found in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. However, as a consultant working for a company you’ll have to travel within the UK and possibly internationally. Independent consultants can be based anywhere and travel to meet clients.
  • Women and ethnic minority groups are underrepresented in the profession. However, there are organisations which aim to promote greater workforce diversification, such as the Cyber Challenge Foundation. Other examples of initiatives aimed at attracting women into the industry include WISE (Women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), WeAreTechWomen and Women in International Security (WIIS).

master of cyber security

Major crimes like espionage, theft, blackmail and fraud used to be perpetrated by people on the ground in companies and governments around the world. Now, all of these crimes and more can be committed sitting behind a computer screen. 

Cybercrime is the new battlefront for companies and governments across the globe. The majority of these crimes are motivated by money—and according to Cybercrime Magazine, cybercrime is expected to cost the world $6 trillion dollars by 2021. 

As the prevalence and damage caused by cybercrime rapidly grow, so does the demand for cybersecurity specialists. But do you really need a master’s degree to get ahead in this profession.

The Rapid Growth in Demand for Cybersecurity Professionals

Job projections for cybersecurity are staggering. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that careers in the cybersecurity field will grow by 32% by 2028. That makes cybersecurity one of the top 10 fastest-growing jobs in the country.

“Cybersecurity is a field that’s in demand in nearly every industry,” says Todd Whittaker,  Department Chair of Computer and Information Sciences and Program Chair of the Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity at Franklin University, “Because cybercrime has a real impact on finances, brand reputation and trust, and everyday people’s lives, corporations large and small, governments, and academic institutions—they’re all looking for cybersecurity experts to keep up with the rapid change and sophistication of cybercrime.” 

In the United States alone, jobs for Information Security Analysts are expected to grow by 15% by 2024.

Not only is demand growing, but there’s also an expanding gap between supply and demand. Cybersecurity Ventures synthesized dozens of employment figures from the media, analysts, job boards, vendors, governments, and organizations globally to predict there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021.

A bachelor’s degree and experience is a great start. But, a master’s degree in cybersecurity can really set you ahead by leveling up your skills and opening up new opportunities.

5 Reasons a Master’s in Cybersecurity is Worth It

A master’s degree is a big investment in time, energy and finances. But if you’re committed to completing your master’s degree in cybersecurity, it can have an extremely positive impact on your career. 

These are five of the top reasons to invest in a cybersecurity master’s degree. 

  1. A master’s degree teaches you cutting-edge skills. Cybersecurity is a constantly changing field. If you’ve been in this profession for a while or don’t currently specialize in cybersecurity, a master’s program can refresh your technical skillset while improving your critical thinking, problem-solving and management skills.
  2. A master’s degree makes it easier to change careers. Take advantage of growth opportunities and job stability by transitioning to a career in cybersecurity. If you’re working in computer science or a related technology field but don’t specialize in cybersecurity, a master’s degree is a great way to prove your expertise and get a job in the field. 
  3. A master’s degree opens the door to advancement opportunities. Employers are looking for highly-qualified professionals to lead their cybersecurity efforts. Whether you want to work for a large corporation, an independent consultancy or in high-levels of government, a master’s degree can be key to setting yourself apart and advancing to management and executive positions.
  4. A master’s degree increases your salary expectations. While cybersecurity roles command high median salaries overall, with information security analysts earning $98,350 per year. With a master’s degree, you’re preparing yourself for leadership opportunities, where the top 10% of cybersecurity professionals earn $156,583 per year.
  5. A master’s degree is a lifelong credential. A master’s degree shows dedication to your career and to sharpening your skillset. It’s a tangible way to show your expertise to employers and an investment that continues to pay off throughout your career.

Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity vs. Certifications: Understanding the Value of Each

Another consideration when pursuing cybersecurity credentials is professional certifications. Many professionals wonder if they should get a master’s degree, a professional certification, or some combination of the two. Here is a high-level explanation of the benefits and/or drawbacks of each type of credential.


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