Cyber security is one of the most in-demand fields right now, and there are few others. Against the banking and financial industries to government institutions around the world, everyone must be safeguarded from thieves and cybercriminals who cause disruption and cyber terror by hacking into personal and sensitive information and releasing it to the public. For those who desire to begin their professional career in cyber security, there are several options available, but one of the most expedient is earning an associate’s degree in cyber security. If you attend school full-time, you will be finished with this degree in just over two years. If you have other commitments in your life, you can even complete your coursework online. After that, you can begin working in an information technology department at an entry-level position.
WHO EARNS AN ASSOCIATE’S IN CYBER SECURITY?
As a person who wants to prevent cybercrime and keep companies safe from hackers and cyber terrorists, you are likely the type of person that the sector is in desperate need of right now. If you have a passion for technology or a desire to make a beneficial impact on society in general, you should consider pursuing a career in cyber security.
In the United States, “more than 80 percent of businesses have been hacked at some point in their history.”
Incredibly, more than 80% of U.S. firms have been hacked at some point in their history, and the number is expanding to include journalistic organizations and government institutions as well. Global cyber terrorism is a very serious issue, and the demand for professionals in the field of information security is projected to grow over time.
The following characteristics and talents are found in people who are successful in cyber and information security roles:
You have exceptional analytical abilities.
You pay attention to the smallest of details.
You possess resourcefulness and the ability to devise novel strategies to counter increasingly sophisticated dangers.
You have excellent problem-solving abilities.
PREPARE FOR SCHOOL
You will need a good background in mathematics or computer science before you can begin your journey toward an associate’s degree. Make every effort to become as conversant with computer coding and technology as you possibly can. There are numerous online resources accessible, and your local bookstore is likely to have a large selection of books as well. You may master the programming languages that are used to make applications and networks work with very little financial input.
This self-directed learning will benefit you in several ways. It will provide you with a head start so that the topics you encounter in class are more familiar, and it will assist you in determining whether or not a career in high technology is right for you. Another possibility is that you will discover that you appreciate technology but that your best function would be in management or as a salesperson for high-tech products.
Once you’ve determined that you want to pursue a career in cyber security, look for the most comprehensive curriculum accessible. The fact that the finest cyber security programs are interdisciplinary is one of their distinguishing characteristics. In other words, they incorporate parts of computer engineering, computer science, and management into their design. In addition, ensure that you have received training in softer aspects of the subject, such as important ethical and legal challenges. Technical writing and even public speaking will likely play a significant role in your professional development, as your job will demand you to communicate extremely complicated technical knowledge to individuals who are not as technically savvy.
In addition to setting the basis with fundamental technology classes, your associate’s degree program should include a significant number of cyber security courses. As a general rule, associate’s degrees reduce the number of basic liberal arts courses you’ll take and instead focus entirely on a single field of interest to the student. After all, you only have a limited amount of time, and you’ll need to study everything you can about cyber security to be prepared for entry-level positions in the industry.
FINANCIAL AID AND SCHOLARSHIPS
Before enrolling in a school program, you’ll need to be aware of a few important details to be eligible for federal financial aid.
First and foremost, make certain that your program has been approved by either a regional accreditation agency or a professional organization that monitors the quality of programs accessible to students in your area. Why? Unless your school or program is accredited, you will not be eligible for federal financial aid. Additionally, once you have completed your associate’s degree program and begin looking into bachelor’s degree options, you may discover that your hard-earned credits do not transfer because you did not earn them from an accredited school or program.
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Help (often referred to as the FAFSA) is the first step in applying for financial aid. You’ll need to be attentive, however, because there are application deadlines and the application entails submitting a lot of information, which is especially important if you’re financially reliant on your parents for support.
Here are some examples of the forms of financial assistance that are available:
Financial aid from the federal government, such as the FAFSA and Pell Grants, is granted based on a person’s financial need. These are typically designated for students in their first year of college.
State financial aid, which is usually based on need and has a more flexible application process than federal financial aid, has a shorter application deadline. If you need further information, contact your state’s Department of education.
Scholarships, which are frequently awarded based on merit. In addition, there are numerous scholarships available for minorities and female students.
Work-Study is another type of federal financial aid in which you will be required to work—possibly on campus—to earn money to help pay for your college expenses.
ONLINE ASSOCIATE’S DEGREES
For people who are currently employed, earning an associate’s degree online may be an option to consider. An online program will most likely provide you with the freedom you require to complete both your schoolwork and your professional work at the same time. Additionally, you should be able to set aside time for your family, if that is a responsibility you are responsible for. Make certain, however, that your online school is an authorized institution since this provides a high-quality education as well as the ability to qualify for federal financial aid and transfer credits in the future.
Some online colleges and universities are organized around asynchronous classes, while others are structured on traditional courses. Because of this type of course format, you will be able to access classroom materials at any time of day or night, and you will be able to submit work at any time before the final deadline. Many students benefit from having less regimented time, but there is a level of responsibility and time management that must be exercised to reap the full benefits of this benefit. Make sure you can schedule your time so that you have adequate time to do your schoolwork. It’s important to remember that school is an essential component of getting ahead in your profession and that every test and assignment is a small step towards obtaining what you truly desire.
COURSEWORK AND CURRICULUM
In an associate’s degree cyber security program, you will study skills that will prepare you for more advanced degrees in the field later on.
You will receive a focused education that will concentrate on the following areas of development:
JOBS YOU CAN DO WITH A CYBER SECURITY ASSOCIATE’S DEGREE
With an associate’s degree, you can start your professional life. Having academic credentials is an excellent method to secure your first job after graduating from college. Even if you are already employed in a technical position, your degree may enable you to advance in your position, get a raise, or gain the respect you desire as a professional.
However, while many professions in cyber security claim that a bachelor’s degree is required, an associate’s degree may be sufficient to qualify for an entry-level career in the field. If you have already been employed in an information technology department, you might want to chat with the security specialists to see if you can collaborate with them while you are completing your training. Your ability to advance further than a student with only a bachelor’s degree and no work experience may be enhanced by this strong combination of real-world and academic experience.