Across the broad range of cybersecurity-related jobs and fields, individuals who have earned master’s degrees are likely to be highly sought-after for well-paying, exciting jobs that allow them to use cutting-edge techniques in preventing cyber attacks.
For any business, nonprofit, educational organization, government agency or pretty much any other group, cybersecurity is among their most important considerations. It’s not hard to see why; the average cost of a single data breach is nearly $4 million, and thousands of cyber attacks and breaches are expected in 2020.
What can people with a master’s degree in cybersecurity expect to earn, and what is their career outlook over the next several years?
At the master’s level, education in cybersecurity is likely to be rigorous and highly challenging, but it’s through that challenging work that cybersecurity professionals can ensure they stand out from the crowd. With new techniques being launched seemingly by the day, cybersecurity professionals can’t afford to assume they know everything.
But what does cybersecurity education entail, particularly at the master’s level? Here’s a look at some sample courses a person is likely to pick from, depending on their school and educational track:
- Information Security Policies and Strategies
- Computer Organization
- Mobile Applications and Services
- Computer Systems Assurance
- Security and Privacy in Informatics
- Internet and Public Policy
- Data Structures
- Computer Forensics
- Network Security
- Authentication Technologies in Cybersecurity
For most professionals, a master’s degree is likely to represent the height of their academic journey, but for those who wish to contribute to academic research in the field of cybersecurity, a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., may be necessary.
Master’s in Cybersecurity Salary
Professionals who have earned master’s degrees in their field can expect to earn much higher typical wages than those with only a bachelor’s degree, associate degree or no college education. In fact, the typical master’s degree holder earns nearly 20% more than their bachelor’s-earning counterparts.
So what does that mean for people who have earned their master’s degree in cybersecurity or a related field? While that depends on the employer, industry and other factors, cybersecurity professionals with master’s degrees should have their pick of well-paying jobs, including one of the most common — cyber threat analyst.
Here’s a look at salary estimates from a variety of relevant sources for this particular job role:
Though jobs are generally available only in Washington, D.C., the Central Intelligence Agency is an ideal place to work as a cyber threat analyst, or in a similar role. Such analysts work within the agency to gather data and monitor threats against the U.S.
Average salary: $55,539-$97,094
Cyber threat analysts, or information security analysts, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies them, earn a median salary near six figures in jobs that require them to plan, monitor and improve policies and procedures that protect an organization’s computer systems and networks.
Median salary: $98,350
Cyber threat analyst jobs are available across the country, according to online job board Indeed, though a higher concentration of postings will generally be available in the Washington, D.C., area, as well as in other military or national security towns, such as Huntsville, Alabama, and San Antonio, Texas.
Average salary: $65,100-$80,000
Jobs listed on Glassdoor for cyber threat analysts tend to be very high-paying, and they trend toward technology firms, insurance providers, consultancies and more, with postings listed all across the country.
Average salary: $102,000-$189,000
Payscale lists cyber threat analysts as cyber security analysts, though the jobs are likely to be identical in most cases. That site projects the low end of the wage scale in the $51,000 range, but with a master’s degree in the field, salaries should be much higher.
Average salary: $75,746
According to recruiting site Ziprecruiter, the average cyber threat analyst in the U.S. makes a six-figure annual income, and companies across the country are actively seeking to hire people of all experience levels.
Average salary: $115,100
Job Demand for Master’s in Cybersecurity
Cyber threat analysts, particularly those with specialized training in information security, should be in very high demand for the next several years. In fact, according to the BLS, cyber threat analyst jobs will expand by 32%, far higher than the increase for all occupations of about 5% projected through 2028.
These jobs are even expected to grow much faster than all computer occupations, which the BLS projects will grow at about a 12% rate. In every state, cyber threat analyst job openings are expected to expand, from a low of 7.7% growth in Maryland to a high of 50% in both Louisiana and Utah.
Information security analyst job opening growth, 2016-26, highest and lowest
With high wages and growth rates that are among the highest in the country, cyber threat analyst jobs should continue to be some of the most appealing for people with advanced training in cybersecurity. For individuals who are considering graduate programs in cybersecurity, it’s not always necessary to be fully locked in on a possible career or ideal job, but with data as optimistic as this, cyber threat analyst should be a job on the list of anybody with a master’s in cybersecurity.
- Salary and job opening data from Indeed, Glassdoor, Payscale and Ziprecruiter was accessed in February 2020.
- CIA.gov, Careers & Internships, Cyber Threat Analyst. (Undated.) Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/careers/opportunities/science-technology/cyber-threat-analyst.html
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Information Security Analysts. (2019.) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm#tab-1
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Career Outlook, Measuring the value of education. (2018.) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/data-on-display/education-pays.htm
- IBM, Security, How much would a data breach cost your business? (Undated.) Retrieved from https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach
- ProjectionsCentral.com, Long-Term Occupational Projections, 2016-2026. (Undated.) Retrieved from https://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm