It’s no understatement that cybersecurity professionals are in demand. Subsequently, more schools now allow students to earn a dedicated, skills-oriented cybersecurity degree, either online or on-campus.
A multitude of factors fuel the field’s growing demand. Firstly, small to medium-sized businesses that ordinarily would have monitored their own network security realize antivirus software and social engineering training are no longer sufficient and have thus started hiring dedicated cybersecurity professionals to monitor and respond to threats. Secondly, the threats continue to proliferate and become more sophisticated—and businesses from Main Street to Fortune 500 companies acknowledge the in-house skills gap. Thirdly, the US and most of the world has had a deficit of cybersecurity professionals over the past few years, with the difference predicted to widen.
A cybersecurity degree often serves as a stepping stone into this rewarding and in-need role. Earning a cybersecurity degree online offers a number of advantages. Here are four key reasons you should consider earning a cybersecurity degree online:
1. Industries of All Types Require Cybersecurity Professionals to Manage the Growing Number of Data Breaches
In 2017, data breaches across US-based corporations, government agencies, and educational institutions reached a peak, according to a study done by the Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout. That year, these two organizations tracked 1,632 reported breaches—up over 50 percent from 2016 and exposing nearly 198 million personal records.
Case number, though, illustrates just one side of the overall picture: Cyber criminals face few ramifications and reap high rewards, while businesses neglecting their firewalls and third-party data sharing get hit both financially and reputationally.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) 2018 Internet Crime Report shows just how severe the threats have become. In 2018, the IC3 received 351,937 complaints of suspected internet crime, and reported losses exceeded $2.7 billion. Compare these numbers to the report’s 2014 figures: 269,422 suspected reports resulting in $800.5 million in losses. The organization currently receives roughly 900 complaints per day, with non-payment, extortion, and personal data breaches being the most common incidents.
Based on a report from Cybercrime Magazine, cybercrime is predicted to result in $6 trillion in annual losses by 2021. Beyond the amount stolen, this figure factors in lost productivity, destroyed data, theft of intellectual property, embezzlement, fraud, investigations, network restoration, business disruption, and reputational damage.
In response to this growing risk, more businesses have decided to invest in cybersecurity and improved network technology. According to a report from Gartner, global spending on information security products grew 12.4 percent from 2017 to 2018, with funds going primarily toward security risks, business needs, industry changes, and privacy concerns.
Yet, a noticeable disparity between business needs and the number of qualified network security candidates exists, and based on figures from the 2019 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study, that gap continues to grow. As of 2019, the global workforce needs to grow 145 percent—62 percent in the U.S.—to close this difference. 65 percent of all companies surveyed found themselves short regarding a dedicated cybersecurity team or personnel.
2. Cybersecurity Salaries and Opportunities are Growing with Demand
Businesses aren’t waiting around or hoping to slip below the mounting number of cybersecurity threats. Instead, as a 2019 report from Burning Glass shows, job postings for cybersecurity professionals have grown 94 percent since 2013—three times faster than for the rest of the information technology (IT) industry. Yet, while cybersecurity jobs also pay roughly 16 percent more than other IT positions, businesses spend 20 percent more time searching for the right candidates.
With this approach, the global marketplace may have 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021, according to a report from Cybersecurity Ventures. The U.S. and India are expected to have the greatest shortages.
Shifting technology and demand for specializations have partially created this deficit. More and more roles require professionals to be proficient in automation, public cloud security, the Internet of Things (IoT), and risk management strategies. Another factor is 80 percent of all current openings require a bachelor’s degree, Burning Glass found.
Getting a cybersecurity degree ends up paying off. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2018, information security analysts earned $98,350 on average, and the number of positions is predicted to grow 32 percent by 2028.
Currently though, a report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that for every two filled cybersecurity jobs, three remain open, compared to the national average of one open position for every 5.8 filled jobs. Openings occur across all industries. The BLS found that in 2018, a third of all computer and research scientists worked for the federal government, while other cybersecurity professionals had positions in computer systems design, research and development, software, and education.
Close to a third of all open cybersecurity jobs are for entry-level positions, but specializations and certifications help an individual advance. Currently, information security analysts and data scientists are in high demand, while experience in ethical hacking, risk management, information assurance, and network security give job candidates an edge, as they indicate how much experience an individual has with handling certain types of threats.
With the marketplace’s pace and current needs, spending four years studying full time on campus to earn a degree in cybersecurity may be impractical—especially for IT or computer science professionals currently working full time. Because certifications alone often aren’t enough, online education ultimately makes these opportunities more accessible.
3. Accessible, Quality Online Education Allows Students to Get Up to Speed in Cybersecurity
Inside Higher Ed’s 2018 Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology found that a large—and growing—percentage of full-time, on-campus teachers have taught at least one online course. The professors surveyed found the format beneficial, allowing them the freedom to try out new teaching methods or design their own course structure, and a third believed that learning outcomes were comparable to in-person classes. As well for online courses, students are more likely to have a full-time on-campus instructor (50 percent) over a part-time on-campus instructor (39 percent). Furthermore, the teachers highlighted the method’s economical approach: Due to per-credit tuition, students spend less per course and aren’t as reliant on physical textbooks.
Beyond the instructors themselves, online education is often structured around on-campus programs and, in turn, offers similar benefits. Behind this shift, more accredited colleges and universities now offer online degrees, which are typically based on existing degree programs. In the case of online cybersecurity degrees, the format and content reflect recommendations set forth by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security and offer students an advantage when pursuing certification.
As another familiar convenience, online students may have better access to multiple financing options, be it subsidized loans or merit-based scholarships.
4. Online Learning Helps Non-Traditional Students Reach Their Career Goals—In Cybersecurity and Beyond
In 2016, the Babson Survey Research Group conducted a poll of online learners, and published those findings in “Grade Increase: Tracking Distance Education.” Researchers found that enrollment in online programs increased for a fourth year in a row, with 30 percent of all higher-education students scheduling in at least one online course. Of the students taking online courses, roughly half opted for a strictly online approach, and the other half took blended coursework.
As the number of students deciding to enroll at least partially online has grown, the number of strictly on-campus students dropped over the same four-year period by 1.173 million, or 6.4 percent overall.
According to the “2019 Online Education Trends Report” from BestColleges.com, convenience and flexibility are primarily the reasons students opt to enroll in online classes. Employer incentives and partnerships also play a role in 20 percent of all decisions. For another 20 percent, the program was only offered online, which is a common factor for many cybersecurity bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
From where students are enrolling is also diverse. Schools surveyed found that online learning attracts students from greater distances—even from overseas where online classes may be more accessible than traditional classes—but it also attracts hyperlocal students who, due to scheduling or financial restrictions, decide not to attend on-campus classes. Another trend, residential students supplement their on-campus course load with online classes to graduate sooner and with less debt.
Supporting these findings, a study conducted by Learning House and Aslanian Market Research found that convenience and costs aren’t the only reason more students are completing coursework online. Of the 1,500 students surveyed, 85 percent found the quality of coursework and experience attending classes equal to or better than on-campus courses. 67 percent enrolled in online courses said the format helped them achieve their goals.
Designed with working adults in mind, Norwich University’s online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity program addresses the gaps in today’s marketplace and prepares students to dive right in with advanced, specialized knowledge. Coursework reflects Norwich’s status as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, and students working toward their bachelor’s degree can select from two in-demand concentrations—computer forensics and vulnerability management or information warfare and security management. Students can complete a bachelor’s degree in 18 months and prepare for a rewarding career in cybersecurity. To learn more about the program, fill out a request for information form today.