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If you’re interested in a career in cybersecurity, then you may have already come across the fact that a degree in cybersecurity isn’t necessarily a job requirement. Many cybersecurity professionals are self-taught or hold degrees in unrelated fields, yet they still have flourishing careers in IT or other similar fields.

While it’s true that a cybersecurity degree isn’t required by all employers, there are several reasons why getting one is worth it. It’s easy to fall into the mindset that if it isn’t necessary, it isn’t worth it, but this isn’t true. Holding a degree in cybersecurity will give you access to a few special advantages that professionals without the degree can’t benefit from.

If you’re thinking about a career in cybersecurity but you aren’t sure if getting a whole degree is worth it, here are a few reasons that will convince you otherwise.

#1. Increased Salary

Perhaps one of the most attractive reasons for getting your degree is the increased salary that comes with it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary hovers around $102,000 annually, though some professionals can earn as much as $165,000+ annually.

Holding at least a bachelor’s degree will have a direct influence on how much you’re paid. No matter what industry you work in, education will always play a role in your salary and is something that you can change relatively easily. Even just earning additional certifications can have an impact on your salary and will be worth it in the long run.

If you really want to increase your salary, earning your master’s degree in cybersecurity opens up the possibility of earning up to $420,000 annually according to Forbes. While this number is specific to San Francisco and other major cities, they cite that the average pay for top managerial positions is around $223,000 which is double the average for those with a bachelor’s degree.

#2. Degrees Don’t Expire

Some professionals choose to get certifications in cybersecurity instead of paying for a whole degree. While this can be a cheaper choice, some certifications will require you to pay an annual fee in order to keep your certification. You may also be required to retake the test or recertify after a certain amount of time.

With degrees, however, you don’t have to worry about this. While they are a more expensive upfront cost, you won’t have to pay annually in order to keep your degree and it will never expire. You won’t have to recertify or take a test to renew your degree after so many years.

While certificates can certainly help demonstrate your expertise in the field, they need to be renewed and aren’t great for a long-term career, especially if that’s your only proof of education in the field.

#3. Positive Job Outlook

Cybersecurity careers are in high demand and, according to the BLS, job openings are expected to grow by 33%. With a degree in hand, not only will you benefit from the many available jobs that are offered, but you can remain confident that your knowledge and experience will continue to be sought after.

#4. Competitive Edge

Many employers are fine with higher cybersecurity professionals that only have certifications and not a degree, but they will recognize the additional knowledge and expertise that comes with having one. When employers see that you have a degree in the field and not just a certificate, they know that you’re serious about what you do and have the knowledge necessary to do it.

Education can play a role in whether employers decide to hire you. If you have more expertise and higher education than other applicants, they may be more inclined to offer you the job.

In cases where you decide to step into a managerial position, holding a degree is almost always a requirement. Even if it isn’t, having one will give you a step up from the rest of the competition.

#5. Degree Programs Are Flexible

Perhaps you already have a job in cybersecurity and you don’t want to leave just so you can complete a degree. Fortunately, online degree programs are becoming much more readily available and cybersecurity degrees are quickly becoming accessible.

If you want to earn your degree but you don’t want to move or quit your current job, it’s entirely possible to earn your degree online. Many universities offer part-time courses or fully online programs so that you don’t have to change your lifestyle in order to get a degree.

Online degree programs are also a cheaper option and are better for professionals that are currently working, whether their job is in cybersecurity or different industries and they’re hoping to make a switch.

#6. Extensive Expertise

With a degree, you spend several years learning the ins and outs of cybersecurity. Since the program will last longer than a certification (which may only take a few weeks or months), you’ll learn a lot more about your field and gain extensive expertise.

Cybersecurity degrees cover a lot of information and set you up for success. You may choose to focus your studies on a certain area of cybersecurity or go with a degree that will give you a solid look into the various fields of cybersecurity.

Here are just a few things that a degree program may cover:

  • Cryptography
  • Cyber intelligence
  • Secure software design and development
  • Cybersecurity risk management and operational policy
  • Secure systems architecture
  • Compliance
  • Network vulnerability detection

Make an Impact

Cybersecurity is a career field that’s in high demand and incredibly important. Businesses need someone to ensure their data is secure and their platforms are protected and users need to know they can trust the platforms they visit.

While cybersecurity does have many sectors and different job positions available, it remains a vital aspect to internet safety and will remain so as long as the internet is accessed. Earning your degree in cybersecurity will prepare you for the challenges this industry presents and give you a leg up over the competition when you enter the workforce, no matter which position you seek or where you want to be located.