Are Cybersecurity Degrees Worth it?

Cybersecurity is one of the up-and-coming career paths with over one million jobs available worldwide.  With many other career paths becoming obsolete, and their futures uncertain, many people are starting to change direction, and head towards cyber-focused jobs.  Colleges are offering cyber-based bachelor’s degrees to their students.  As an alternative cyber-certifications are starting to become widely available, to those who are making a career switch later in life.  With these two options in mind for beginning a career in cybersecurity, one may ask themselves the question, are cybersecurity degrees worth the cost and time?

  An article stated that “The total cost of a degree in cybersecurity will typically run anywhere from $20,000-$70,000” (Moore).  The annual average salary for a job in cybersecurity earns up to $100,556 (ZipRecruiter).   This means that if someone in Virginia made $100,556 a year, and had to pay back a $70,000 loan at 5.8% interest rate at $400 a month, it would only take around ten years to do so.  While on ZipRecruiter, the website listed out many different cybersecurity jobs as well as the requirements for each job.  Specifically dealing with information systems auditing the basic requirement for this job, are that a candidate needs to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or an IT-related field.  This network brought up the idea of networking while in school, which is a huge added bonus to getting a cyber degree.  While at school, one may get the opportunity to talk and learn from teachers, advisors, and other peers as well as participate in internships outside of the university, in an effort to establish meaningful connections.  These connections may help that person get a job, or advance them in their career path.

There are ways to get into the cybersecurity field without getting a degree in cybersecurity.  One of those ways is through obtaining certifications.  According to an article produced by the University of California, Berkely, the top three certifications in cybersecurity are the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and the CompTIA Security+ (Berkeley).  While on ZipRecruiter looking at the different types of cyber jobs most require the CISSP certification.  Another required certification for these types of jobs is the CAP certification.  CAP stands for Certified Authorization Professional.  This certification “validates and certifies an individual’s skills, experience, and methodologies in implementing and maintaining authorization on information systems” (Techopedia).  Meaning that this certification ensures that an individual knows how to implement and carry through the proper procedures, that authorize the correct personnel to access a specific system.  Another highly sought-after certification on Ziprecruiter was the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).  This certification requires that individuals have extensive knowledge about implementing, planning, and executing audit strategies for information systems (Teravainen).  These certifications do not come without a cost.  When doing some extra research the CISSP can cost around $699 (New Horizons).  

As additional research for this paper, an interview was conducted with a Senior Manager at Sia Partners.  During the interview, Mr. Judd was asked to depict some qualifications that he looks for in potential employees, as well as the realities of work-life in cybersecurity.  A little background information is needed first.  Scott Judd is a Senior Manager with his main roles being Head of Southeast Hub Technology, Practice Area Leader for Information Security.  Mr. Judd has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and an MBA in IT concentration.  Currently, he is working on obtaining his CISA certification.  When posed a question asking Mr. Judd how many of his employees did not have a college degree, Mr. Judd’s response was, “Currently none, however, in my previous role as IT Infrastructure and Operations Director, I had 2 Networking employees with equivalent certifications. It did take an exception from the Chief Operating Officer in order to hire employees without a college degree” (Judd).  Next, Mr. Judd was asked if potential employees could have limitations in their line of work if they do not have a degree? To which he responded, “Absolutely, it prohibits entry-level positions and limits career advancement opportunities for the employees due to their experience and certifications” (Judd).  The last question asked Mr. Judd was asking for his opinion if he would recommend that a student get a college degree in cybersecurity. His answer was “Yes” (Judd), and his reasoning was that the cyber field will not be obsolete anytime soon as long as information, and money continues to be driven through technology/computers/networks.  Criminals will try to exploit weakness, and cybersecurity professionals will be needed to respond (Judd).

After taking a look at all the evidence presented, one can conclude that some form of a college degree is worth it, however, that degree may not necessarily need to be cyber-based.  If someone has the time to go back to school the cost benefits definitely outweigh the cost disadvantages.  If someone is not able to go back to school either due to cost or time, then certifications are a good option.  Just keep in mind that certification also take time and money to get and needs to be recertified every year.  Overall, if one has the time cybersecurity degrees are worth the time and money they take to earn.

Works Cited

“How to Earn the CISSP Certification: Cost, Requirements and Study Tips.” New Horizons, New 

Horizons, 6 Aug. 2019, 

“How to Get into Cybersecurity without a Degree.” Berkeley Boot Camps, University of 

California, 21 Aug. 2020, 

“It Security Analyst Job in Hampton, VA at Banner Quality Management Inc.” 

ZipRecruiter,  d0e732bc?enc_campaign_id=e5c5742c&tsid=122003167&utm_source=channel-1&utm_campaign=id-  5apxIc%2BCpiYf95orFFxYRZ%2BhxdAp3JnwG38LzcXS4py2Xg6Eka3qjg%3D%3D. 

​​Judd, Darcy, and Scott Judd. “Interview About the Realities in a Workplace without a College 

Degree.” 16 Mar. 2002. 

Moore, Michelle. “10 Reasons Why a Cyber Security Degree Is Worth It.” University of

San Diego Online Degrees, 15 Feb. 2022,,security%20and%20expanded%20career%20opportunities. 

Techopedia. “What Is a Certified Authorization Professional (CAP)? – Definition from 

Techopedia.”, Techopedia, 27 Mar. 2014, 

Teravainen, Taina. “What Is Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)? .” SearchSecurity

TechTarget, 5 Oct. 2021, 

“What Is the Average Cyber Security Salary .” Ziprecruiter, Ziprecruiter Inc, 2022,

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