“Russian intelligence breech in the NSA!” “Over 1,000 attacks in center’s first year!”” “Cyber security month just launched!”” “Cyber security warriors needed to fend off hackers!” All of these are headlines from just 8 hours ago. And in a couple of hours, the headlines will change yet again. Cyber security threats are not dwindling and continue to be one of the most pressing issues in our news. Even cyber security experts have yet to agree upon the best way to tackle cyber threats, and yet everyone agrees that cyber security issues drastically impact our lives. At the personal and business level, cyber security attacks are expected to cost $6 billion in annual damages by 2021, or twice as much suffered in 2016. In 2017, ransomware damages will cost $5 billion, or fifteen-times what was suffered in 2015. In 2016 cyber incidents cost the global economy over $450 billion which we calculated as four times the federal (US) education budget. For more information on how cyber security threats look, take look at our Shocking Facts on Cyber Security

Still, regardless of these numbers state actors remain the largest cyber risk, both as victims and belligerents. In 2009 Chinese hackers breached Google’s corporate services. There was a cyberattack during the Paris G20 summit in 2011. 2014 was the year of the six-month-long cyber attack on the German parliament, and so on. You get the picture, cyber attacks are coming from everyone. You can even monitor cyber attacks from your home computer.

To be sure, governments have increased security measures, but a large chunk of the tech community argue that present initiatives aren’t enough. Hence, perhaps, the increasingly popular vigilante approach: single-actor hackers and hacktivist collectives. While vigilantism is in vogue with regards to matters cyber security-related and otherwise, locking down your initial degree in cyber security isn’t a half bad idea, either.


Given all the above, you might be considering an associate’s in cyber security or a cyber-related field, and, from a career perspective, it’s a good bet. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects computer and IT jobs to grow 12% through 2024, which equals about 500,000 jobs. Most importantly, information security roles are predicted to grow 18%, or more than twice the average rate.

So why pursue an associate’s in cyber security? Job opportunities in cyber security are growing at an astronomic rate. Where other computer science degrees provide general opportunities in the IT industry, a focus on cyber security sets you apart from the competition and lay the foundation for a vast range of cyber security related specializations. You then can advance your degree with a specialization or plunge head first into a high value lucrative position and begin accumulating years of experience. In other words, a good IT professional has a background in computer science where as a great candidate for employment has the initial stage knowledge you will find in most curricula for an A.S. in Cyber Security and related degrees.

Associate’s in Cyber Security VS. RELATED DEGREES

Still confused? Let’s break down it down by degree.

  • Associate of Science in Cyber Security: The gateway degree in a wide array of cyber security-related fields. This degree is often used for transference into a bachelor’s in cyber security as it prepares individuals for the broad array of skills one needs when engaging with information assurance. This degree examines cybercrime, homeland security, digital forensics, wireless and mobile defense mechanics and more. Additionally, an A.S. in Cyber Security provides the skills required to sit for certification programs.
  • A.S. in Network Security: the first step in to the more technical side of cyber security. This degree is perfect for individuals who are looking to lean more heavily on the IT side of cyber security and will prepare you to do so with programming in computer technology, networking fundamentals, data security, computer forensics, and various operating systems. Additionally, this degree prepares individuals for entrance into a B.S. in Network Security and prepares individuals to sit for cyber security-related certifications.
  • Associate of Science in Computer Forensics: this program is similar to the A.S. in Cybersecurity with more of an emphasis on forensics. This degree is interdisciplinary in its approach with an inclusion of criminal justice, programming, networking technology and various operating systems. Like the above and A.S. in Forensics prepares you for the next degree level up- a B.S. in Forensics and prepares individuals to sit for their certification exam.

Associate’s in Cyber Security: Core Curriculum

No A.S. in Cyber Security is the exact same, but most degrees consist of about 60 credits and take 2 years to complete. A typical core progression might look like:

  • Integrated Software Applications
  • Programming Logic and Design
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Certifed Ethical Hacking
  • Advanced Network Security
  • Installation and Configuration of Linux
  • Personal Computer Hardware
  • Firewalls and Network Security


Some programs include built-in elective options like:

  • Ethical Hacking
  • Fiber Optics
  • Microsoft Server Technology
  • Web Design
  • Security Assessment and Auditing


Perhaps the most surprising fact about the cyber work force is that, despite predicted gains in employment, experts still project a shortfall of 1.5 million skilled workers. In other words, a massive demand for cyber security and information assurance professionals is going unfilled, particularly in high-paying, upper-level roles. If you’ve earned an associate’s in cyber security, you’re qualified for many roles, but some stand out:

  • Security Administrator : A Security Administrator is basically the point individual for cyber security systems. Individuals will likely be responsible for installing, administering and troubleshooting your organization’s security solutions.
    • Median Salary: $61,500
    • Job Outlook, 2014-24: 18%
  • Vulnerability Assessor: A Vulnerability Assessor (a.k.a. Vulnerability Assessment Analyst) scans applications and systems to identify trouble, vulnerabilities, and flaws. This individuals then presents findings in a comprehensive, prioritized document known as the Vulnerability Assessment.
    • Median Salary: $$64,000
    • Job Outlook for Cyber Security Careers, 2014-24:18%
  • Security Specialist: A security specialist may be defined as anyone who specializes in the security of people, assets, networks, telecommunications systems, and IT systems such as a personal bodyguard, security guard, or computer security analyst.
    • Median Salary: $73,426
    • Job Outlook, 2014-24: 17%