The 2016 American Presidential Election raised concerns about the integrity of outdated voting systems in the digital age. Republicans and Democrats are now hiring cybersecurity experts to secure voting systems ahead of next year’s crucial midterm elections. As the Information Age continues to evolve, the dynamic field of network securities will gain importance as privacy concerns have become the top priority of powerful countries and corporations that are the main targets of information breaches. If the United States’ government is susceptible, any organization that takes shortcuts in securing their network is taking a risk that could potentially cause irreparable damages to their finances and public image. Having a secure network is the most vital insurance that any institution can employ to be confident in their day-to-day operations. The Global Ponemon 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study found that the amount of data compromised in an average breach has continued to rise. While the average breach costs $3.62 million in damages, the potential damage can be far greater. That’s why network security experts are now indispensable to every major organization.

Network security experts are hired by companies to prevent and minimize the damages that malicious hackers can inflict if they are left unchecked. It starts with strong password protection to ward off basic phishing attacks, and while knowledge of online authentication can go far, network security professionals have an array of strategies which they can tailor to combat specific threats. An incident response team saves an institution an average of $457,691 per breach; extensive use of encryption can save an average of $385,000; participating in threat sharing can save $193,000. The figures speak for themselves—an associates degree in network security is one of the most practical and profitable two-year degrees that anyone could earn.


The job market has shifted completely with the rise of automation. Basic jobs that our economy used to take for granted—cashiers, secretaries, accountants— have fallen by the wayside, and will continue to do so. While this shift has caused economic depression in large sections of the world, it has created vast opportunities for tech-savvy individuals because the amount of cybersecurity professionals is nowhere close to saturating the demand for them. This has caused a skills gap that projects to increase as the demand continues to rise, which will lead to a global shortage that could be in the range of two million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2019.

Given the dearth of cybersecurity professionals, an associates degree in network security is the fastest way to get your foot in the door. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that “most information security analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field,” but entry-level jobs are attainable with an associates degree because of the aforementioned skills gap. Institutions are scrambling to ensure the safety of their data, and their risk-reward calculation ensures ample budgets for hiring applicants in the field of network security.

Given this information, you might be wondering what exactly an associates in network security would entail and how it would differ from other degrees in the field, let’s have a look.


Network Security: learn the laws and ethics that inform strategies to prevent and monitor unauthorized access of private and public network servers which are used in everyday jobs that conduct monetary transactions and communicate with other businesses and individuals

Computer Science: math-heavy field that teaches the basics of programming, computation theory, algorithms, data structures, compilers, computer system architecture, databases and artificial intelligence

Computer Engineering: learn how to optimize interaction efficiency between software and hardware to create technologies that seamlessly interface with our physical world and benefit our quality of life

Information Assurance: learn technical skills like cryptography, and combine them with managerial skills that involve more broad-based knowledge of criminology, law, and computer ethics

Information Technology: learn the ins and outs of hardware diagnostics combined with theoretical information science, with less of an emphasis on high-level mathematics and software functionality


Earning the associates degree usually requires the completion of 60 credits over two years. The student is expected to complete prerequisite courses in their first year that include:

Fundamentals of Computer Troubleshooting
Fundamentals of Networking
Linux System Administration
Installing and Configuring Windows Server
Current Trends in Computer Network and Security

In their second year, students are expected to focus on classes that are geared towards their specific career goals, including:

Digital Forensics
Ethical Hacking
Advanced Information Systems Security
Designing and Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure
Foundations of Information Systems Management
The core curriculum in Network Security is supplemented with classes that enrich a student’s skill in areas where they have a natural predilection. Electives often include:

Calculus I
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Social Engineering


Computer Support Specialist
A Computer Support Specialist provides help and troubleshooting to private citizens or business employees that are using computer software and equipment.
Median Salary: $52,160
Job Outlook, 2014-24: 12%

Network and Computer Systems Administrator
A Network and Computer Systems Administrator is responsible for daily operations of a private network and should be competent in network troubleshooting, data retrieval, and archive maintenance.
Median Salary: $79,700
Job Outlook, 2014-24: 8%

Network Security Engineer
A Network Security Engineer is expected to maintain firewalls, VPNs, and email security for institutions ranging from small businesses to the United States government.
Median Salary: $84,000
Job Outlook, 2014-24: 18%

Information Security Analyst
An Information Security Officer is responsible for overseeing employee training to ensure systems are securely operated, as well as identifying and documenting possible vulnerabilities in their company’s system.
Median Salary: $92,600
Job Outlook, 2014-24: 18%

Computer Network Architect
A Computer Network Architect designs networks for data communication including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets to build efficient communication and information storage for businesses.
Median Salary: $101,210
Job Outlook, 2014-24: 9%