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What can you do with a cybersecurity degree?

As technology advances, so does the risk of cyberattacks. With more and more personal and sensitive information being stored online, it’s essential to have measures in place to protect our data. This is where cybersecurity professionals come in.

From cryptography to cybersecurity ethics and artificial intelligence, discover what cybersecurity looks like at Central Michigan University. 


What is the field of cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is like having a dedicated bodyguard for your online information. It safeguards your important personal data, such as bank accounts and private emails, from unauthorized access or attacks.

Cybersecurity preserves the integrity, privacy, and availability of digital assets. It uses strategies, tools, and technologies to guard against unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyber threats, thereby maintaining the security and privacy of online information.

Cybersecurity threats and security incidents span a wide range, from phishing attacks that trick users into revealing sensitive information, to ransomware that holds data hostage until a ransom is paid. Consider the devastating effects of a data breach: a company's information exposed, their reputation ruined, and customers' trust damaged. Or imagine the damage a nation-state cyberattack could have on key infrastructure like power grids or defense systems. The potential impact of these threats demonstrates the importance of cybersecurity professionals with advanced skills in preventing and responding to cyberattacks.

Careers in cybersecurity

Cybersecurity offers diverse career paths in both the private and government sectors. In the private sector, roles range from Information Security Analysts, safeguarding company data, to Ethical Hackers, probing for system weaknesses. On the government side, you can work with national intelligence or defense, protecting critical systems from cyberattacks. The flexibility of this degree opens boundless opportunities for professionals in this rapidly evolving field.

Focused know-how is important in cybersecurity because the field is broad and always changing. By zeroing in on a specific area like network security or ethical hacking, you can become an expert in a key segment within the broader field. You can gain expertise by taking relevant classes, doing internships, and getting certifications.

Examples of cybersecurity jobs

  1. Information Security Analyst | $112,000 median pay: Manages an organization's data security requirements and develops plans to prevent potential breaches.
  2. Ethical Hacker | $135,269 national average: Actively explores networks and systems to identify and resolve possible weaknesses.
  3. Cybersecurity Consultant | $121,217 national average: Helps organizations with strategies to safeguard important assets from cyber threats.
  4. Security Architect | $132,300 national average: Creates computer security structure and establishes rules to protect information integrity.
  5. Penetration Tester | $120,036 national average: Performs testing to discover and resolve software and hardware flaws before they can be exploited by hackers.
  6. Security Systems Administrator | $94,594 national average: Oversees and runs the security technology systems of an organization.
  7. Network Security Engineer | $117,027 national average: Protects networks and systems from possible cyber threats.
  8. Incident Responder | $116,028 national average: Handles security breaches and performs analysis after the incident.
  9. Forensic Expert | $84,976 national average: Analyzes cyberattacks to discover how they occurred and who was responsible.
  10. Cryptographer | $132,884 national average: Develops security systems to protect sensitive information.
  11. Security Software Developer | $111,845 national average: Includes security measures in software from the beginning of the design stage.
  12. Security Auditor | $118,000 national average: Evaluates systems and processes to find potential security weaknesses and non-compliance issues.
  13. Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) | $240,539  national average: Oversees an organization’s overall security strategy and team.
  14. Security Code Auditor | $132,962 national average: Reviews software code to identify potential security flaws.
  15. Malware Analyst | $99,664 national average: Studies computer viruses, ransomware, and other harmful software to understand its structure, functionality, and potential risk.
  16. Intrusion Detection Analyst | $73,261 national average: Monitors systems for unusual activity to find security breaches.
  17. Data Recovery Expert | $52,997 national average: Recovers systems and data following a cyberattack or other harmful event.
  18. Vulnerability Assessor | $137,793 national average: Identifies, measures, and ranks weaknesses in systems.
  19. Cybersecurity Manager/Coordinator | $148,400 national average: Oversees and controls cybersecurity measures in an organization.
  20. Cybersecurity Sales Engineer­ | $122,890 national average: Sells cybersecurity solutions, often involving demonstrations and technical explanations.
  21. Cloud Security Architect | $157,716 national average: Protects data stored in cloud-based systems.

Features of cybersecurity academic programs

In a typical cybersecurity program, core courses cover a wide range of areas. These include computer networks, operating systems, information security, ethical hacking, cryptography, cybersecurity policy, and digital forensics. These courses are designed to equip you with a comprehensive understanding of digital security threats and the measures to counteract them.

Beyond the technical skills, you also develop critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, risk management principles and strong ethical standards. As the field of cybersecurity is constantly evolving, staying updated with the latest trends and technologies is a key skill.

Nurturing cybersecurity skills and passions

Gaining hands-on experience and practical knowledge are important to a successful career in the field of cybersecurity. Internships, workshops, and real-world projects offer unmatched opportunities to use classroom learning in actual situations, growing your understanding of complex cybersecurity ideas.

Also important are hobbies and interests that promote analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. For instance, coding encourages attention to detail and a deep understanding of how systems interact. Puzzle-solving can grow logical thinking and patience, both of which are needed when faced with complex security issues. A passion for game design can offer a unique point of view on system gaps and possible solutions. These activities, combined with formal education and practical experience, can greatly enrich your understanding and performance in the cybersecurity field.

The future of cybersecurity careers

The future of cybersecurity will be influenced by several emerging trends and challenges, including growth in the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in cyberattacks, the growing sophistication of ransomware, and evolving regulatory requirements.

These changes not only increase the complexity and scale of cyber threats but also demand a new level of skill and adaptability from cybersecurity professionals. In response to these trends, cybersecurity professionals must continuously update their knowledge and skills, embracing a lifelong learning approach. Adapting to changes isn't just about staying relevant, it is necessary to defend us all from increasingly complex cyber threats.

Cybersecurity at Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University offers several programs designed to equip you with the necessary skills to thrive in the field of cybersecurity.

The bachelor's degree in cybersecurity provides experience and knowledge in cryptography, network security, hardware security, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity ethics. 

If you’re seeking to enhance your expertise or shift your career focus towards cybersecurity, CMU offers both an undergraduate and graduate certificate in cybersecurity. CMU's commitment to the highest quality education and hands-on learning prepares you for success in cybersecurity careers.


A cybersecurity degree opens the door to a multitude of exciting and rewarding careers that play a crucial role in safeguarding digital assets against increasingly dangerous cyber threats.

Embrace the challenge and seize the opportunity. Consider diving into various learning opportunities, such as the cybersecurity programs offered at Central Michigan University. CMU’s undergraduate cybersecurity program is filled with internships, workshops, or even self-guided learning. Empower yourself to shape the future of digital security!


Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Categories: College of Business Administration
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