How far actually can someone go in cybersecurity without a degree? The world is experiencing a major boom in the tech sector, as more and more companies rely on technology to provide their services and products. While the improved technology has made businesses more efficient, it has also inspired cybercriminals to attack the digital infrastructure. As a result, cybersecurity is one of the most in-demand jobs nowadays.

While this career path does offer great perks, high salary packages, and upwards trajectory, most people considering this line of work ask themselves an important question: is it worth getting a degree? A lot of IT workers obtained their knowledge by being self-taught or attending coding bootcamps. While you can enter the field of cybersecurity without a degree, you might find your employment options limited and a cybersecurity master’s program can increase your chances.

How To Start Working Without Education

If you aim to enter the tech sector without a degree, you need to show the relevant experience and certifications to obtain a job. CompTIA Security+ or Certified Ethical Hacker offers relevant certifications to help you secure a job. You can also enroll in coding bootcamps, which generally only last three months. However, you’d likely be looking at volunteer work and entry-level jobs until you can rack up enough experience. Even after working in the cybersecurity sector for a few years, someone with an applicable field degree would likely be in a better-negotiating position than you. You might also notice that many jobs list a degree as a requirement for consideration. You might get lucky and convince an employer to hire you, but there is a high chance your CV would be left untouched on the HR desk.

Is It Impossible Without a Degree?

It is possible to get a job in cybersecurity without a degree, but that is for two main reasons.

1. The market is in the employee’s favor

At the moment, there are more openings in the cybersecurity world than there are people to fill the roles. A recent report by (ISC)2 showed that 65% of organizations reported themselves as being short-staffed when it came to their IT departments. In 2019, there was a shortage of 500,000 workers in cybersecurity roles. These factors mean that an employer is willing to bend the requirements to fill the position. However, as more and more people get a degree in cybersecurity, this perk will disappear. If you try to work in this field without educational qualifications, you’re in a race against the clock to get enough experience to retain your job before fresh graduates outdo you.

2. The industry is unregulated

The tech sector is a rather technical industry, but it is not regulated. Compared to fields like medicine, you do not have to have a degree or certain qualifications before you’re allowed to work. The hiring process is at the company’s discretion without state or federal laws interfering. However, a study showed a growing demand for certainty and regulation in the field, which could result in poor job security without a degree.

Benefits of Qualifications

If you choose to enter this line of work after completing a bachelor’s degree or higher, you will find certain benefits. You may have spent more time and money getting your qualifications, but this changes the type of jobs you can obtain as well.

1. Greater Job Security

A master’s degree easily puts your ahead of the competition when applying for jobs. There were approximately 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs in 2021, and the ability to obtain the best of these jobs is dependent on your qualifications. A degree is a great way to convince a company to hire you, and retain that job even as more and more potential workers enter the IT sector.=

2. Higher Pay

Cybersecurity experts have high median salaries, usually around $98,000 per annum. However, those with a master’s degree often rank in the top 10% of earners within this field. In fact, a master’s degree can help you make 18-25% more per year, according to an estimate by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With the degree, your employer knows that you have both the technical and managerial skills needed for the job. The master’s degree prepares you for leadership roles, which can lead to great upwards career growth.

A security director earns around $200K while landing a job as a lead software security engineer nets you more than $230K per year. These positions definitively require higher education, so obtaining your master’s puts you on a direct path towards these roles.

3. Learning Cutting-Edge Skills

If you work in a computer-related field but haven’t specialized in cybersecurity, getting a master’s degree is a great way to learn new skills and obtain new career opportunities. These degrees educate you on the latest technological trends, refresh your skillset, and teach you soft skills like critical thinking and management. You can boost your resume by enrolling in a cybersecurity master’s program and expanding your knowledge base. Your exact responsibilities can vary from company to company. However, the right education will give you the skills you need to excel in any job you land.

4. Life-long Qualification

Obtaining certifications is cheaper, but it also has short-lived benefits. As technology evolves, you would be expected to test for a new certificate to show that you are still qualified. The cost of all these tests and bootcamps can add up over time. In comparison, a degree is a lifelong qualification that shows your dedication to the job. It is a one-time investment that will continue to pay off throughout your career.

Completing a master’s shows that you have obtained highly transferable knowledge that can be translated into multiple different roles.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from this guide, it might be possible to build a cybersecurity career on pure experience, but a master’s degree is more advantageous. The degree increases your chances of landing managerial roles, puts you in a position to get better pay, and provides you with an everlasting qualification.

If you’re looking to expand your career opportunities or change fields into cybersecurity, obtaining the right degree is the best first step. As both traditional education and remote learning are options in this day and age, getting a Master of Science in Cybersecurity online is a great alternative to obtaining the qualification. The online learning route is perfect for those who need the qualifications but cannot afford to completely quit their jobs and attend college. Hope the question is answered that how far you can go in cybersecurity without a degree. Thanks for reading.

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