Potential IT Security Career Paths: Choosing the Right Degree Program for You
A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.
What is information technology (IT) security? What is cybersecurity? Are these separate fields?
Not exactly—they’re related in some ways. Information technology security is focused on protecting an organization’s electronic data from unauthorized access—whether from cyberattacks or something else. Cybersecurity is specifically focused on internet-based attacks and threats.
Deciding which cybersecurity or IT security career path or degree program is the right fit for you can be a tough decision to make. It is one that will ultimately depend on your personal interests and academic goals.
What Are Some Potential Cybersecurity and IT Security Career Paths?
Cybersecurity and IT security career paths are both concerned with protecting electronic data and information from threats. Cybersecurity is focused on ensuring that computer systems, communication networks, and programs are safe from digital attacks.1 IT security, meanwhile, is the collection of security strategies that prevents unauthorized access to an organization’s computers, computer networks, and electronic data.2
IT and Cybersecurity Duties
What does an information security analyst do? Information security analysts (or security analysts) plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.3
Although the duties of information security analysts may continually change, they typically do the following:3
- Monitor, investigate, and document security breaches
- Install and utilize software to protect sensitive information
- Check for vulnerabilities in computer and network systems
- Keep up with the latest information technology (IT) security trends
- Recommend security enhancements to management
- Develop security standards and best practices
IT security analysts are involved in developing disaster recovery plans. IT professionals use disaster recovery plans to ensure that the IT department continues to function following an emergency event. These plans typically involve:3
- Regularly copying and transferring data to an offsite location
- Plans to restore regular IT functioning after a disaster
- A series of steps that are continually tested to ensure that they work
Potential IT and Cybersecurity Career Paths*
Studying for a degree in computer science or information technology can help you work to develop skills needed to pursue a potential career path in the cybersecurity field. The following are a selection of potential cyber- and information security-related career paths.*
Information Security Analyst
Typical job duties: See above.
Education requirements: Information Security Analysts typically have a bachelor’s degree in a computer science field. Some employers may prefer individuals with certifications such as Security+.3
Work experience: Information security analysts may need to have previous experience in a related occupation, such as in an IT department. Some employers may prefer candidates with experience in a specific field—for example, previous database administrator experience.3
Projected job growth: Employment of Information security analysts is projected to grow 35% from 2021 to 2031.3
Computer and Information Systems Manager
Typical Job Duties:4
- Ensure that an organization’s network and electronic information is secure.
- Analyze computer needs and recommend potential upgrades.
- Keep up with new technology and look for ways to upgrade their computer systems.
- Plan and direct the work of computer systems analysts, software developers, information security analysts, and computer support specialists.
Education requirements: Computer and information systems managers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology, engineering technologies, or related field. A graduate degree, such as an MBA in information systems, is sometimes required.4
Work experience: Several years of experience in a related information technology (IT) job is often required, although requirements can vary depending on the organization and for lower-level management positions.4
Projected job growth: Employment of computer and information systems managers is projected to grow 16% from 2021 to 2031.4
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Typical job duties:5
- Develop theories and models to address problems in computing.
- Determine an organization’s computing needs and system requirements.
- Develop new computing languages, software systems, and other tools to improve user experience.
- Design and conduct experiments that test the operation of software systems, often using data science and machine-learning techniques; analyze the results of these experiments.
- Write papers for publication and present research findings at conferences.
Education requirements: Computer and information scientists typically require a master’s degree or higher in computer science or related field, such as computer engineering. Computer and information research scientists who work in a specialized field may need to have an academic background in that field.5
Work experience: None specified.
Projected Job Growth: Employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to grow 21% from 2021 to 2031.5
* CTU cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. The list of career paths related to these programs is based on a subset from the Bureau of Labor Statistics CIP to SOC Crosswalk. Some career paths listed above may require further education or job experience.
What Degree Programs Are Available in Cybersecurity or IT Security?
Colorado Technical University’s College of Computer Science, Engineering and Technology offers online cybersecurity degree concentrations at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Choosing a cybersecurity or IT security degree concentration could help provide exposure to important topics in this ever-evolving field.
But how do you know which degree program is the right fit for you? You might start by considering the focus of a computer science vs. information technology degree program. Computer science programs may focus on how computer software operates and on computer software development and design. Information technology programs may focus on applying computer hardware and software to the design, development and support of high-level end-user systems, services and applications. CTU offers several computer science and IT degree programs, including the following (apply online):
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science—Cybersecurity Engineering
- Master of Science in Computer Science—Cybersecurity Engineering
- Doctor of Computer Science—Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology—Security
- Master of Science in Information Technology—Security Management
1 CISCO, “What Is Cybersecurity?,” https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/security/what-is-cybersecurity.html (visited 3/22/2023).
2 CISCO, “What Is IT Security?,” https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/security/what-is-it-security.html (visited 3/23/2023).
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Information Security Analysts,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm (visited 3/22/23). This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
4 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer and Information Systems Managers,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm (visited 3/22/23). This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer and Information Research Scientists,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm (visited 3/23/2023). This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
Colorado Technical University cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. REQ1901714 3/2023