Are you ready to discover your college program?
Retail businesses, financial services, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and government agencies all depend on network security specialists to protect their computer devices, hardware, and software. With the expanding number of security threats, demand for network security professionals has grown dramatically. An online network security degree prepares students to develop structures and procedures to stop security attacks and prevent breaches. Graduates can work in a variety of professional settings.
Both on-campus and online network security degrees offer similar curricula. While both options prepare graduates for positions in the field, an online network security degree provides a convenient option for working professionals. This guide includes an overview of the network security field, along with information about career prospects and salary potential for graduates.
What is Network Security?
Network security, a specialized discipline within the cybersecurity field, involves protecting computer network systems and data from unauthorized access. A network security specialist defends an organization's IT infrastructure from cyberattacks, such as viruses, Trojan horses, and worms. They also protect against browser breaches, hackers, brute-force attacks, zero-day vulnerabilities, spyware, and malware. Network security professionals safeguard security architecture by detecting and eradicating threats before they can compromise data and infiltrate operational systems.
An online network security degree can lead to career opportunities in the public and private sectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% increase in computer and information technology positions between 2016 and 2026.
Government agencies and the military hire network security professionals to investigate and deter national security threats. Schools, medical centers, financial and insurance companies, and businesses of all kinds rely on these specialists to identify and eradicate security vulnerabilities that threaten the safe transmission of data.
Bachelor's degrees in network security include coursework in computer science and informational technology and provide specialized training in network systems, data recovery, and digital forensics applications. Students develop marketable skills that can translate to high earning potential and opportunities for career advancement.
Graduates often work as network administrators, network architects, and information security analysts. An online bachelor's in network security also furnishes the academic foundation for graduate studies. While a bachelor's degree qualifies graduates for many careers in the field, an advanced degree can qualify professionals for administrative positions and specialized careers requiring technical expertise.
What Can I Do with an Online Network Security Bachelor's Degree?
Online network security programs help learners develop highly specialized technical skills and competencies. Through coursework in network systems, IT practices, computer programming, and digital forensics, students learn how to manage and combat risks and vulnerabilities. Graduates apply this knowledge to protect data and monitor computer systems in a variety of organizational settings. This section discusses the professional applications of skills and proficiencies students develop while earning a network security degree.
Skills and Knowledge Gained
An online network security degree provides a comprehensive foundation in computer science, IT, and digital forensics. Students learn about best practices and recent applications for protecting computer network systems. The top programs also develop competencies in analytical and critical thinking and in technical writing and communication, and they help students gain an understanding of law, policy, and ethics in regard to digital environments.
While curricula vary by school, most network security degrees offer specializations in areas that align with certain interests and career goals. Learners can take electives that develop career-relevant skills. For example, students interested in information assurance should look for programs that focus on the tools and techniques for monitoring and maintaining systems architecture; coursework may cover virus prevention, penetration testing, firewalls, and antivirus software.
Some programs offer highly specialized courses in the development and design of network security software. Graduates with skills in programming, scripting languages, and writing and manipulating codes can find employment opportunities in a variety of industries and in government agencies. Careers in network administration require a familiarity with information security systems, along with coursework in organizational leadership and principles of management.
Many employers look for job applicants who hold specialized certifications in addition to a bachelor's degree. Some undergraduate programs in network security incorporate courses that lead to industry certifications, such as the certified ethical hacker credential or the certified information security manager credential. To gain a competitive advantage in the job market, online learners can undertake internships and capstone research projects. These experiential learning opportunities teach students to apply technological tools and applications.
Careers and Salary Potential
The secure transmission and storage of data has become a major concern across public and private sectors of the economy. Government and law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, insurance and healthcare providers, educational institutions, and businesses of all types rely on computer network systems to maintain daily operations. As a result, the need for network security specialists who understand systems architecture, security analysis, penetration testing, and risk assessment continues to grow. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in network security can find ample employment opportunities in a variety of organizations.
- Computer Systems Design and Related Services: These businesses develop computer network systems for industries, government, and nonprofit organizations. They employ IT professionals with network security training to design and maintain hardware and software applications appropriate for the needs of their clients.
- Financial Services: Banks and commercial lenders handle massive amounts of sensitive personal and financial information from online account transactions and credit purchases. They rely on network security administrators and specialists to protect customers from hacking, track fraudulent activity, and detect system vulnerabilities.
- Insurance Carriers: Insurance carriers face a growing number of security threats that target customers' personal and medical information for the purposes of insurance fraud. These firms employ network security professionals with expertise in risk assessment, ethical hacking, malware, and ransomware.
- Healthcare: Healthcare facilities share electronic health records containing personal information with medical providers and insurance carriers. Network security specialists in healthcare protect sensitive medical and financial information from hackers who use ransomware to encrypt and steal these files.
- Military or Armed Forces: The various branches of the U.S. military and the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security require network security professionals and consultants. These professionals defend against intelligence data breaches and threats to infrastructures such as electric grids, border security, and financial systems.
Computer Network Architect
Annual Median Salary: $109,020
Network architects collaborate with other managers to design, implement, monitor, and upgrade secure data communication networks that meet an organization's system performance needs. These professionals work with local area networks, wide area networks, and intranets.
Information Security Analysts
Annual Median Salary: $98,350
Information security analysts monitor and protect organizations' computer networks and implement solutions to security threats and data breaches. They perform penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities and install and upgrade software such as firewalls and encryption programs.
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Annual Median Salary: $82,050
These administrators use their expertise in hardware and software applications to direct the operations of computer systems and networks, assess efficiency, monitor security permissions, and evaluate and maintain network security.
Annual Median Salary: $81,893
Penetration testers identify security vulnerabilities in networks and operating systems. They develop and apply tools to conduct IT and cybersecurity assessments and to protect computer systems from major attacks. They also protect against passive threats to network security, including weak password policies and threats to user confidentiality.
Information Technology Auditor
Annual Median Salary: $65,935
IT auditors evaluate organizations' information technology systems and operations to identify and minimize risks. These professionals plan and conduct security testing and audits to monitor performance of specific technological functions.
Learn How to Become's 15 Best Job Search Sites
Seeking a job? These career sites are a great way to search through positions that can help with everything from entry-level work to career advancement. Check out our listing of...
Careers to Combat the Obesity Epidemic How You Can Make a Living Helping Others Achieve a Healthy Weight
From nutritionists to bariatricians, many professionals help others reach a healthy weight. Learn more about these careers and the growing obesity crisis.
Signs You’re Underemployed & How to Change It
A recent study showed that college graduates who start their careers underemployed are more likely to remain underemployed 5-10 years later. Learn how to spot the signs of underemployment and...
LearnHowToBecome.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
View the most relevant programs for your interests and compare them by tuition, acceptance rate, and other factors important to you.