Graduates with a master’s degree in cybersecurity are landing starting pay of $214,000 and up

BY Ryk Griset8 July 2022, 12:53

A group walks at Sather Tower on the UC Berkeley campus, as seen in March 2022. (Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

In terms of work demand, it is difficult to beat the field of cyber security. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, a researcher and publisher covering the international cyber economy, by 2025 there will be an estimated 3.5 million unfilled cyber security posts around the world. And that follows a 350% growth in the number of open cyber security posts between 2013 and 2021.

Since virtually all elements of work, life and everything in between now have a digital component, the need to secure our information against cyber security threats has only grown. With this growth, master’s degree programs in cyber security also flourished.

“The labor market is insane for cybersecurity,” said Mary McHale, a career counselor for the Master’s Program in Information and Cyber ​​Security (MICS) at the University of California — Berkeley. The university ranked No. 1 on Fortune’s first ranking ever of the best online master’s programs in cyber security. “If you look at the opportunity and demand, it’s great.”

Whether it’s wrestling with cybercriminals who want to make a profit from stealing information or challenging nation states that want to harm us, cyber security personnel are in an interesting and constantly evolving field. And UC Berkeley graduates get jobs with starting salaries of more than $ 200,000 immediately after graduation. Here’s what you need to know

How big is the demand for cyber security personnel?

In June, Lakshmi Hanspal, the global security officer for Amazon devices and services, was the keynote speaker for Berkeley’s MICS immersion program. In her speech, Hanspal said Amazon has more than 600 unfilled cyber security posts.

This is a high number, especially given Amazon’s deep pockets. “They say the demand is only getting bigger,” says McHale of UC Berkeley. “As soon as we help [students] gaining visibility in the job market, the amount of attention they get is tremendous.

Many master’s degree candidates in cybersecurity programs participate in summer internships at companies before graduating.

“Most come back with an offer of full-time employment when they’re done,” says Mustaque Ahamad, a professor at the School of Cyber ​​Security and Privacy at Georgia Tech. “You have a job in line, absolutely.”

Although a master’s degree in cybersecurity or a related subject such as computer science is not required to work in cybersecurity, it is very much about informing graduates about the latest trends and events in the field.

“A master’s degree will prepare you for the highest skill, top-level careers,” says Ahamad. “A master’s degree is essentially going to make a specialist in cyber security.”

How much can you earn with a master’s degree in cyber security?

If you have a master’s degree in cyber security, it is quite common to earn a six-figure salary immediately after graduation. “This is a profession that will pay you well,” says Ahamad. “The vast majority of [graduates] go out to the Microsoft and the Google and the Cisco and the Intel. “

According to a UC Berkeley alumni salary survey, graduates with a master’s degree in cyber security earn an average salary of $ 214,000, bonuses not included; the median salary is $ 200,000. Some graduates who are now executives, such as Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) make more than $ 300,000.

“The CISO roles will be more than the $ 250,000, $ 300,000 [salary mark]closer to $ 400,000, depending on the company and the size of the organization, ”says McHale.

The average pay for computer programmers, who write, test, and edit code and scripts so that applications and computers can work properly, was $ 93,000 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Information security analysts, who plan and execute security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems, had a median payment of $ 102,600. Computer network architects, who design and build data communications networks, such as intranets, wide area networks (WANs) and local area networks (LANs), had a median revenue of $ 120,520 in 2021.

Although graduates who go to work for the government generally earn less money, the knowledge gained by becoming familiar with government systems that need to be secured may pay off if they eventually work for a large defense contractor.

“The experience is gold,” Ahamad says. “They are therefore dealing with sophisticated threats from the national state. [with] the systems and the applications and the high level of security required once they have that experience, which makes them truly first class in cyber security. ”

McHale says while some Berkeley cybersecurity graduates go to the public sector, most take new jobs in the private sector.

“People with this professional master’s degree are now open to a path of incredible career opportunities,” says McHale. “There is an ability to apply those skills in any industry, or around the world, because they can take that core skill and apply it to something they are very passionate about.”

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