Cyber security is without a doubt one of the most important areas of business in the world today. In Arizona, as more startups and technology companies flock to the state, cyber security is a rapidly growing career that’s in high demand. One small data breach by hackers or the shutdown of operations by ransomware can destroy a business of any size. It is imperative that all businesses and homeowners protect their networks, along with sensitive and private client and employee information. As such, someone with a career in cyber security faces daily challenges and high rewards at the same time.
Why an Advanced Degree in Arizona is Needed!
While entry into a cyber security career may not require an advanced degree, your career’s long-term success may be predicated on your ability to lead a team of other cyber security professionals and confront the most recent cyber security threats. Top programs will adapt their programs to reflect the ever-changing urgency of developing technologies. It is also essential that the college or university you attend is regionally accredited, as only those higher learning institutions with full accreditation are regarded as the best schools in the country by reputable employers.
The level of degree you choose can also influence your ability to secure a growth position at an impressive organization. The focus of each degree, and available concentrations, will vary greatly from one program to the next and often incorporate aspects of numerous fields of study such as management information systems, information systems, physical systems, cyber security, computer science, mathematics, electrical and computer engineering, business, healthcare, systems, or industrial engineering. Arizona has some top-rated colleges for cyber security including the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Glendale Community College.Read More
Arizona Cyber Security Education Degrees & Requirements
An associate degree in cyber security is the bare minimum you will require for a limited selection of entry-level positions. Many cyber security professionals use this degree as a way to break into the industry while you work toward a bachelor’s degree for career advancement. With this type of degree, you will be required to complete a high school diploma or its equivalent for admission. Admission to an associate degree program will also commonly require a 2.0 GPA as a prerequisite. You can pursue most associate degrees at community colleges rather than four-year higher learning institutions. Core courses will vary from one school to the next, yet they will likely be similar including such titles as Network Security, System Administration, Operating System Basics, and Network Administration.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for a cyber security position at top employers. Each college and university will have unique admissions requirements and additional activities that influence admission decisions, however most will have a similar baseline, such as a minimum high school GPA of 2.5, proven extracurricular activities, volunteer work, relevant work experience, and more. You can expect some common core courses including Information Security in Public and Private Sectors, Systems Cyber Security Engineering, Business Data Communications, and Networking and Data Mining for Business Intelligence. It is important to note that, while a bachelor’s degree is critical to secure good jobs, you will require an advanced degree and continued training, such as certifications, to advance your career. These are critical in the cyber security industry as threats and technology change daily. The great news is that, today you can complete many of these degrees online rather than having to go to a physical campus several times a week.
A master’s degree is often required by the best jobs to advance your career. You’ll likely be required to have at least a 3.0 GPA in your core classes during your bachelor’s degree or complete equivalent work experience. Most people these days choose to complete cyber security master’s degrees online. This allows you to continue to work full-time or to stay at home to care for loved ones without greatly disrupting your routine. You can expect a master’s degree to take anywhere from one to two years to complete. In some instances, it may take three years. Keep in mind that, while you can take as few or as many courses as you like at one time, many programs will require you to complete a degree within five years or less or you will have to start over. Some example courses include Software Security, Advanced Computer Network Security, and Information Assurance Security.
Certifications in Arizona
Certificates are an effective way to stay current on the latest industry threats and required skills. Accessing certification courses will generally require extensive college course completion, such as 30+ hours, plus a portfolio of your verified work experience. Some certificate programs will require degree completion before you can take the program. It is also important to note that some certificates are designed to provide you with professional designations, whereas others are simply meant to boost your knowledge base of the existing industry environment. Certificate offerings will vary greatly from one institution to the next but may include Information Security in the Public and Private Sectors, Systems Security Management, and Information Security Risk Management.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation of a college or university is significantly important to employers. When your chosen higher learning institution is regionally accredited, it means that the school meets the highest level of standards. To employers, this tells them you have been educated and trained by a reputable organization. Those without this distinction are considered lower-quality schools. It is also important to note that individual programs within a school can be accredited by various national and international professional organizations. This may be considered even better by certain organizations. In cyber security, you want your program to be endorsed by the Centers of Academic Excellence. This type of accreditation is specifically given to programs in cyber security that meet the requirements of the NSA and Homeland Security. These programs will give you the best start to your future, especially since the NSA and Homeland Security departments are the largest employers in the field of cyber security.
Arizona NSA & CAE Accredited Programs
- Arizona State University
CAE-CD / 2014-2021
CAE-R / 2014-2021
- The University of Arizona, Tucson
CAE-R / 2017-2022
CAE-CD / 2014-2021
CAE-CO / 2018-2023
- University of Advancing Technology
CAE-CD / 2014-2020
Arizona CS and IT Bachelor’s & Master’s
University of Arizona
The cyber security programs at the University of Arizona offer both online and classroom degree options. These programs are designed to provide technical and analytical expertise; students will learn through hands-on training and theoretical approaches, as well as focusing on computer systems, networked devices, networks, and cyberattacks.
Computer and Information Sciences - Bachelor’s Degree
Computer/Information Technology Systems Security/Information Assurance - Postgraduate Certificate
Computer Science - Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctoral Degree
Information Science/Studies - Master’s & Doctoral Degree
Average Net Price: $15,594
College Retention Rate: 81%
University of Phoenix - Arizona
The University of Phoenix offers an online bachelor’s degree in technology that pairs with a cyber security certificate. These certificate pairings will prepare you to sit for the certification exams of Certified Information Systems Security Professional and EC-Council Certified Secure Computer User. This program focuses on information systems security, business stability and disaster recovery planning, network and communications security, and encryption methods and cyber security threats.
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s Degree, Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificate
Computer Programming/Programmer – Associate, Bachelor’s Degrees& Undergraduate Certificate
Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst – Bachelor’s Degree, Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificates
Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Associate, Bachelor’s Degrees & Undergraduate Certificate
Informatics – Master’s Degree
Information Technology – Associate, Bachelor’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
Network and System Administration/Administrator – Associate, Bachelor’s Degrees & Undergraduate Certificate
Average Net Price: $14,908
College Retention Rate: 33%
University of Arizona - South
The UA South campus offers certificates in cyber security so that industry professionals can focus on specializations and critical topics essential to cyber security success for today and tomorrow. These act as a supplement to bachelor’s degrees for continued learning and they are offered both in-person and online.
Computer Science – Bachelor’s Degree
Average Net Price: $15,594
College Retention Rate: 81%
Arizona State University - Tempe
Cyber security programs at ASU in Tempe provide ample educational opportunities that align with career and salary advancement. Graduates from such programs go on to work for top technology companies throughout the state and the country, as well as for government entities.
Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s Degree
Computer Science – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctoral Degrees
Informatics – Bachelor’s Degree & Undergraduate Certificate
Average Net Price: $13,731
College Retention Rate: 88%
University of Advancing Technology
Cyber security degrees and programs at the University of Advancing Technology are approved by various corporate entities and government institutions. Graduates from these programs go on to illustrious careers as industry leaders and contribute to innovations and security standards. They have had a dedicated network security degree program for over 15 years.
Computer and Information Sciences – Associate, Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
Computer Programming (Specific Applications, General & Other) – Associate, Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
Information Science/Studies – Associate, Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
Average Net Price: $21,808
College Retention Rate: 58%
Arizona Colleges Offering Certifications and Associate's
A number of reputable community colleges offer a variety of one-year and two-year certificate programs in cyber security in addition to associate degrees in information sciences and computer sciences. Many people choose to complete an associate degree or certificate program as a way to begin gaining relevant work experience immediately and then to continue their education as they work. It is also important to note that many people who choose to begin with a community college education save roughly $20,000 in tuition and fees over attending a four-year college or university for all four years. Those who work while they complete degrees also save money by not having to take out more student loans and because some employers pay for part of their higher education.
Glendale Community College
Average Net Price: $7,464
College Retention Rate: 64%
South Mountain Community College
Average Net Price: $7,195
College Retention Rate: 60%
Estrella Mountain Community College
Average Net Price: $6,886
College Retention Rate: 72%
Mohave Community College
Average Net Price: $7,969
College Retention Rate: 52%
AZSecure Cyber Security Scholarship Program
Amount: Full Tuition
The AZSecure Cyber Security Scholarship Program offers two scholarship paths. You can choose the government scholarship for service path which will require you to work for a government entity upon graduation or you can choose the industry path which allows you to work for any employer type of your choosing. You must be in pursuit of an MS or PhD in MIS to be eligible.
NSF CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service
Amount: Full Tuition + Stipend of $22,500-$34,000
Deadline: July 30
The NSF SFS program provides scholarships designated to Arizona State University students in pursuit of computer science and computer systems engineering degrees at the bachelors, masters, and PhD levels. It is a scholarship for service program; therefore, you will be required to work for the government at the local, state, or federal level upon completing your degree when you accept the scholarship funds.
Electronic Security Association Youth Scholarship
Amount: $2,500 to $7,500
Deadline: Open in November
The Electronic Security Association Youth Scholarship is dedicated to graduating high school seniors from a select group of states, including Arizona. Applicants must be in pursuit of a career in safety and security industries, which includes cyber security. You must be between the ages of 15 and 20 to apply.
Raytheon CCDC Woman’s Cyber Security Scholarship
Raytheon has decided to present a scholarship specifically to women looking to enter the field of cyber security. Applicants must be looking to earn a degree in cyber security or information security, have a cumulative GPA of 3.3, and may be attending either full- or part-time. In addition to the scholarship money, recipients will also receive of ISC2 exam voucher for the certification of their choice and may have a chance to receive internship opportunities.
Conferences and Workshops
Scottsdale Cyber Security Summit
The Scottsdale Cyber Security Summit is customized for both business and government leaders alike to address many growing concerns of cyber security, the implications of security breaches, and the best practices to avoid potential threats and protect critical data. Most attendees will be senior executives and C-level leaders. The event is hosted by The Arizona Technology Council, Arizona Cyber Threat Response Alliance, Arizona InfraGard, and Arizona Commerce Authority.
Phoenix Cyber Security Conference
The Phoenix Cyber Security Conference is for all cyber security professionals who are interested in today’s leading obstacles, challenges and solutions. Because cyber security is an ever-evolving entity, the subject matter discussed will vary greatly each year including event security, current threats, security models, current attacker techniques, and much more. The event is hosted by Data Connectors.
IT Security Leadership Exchange
IT Security Leadership Exchange is for Chief Information Security Officers, industry experts, and top decision-makers. One can only attend by invitation. The exchange places an emphasis on the most prolific and current challenges faced by the industry at any given time. You will network and learn about security tools, procedures, techniques, and new technical know-how to better manage your organizations. The event is hosted by CyberRisk Alliance and nGage Events LLC.
Arizona Cyber Security Jobs and Salary
- Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts plan and implement security practices to secure information, networks, and computer systems. These professionals are required to remain up-to-date on current security methodologies at all times. There are currently 2,570 information security analysts employed in Arizona and the $93,960 is the mean salary in the state.
- Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts are at the forefront of design and procedural management of information systems and their effectiveness and efficiency. These professionals unite IT and business sectors to ensure seamlessness operational practices. There are currently 11,570 computer system analysts employed in Arizona and the $88,970 is the mean salary in the state.
- Computer Programmers
Computer programmers are also referred to as systems programmers and software engineers. These professionals design and create programs for software; they also debug programs, maintain operating systems, write instructions, train end-users, analyze algorithms, modify source code, and integrate software and systems. There are currently 3,320 computer programmers employed in Arizona and the $95,900 is the mean salary in the state.
- Database Administrators
Database administrators oversee database software modifications and ensure such modifications are in accordance with the wishes of the employer. These professionals also maintain the performance, integrity, and security of company databases. There are currently 1,930 database administrators employed in Arizona and the $88,670 is the mean salary in the state.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Network and computer system administrators manage the daily operational tasks of networks. These professionals arrange, integrate, and support computer systems, such as WANs, LANs, intranets, network segments, and more. There are currently 1,930 network and computer system administrators employed in Arizona and the $88,670 is the mean salary in the state.
- AZ Cyber Talent
AZ Cyber Talent is part of the AZ Cyber Security Workforce and connected to the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation and Phoenix Forward. The organization is dedicated to employers, employees, and educators in the cyber security realm to provide resources for all aspects of the cyber security ecosystem throughout Arizona, as well as the shortages in talent available in the state.
- Cybersecurity Council of Arizona
The Cybersecurity Council of Arizona is a non-profit organization founded by a group of dynamic women; however, the organization is for everyone. The focus of the organization is to build a strong, inclusive group of InfoSec community professionals that address current cyber security issues and solutions. They work with employers to encourage greater employee training and offer sponsorship and certification for state professionals.
- Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation
The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation was founded to help create more qualified cyber security professionals to meet the growing need for such talent in the booming technology industry of Arizona. This organization is dedicated to improving the cyber security workforce in Arizona to better serve and protect local communities and businesses.
- Cyber Security Canyon
Cyber Security Canyon is committed to attracting and retaining cyber security talent in Arizona. They offer educational partnerships, promote benefits of the sector, and share jobs in the profession on the site. They work with private sector businesses and economic development organizations.