Cybersecurity Degrees and Careers Georgia Guide

Learn About Studying Cyber Security in Georgia, Requirements and Job Growth Careers Guide

With over 120 cyber security companies generating over $4.7 billion in revenue, Georgia’s cyber security economy is on the rise. On top of that, come 2020, the US Army Cyber Command will move their headquarters to Fort Gordon in Augusta, bringing 4,700 high-tech military positions to the state. Georgia is becoming something of a cyber security hub. NSA Georgia already operates a 600,000 cryptologic center out of Fort Gordon and the state-owned Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center for Innovation and Technology offers continuous cyber training for public and private security professionals.

Aspiring cyber security professionals, whether they’re looking for a career change or weighing university options, will find no shortage of quality educational programs throughout the entire state of Georgia. Whether you’re considering a career in the US Army or prefer civilian life, Georgia is the place to be if you’re interested in anything related to cyber security, IT, or systems security.

Why an Advanced Degree in Georgia is Needed

With the NSA and the US Army operating out of the state, combined with Georgia’s low corporate tax rates, the state ranks number three in national cyber security hubs. So, while there are countless opportunities for security professionals - be it in the Army, the NSA, or in one of many top private sector companies - locking down a great job can get competitive.

Cyber security and defense programs work hard to recruit, train, and retain top talent and the state has invested heavily in raising the bar for cyber security education in the university system, as well as in the $100m Hull McKnight center. Georgia is among the top ten states that have Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) in eight GA state universities, designated by the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security.

While it’s possible to land yourself an entry-level cyber security position with an associate degree or less, with the right skills, most jobs require a four-year degree in either cyber security or a related discipline like computer science, web development, or information technology. Some training can be done on the job but experience with ethics, statistics, and computer forensics will better prepare employees for a successful career.

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Georgia Cyber Security Education Degrees & Requirements

Associate’s Degree

At the associate level, students will explore the fundamentals of cyber security during the course of a two-year program. These programs typically cover the vulnerabilities of common hardware and software systems, network technologies, and offer a basic overview of cyber security practices like security administration and intrusion detection.

Entry to an associate degree program usually only requires a high school diploma or GED, though some, more exclusive, schools may require a certain GPA.

When to consider earning an associate degree:

  • You’re looking to land an entry-level position in a relatively short amount of time. While most positions require a bachelor’s degree, some roles like a computer support technician only require the two-year degree. You’ll need to return to school if you want to earn a higher salary and advance in your career.
  • You’re looking to transfer to a four-year program. Two-year programs are often more affordable and flexible than their four-year counterparts, making an associate degree an attractive option for those hoping to save on tuition while getting the fundamental coursework out of the way. This option may be ideal for students who work full-time or didn’t perform well in high school.
  • You’d like to supplement existing IT experience. Associate programs aren’t just for beginners, they’re also a solid option for working professionals that want to broaden their expertise or make a career change. If you earned a bachelor’s degree in IT several years ago and want to get into cyber security or need to learn the basics to stay competitive at work, an associate degree is one way to do that.

Bachelor’s Degree

For prospective students, it’s probably not a great idea to take the DIY route when it comes to your education. You’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree to specialize in the cyber security sector. Additionally, cyber security is one of those disciplines where change is the only constant, meaning you’ll need to continually take courses, read up on the latest news in the cyber security space, and obtain certifications to remain competitive.

The curriculum in a bachelor’s cyber security program is similar to that of a computer science degree. It begins with a foundation in programming, database applications, and statistics. Then students have the opportunity to delve into more advanced topics such as artificial intelligence, cryptography, and ethical hacking. Post-graduation, students are qualified for roles like cyber security analysts, information security analysts, and computer forensic analysts. These degrees are perfect for traditional students and students who have already earned an associate degree.

Example courses:

  • Information Security Assessment
  • Networking
  • Computer Forensics
  • Information Security Planning and Assessment
  • Data Recovery

Master’s Degree

Though there’s a global shortage in cyber security professionals and many jobs only require a bachelor’s degree, earning an advanced degree in cyber security can help you gain an edge on the competition and earn a higher salary. According to a study from Burning Glass Technologies, 84% of cyber security jobs require a bachelor’s degree, while just 16% require a master’s or higher. Those roles typically include cyber security managers, engineers or architects, and higher-level executive roles that involve making strategic decisions and managing other professionals.

Having an advanced degree may enable candidates to achieve higher positions in their career path more quickly or advance within their own organization.

Though master’s programs vary based on your concentration and the school, typical coursework includes:

  • Data Communications
  • Wireless and Computer Networks
  • Information Assurance
  • Server-Coded Computing
  • Algorithm Design Analysis

And various electives:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Threat Management and Intel
  • Cloud Computing

The requirements to enter a master’s degree program include a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline, certain prerequisite courses like calculus, Java, or C++, GRE or GMAT scores, and may require previous work experience.

Certifications in Georgia

Certification programs are designed to help working professionals advance in their careers or diversify their skillset. Certifications often take a year or two to complete and are generally a better choice than associate degrees for people who want to learn a new skill or build on their existing knowledge. For students who haven’t yet earned a bachelor’s degree, going for a certification instead might backfire, as many employers prefer candidates that have a degree.

You should consider a certificate program if you want to add credentials to your resume, want to learn new skills, or want to get hands-on professional training for a specific role. Certification prerequisites range considerably. Entry-level certifications can help you break into a career in cyber security, though you should have some background in IT before working toward a credential. Mid to senior-level certifications come with a higher barrier to entry, often requiring several years of work experience and a background in IT and cyber security. In this case, these certifications may help you command a higher paycheck or qualify for a more advanced role.

Why is Accreditation Important?

Accreditation is important because it helps determine whether an educational institution meets a certain set of quality standards. Many employers require that students have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and students who wish to pursue a master’s degree will also need to have that credential before they can move forward.

If you earn a degree from an unaccredited institution, you may find that you’ve wasted a significant amount of money on an education that doesn’t help you find work or further your education. If you’re considering a career in cyber security in the state of Georgia, it’s also worth pointing out that beyond looking for an accredited school, you may want to seek out one of the state’s several institutions with a CAE designation. The NSA and DHS offer CAE classifications to schools with high quality cyber security or information security programs.

CAE Accredited Programs in Georgia

  • Augusta Technical College
    CAE-2Y / 2018-2023
  • Augusta University
    CAE-CD / 2016-2021
  • Columbus State University
    CAE-CD / 2016-2021
  • Georgia Southern University – Armstrong Campus
    CAE-CD / 2016-2021
  • Kennesaw State University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021
  • Middle Georgia State University
    CAE-CD / 2017-2022
  • Middle Georgia State University - MSIT
    CAE-CD / 2019-2024
  • University of Georgia
    CAE-R / 2017-2022
  • University of North Georgia
    CAE-CD / 2016-2021

Computer Science & IT Programs in Georgia

  • Columbus State University

    Columbus State is one of the top-ranked universities in the South and offers a computer science program that allows students to specialize by selecting a track. Options include Applied Computing, Cyber Security, Software Systems, and Education. The school also offers a separate program in Information Technology. Students that want to make a career change can participate in the school’s Nexus degree program which provides hands-on training in FinTech Cyber Security.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences – Associate, Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificates
    Date Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Undergraduate Certificate
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $6,134
    Out-of-State: $16,920
    Average Net Price: $11,316
    College Retention Rate: 72% (Full-time Students); 19% (Part-time Students)

  • Kennesaw State University

    Kennesaw State University is a large public university that offers a wide range of bachelor’s degree programs, as well as graduate degrees, continuing education, and co-curricular programs. While the school doesn’t have a cyber security bachelor’s degree, Kennesaw State is part of the Georgia University system’s nationally ranked cyber institutes with a CAE-DC designations and several degree options for aspiring computer scientists, programmers, and IT pros.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences, General – Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s Degree, Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificate
    Computer Programming, Specific Applications – Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer Science – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
    Computer/Information Technology Services Administration and Management – Undergraduate Certificate
    Information Science/Studies – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $6,347
    Out-of-State: $17,329
    Average Net Price: $17,618
    College Retention Rate: 79% (Full-time Students); 57% (Part-time Students)

  • Georgia Institute of Technology – Main Campus

    Georgia Tech is a well-known research university that offers a wide range of technology-focused degrees at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate levels. While the school doesn’t appear to have a cyber security specific program for undergraduates, it is known for partnering with the community on privacy and security research and training and provides several computer and information science degrees.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences, General – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Master’s Degree
    Computer Science – Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    Information Science/Studies – Doctorate Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $12,424
    Out-of-State: $33,020
    Average Net Price: $16,950
    College Retention Rate: 97% (Full-time Students); 50% (Part-time Students)

  • Augusta University

    Augusta University offers a small selection of undergraduate programs but is home to the Augusta Cyber Institute and is located near the NSA, the Army Cyber Command, the Georgia Cyber Center, the Army Cyber Institute, and the Cyber Center of Excellence. The school offers the Cyber Defender Certificate, which can be added to any undergraduate major and is part of the IT major requirement.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Master’s Degree, Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $8,604
    Out-of-State: $23,156
    Average Net Price: $13,112
    College Retention Rate: 73% (Full-time Students); 33% (Part-time Students)

  • University of Georgia

    The University of Georgia is a large public university ranked as one of 71 US institutions designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense research. UGA offers a range of certification training courses through their continuing education center, however, the school does not offer a bachelor’s degree in cyber security. Undergraduates interested in pursuing this path should start by earning a BS in computer science and consider working through the entry-level certifications.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences – Undergraduate Certificate
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Postgraduate Certificate
    Computer Science – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $11,830
    Out-of-State: $30,404
    Average Net Price: $15,539
    College Retention Rate: 95% (Full-time Students); 6% (Part-time Students)

  • University of North Georgia

    University of North Georgia offers a broad range of educational programs from the associate level to the doctorate level and offer professional certifications for students looking for opportunities to pick up new skills and advance in their careers. UNG is also one of the few schools that offers a BS in cyber security, which as mentioned is typically offered at the graduate or certificate level if its offered at all.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Science/Studies – Bachelor’s degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $4,692
    Out-of-State: $13,514
    Average Net Price: $10,264
    College Retention Rate: 79% (Full-time Students); 63% (Part-time Students)

Georgia Colleges Offering Certificates and Associate Degrees

  • Gwinnett Technical College

    Gwinnett Technical College offers a range of career preparation programs that aim to prepare students for the workforce. The school offers a few options for aspiring cyber security pros—you can earn an associate degree or a professional certificate.

    • Computer and Information Sciences
    • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
    • Computer Programming, Specific Applications
    • Computer Programming/Programmer, General
    • Network and System Administration/Administrator

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $2,972
    Out-of-State: $5108
    Average Net Price: $7,307
    College Retention Rate: 62% (Full-time Students); 54% (Part-time Students)

  • Georgia Piedmont Technical College

    Georgia Piedmont offers several AAS programs including a program in cyber forensics, which aims to train students in a blend of computer skills and criminal justice theory. In addition, Georgia Piedmont offers career training programs to established business professionals—programs include web development, CISSP, CISA, CISM, and CEH exam preparation courses, and cloud computing.

    • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
    • Computer Programming, Specific Applications
    • Computer Programming/Programmer, General
    • Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration
    • Network and System Administration/Administrator

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $2,924
    Out-of-State: $5,060
    Average Net Price: $6,259
    College Retention Rate: 59% (Full-time Students); 33% (Part-time Students)

  • Albany Technical College

    • Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services, Other
    • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
    • Computer Programming, Specific Applications
    • Computer Programming/Programmer, General
    • Network and System Administration/Administrator

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $2,712
    Out-of-State: $4,848
    Average Net Price: $459
    College Retention Rate: 57% (Full-time Students); 53% (Part-time Students)

  • Coastal Pines Technical College

    Coastal Pines Technical College is a two-year college that offers associate degree, diploma, and technical certificate programs. The school offers several prep courses for cyber security professionals looking toward earning CompTIA+ or Cisco certifications, as well as a general cyber security certificate.

    • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
    • Network and System Administration/Administrator

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $2,748
    Out-of-State: $4,884
    Average Net Price: $2,933
    College Retention Rate: 60% (Full-time Students); 51% (Part-time Students)

  • Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

    Wiregrass is a technical college that offers associate degrees like a traditional community college and offers vocational and technical training to high school age students pursuing a non-traditional path. They also offer a number of online courses, making Wiregrass a flexible option for working students.

    • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
    • Computer Programming/Programmer, General
    • Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration
    • Network and System Administration/Administrator

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $2,794
    Out-of-State: $4,930
    Average Net Price: $1,551
    College Retention Rate: 62% (Full-time Students); 43% (Part-time Students)

  • Augusta Technical College

    Augusta Technical College offers a five-semester cyber security program for students pursuing an associate degree. Students can enroll in online or in-person courses that aim to prepare them to quickly enter the workforce as a cyber security professional. In addition to the AAS degree, Augusta offers technical certifications that can help those already working in a related field gain new skills they can quickly put into practice.

    • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
    • Computer Programming, Specific Applications
    • Computer Programming/Programmer, General
    • Network and System Administration/Administrator

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $2,794
    Out-of-State: $4,930
    Average Net Price: $7,151
    College Retention Rate: 51% (Full-time Students); 46% (Part-time Students)

Scholarships

  • University of North Georgia National Science Foundation S-STEM Scholarship

    Amount: $4,362
    Deadline: June 30
    Link: https://ung.edu/college-science-and-mathematics/stem-scholarship.php
    This scholarship is awarded to 24 incoming freshmen pursuing STEM majors and may be renewed annually for up to three consecutive years. Students must demonstrate need and awards can be added to other grants and aid.

  • DoD Cybersecurity Scholarship Program

    Amount: Full tuition, fees, living expenses, and healthcare
    Deadline: February 6
    Link: https://dodcio.defense.gov/Cyber-Workforce/CySP/Scholarship/
    This program provides funding to cyber security students attending designated CAEs. Scholarships are offered at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s level, and the DoD also offers a retention scholarship for doctoral candidates.

  • (ISC)² Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarships

    Amount: $1,000-$5,000
    Deadline: Undergraduate - February 24; Graduate – March 2
    Link: https://iamcybersafe.org/s/undergraduate-scholarships - https://iamcybersafe.org/s/graduate-scholarships/
    The (ISC)² Scholarship programs offers between $1,000-$5,000 per undergraduate or graduate student pursuing cyber security degrees or a related major. Graduate applicants must be enrolled in a master's degree program or be currently pursuing their PhD and have a minimum GPA of 3.5. Undergraduate students must also be studying information security and must have a 3.3 GPA at minimum to apply. Students will also need to submit a CV, official transcripts, and answer a series of essay questions.

  • CyberCorps Scholarship for Service

    Amount: Full Tuition
    Deadline: July 31
    Link: https://www.sfs.opm.gov/
    The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service offers up to three years of full support to outstanding cyber security students plus a stipend that helps them with living expenses. Recipients are required to work for the federal government after graduating for the same number of years covered by the scholarship. To be eligible, students must be enrolled in a cyber security program at the undergraduate or graduate level in a participating institution. In Georgia, that means only Georgia Tech students are eligible to apply for the SFS.

Conferences and Workshops

Hacker Halted

An annual cyber security training event put on by the EC-Council, Hacker Halted is designed for certified ethical hackers (CEH) and others in the InfoSec community looking to increase their knowledge. Participants will have the opportunity to network with others in the space, hear from 40+ speakers, and participate in breakout sessions. They’ll also get the chance to participate in advanced ethical hacking training sessions to increase their skills.

SecureWorld Atlanta

SecureWorld Atlanta is an annual event that offers two days of cyber security education, which amounts to between 12-16 hours of continuing education credits for certified professionals. The conference offers networking opportunities and is attended by several professional associations within the IT, IS, and cyber security industry.

ICS Cybersecurity

A global conference for industrial control cyber security professionals, this event offers networking opportunities, panel discussions, and the chance to explore new technologies and hear the latest research in the industry.

Georgia Cyber Security Jobs and Salary

According to Indeed, Atlanta, GA ranks sixth among US metro areas with the most cyber security jobs. Per Georgia’s official website, the state currently has about 150,000 people working in computer and mathematical professionals, including 52,000 computer programmers and software developers, 21,000 information analysts, and 44,000 engineers.

Here’s a look at some of the common job titles you’ll see in this industry, as well as the average pay in the state of Georgia.

  • Information Security Analysts: The annual median wage for an information security analyst in Georgia is $94,000, while the national average hovers somewhere around $98,000, according to the BLS.
  • Computer Systems Analysts: The median salary for systems analysts in Georgia is about $69,000.
  • Computer Programmers: The median salary for computer programmers in the state is about $92,000 per year.
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators: The average income for GA-based administrators is $68,800 per year.
  • Database Administrators: According to Payscale, the average database administrator salary in Atlanta, GA is $73,805 per year. Pay ranges based on experience, as well as specialized skills. For instance, Transact-SQL can bump up your pay by about 10%.

Overall, working as a cyber security professional in Georgia means you can expect to see a salary close to the national average, though the cost of living is slightly lower than what you’d find in places like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.

While the positions mentioned above tend to hover around the $65-70,000 mark, salaries vary based on educational achievement, company, and experience. Earning a master’s degree can open more doors, as can gaining specialized cyber security skills and the certifications to prove it.

Resources

Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center for Innovation and Training

The Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center is located in Augusta and represents a partnership between the state’s university system, the government, the US army, and the private sector to promote continuous improvements in cyber security technology through education, research, and hands-on training. The center is a resource that offers cyber security education to K-12 learners, workforce training at all levels, and a cloud-based cyber training environment for practicing skills like ethical hacking and threat hunting.

The Institute for Information Security & Privacy

The Institute for Information Security & Privacy is a collaborative effort between the private sector, government, and Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) that spans nine labs and 200 researchers working on innovations in the cyber security space.

The Center of Innovation for IT

Georgia’s Center of Innovation for IT is a resource that connects Georgia’s IT community with potential partners and research opportunities. The center also works with companies, exposing them to new markets and opportunities and facilitates collaborations between government agencies, private companies, and academia to find solutions.

FinTech Academy

Georgia is home to the nation's first FinTech Academy, a joint effort between the university system’s network of 26 public institutions and 120+ private companies. The academy was designed in response to a global shortage of cyber security workers at all levels, and it aims to prepare current college students and experienced IT pros for the unique challenges of today’s connected world.

National Technology Security Coalition

A trade group that aims to assist in fighting the digital disruption of US companies, the National Technology Security Coalition (NTSC) is a non-partisan, public-private partnership that educates industry stakeholders, puts on networking events, and acts as an advocate for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) across the US.

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