In cybersecurity certificate programs, you can learn essential data-protection skills, prepare for industry certifications, and enhance your resume.
Cybersecurity is an in-demand specialty in today’s world, so developing your abilities may lead to an array of opportunities.
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Pursuing a certificate can be a time-saving alternative to getting a college degree. Whether you already have experience in the tech industry or want to enter this line of work for the first time, an online cybersecurity certificate program could be a strategic choice. If you already have a related undergraduate degree in the field, you may want to consider earning an online graduate certificate in cyber security.
Online Cybersecurity Certificate Programs
Cybersecurity is critically important in today’s world. Nearly every organization needs to keep cybersecurity in mind when working with data or using networks.
Getting a certificate in cybersecurity could help prepare you to provide information security leadership in the workplace. A certificate is a time-saving way to gain fundamental knowledge in a particular field. It’s typically quicker to earn a college certificate than a degree because there are fewer classes required. The limited curriculum focuses on specific aspects of the field.
Topics covered in a cyber security certificate program might include:
- Cloud computing
- Ethical hacking
- Firewalls and proxy servers
- Network structure
- Wireless technology
Lab work is common in cybersecurity programs. You may have a final class dedicated to lab activities that cap off all your studies. There may be lab assignments throughout other courses too. Cybersecurity certificate programs can vary greatly in length. Some require only a handful of courses and can be completed in just one semester. Others are more extensive and may take over a year to complete.
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Certain cybersecurity certificate programs can also prepare you for particular industry certifications. Some schools specifically advertise that their classes cover the content that’s required for CISCO Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or CompTIA Security+. Other professional certifications you might be able to pursue include Certified Ethical Hacker by EC-Council and CompTIA Network+.
Another educational benefit of cybersecurity certificate programs is that your credits might count toward a degree. Sometimes, certificate classes transfer seamlessly into a degree program at the same school. Plus, if you’ve earned your certificate from an accredited college, you may be able to transfer your completed classes into an associate or bachelors degree program at another college.
In fact, some students choose to continue their educations and earn either an on-campus or an online cyber security associate’s degree after earning their certificate. A certificate in cybersecurity can be beneficial for your career too. It may help you qualify for a job related to computers and technology. Example roles include network support specialist, network systems administrator, and information security analyst.
If you already work in the tech field, completing this a certificate program may qualify you for additional responsibilities or higher pay.
Cyber Security Careers & Salaries
One of the most common career paths for people with cybersecurity training is to work as an information security analyst.
Information security analysts often work for computing companies, financial institutions, and information organizations. Some people in this line of work may be consultants who advise clients on best practices. Other professionals work as compliance officers who pay attention to whether organizations are following the proper protocols for keeping information secure.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for computer and information technology occupations is $97,430.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$159,010|
|Computer Network Architects||$120,520|
|Information Security Analysts||$102,600|
|Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||$98,220|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$80,600|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||$62,760|
|Computer User Support Specialists||$49,770|
Your eligibility for jobs may depend not only on your training but also on your experience. Some positions require at least one to three years of relevant experience.
To gain experience in this field, you could work as a computer support specialist who troubleshoots network issues or helps individual computer users solve their tech troubles. Other computer-related roles to consider include network architect, network administrator, database administrator, and web developer.
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Eventually, some people with cybersecurity training gain enough experience and industry credentials to become managers over organizations’ computing or information technology departments.
Cybersecurity Certificate Curriculum & Courses
Cybersecurity certificate programs vary in length. In some, you’ll take just a handful of classes. Others are more comprehensive. In either case, the curriculum may include classes like the ones listed here:
- Computer Programming: This course teaches you universal programming principles, and you may try your hand at a particular programming language.
- Counter Defense: You’ll learn how to use firewalls, proxy servers, and other tools as part of a robust strategy to defend against cyberattacks.
- Cybersecurity Careers: In this class, you’ll explore professional applications for your cybersecurity studies and discuss additional education options that might enhance your career opportunities.
- Databases: You’ll learn how to design and use databases, and you’ll study Structured Query Language, better known as SQL.
- Ethical Hacking: During your time in this course, you’ll study hacking techniques as a way to better guard your systems against such attacks.
- Introduction to Information Security: This foundational class surveys the basic principles of information security and includes hands-on opportunities to practice what you’re learning.
- Management Principles for Information Security: This course can help you develop necessary skill sets for being a leader and organizer in the IT workplace.
- Network Fundamentals: As you learn about different networks, including the internet, you’ll also practice setting up a local area network.
- Testing Lab: Toward the end of your program, you may have a lab-based class in which you put all the principles you’ve learned into practice.
- Wireless Security: In this class, you’ll cover special considerations for maintaining privacy and data security when using wireless technology.
In many programs, some of the classes align with the educational requirements for industry certifications.
How to Choose a Cyber Security Online Certificate Program
As the need for cybersecurity professionals grows, so does the number of online certificate programs. Here are some factors to consider as you select a school:
- Accreditation. You’ll likely have the most options for jobs and further education if you get your certificate from a regionally accredited college.
- Industry credentials. Some schools advertise that their certificate classes provide the required preparation for certain industry exams. By the time you finish your program, you may be nearly ready to earn several credentials.
- Length. If you are in a hurry to complete your certificate, you could look into bootcamps or programs that can be completed in one semester. For a more thorough education, you might consider programs with higher credit requirements.
- Transferability. Schools often have certificate courses that transfer directly into their degree programs, or they may have articulation agreements with other colleges.
Taking the time to evaluate and compare schools and programs is the first step toward a positive college experience.
To apply to cyber security certificate programs online, you may need to turn in:
- Application form and a small fee to cover processing costs
- High school transcripts and any college transcripts
- SAT or ACT scores (not required by all schools)
Some online cybersecurity certificate programs are offered by community colleges with open admission policies. Anyone who meets the basic requirements of an open admission school is guaranteed admission to that school.
Cybersecurity Certificate Programs Accreditation
It’s strategic to choose a regionally accredited college for your cybersecurity certificate program. If your school holds credible accreditation, you can know that you’re receiving a high-quality education that’s preparing you for the workforce.
Certificate coursework often transfers into undergraduate degree programs—but only if the courses were taken at an accredited school. Transfer credit could be beneficial in helping you earn a degree more quickly and affordably.
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Regional accreditation can also impact your job search. Some employers may only put stock in certificates from accredited schools. In addition, certification programs with educational requirements may specify that coursework must be completed through accredited institutions.
Cybersecurity Certifications and Licenses
You can enhance your credentials by pursuing industry cyber security certs. The courses you take for your college certificate may help you get ready for the qualifying exams.
There are different industry certifications related to different computing platforms. While you can pursue a broad range of certifications, you may want to focus on the ones that directly relate to the platform you use most. Examples include Microsoft Certified: Cybersecurity Architect Expert and CISCO Certified Network Associate (CCNA).
There are also vendor-neutral certifications that are relevant to people using any platform. These include CompTIA Security+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) by EC-Council, and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Financial aid is available to qualifying undergraduate students, including those in certificate programs. You can begin the qualification process by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
If you’re carrying a full-time course load, you may be able to receive federal loans and grants. There are similar programs offered by many states. Students can often use both state and federal aid. Scholarships from your college or independent organizations may also help reduce your tuition costs. Those often go to students with high potential or significant financial need.
You can check with your employer about funding options, too. Some workplaces pay for their employees to get more education.
What Can You Do with a Cyber Security Certificate?
Completing a cybersecurity certificate program can be a strategic addition to your resume. Professionals in this field often work as information security analysts, software quality assurance analysts, or database administrators.
Computer or network support specialist is another role to consider after completing your certificate. Whether you assist computer users or tend to network issues, this position could help you gain experience as you work toward more advanced roles.
Job qualifications vary throughout this industry. Your suitability for positions may depend on the employer, your level of training, your industry certifications, and your experience.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Cyber Security Certificate?
The length of your online certificate program will depend on its cyber security course requirements. Some programs have around 5 classes, while others have 15 or more. You may be able to finish a shorter program in just one semester, which is about 4 months long. More involved programs may take around 12 to 16 months to complete.
Some colleges offer cybersecurity bootcamps rather than full certificate programs. Bootcamps are an even speedier way to acquire fundamental security skills. You may be able to go through a bootcamp program in just 2 to 3 months.
What Jobs Can You Get with a Cyber Security Certificate?
Many people with cybersecurity certificates work in the information security analysis field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while a bachelor’s degree is the most common preparation for security analysts, certificates and experience can be viable alternatives.
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Other professionals pursue related jobs. Examples include working as a software tester, a computer support specialist, a database architect, or a network administrator. The exact roles for which you are prepared may depend on the scope of your curriculum.
What’s the Difference Between a Certification vs. Certificate in Cyber Security?
In the cybersecurity field, you can complete a certificate program, and you can also pursue a professional certification. They sound alike, but here’s how certificates and certifications compare.
Some certificate classes can help you prepare for certification exams.
Is a Cybersecurity Certificate Worth It?
Yes, a cybersecurity certificate is worth it for many students. This is a highly in-demand area of knowledge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for information security analysts will increase by 33% over the next ten years.
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Whether you currently work in computers or want to break into the field, a certificate program can equip you with essential skills for career advancement. Even if you don’t have a tech job, this certificate might still be useful. For example, administrative and accounting professionals often handle important data and could benefit from the additional know-how that a certificate program can provide.
Universities Offering Online Certificate in Cybersecurity Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Central Michigan University’s undergraduate certificate in cybersecurity can be earned online or on campus. Prospective students can apply at any time through a rolling admissions process. Students must complete 15 credit hours to earn the certificate. Classes are typically taken part-time for 1 year. The program includes workshops, discussion panels with experts, and simulations of cybersecurity incidents.
CMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Champlain College offers an undergraduate certificate in cybersecurity fundamentals that can be earned 100% online. Coursework can be completed any time and from any place with an internet connection.
The program requires the completion of 18 credit hours. Course options include Digital Forensic Investigation Techniques, Introduction to Operating Systems, Foundations of Cybersecurity, Introduction to Python, and Wireless Networking.
Champlain College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
DeVry University offers an undergraduate certificate in cyber security that can be earned online. The program includes fourteen courses for a total of 40 credit hours. The program includes foundational technology courses, such as Introduction to Operating Systems and Introduction to Programming. It also includes specialized courses, such as Ethical Hacking and Fundamentals of Infrastructure Security.
DeVry University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Elmhurst University’s undergraduate certificate in cyber security was designed specifically for working professionals. Classes include live discussions, but recordings can be watched later if needed to fit busy schedules. The program includes 5 courses, and students can potentially finish all of them in less than a year.
Elmhurst University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
La Salle University offers a cybersecurity certificate that can be earned 100% online. The program is often ideal for professionals who already have a background in fields such as business or IT. Courses include Network Theory, Computer Digital Forensics, Computer and Network Security, and Cybercrime, Cyber Warfare, Cyber Espionage, and more.
La Salle University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Maryville University’s cybersecurity certificate is available 100% online. There are three start dates each year. The curriculum emphasizes hands-on, project-based learning, and classes are taught by faculty members with industry experience. The program includes 6 courses, two of which can be swapped for electives if they cover material the student already knows.
Maryville University of Saint Louis is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Radford University’s online cybersecurity certificate can typically be finished in 1 year. The program requires the completion of 6 courses. Each one can be completed at a student’s own pace within an 8 week time frame. Course options include Ethics and Laws in Cybersecurity, Data and Web Security, Network Security, Penetration Testing and Incident Handling, Cyber Defense, and more.
Radford University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The online cybersecurity certificate program from St. Petersburg College requires the completion of 6 courses. Course options include Network Security Foundations, Operating System Security, Network Defense and Countermeasures, Incident Response and Disaster Recovery, and more. All courses are designed to transfer toward an AS in Information Technology Security.
SPC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Stanford University offers an online certificate in advanced cybersecurity that can be completed at a student’s own pace from any location with internet access. Courses include Exploiting and Protecting Web Applications, Foundations of Information Security, Cybersecurity and Executive Strategy, and more. Each course typically requires a time commitment of about 10 to 12 hours each week.
Stanford is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
SUNY Westchester Community College offers a cybersecurity certificate that includes 27 credit hours of coursework and can potentially be finished in 1 year. Courses include Server Administration, Network Security, Computer Penetration Testing, Computer Forensics, Computer Information Systems, PC Operating Systems, and more.
SUNY Westchester Community College is accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
Thomas Edison State University offers a 15 credit undergraduate certificate in cybersecurity. All credits are designed to be transferred into a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. All courses are fully online, and the curriculum covers emerging trends and strategies in the field of cybersecurity. Students also receive instruction in the legal aspects of cybersecurity.
Thomas Edison State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Arizona’s online undergraduate cybersecurity certificate program requires 18 credits of coursework. It includes courses such as Introduction to Cyberoperations, Active Cyber Defense, and Cyber Threat Intelligence.
Students can also choose three electives. The curriculum includes instruction in offensive and defensive cybersecurity strategies and opportunities for hands-on experience through Arizona’s Cyber Virtual Learning Environment.
The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of California—Los Angeles offers an online program for a certificate in cybersecurity. The certificate requires the completion of 4 courses, including Fundamentals of Cybersecurity, Information Systems Infrastructure Security Management, and more. The program is available 100% online, but it can also be completed on campus.
UCLA is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
The University of Washington offers an online program for a certificate in cybersecurity that typically takes 8 months to complete. Classes meet in the evenings and include Foundations of Information Security, Security Tools and Technologies, and Applied Security Solutions and Emerging Trends. Most graduates are currently employed in the field.
The University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Villanova University offers a cybersecurity certificate that can be earned 100% online. The program has 2 required courses: Essentials of Cybersecurity and Mastering Cybersecurity/Security+. Students must also choose an elective. Each class is 8 weeks long, and new classes begin monthly.
Villanova University is accredited by The Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Getting Your Certificate in Cybersecurity Online
Furthering your education with a cybersecurity certificate could be a strategic move, as information security professionals are highly valued in today’s workforce.
You can acquire essential skills and prepare for a range of career opportunities without committing to a lengthy degree program. Online studies are a natural fit for this tech-focused field of study. When you earn your certificate online through an accredited school, you can receive a thorough education in a format that works for your busy lifestyle. Some students may even continue on and earn an online cyber security degree from an accredited university.
You can take the next step in your educational journey today by checking out accredited cybersecurity certificate programs.