How to Become a Cyber Security Specialist in Arizona

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What is Cyber Security?


Many organizations are at risk of cyber-attacks. A cyber-criminal may be able to delete the entire system, obtain important financial information, and weaken inventory management. When an organization is protected through cyber security, cyber-criminals can’t gain access to sensitive data.

There are several different kinds of cyber security attacks including phishing, social engineering, malware, cross site scripting, and many more. The good news is that this field is not just for young people in their 20s. Virtually anyone can enter the cyber security field with the right credentials and an interest in technology. Cyber security professionals are primarily responsible for preventing cyber-attacks, but these professionals pride themselves in securing organizations’ networking systems by installing firewalls, implementing anti-virus software, developing a strong authentication process, and much more.

Over the years, cyber security has become a top priority in every state, including Arizona. A couple of years ago, the Arizona Cybersecurity Team was established. The primary mission of the team is to ensure that people in Arizona do not experience a cyber-attack. In order to accomplish its remarkable goal, the team strives to recruit expert cyber-criminal professionals to the state. The team also encourages colleges and universities to offer academic programs that produce exceptional professionals in this field. There is currently a shortage of these professionals on a global scale, so this is a very important sector to fill.

Since the team wants to make the state a great place for cyber security experts and businesses, many colleges and universities have developed rigorous programs to exceed the highest level of standards and created a variety of cyber security degree options for prospective students.

Cyber Security Education in Arizona


When it comes to the cyber security field in Arizona, the job market is expected to continue growing rapidly. Schools across the state recognize the need for more highly qualified graduates to fill open jobs. Many experts predict that the state will notice the impact of the Arizona Cybersecurity Team in the coming years. And, in the future, schools in Arizona will likely be offering more cyber security programs and certification opportunities for prospective students.

For those who would like to enter the cyber security field, a career as a cyber security specialist is a great opportunity. In most cases, a cyber security specialist is an entry-level position. The overarching goal of a cyber security specialist is to protect security networks. Some of the most vulnerable sectors are medical, financial, and government, though, as we’ve seen over the last few years, no sector is completely safe from these kinds of attacks.

As part of their job descriptions, these professionals are expected to test security systems, handle cyber-attacks, implement threat prevention software, and create reports for senior level management. They are also expected to provide the best security practices to their colleagues. Just keep in mind that the job description may vary depending on the industry.

As top-notch cyber security specialists, these professionals can expect to receive an extremely competitive salary. Many cyber security specialists have access to a variety of advancement opportunities and, in the next few years, cyber security specialist jobs are expected to grow by more than 35%.

Associate Degree in Cyber Security (AS)

Since there is currently an extremely high demand for professionals in the cyber security field, some employers are offering entry-level positions to those with an associate degree. Prospective students should definitely pursue this degree if they don’t have the money to fund a bachelor’s right away. An associate degree in cyber security is a great option for those who may lack the money or time to complete a bachelor’s degree since it takes half the time and can get you a job right away. However, as soon as an associate degree in cyber security is obtained, it’s still a good idea to pursue a bachelor’s degree as soon as possible.

For students who are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, they should know that the credits from the associate degree can be applied to a bachelor’s as long as the school where you earned your degree was accredited. You may also be able to attend a school with a transfer agreement already in place so that you can be sure ALL your credits will count toward your bachelor’s.

Bachelor's Degree in Cyber Security (BS)

A Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security is usually required for an entry-level position in the cyber security field. These entry-level positions may include an information security specialist and computer support specialist. There are a wide variety of campus-based and online bachelor’s degrees in cyber security programs in Arizona. The right format will depend on the prospective students’ unique needs. In general, a bachelor’s degree in cyber security can lead to a more competitive salary.

These programs usually take four years to complete and require that students complete 120 credit hours, but they are more respected than an associate degree, will allow for more specialized learning than an associate degree, and will be required if you should choose to earn a master’s degree in order to move into management.

Master's Degree in Cyber Security (MS or MC)

A master’s degree in cyber security is most likely to lead to senior and management positions in the cyber security field. These top positions include chief information security officer. This degree may also be necessary for those who would like a position in academia or research. In Arizona, a master’s in cyber security degree is available through in-person or distance learning.

A master’s might not be the kind of degree you wish to earn before getting into the workforce. In fact, many master’s programs require that you have experience working in the field before you can even gain admission. Partially this is because the programs are meant to prepare you for senior positions in a field. If you have no experience, you won’t be ready to learn about management or the higher-level responsibilities that go along with it.

PhD Degree in Cyber Security (PhD)

For those seeking an advanced academic or research position, a PhD/Doctorate degree in cyber security is a must. In Arizona, this degree is only offered on campus. Students looking to earn tenure positions or work in research will want to check out doctorate programs available near them.

Become a Cyber Security Professional in Arizona


There are no specific licensure requirements for those looking to work in the cyber security field in Arizona, not like there are for nurses or lawyers, etc. However, here are some of the best things you can do to find your way into the field in this state.

  • College Education:
    For a leadership position in the cyber security field, a master’s degree is preferred but some employers may only require a bachelor’s degree. However, generally speaking, more education leads to more job prospects. If you’re looking to get into management or a position in which a master’s degree is necessary, then earning that degree is the best move you can make.
  • Certificate Programs:
    A cyber security certification can help professionals and non-professionals alike to advance their careers. For those who don’t have time to earn another degree, or if you already have a degree in computer science or a related field, but you want to get into cyber security while the sector is hot, a certificate can give you exactly the opportunity you need.

    There are a few cyber security certification programs available in this state. Estrella Mountain Community College offers a cyber security certification known as IT Security Associate Certificate of Completion or CCL. This certificate program ensures that students are competent in network infrastructure, IT management, server operating systems, and much more. Students enrolled at Northland Pioneer College can pursue a Cybersecurity Certification of Applied Science. While enrolled in this certificate program, students will learn all about ethical hacking, networking systems, cyber operations, and programming. Yavapai College is proud to present a Cybersecurity Specialist Certificate to prospective students. Students will be required to complete courses in CCNA security, computer networking technologies, and many more. Following the successful completion of this excellent certificate program, graduates will be more than qualified for an entry-level position in the cyber security field.

    There are also a couple of online certificate programs available in Arizona. The University of Arizona features an excellent certificate program. The name of this certificate program is the Enterprise Security Online Graduate Certificate, and it’s designed to teach students everything about protecting data. The University of Phoenix also has an online certificate program. The school’s Advanced Cybersecurity Certificate prepares students for an exciting career in IT security. The course focuses on two topics: cybersecurity and vulnerability.

    • General Cyber Security Skills:
      In addition to acquiring the right education and credentials, there are a variety of skills needed to become a successful cyber security professional.
    • Critical Thinking Skills:
      An ability to solve extremely complex information security problems
    • Communication Skills:
      The ability to effectively discuss a cyber security strategy and related topics with team members and non-experts
    • Technical Aptitude:
      Being tech savvy is essential - Must know how to leverage advanced software to prevent cyber-attacks
    • Managerial Abilities:
      An ability to lead teams that work on a wide variety of projects such as a big system upgrade
    • Customer Service Skills:
      Must know how to interact with vendors and customers
    • Networking:
      Becoming a cyber security professional will be much easier with networking. As a result, it’s extremely important to grow a professional network as soon as possible. There are several networking groups for cyber security professionals. The most prominent networking groups are the Information Security and Forensics Society, Information Security Forum, and Cyber Intelligence Network.

Top College Programs in Arizona for Cyber Security


There are many colleges and universities across the state that offer cyber security programs, but not all of these programs received cyber security accreditation. Prospective students should ensure that a school is accredited before enrolling in its cyber security program because employers want to hire professionals who received an education at a reputable institution. Here are the top cyber security programs from accredited universities.

  • University of Arizona:

    A prominent college in Tucson, Arizona, the University of Arizona is proud to boast a Bachelor of Applied Science with a concentration in cyber operations program for students who want to pursue a career in cyber security. There are currently three tracks available: cyber engineering, defense & forensics, and cyber law & policy.

    Prospective students can also enroll in the school’s Master of Science in Management Information Systems Program or the PhD in Management Information Systems Program. The program has received the Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations accreditation.

  • Arizona State University:

    Arizona State University helps students pursue careers in the cyber security field by offering several academic programs including a bachelor of science in engineering degree with an emphasis in cyber security, a master of science in computer science with a cyber security concentration, and a PhD in computer science with a cyber security concentration.

    These academic programs have been approved by the National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense (CAE IA/CD). The academic programs have also received certification from the National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance-Research (CAE-R).

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University:
    At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, students can earn a bachelor of science in cyber intelligence and security. In this exceptional program, students will learn how to handle cyber-attacks effectively. The program will also teach students critical thinking and quantitative skills, preparing them for professional, entry-level positions in the cyber security field. The program has received accreditation from the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense or CAE-CD.
  • University of Advancing Technology:

    Based in Tempe, Arizona, the University of Advancing Technology offers two cyber security academic programs for prospective students: a Bachelor of Science in Technology Forensics and a Bachelor of Science in Network Security. The college also offers a Master of Science in Cyber Security. The bachelor of science in technology forensics program is specifically designed to show students how to effectively analyze digital data. Students will explore topics ranging from sophisticated malware detection to documentation of digital information.

    When students enroll in the bachelor of science in network security program, they will complete courses in social engineering, computer forensics basics, and incident response. After completing this excellent academic program, students will know the ins and outs of information security. These programs have been approved by the US National Security Agency's Information Assurance Courseware Evaluation program and National Centers of Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE).

  • Estrella Mountain Community College:
    Estrella Mountain Community College is the perfect school for students who would like to receive an associate degree in cyber security. This program has been certified by the National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education.

Careers for Cyber Security Graduates


  • Cloud Information Security Engineer:
    The primary role of a cloud information security engineer is to secure cloud services, enabling the right users to have access to the right places. These experts in data protection work with technology and tools in order to engineer effective solutions.
  • Information Security Analyst:
    An information security analyst is mainly responsible for designing and implementing security measures to protect computer networks and systems. These professionals know the ins and outs of operating firewalls and data encryption programs.
  • Security Software Engineer:
    These expert cyber security professionals are expected to oversee an organization’s software security strategy. The responsibilities of security software engineers may include testing security software, analyzing code, and developing sophisticated security techniques. They are also supposed to security software problems as soon as possible.
  • Cybersecurity Architect:
    A security architect uses excellent programming, policy development, and research skills to implement security systems in an IT network. The everyday responsibilities of a security architect include things like reviewing the enterprise architecture of an organization, performing regular systems tests, and much more.
  • Cyber Penetration Tester:
    A penetration tester is expected to identify the weaknesses in core attack vectors, operating systems, network devices, and application software. The top penetration testers secure vulnerabilities before attackers exploit them. These professionals are often referred to as ethical hackers.
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO):
    A chief information security officer is generally responsible for maintaining and protecting an organization’s information and data security. The overarching goal of chief information security officers is to completely eliminate security threats.
  • Cyber Security Administrator:
    The number one responsibility of a cyber security administrator is to secure computer networks and systems. These professionals accomplish this goal by creating policies, installing firewalls, implanting ant-malware software.
  • Cyber Security Consultant:
    A cyber security consultant is hired by an organization to keep its sensitive data protected. As a cyber security consultant, the professional is expected to prevent cyber-attacks from occurring without working full-time for a company.
  • Incident Analyst/Responder:
    An incident analyst/responder is supposed to handle cyber security incidents. They care a lot about mitigating security threats.
  • Cryptanalyst:
    An expert cryptanalyst seeks to prevent cyber-attacks by encrypting data. Cryptanalysts may perform the following tasks: deciphering secret codes, overseeing data systems, testing software programs, and much more.
  • Cryptographer:
    As cryptographers, professionals are supposed to prevent cyber-criminals from obtaining sensitive information by encrypting the information they protect and making sure only those who should have access can decrypt it. Most cryptographers spend many hours writing code, improving vulnerabilities in security systems, and discovering effective cryptographic models.
  • Security Auditor:
    A security auditor is someone who makes sure security systems remain safe and secure. The professional will provide an audit of the security systems to determine if it’s running properly.

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