A career in Information Security is an exciting opportunity that offers the ability to significantly contribute to a company or public entity by securing their critical information assets. The information security profession is a perfect choice for individuals with a lifelong passion for learning who are seeking to stay current in the ever changing world of IT. There is always a new technology to learn or security product to use so it helps to be a quick study and to have the desire to get hands on with the technology.
If you talk with different information security professionals you will realize that there are many different paths that you can take to get into the industry. Some of the most typical paths include:
- Various IT roles including people with varied application and infrastructure backgrounds
- IT Audit Professionals
- Corporate compliance groups
- Direct hires with information security degrees
Obtaining information security training and certifications is one of the primary methods of getting started or advancing a career in information security. If you are a young and just starting or undergoing a drastic career change from a totally unrelated field you might choose a school that offers a major in Information Security. This is a good way to get the necessary foundational knowledge to qualify for an entry level position in the information security field.
If you are already involved in the field or have skills that are easily transferable you can likely bypass a degree in favor of specialized training and information security certifications which helps demonstrate mastery in the field and are a requirement of many employers.
Colleges & Universities with Information Security Degrees
Information Security Undergraduate Programs
- University of Maryland – Information Assurance Degree is well respected and University of Maryland is a top notch school with a good reputation in the information security field.
- DeVry University – Information Security is a specialization option if you pursue a Computer Information Systems degree.
- Walden University – Offers Bachelor’s degrees in CIT Information Security and IT Security & Forensics both with online options
- Strayer University – Have the largest online selection of computer security related courses
- Western Governor’s University – Online program offers bachelor and master versions of an information security degree
Another good option is to discuss your interest in information security with a department chair of the college you are interested in attending. Nearly every major school has a Computer Science (CS) department that would probably be willing to work with you to meet your educational needs.
Information Security Graduate Programs
- Cerias/Purdue – If I was going to get an advanced Information Security related degree it would be from this institution. Cerias is known for having the best offering out there and getting a degree here is resume gold for an information security professional
- SANS – The SANS organization responded to the government’s call to help educate information security professionals that are necessary to help defend critical infrastructure in the United States. SANS offers MS degrees in Information Security Engineering and Management both which are well respected in the industry. As you might expect live classroom and distance options are available.
- Boston University – Graduate Certificate Program is offered on campus and as an online option. Requires a bachelor’s degree and requires 4 courses/16 credits to complete.
- Villanova University – Offer Master Certificates in IS Security and IS Security Management.
- Kaplan University – 16 credit Graduate Certificates in Information Security are available.
Information Security Training
- SANS – SANS has earned top billing because they have separated themselves from their competition with the high intensive courses they offer (think information security boot camp). If you pursue one of their GIAC certifications prepare to get your hands dirty and demonstrate your mastery of the material. I have attended several SANS offerings and never left disappointed.
- MIS Training Institute – MISTI offers a wide variety of information security and IT Audit related training. I often look to MISTI for effective introduction level offerings although they have advanced study courses as well. The online offerings are extensive so they are a good option to consider.
- ISACA – Specializes in IT Audit & Controls education and training and is the preferred training method for that community. ISACA training is worldwide and there are often useful training programs at a nearby location which helps minimize training related expenses. ISACA also offers CISA training opportunities to help IT Audit professionals achieve that designation.
- Info Sec Institute – I have never personally attended any training from Info Sec Institute but I have heard that their hands on penetration testing courses are worthwhile.
If you know of any information security training that you feel deserves to be included based on your personal experience please send me an email.