Information security and assurance is the process of protecting data and ensuring information does not get lost during computer/server malfunctions, theft, natural disasters, and other major scenarios. Information security and assurance professionals are responsible for managing an organization’s security and preventing unauthorized users from accessing this valuable information. Although the associate degree is shorter and less thorough than the bachelor’s degree, it is still excellent preparation for work and other academic disciplines.

Why an Associate Degree?

Earning an associate degree is one of the quickest and most effective ways to break into the information security field. It is the ideal degree level for students who want a thorough education, but don’t want to spend more money or time in college than necessary. Although many employers accept a minimum of an associate degree, some jobs require more education and training. Either way, the associate degree is an adequate training program and an excellent precursor to the bachelor’s degree.

Getting Into an Associate Degree Program

The first step in preparing for an information security career is earning the necessary level of education and training. Before you can pursue the associate degree, make sure you meet the educational requirements listed below:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
  • Required minimum GPA

Inside an Information Security and Assurance Associate Degree Program

Depending on your individual program, the associate degree in information security usually takes about two years to finish. Students will take classes in a variety of topics, including computer architecture, programming, telecommunications, security system design, risk assessment and policy analysis, troubleshooting, and more. Online students can access their courses, lectures, assignments, grades, and other resources through a learning management system provided by the school.

Maintaining good communication and staying on top of your school work are the keys to succeeding in online courses. The learning management system and e-mail are two ways of communicating with your instructors and classmates when you have questions or information to share. Even though you don’t report to campus, online students are entitled to the same academic, financial, and career services as traditional students.

What’s Next for Information Security and Assurance Associate Degree Holders?

Graduates of the information security associate degree will be qualified to do several technical jobs within this field. A popular path for many graduates is to become information security analysts who work in computer systems design, telecommunications, finance and insurance, and other related industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts are expected to see a 22% employment increase by 2020 because of the growing risk and frequency of cyberattacks. In addition to having optimistic job prospects, information security analysts also have favorable salaries. In 2012, information security analysts made an average annual salary of $89,290. Additional education and experience can increase your earning potential.

Although it is possible to get an information security job with only an associate degree, some employers prefer to hire applicants with a higher degree. The next education option for an associate degree holder is to earn a bachelor’s degree in information security and assurance. Earning this undergraduate degree can significantly increase your employment opportunities and earning potential in information security.