Information security and assurance is the protection of sensitive data. Information security professionals help organizations plan and carry out security policies that prevent information from getting into the wrong hands. To work in this rewarding and challenging career, most professionals need to have some postsecondary training. Those who’ve completed a bachelor’s degree in information security and assurance and want to prepare for a master’s degree may be well-suited for the pre-master’s certificate program.

Types of Information Security and Assurance Certificates

Information System Security Certificate

The information system security certificate is a comprehensive program designed to prepare students for a master’s degree in information security. At this certificate level, students will build upon the technical knowledge and skills learned in undergrad by completing advanced courses and projects. Whether or not you decide to pursue a graduate degree, the pre-master’s certificate is an adequate level of education and training for most information security jobs. If you’re interested in seeking a pre-master’s certificate, be sure you meet the following admissions criteria below:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or GRE or GMAT
  • Minimum required GPA

The pre-master’s certificate program lasts anywhere from six months to one year, depending on your course load and pace. Students can expect to take classes in secure computer systems, applied cryptography, database security, advanced network security, and other related topics. Toward the end of the program, students will likely complete an information security project or capstone course to focus on the knowledge and skills you’ve learned throughout the year.

Information Security Planning Certificate

The information security planning certificate provides an advanced look at the principles of information systems threats and defense. Students of various backgrounds and educational goals can benefit from the specialized instruction and training of this program. Whether you’re looking to earn your master’s degree, start a career as an information assurance analyst or manager, or just want to know how to better protect your own assets, the information security planning certificate is the program for you. Before you can enroll in this pre-graduate certificate, make sure you have the following educational requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or GRE or GMAT
  • Minimum required GPA

Like most online information security certificate programs, this one takes about six months to one year to complete. Students can expect to take classes in a variety of subjects, including network security, cryptography, business continuity planning, and more. Online students can access their courses, lectures, assignments, and grades on a learning management system provided by the school.

Information Assurance and Security Certificate

The information assurance and security certificate is an excellent program for prospective grad students and working professionals alike. Throughout this interactive program, students will build upon their current knowledge of information security and assurance, in addition to developing important industry skills needed to manage IT professionals within large organizations. Even if you decide not to earn a master’s degree in this discipline, the pre-graduate certificate is still a worthwhile investment in your future. If you’d like to pursue an information security certificate online, you need to first verify that you meet the educational requirements listed below:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or GRE or GMAT
  • Minimum required GPA

Depending on the course load and pace in which you complete classes, the information assurance and security certificate usually takes about six months to one year to complete. Some common courses students can expect to take include enterprise security, security risk management, cryptography, and secure system development. Online programs may require students to complete individual or group projects to assess their progress and understanding.

What’s Next for Certificate Holders?

Graduates of the pre-master’s certificate are prepared to do a number of entry-level and middle-level jobs in information security. Many certificate holders go on to become information security analysts who plan and implement security measures to safeguard computer networks and systems at various organizations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of information security analysts is expected to grow 22% by 2020 because of the increase in cyber threats. In addition to having an optimistic job outlook, information security analysts also have favorable salaries. According to the 2012 BLS report, these professionals made an average annual salary of $89,290.

After earning a pre-master’s certificate, most graduates either enter the workforce or continue their education in this discipline. Those who return to school for information security generally seek a master’s degree to expand their knowledge and skills. A graduate degree can make you a more marketable candidate and significantly increase your job options.