When Bright Local revealed the results of its Local Consumer Review Survey 2017, we learned that 97% of consumers use the internet to find businesses within their immediate geographical area. While this is good news for the companies that have created a presence online as it means that they have a pretty high likelihood of being found by the customers who need their products and services most, the reality is that having a virtual presence also comes with some risks – risks that can be rather alarming.

For instance, Statista reports that, in 2017, data breaches within the U.S. reached an all-time high, with the number of businesses getting hit almost doubling from the year before, increasing from 495 to 870 in just twelve months' time. Financial institutions fared even worse with regard to data breaches, with that number tripling (going from 52 to 134) in the same timeframe.

That makes this a fantastic time to earn an advanced degree in online cybersecurity, potentially offering these companies a greater peace of mind as they rest in the knowledge that their data is more secure.

But what types of career paths exist for individuals who've taken the time to earn a master's-level cybersecurity degree? Here are five to consider.

#1: Information Security Specialist / Network Security Specialist

Companies hiring Information Security Specialists are looking for master's level degree holders who are capable of helping their business achieve a higher level of online security. This role generally involves conducting risk assessments to help these agencies and organizations determine where their information technology (IT) systems are weakest, utilizing the latest software and other tools designed to make them stronger and harder to penetrate.

Information Security Specialists are also typically tasked with monitoring these systems over time, preventing data breaches if possible and reacting immediately should one occur.

#2: Security Consultant / IT Strategy Consultant

In a consultant type of position, you work directly with management-level individuals within the hiring agency to help them create more effective policies and procedures regarding the company's online security. By engaging in strategic planning sessions with these key individuals, you are able to help them identify where their risks exist, as well as their options for reducing or eliminating these potential problem areas.

#3: IT Security Senior Manager / Global Security Operations Manager

If your ultimate career goal is to lead a team of other cybersecurity professionals, IT Security Senior Manager may just be the perfect role for you. In this position, you are often tasked with helping a company's IT employees be as effective as possible when it comes to preventing both internal and external security breaches. Working in this senior position also enables you to work with third-party agencies to ensure that their services don't expose your company (and its customer base) to any unnecessary and potentially costly risks.

#4: Senior Cyber Security Engineer / Cyber Security Threat Engineer

This mid-senior, director-level position often entails doing a complete analysis of the company's IT network to ensure that a proper level of security compliance is achieved and maintained. This compliance is regularly reported directly to the company's management, as well as to all mandated federal agencies. Participation in penetration testing is also generally required in this advanced role.

#5: Cyber Threat Analyst / Cyber Security Analyst

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is one agency that offers you the opportunity to use your master's-level cybersecurity degree in positions such as Cyber Threat Analyst. As an analyst, your duties include monitoring the agency's online systems to identify any potential vulnerabilities, taking action on those areas to better strengthen the protection of the data. Also, should a breach occur, you would work to create an immediate and effective response.

Though any position that can help a business protect its most important data, thus protecting its customer base in return, is valuable in and of itself, working in any one of these five master's-level cybersecurity roles can lead to a super-satisfying career. The only questions you have to ask yourself when deciding which one is right for you is 1) what types of duties you want to be responsible for completing and 2) whether you want to lead others while engaging in these tasks.

In the end, it doesn't matter so much what your title is, but more so that you bring your cybersecurity education and skills to the table to help thwart the online data breaches that put us all at risk. As long as you do that, we'll all be grateful for your time, effort, and expertise.

And if you're in the beginning stages of learning what an advanced cybersecurity degree is about and all of the career options it has to offer, Saint Leo has a Cybersecurity, Master of Science program to consider. You can read more about it online here or, if you'd prefer to have a personal chat, you can call us at (877) 622-2009 and we'll be glad to answer any questions you may have about your future as a cybersecurity professional.