Cybersecurity vs. Data Analytics: Comparing Degrees and Careers

A data analytics professional explaining a chart on a screen.

Collecting, assessing, and interpreting pertinent data provides organizations with strategic insights that can lead to increased efficiency, stability, and growth. The usefulness of these insights helped the global data and analytics market reach a valuation of $100.8 billion in 2022, according to a report from GlobalData.

Data is also a prime target of cybercriminals. When a system or network has been successfully breached, the business’s confidential records and consumer information can be exposed, and the company’s reputation can be seriously damaged. And overcoming these attacks can be quite costly: According to a 2023 report from IBM, the global average cost of a data breach is about $4.45 million.

For those interested in pursuing a technology degree, cybersecurity and data analytics offer intriguing fields to consider studying. Of course, analyzing data and protecting data are two different activities. To find out which is most relevant to your professional interests, you should learn the similarities and differences when it comes to cybersecurity versus data analytics degrees.

Cybersecurity vs. Data Analytics: Degrees at a Glance

A cybersecurity degree program teaches individuals how to protect computers from cyberattacks. The types of computers covered in the program range from entire computer systems and networks to specific computer databases and devices. Earning a cybersecurity degree can help aspiring tech professionals learn how to devise strategies that proactively thwart cyberattacks before they begin. It can also cultivate the knowledge and skills needed to mitigate the damage caused by a successful attack, fixing any vulnerabilities exposed by such an attack along the way.

A data analytics degree program readies individuals to examine many types of raw datasets to discover insights that can translate into actionable growth or sustainability strategies. This data can come from a broad range of sources, from online surveys to point-of-sale (POS) systems. Earning a data analytics degree can help aspiring tech professionals learn how to make sense of complex datasets and pick out the relevant information to help a business target the right people at the right time.

Despite their different areas of focus, a cybersecurity degree program and a data analytics degree program have some similar traits. Both programs can help individuals develop strong technological skills and computing knowledge, which are crucial for success in either field. Both programs also can help students develop other skills essential for success in either field, such as analytical, communication, and problem-solving competencies.

Cybersecurity vs. Data Analytics Degrees: Curriculum

Cybersecurity and data analytics are two different fields, and the academic differences between the two degree programs reflect this. While there is some crossover in the skills individuals can learn in these two programs, examining the curriculum of each program reveals substantial differences.

Cybersecurity Program Curriculum

A cybersecurity program’s curriculum typically focuses on teaching the intricacies and vulnerabilities of computer systems and network infrastructures. This can help students develop the knowledge needed to identify and prevent potential attacks in traditional and emerging platforms. A cybersecurity program curriculum commonly covers the following topics:

  • Risk management and information technology (IT) security
  • Working with data structures
  • Hacking techniques and countermeasures
  • Cloud security
  • Cybercrime forensics

Data Analytics Program Curriculum

A data analytics program’s curriculum generally concentrates on helping students develop the knowledge they’ll need to utilize data analysis tools and resources and find clear insights in complex datasets. It also teaches them the intricacies involved in reporting these findings to others. A data analytics program curriculum typically covers the following topics:

  • Analytics management and presentation
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Database management
  • Regression analysis
  • Business intelligence

In some cases, data analytics programs may offer students the opportunity to specialize in a certain area of analytics. These specializations often focus on topics like accounting, business, and healthcare management.

Cybersecurity vs. Data Analytics: Program Duration

A cybersecurity undergraduate program, such as an Associate in Network Security degree or a Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity degree, generally can be completed within two to four years and prepare individuals for entry-level technology roles. Cybersecurity administrative roles may require a graduate degree.

Similarly, a four-year Bachelor’s in Data Analytics degree program can qualify individuals for entry-level roles. However, some data analytics employers set a graduate degree as an educational benchmark.

Cybersecurity vs. Data Analytics: Career Outcomes

Because cybersecurity and data analytics are two different courses of study, the career outcomes stemming from the respective degrees are also different. Following are some of the jobs an individual can pursue with a cybersecurity degree:

  • Cybersecurity analyst
  • Cybersecurity administrator
  • System engineer
  • Network architect
  • Penetration tester

Following are some of the jobs an individual can pursue with a data analytics degree:

  • Business intelligence developer
  • Data engineer
  • Digital marketing manager
  • IT systems analyst
  • Operations analyst

Both degree programs can prepare individuals to pursue a career with ample job opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 32% between 2022 and 2032, while employment of data scientists is projected to grow 35% during that same period. 

Both of these fields offer the chance to land a well-paying role, although data analytics jobs have higher salaries, on average. According to the compensation data site Payscale, individuals skilled in cybersecurity have a median annual salary of around $98,000 as of March 2024, while those skilled in big data analytics have a median annual salary of around $123,000.

Create Your Own Career Path

For those considering cybersecurity versus data analytics degree programs, both offer individuals the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge they’ll need to pursue a successful tech career. Whether that career involves using data to help businesses create strong growth strategies or protecting data from would-be cybercriminals, earning a degree in the right field can be the first step toward professional satisfaction.

Enrolling in one of Mid-America Christian University’s tech programs — the Associate of Science (AS) in Network Management and Security program, Bachelor of Science (BS) in Cybersecurity program, or Bachelor of Science (BS) in Data Analytics program — is an excellent way to prepare for the career path of your choosing. MACU’s tech programs are designed to help you build the skill set you’ll need to succeed through classroom instruction from experienced technology professionals and hands-on exercises with top industry tools.

With online and on-campus program options and extensive student support resources, MACU’s flexible degree programs can fit into your busy schedule. Learn how we can help you get ready to thrive in a tech career today.