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Arizona houses the breathtaking Grand Canyon, beautiful desert landscapes, and an up-and-coming tech scene: According to CompTIA, the state ranks 17th for overall tech employment, with over 105,000 tech job openings in 2022.
In addition to the wealth of job opportunities, schools in Arizona offer a plethora of cybersecurity higher education programs — an array of options spanning nondegree certificates to doctorates.
Learn more about these cybersecurity programs as well as Arizona's employment trends with our guide.
Arizona at a Glance
- Average Wage for Computer and Mathematical Occupations: $98,400
- Percentage of Workforce in Tech: 6.2%
- Economic Impact of Tech Industry: $33 billion
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 62
Sources: Cyberstates™, NCES, OEWS
Why Go to College for Cybersecurity in Arizona?
Cybersecurity has recently become a focal point in Arizona's governmental and educational institutions: In 2021, the Arizona Department of Homeland Security established the Cyber Command office to establish statewide cybersecurity policies. The governor of Arizona also recently issued an executive order about protecting state data from cybersecurity risks.
Higher education institutions are also investing in cybersecurity research and programs. Nearly 30 Arizona colleges and universities offer at least one cybersecurity program — often more. Institutional initiatives like the Cybersecurity and Trusted Foundations center at Arizona State University promote cybersecurity research.
This increased emphasis on cybersecurity may translate to more job opportunities: CompTIA projects a 24% growth in Arizona tech positions — the state with the sixth highest growth projection in the country.
Arizona also offers diversity in the cybersecurity sector. It ranks fourth nationwide for Latino representation. Though Latinos only form 8% of the tech sector nationwide, in Arizona, they form 15%.
The state maintains a variety of educational opportunities: Almost half of all Arizona schools offer cybersecurity certificate or degree programs in online and on-campus formats. Students can choose between more rural schools, like Eastern Arizona College, or urban institutions like the University of Arizona.
Average tuition at Arizona colleges and universities is generally on par with national averages. Tuition reciprocity programs draw students from nearby states, while state-specific scholarship opportunities help Arizona residents lower their educational costs.
Education Statistics for Arizona
Arizona houses 62 higher education institutions, split almost evenly between two- and four-year schools. As of 2021, nearly three-fourths of students study partially or fully online — comparable to the national average.
|Higher Education Statistics||Arizona Data||National Data|
|Students Enrolled in Distance Education||71.6%||72.8%|
Accreditation for Arizona Schools
Before selecting a cybersecurity program, students should ensure any prospective school has institutional accreditation from a third-party accrediting body. The accreditation process proves schools meet standards of academic excellence and makes enrollees eligible for federal funding. In Arizona, the Higher Learning Commission accredits many of the state's higher education institutions.
Students can also look for programmatic accreditation, which indicates a third-party organization has reviewed a specific program to affirm its curricular offerings prepare students for jobs in the field. Organizations like ABET offer programmatic accreditation for engineering and technology programs. Not every cybersecurity program has this accreditation.
Selecting a Cybersecurity School in Arizona
Aside from accreditation, students must consider other factors like degree level and learning method.
Some Arizona schools offer short certificate programs. These nondegree credentials typically comprise several introductory cybersecurity classes and can help learners prepare for a full degree or some entry-level jobs.
However, Arizona schools primarily offer associate and bachelor's cybersecurity degree programs. Associate degree programs typically take two years of full-time study, meaning graduates can quickly enter the workforce, though they have fewer career options. Bachelor's degree programs offer a more comprehensive education and help learners qualify for a wider array of jobs, but usually take four years of full-time study.
Professionals can specialize their careers with a master's or Ph.D. in cybersecurity. These credentials can help cybersecurity workers pursue advanced careers in research, management, and education.
Many Arizona schools offer in-person cybersecurity degrees: For example, all of the campuses for Maricopa Community College provide an on-campus AAS cybersecurity program. Additionally, institutions in Arizona offer distance learning options. Schools like Northland Pioneer College, the University of Arizona, and Grand Canyon University all offer cybersecurity degrees completely online.
Explore rankings for top cybersecurity programs around the country:
Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity
Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs
Best Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs
Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity Concentrations and Similar Degrees
Some cybersecurity certificate programs, associate degrees, and bachelor's programs offer a generalized curriculum. Others offer concentrations — like those in the table below — with coursework geared toward specific subfields of the cybersecurity industry. These degrees help prepare students for cybersecurity and tech careers in Arizona.
Defense and Forensics
The defense and forensics concentration at the University of Arizona includes courses like cyberthreat intelligence, cyberwarfare, and active cyberdefense. Graduates can apply this expertise toward jobs in various Arizona industries, including government agencies and defense technology organizations.
Cyberintelligence and Security
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers bachelor's and master's degrees in cyberintelligence and security. These programs help prepare students for leadership and management cybersecurity positions through hands-on experience. Enrollees work in the school's hacker lab and collaborate with agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, one of the top cybersecurity employers in Arizona.
Computer Systems Engineering — Cybersecurity
Arizona State University offers a bachelor's degree in computer systems engineering with a cybersecurity concentration. The program covers topics like software engineering, network security, and information assurance. Graduates can work as security engineers, a cybersecurity career found in many industries.
Popular Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Paying for Your Cybersecurity Degree
According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, average tuition at Arizona schools in the 2020-21 school year was similar to national average tuition. Though in-state public tuition was slightly higher than the national average, out-of-state tuition was slightly lower. Notably, however, average tuition at private four-year schools in Arizona is almost $20,000 lower than the national average for these institutions.
Even at schools charging lower-than-average tuition, earning a degree can still cost tens of thousands of dollars. To finance their education, many cybersecurity degree-seekers consider different financial aid options, such as the following:
- Loans: Many students apply for federal or private student loans. Enrollees repay the loans with a monthly repayment plan — which usually includes interest.
- Grants: Students do not need to repay grants. Government agencies, universities, and organizations award grants based on financial need.
- Scholarships: Organizations and universities award need- and merit-based scholarships, which do not need to be repaid.
- Fellowships: Graduate students can apply for fellowships through their college or outside organizations. Like grants and scholarships, enrollees do not need to repay fellowship money.
- Work-Study Jobs: Through federal work-study programs, students get jobs at their school and apply their salaries toward tuition costs.
Arizona residents can apply for state-specific funding opportunities. For example, some schools and organizations offer scholarships for members of Native American tribes. The Arizona Community Foundation also provides statewide merit- and need-based scholarships.
In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition
As in other states, Arizona public colleges and universities charge different in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. Out-of-state tuition is typically higher than in-state tuition. For example, Northern Arizona University charges about $11,000 in tuition for Arizona residents, while out-of-state students pay around $26,000 — more than double the cost for in-state learners.
However, the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) reciprocity agreement helps lower out-of-state tuition at Arizona schools for students from the program's 16 other eligible states and territories. Over 20 Arizona schools participate in the WUE and offer discounted tuition rates for non-Arizona residents.
Some online programs also charge in-state or reduced tuition regardless of students' state residency, saving enrollees tuition and relocation expenses.
Arizona's Cost of Living
Total education costs include more than just tuition. Students must also consider general living expenses like housing, utilities, and groceries.
The World Population Review maintains an index to compare each state's cost of living. Arizona scored 103.2, indicating living expenses are higher than the national baseline of 100. Of the individual factors World Population Review measures, Arizona housing costs are the highest above the national baseline, scoring 107.7. This is followed by utilities at 104.8. Groceries and transportation are closer to national averages, with scores of 101.5 and 98.8, respectively.
Careers for Cybersecurity Graduates in Arizona
Though Arizona does not rank as one of the top tech employers in the United States, the technology scene is rapidly growing. Take, for example, the city of Phoenix, Arizona: CompTIA's 2023 Cyberstates report lists Phoenix as one of the "under the radar" tech cities and reports a steady increase in tech jobs since 2017.
A similar trend is occurring across the state. CompTIA ranks Arizona 13th in its ranking of states by new tech jobs projected for 2023, with the organization projecting 6,677 openings. In contrast, Arizona ranked 16th in 2022; its higher ranking this year means it has surpassed states like Illinois and Utah.
CompTIA data also indicates Arizona's leading tech occupations include software developers, quality assurance testers, programmers, and web developers. The organization projects a 4.9% employment growth in Arizona for those occupations in 2023.
Cybersecurity and systems engineers follow close behind. This career category is the third most popular tech occupation in the state, employing nearly 16,000 people. For Arizona, CompTIA projects 4% growth for these jobs in 2023. These cybersecurity professionals work across industries, from tech start-ups to defense organizations. Governmental organizations have also begun to emphasize cybersecurity.
With a growing cybersecurity focus across industries, cybersecurity graduates in Arizona can qualify for diverse career opportunities. The sections below examine cybersecurity job trends in the state.
Select Cybersecurity Careers in Arizona
Incident responders typically hold a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity or a related field, plus relevant professional certifications. These professionals help companies mitigate system and network breaches. They establish response protocols, monitor security systems, and analyze security alerts.
- Salary for Incident Responders: $84,020 (as of March 2023)
- Job Outlook in Arizona (2018-28): Projections Central projects a +53% job growth for Arizona information security analysts (which include incident responders).
Security engineers often work with other IT professionals to protect companies' information systems and networks. They juggle responsibilities like running simulated breaches, creating new security frameworks, and training other employees. Some security engineers hold just a bachelor's degree in computer science. However, employers may prefer a master's degree in cybersecurity or a related field.
- Salary for Security Engineers: $98,080 (as of March 2023)
- Job Outlook in Arizona (2018-2028): Projections Central projects a +53% job growth for Arizona information security analysts (which include security engineers).
A penetration tester — or pen tester — works as an ethical hacker, using false breaches to test system security and identify weaknesses. Pen testers create reports about these vulnerabilities and recommend improvements. These professionals usually hold a bachelor's degree in computer science, information assurance, or a related field.
- Salary for Penetration Testers: $90,770 (as of March 2023)
- Job Outlook in Arizona (2018-2028): Projections Central projects a +53% job growth for Arizona information security analysts (which include penetration testers).
These jobs represent only some of the careers available to cybersecurity professionals. Below, we explore other cybersecurity-related positions in Arizona.
Arizona Employment Trends
|Computer Hardware Engineers|
|2030 Projected Employment||2,360||67,300|
|Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030||+12.4%||+1.7%|
|Computer Network Architects|
|2028 Projected Employment||4,900||174,200|
|Projected Job Growth, 2018-2028||+24.4%||+5.4%|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers|
|2030 Projected Employment||53,240||2,257,400|
|Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030||+37.9%||+22%|
Source: Projections Central
|Career||Arizona Employment||Arizona Average Annual Wage||National Average Annual Wage|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||12,240||$157,080||$173,670|
|Computer Hardware Engineers||610||$97,880||$140,830|
|Computer Network Architects||4,050||$125,320||$129,490|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||2,550||$66,520||$76,060|
|Computer Systems Analysts||14,260||$107,070||$99,270|
|Information Security Analysts||3,650||$107,420||$119,860|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||6,020||$91,890||$97,160|
Source: BLS OEWS
Projections Central data suggests a positive job outlook for many cybersecurity careers, projecting faster-than-average rates of growth for jobs like computer network architects.
All the cybersecurity roles in the table above earn average wages higher than the median salary for all occupations.
To qualify for these roles, aspiring cybersecurity professionals can pursue degrees in fields like software development, computer science, or cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity Employers in Arizona
Novawatch: Novawatch offers managed security solutions to help organizations protect their data and defend against cyberthreats like phishing. This Arizona cybersecurity company hires experienced security experts for positions like lead security analyst and security engineer.
Raytheon Missiles & Defense: As part of Raytheon Technologies, Raytheon Missiles & Defense advances focuses on advancing safety and defense technology. Cybersecurity plays a significant part in safety, so Raytheon hires many cybersecurity professionals. Available positions include cybersecurity manager, systems security engineer, and cybersecurity tactical architect.
Arizona Department of Homeland Security Headquarters: The Arizona Department of Homeland Security houses the Cyber Command office, which identifies security risks, develops statewide cybersecurity policies, and protects the state's information systems. Cybersecurity positions at this agency include vulnerability assessor, cybersecurity researcher, and threat analyst.
Professional Cybersecurity Organizations in Arizona
Cybersecurity Council of Arizona
A women-founded organization, the Cybersecurity Council of Arizona aims to diversify the cybersecurity workforce. It provides educational and training through upskilling opportunities like a cybersecurity tech lab and certification study groups.
(ISC)2 Phoenix ChapterTM
As a global cybersecurity organization, (ISC)² includes many local chapters to facilitate connection and learning among cybersecurity professionals. Members do not need to hold certification to join an (ISC)² chapter. The Phoenix chapter hosts several leadership, training, and networking opportunities, including threat hunting challenges.
Southwest CyberSec Forum
Every month, security professionals from Arizona meet at GateWay Community College in Phoenix, Arizona, for the Southwest CyberSec Forum. They host presentations and encourage discussions about pressing security topics.
This free Arizona hacker and security conference occurs annually. Participants attend workshops, presentations, and breakout sessions about essential cybersecurity topics like incident response and mobile security. The conference also provides opportunities for networking.
Cyber Warfare Range
Cyber Warfare Range offers online and in-person opportunities for aspiring and current cybersecurity professionals to improve their skills through experiential learning. Participants learn to attack and defend specific cybertargets, mimicking real-world digital environments. The company runs several ranges in Arizona.
Top Schools With Cybersecurity Degrees in Arizona
- Arizona Christian University: Cybersecurity minor
- Arizona State University: Ph.D. in computer science with cybersecurity concentration
- Arizona Western College: Computer security occupational certificate
- Cochise College: AAS in cybersecurity
- Coconino Community College: AAS in cybersecurity
- Eastern Arizona College: Cybersecurity certificate
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: MS in cyberintelligence and security
- Maricopa Community Colleges: AAS in cybersecurity
- Mohave Community College: Cybersecurity and network support certificate
- Northern Arizona University: MS in cybersecurity
- Northland Pioneer College: Associate degree in cybersecurity
- Pima Community College: AAS in cybersecurity
- University of Arizona: Bachelor's degree in cyberoperations
- University of Arizona — Global Campus: BS in cyber and data security technology
- Yavapai College: AAS in computer networking technology
Questions About Studying Cybersecurity in Arizona
Can I get a cybersecurity degree in Arizona?
Yes, you can get a cybersecurity degree in Arizona. Colleges and universities in this state offer online and in-person programs across all levels of cybersecurity education — from certificates to master's and doctoral programs.
Are the best cybersecurity schools in Arizona expensive?
Tuition varies according to several factors, including school type, delivery format, and student residency status. Accordingly, the cost of the best cybersecurity programs in Arizona varies by school.
Which Arizona schools offer online cybersecurity degrees?
Several Arizona schools offer online cybersecurity programs. For example, Northland Pioneer College offers an online associate degree parogram in cybersecurity. The University of Arizona also offers a fully online bachelor's degree program in cyberoperations with three emphasis options.
Is cybersecurity a good career in Arizona?
Many cybersecurity jobs in Arizona are growing at an above-average pace, including information security analyst positions. These jobs make higher-than-average salaries: For example, the average computer systems analyst in Arizona earns over $107,000, over $40,000 higher than the average annual wage for all workers in the U.S.
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