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Founded as a gold rush state, the Golden State has pioneered a global software and technological revolution. California is home to Silicon Valley, the software innovation hub of the world.

California teems with leading software and technology companies, making it a magnet for jobs. Few places rival California as a launching pad for graduates of cybersecurity programs.

Silicon Valley is not California’s only prime attraction. Some renowned cybersecurity colleges in California are located outside the Bay Area.

Cybersecurity professionals are highly compensated, earning around $100,000 per year. Demand for cybersecurity professionals gives the industry a 0% unemployment rate.

Learn more about the best cybersecurity programs in California below.

California at a Glance

Population

39,613,493

Climate

Average Annual Temperature: 59.4℉

Annual Precipitation: 22 inches

Major Sports Teams

The Los Angeles Rams, The Los Angeles Lakers, The Golden State Warriors, The Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Sparks, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers.

Per Capita Income

$39,393

Fortune 500 Companies

126

% of Workforce in Tech

7.8%

Economic Impact of Tech Industry

$516 billion

Number of Higher Learning Institutions

416

Sources: World Population Review, Current Results, Department of Numbers, Fortune, Cyberstates™, NCES

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Why Go to College for Cybersecurity in California?

California occupies most of the West Coast, and is generally a laid-back and outdoorsy place. Landscapes vary between scenic beaches, bustling cities, luxurious forests, and even deserts. Every school has its own unique flavor, and students will often have access to rich scenery.

California has the highest number of educational institutions (416) in the U.S. For perspective, New York follows at a distant second with 299 institutions.

Moreover, California has over 25 schools offering more than 54 cybersecurity-specific certifications and degree programs. Even if learners cannot physically relocate for classes, there is an abundance of online cybersecurity programs.

The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have recognized several schools in California as National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense Education.

Education Statistics for California

California has about 262 four-year colleges, and 154 two-year colleges. The state’s students enrollment in distance education is closer to the national statistics, at 73.1%.

California puts its money where its mouth is concerning higher education. The state allocates more money to postsecondary education than the national average, with $9,531 appropriations for each full-time student.

HIGHER EDUCATION STATISTICS

CALIFORNIA DATA

NATIONAL DATA

Four-Year Colleges

262

2,679

Two-Year Colleges

154

1,303

Students Enrolled in Distance Education

73.1%

72.8%

Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student

$9,531

$8,636

Tax Revenue Per Full-Time Student Allocated to Higher Education

$12,330

$15,276

Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree

8%

8.5%

Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree

21.6%

19.8%

Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher

13.1%

12.4%

Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census ACS

Accreditation for California Schools

Most higher education institutions in the United States are accredited. Accreditation can improve the transfer process.

When choosing an online cybersecurity degree in California, the first thing you should do is check the program's website for a link to its accreditation status. Ensure the school has accreditation and that its accrediting agency is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

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Considerations for Cybersecurity Programs in California

Choosing the right cybersecurity degree in California may seem overwhelming. The below data might help prospective students decide which cybersecurity college in California is right for them.

On this side of the COVID-19 pandemic, distance education courses might factor into school choice. The data below shows that more than half of California students are enrolled in distance education (55.3%), with 17.8% enrolled in at least some form of distance education courses.

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

To cater to the needs and diverse life circumstances of students, school programs often offer the flexibility of choosing between on-campus and online programs.

On-Campus Programs

On-campus programs give students more opportunity to get involved with their campus’ social and academic community. This can result in greater satisfaction, especially with the overall undergraduate experience.

The social ties formed by meeting new people expands students’ horizons. While networking frequently happens in online spaces, some students may prefer building relationships in person.

Online Programs

In addition to being able to study anywhere, online programs provide students with a more flexible schedule. Studying online can save on relocation and campus commute costs. Online cybersecurity programs might even offer self-paced learning.

Hybrid Programs

Unlike its online or on-campus counterparts, hybrid programs occur in a blended format. In this educational model, the students’ time is divided between in-person and online instruction.

Explore rankings for top cybersecurity programs online and in person:

Paying for Your Cybersecurity Degree

Financing is available for students who want to pursue a cybersecurity degree in California. Among the options are private and federal student loans, in addition to financial aid programs. Other sources of financial aid include scholarships, fellowships, and grants.

Student loans are designed to help students pay for education costs. Private lenders or the federal government provide the funding.

Scholarships, fellowships, and grants do not need to be paid back like loans. However, these might require a service commitment like an internship or employment, often for a period of one or more years.

Cal Grants are designed to help California students bear the cost of higher education.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

There is often a huge gap between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. The average undergraduate tuition and fees for in-state students at a public four-year institution was $8,192. In comparison, out-of-state tuition for the same period was $32,177.

Out-of-state tuition breaks can help degree-seekers. Some states have tuition reciprocity programs with California. The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program gives nonresident tuition savings to students from its 16 member states and territories, enabling them to take programs outside their state.

California's Cost of Living

Living in California is great but it has the third highest cost of living in the United States. Its cost of living index of 142.2 reflects the substantially high cost of transportation and housing you’ll have to pay to reside in California.

As a result, you should consider how this would impact your budget and resources when deciding whether to study in California.

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Careers for Cybersecurity Graduates in California

The cybersecurity industry is experiencing rapid job growth, high demand, and a low unemployment rate. Which means there is a skills gap – spots are open without workers with the right skills to fill them.

The 2016 Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy outlined the challenges faced by the U.S. The memorandum said that there “simply is not a sufficient supply of cybersecurity talent to meet the increasing demand” of both the federal government and the private sector.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an additional 667,600 cybersecurity job openings between 2020-2030.

Beyond good job prospects in cybersecurity, California is among thetop ten states with the strongest economy in the nation. The median wages for tech workers in California is a whopping 152% higher than the median national wage.

Select Cybersecurity Careers in California

Penetration Tester

A penetration tester, or pen tester, is trained to identify vulnerabilities and security flaws in an organization’s digital infrastructure. They perform ethical hacking on the software, web applications, and systems. They are also known as “white hackers.”

Average Annual Salary: $87,860

Forensic Computer Analyst

Forensic computer analysts are skilled in applying scientific methods and cutting-edge techniques to investigate cybercrimes. Job tasks include performing computer-based analysis to gather digital evidence such as audit trails, digital footprints, malware signatures, and other relevant data that will help identify perpetrators of cybercrimes.

Average Annual Salary: $74,618

Security Engineer

Security engineers are cybersecurity professionals tasked with implementing security features on computer networks and infrastructure to keep it up and running. They need to understand security breach protocols and grasp the fundamentals of computer forensics.

Average Annual Salary: $95,929.

California Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Computer Hardware Engineers, Computer Network Architects, and Software Developers

YEAR

CALIFORNIA

NATIONAL

Computer Hardware Engineers

2018 Employment

22,600

64,400

2028 Projected Employment

25,000

68,400

Projected Job Growth, 2018-28

+10.6%

+6.2%

Computer Network Architects

2018 Employment

11,900

159,300

2028 Projected Employment

12,900

167,700

Projected Job Growth, 2018-28

+8.4%

+5.3%

Software Developers, Applications

2018 Employment

123,400

944,200

2028 Projected Employment

159,200

1,185,700

Projected Job Growth, 2018-28

+29%

+25.6%

Source: Projections Central

Salaries for Cybersecurity and Related Careers, May 2020

Career

California Employment

California Average Annual Salary

National Annual Mean Wage

Computer and Information Systems Managers

92,880

$193,500

$161,730

Computer Hardware Engineers

19,910

$169,970

$126,140

Computer Network Architects

20,700

$129,240

$ 119,230

Computer Network Support Specialists

13,330

$74,570

$71,040

Computer Programmers

23,960

$114,740

$95,640

Computer Systems Analysts

57,910

$119,460

$99,020

Information Security Analysts

N/A

$135,200

$107,580

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

28,790

$105,770

$89,460

Software Developers

228,240

$146,770

$114,270

Web Developers

12,620

$94,060

$85,490

Source: BLS OES

At 29%, California software developers have the highest projected growth in the tech sector from 2018 - 2028. Other tech jobs in California are projected to grow at rates exceeding the overall U.S. growth.

Computer and information systems manager is the best-compensated cybersecurity career. The average annual California salary for this role is $193,500.

Cybersecurity Employers in California

These are the top three tech companies in California that employ cybersecurity experts.

McAfee


McAfee is an award-winning cybersecurity company with headquarters in San Jose, California. It is popular for its Antivirus software. The core of its products deal with threat management and detection.

Among a plethora of engineering roles, McAfee also employs security researchers and software development engineers.

Palo Alto Networks


Palo Alto Networks is a cybersecurity company whose products deal in endpoint protection. It offers advanced firewalls and cloud-based security products for threat detection and prevention.

The company has its headquarters in Santa Clara, California. Palo Alto provides research and development careers with roles as software engineer and platform test engineer.

Imperva


Imperva provides data protection, cloud-native security, and application security solutions. The company is headquartered in San Mateo, California. It recruits for cloud security engineers, security operations engineers, C++ engineers, and network architects.

Professional Cybersecurity Organizations in California

  • Cal Poly California Cybersecurity Institute (CCI): The organization drives both a state and national initiative to address the shortage of trained cybersecurity professionals. The organization’s objective is to forge an alliance with educational institutions, the tech community, and government agencies to fortify California’s cybersecurity defenses.
  • Orange County CyberSecurity Conference: This conference is organized by FutureCon Events and focuses on providing high-level cybersecurity training. Participants will be exposed to effective cybersecurity mitigation strategies through discussions with a panel of C-level executives.
  • Silicon Valley Cyber Security Summit: This conference brings together the upper echelon of cybersecurity decision-makers such as C-suite and senior executives, including renowned cybersecurity experts. It provides an invaluable opportunity for networking with those responsible for organizations’ critical infrastructures.

Best Schools for Cybersecurity Bachelor's Degrees

Use the rankings below to explore the best schools for earning a cybersecurity undergraduate degree in California. To learn how we rank schools, follow the link below to our methodology page.

Best Schools for Cybersecurity Master's Degrees

Take a look at our rankings of the top five graduate and master’s cybersecurity degree programs in California. And check out our rankings methodology to understand how we rank these, and all, schools across the site.

Questions About Cybersecurity in California


Can I get a cybersecurity degree in California?

Yes, you can get a cybersecurity degree in California. Enroll in an accredited online, on-campus, or hybrid cybersecurity program. Take advantage of financial aid packages.

Are degree and certificate programs in cybersecurity the same?

No. Cybersecurity degrees take longer to earn (2-4 years), while learners can earn certificates within a year. Degrees go more in-depth.

Is cybersecurity a good career in California?

Yes. California has some of the best job openings, salary, and long-term projections in the country for a cybersecurity career.

How much do cybersecurity experts make in California?

According to the BLS, cybersecurity experts in California make anywhere between $74,570 and $195,500 annually, depending on their specialty.

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