Cybersecurity Degree Overview for North Carolina


Updated January 5, 2023

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From its eastern coastline to the Appalachian mountains in the west, North Carolina offers a diverse natural beauty and a vibrant cultural life.

Its cities are home to top-ranked universities, research centers, healthcare facilities, and financial institutions. It's no surprise, then, that North Carolina ranks ahead of 34 other states in technology employment.

The state has a low overall unemployment rate of about 3.6% and 132% higher-than-median pay for its technology workers.

Many two-year and four-year colleges across the state offer technology degrees, including coursework in cybersecurity. About 81.9% of students in these schools are taking at least one class online. Learn more about earning your cybersecurity degree in NC using the data below.

North Carolina at a Glance

  • Average Wage for Computer and Mathematical Occupations: $98,110
  • % of Workforce in Tech: 5.8%
  • Economic Impact of Tech Industry: $45 billion
  • Number of Higher Learning Institutions: 132

Sources: Cyberstates™, NCES, OEWS

Why Get a Cybersecurity Degree in NC?

With an unemployment rate of just 3.6%, North Carolina offers wide-open territory for career-minded professionals. Many of the state's largest cities, including Raleigh, Durham, and Charlotte, are home to nationally recognized universities and corporations, many of which employ technology specialists.

About 5.8% of North Carolina's workforce works in the tech sector. More than 33,000 of North Carolina's technology workers serve as cybersecurity or systems engineers. This state's technology professionals earn median wages 132% higher than the national median.

Many technology workers train at one or more of North Carolina's 69 four-year colleges or 63 two-year schools.

These public and private institutions serve the state's large urban and rural populations. Many North Carolina schools offer online learning and hybrid programs, often an ideal choice for adult students pursuing technology-related degrees.

Home to the first public university in the nation (UNC Chapel Hill), North Carolina invests heavily in its public schools, providing a higher-than-average tax revenue and appropriation amount per full-time student. Like many states, North Carolina offers steep discounts for residents studying at in-state public institutions.

The state's postsecondary graduation rate suggests that about six in ten higher education students complete a degree within six years. About 82% of these graduates are well-aligned to North Carolina's labor market, including its burgeoning technology sector.

Education Statistics for North Carolina

As a whole, North Carolina residents are well educated. They exceed the national average for adults over 25 with an associate or bachelor's degree. This outcome may be a result of the state's greater-than-average investment in higher education.

North Carolina's many private and public higher learning institutions include a robust mix of research universities, liberal arts colleges, and two-year colleges.

The Tar Heel State is also a leader in online learning, exceeding the national average of students enrolled in distance education by almost 10%.

Both state residents and out-of-state learners can use online programs.

Higher Education Statistics North Carolina Data National Data
Four-Year Colleges 69 2,520
Two-Year Colleges 63 1,216
Students Enrolled in Distance Education 82% 72.8%

Sources: NCES

Accreditation for North Carolina Schools

Attending an accredited school opens up career and financial aid opportunities unavailable to other students. Almost all federal and state financial aid benefits apply only to students attending accredited schools.

Graduates often find that the job marketplace values degrees from accredited schools over unaccredited ones.

Accreditation comes in two main forms — institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation is the gold standard among higher education institutions.

In North Carolina, an institutionally accredited school holds its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Some computer science departments may also hold program accreditation with the computing accreditation commission of ABET..

Are Cybersecurity Schools in North Carolina Right for You?

Due to its large number of institutions, North Carolina houses academic programs at all levels. So how do you choose the right school for you?

Consider questions such as: What degree level are you searching for? Are you seeking a two-year or four-year degree? A graduate program? A research doctorate?

Think about your learning preferences. Are you looking for a fully online program? Do you prefer in-class learning? Could a hybrid-model cybersecurity degree in NC work for you?

Finally, consider costs. An institution's price tag is just one component of its actual cost. In general, North Carolina's public institutions cost less than the national average, while its private schools charge slightly more.

The data below can help you decide if North Carolina is the right state for you to begin your cybersecurity degree.

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Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

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Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

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HBCUs With the Best Cybersecurity Programs

Cybersecurity Concentrations and Similar Degrees

Cybersecurity-related programs offer many different concentrations. Often, these depend on the individual school's unique strengths and its overall diversity.

In North Carolina, the technology sector is surging, and the state houses offices for top tech companies such as Oracle, IBM, Cisco, and Red Hat.

To cast a wider career net, students may want to earn a broad-based computer science degree with an emphasis in cybersecurity. Consider the following options:

Software Engineering Software engineers design, develop, and test computer programs. In North Carolina, these in-demand professionals may develop secure products for finance or healthcare companies.
IT Management IT managers serve as the central hubs for an organization's technology structure. These professionals can take responsibility for managing information security at North Carolina's rich data centers.
Computer Science Computer science experts may take on any number of roles in the industry. Often, a computer science degree comes with a cybersecurity concentration, preparing technology generalists with a security focus.

Paying for Your Cybersecurity Degree

Paying for a cybersecurity degree may take ingenuity and sacrifice. While most of North Carolina's public schools charge tuition costs below the national average, they do not offer free cybersecurity courses.

Students may need to consider financial aid options such as scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans. The College Foundation of North Carolina offers state residents extensive assistance in understanding and securing both public and private financial aid dollars.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Like most states, North Carolina offers residents discounted rates at public colleges or universities. In addition, NC Promise also offers steeply discounted tuition prices to both in-state and out-of-state students at four participating schools.

Select residents of nearby states may also access low-cost tuition options through the Southern Regional Education Board. At some schools, online learners from other states pay tuition rates that fall between standard out-of-state and in-state costs.

North Carolina's Cost of Living

The total cost of your education doesn't stop at tuition — it includes your cost of living. Attending school in a state with a low cost of living can seriously benefit your budget.

While you are studying, you have to pay for housing, food, utilities, transportation, and other daily expenses.

Is North Carolina a low-cost of living state? Yes! Setting 100 as the baseline, World Population Review assigns a cost-of-living score above 100 to more expensive states, and a score under 100 to less costly ones. North Carolina's score of 95.7 places it among the more affordable states to live and study.

Careers for Cybersecurity Graduates in North Carolina

In late 2022, Cyber Seek US reported that the U.S. has 769,736 open cybersecurity jobs. That means the country has enough qualified workers to fill only 68% of available jobs.

In other words, cybersecurity is a wide-open field. With its flourishing economy and business-friendly environment, North Carolina offers exceptional opportunities to cybersecurity professionals.

According to CompTIA, 5.8% of North Carolina's workforce is in the technology sector, but they account for 8.1% of the state's economic impact.

Most of these professionals work in IT services, telecommunications, and technology manufacturing. Other cybersecurity experts may work across North Carolina's robust health, education, and finance sectors.

While cybersecurity professionals may live in any of North Carolina's rural or urban areas, Charlotte and Raleigh account for most of the jobs in this sector.

Consider the careers and trends below and how they may benefit North Carolina residents.

Select Cybersecurity Careers in North Carolina

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts help prevent or respond to cyberattacks on data and technology. Depending on their training and the role, these professionals may develop security plans, analyze risk, or help restore functionality after an attack.

  • Salary for Information Security Analysts in North Carolina (2021): $117,400
  • Job Outlook in North Carolina (2020-30): +51%

Security Manager, IT

Security managers supervise an organization's cybersecurity team. Their role often requires these professionals to address high-level security challenges as well as take on typical management responsibilities such as hiring and onboarding new staff members.

  • Salary for IT Security Managers (October, 2022): $120,280
  • Job Outlook in North Carolina (2020-30): +24.05%

Security Engineer

Security engineers build the technology systems that defend data and software against cyberattacks. They may install firewalls or security detection systems. These professionals must maintain a balance between keeping data secure and giving employees easy access to technology.

  • Salary for Security Engineers (October, 2022): $96,570
  • Job Outlook in North Carolina (2020-30): +7.68%

North Carolina shows a higher-than-average growth in almost all technology-related job fields. According to the NCTech Association, North Carolina ranks fifth for median salary earnings for tech occupations and second for the percentage of women in the tech workforce.

North Carolina Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Computer Hardware Engineers, Computer Network Architects, and Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
Year State National
Computer Hardware Engineers
2020 Employment 1,820 66, 200
2030 Projected Employment 1,960 67,300
Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030 7.7% +1.7%
Computer Network Architects
2018 Employment 4,420 165,200
2030 Projected Employment 4,750 174,200
Projected Job Growth, 2018-28 7.5% +5.4%
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
2020 Employment 31,330 1,847,900
2030 Projected Employment 38,840 2,257,400
Projected Job Growth, 2020-2030 24% +22.2%

Source: Projections Central

Salaries for Cybersecurity and Related Careers, May 2021
Career North Carolina Employment North Carolina Annual Mean Wage National Annual Mean Wage
Computer and Information Systems Managers 16,590 $152,040 $159,010
Computer Hardware Engineers 1,010 $118,960 $128,170
Computer Network Architects 6,060 $112,020 $120,520
Computer Network Support Specialists 3,970 $74,610 $62,760
Computer Programmers 4,580 $101,140 $93,000
Computer Systems Analysts 23,470 $99,580 $99,270
Information Security Analysts 5,530 $117,400 $102,600
Network and Computer Systems Administrators 9,310 $87,000 $80,600
Software Developers 51,010 $117,240 $109,020
Web Developers 2,060 $81,130 $78,300

Source: BLS OEWS

The data above shows that North Carolina residents can earn above average salaries as computer programmers, information security analysts, software developers, or computer network specialists.

Computer engineers also join a fast-growing industry in this state. Computer science graduates in North Carolina may do well to major in software engineering with an emphasis in cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Employers in North Carolina

In North Carolina, employers across nearly all verticals are hiring cybersecurity professionals. I In addition to the employers listed in the "Concentrations" section, consider the following companies:

The Pokémon Company International: A subsidiary of The Pokémon Company in Japan, the North Carolina office of this children's entertainment company hires cybersecurity engineers for its print company. This position leads all information security analysis for this division.

MetLife: A leading financial services company with offices in 40 countries, MetLife hires security consultants for its North Carolina locations. These professionals analyze corporate cybersecurity risks and improve organizational control standards.

UNC Healthcare: The University of North Carolina's health system employs more than 30,000 people across the state. Among these employees, UNC Healthcare includes health information security analysts and senior IT security analysts.

Professional Cybersecurity Organizations in North Carolina

One of the best ways to advance a career in cybersecurity is through participating in one or more professional associations. These organizations provide opportunities for networking, research, and publication.

Women in CyberSecurity NC Affiliate

WiCyS offers a number of initiatives, including a jobs board, a mentorship program, and a student apprenticeship option. Members can also attend the organization's conferences and take advantage of webinars and online training.

Carolina Cyber Center

Founded by Montreat College, Carolina Cyber Center offers cyber education opportunities throughout the region. The center's part-time, 12-month program prepares students to take up to nine certification tests.

CompTIA Charlotte Chapter

CompTIA's location in Charlotte, NC offers training and courses to help students prepare for the organization's certification exams. CompTIA's Charlotte chapter also offers partnership and training opportunities for companies, government agencies, and practicing professionals.

Schools With Cybersecurity Degrees in NC

FAQ About the Best Cybersecurity Schools in North Carolina

Can I get a cybersecurity degree in NC?

North Carolina is home to a number of colleges and universities, many of which offer degrees in cybersecurity. Students can earn a graduate or undergraduate degree either in person or completely online.

Are the best cybersecurity schools in North Carolina expensive?

Many North Carolina schools that offer cybersecurity degree programs also provide scholarships and other financial aid opportunities, making it possible to earn a degree without going into significant debt.

What cybersecurity jobs can I get with a degree from NC?

With its numerous financial, educational, and healthcare institutions, North Carolina is well positioned to take advantage of the rapid growth in cybersecurity. The number of cyberattacks on businesses, public infrastructure, and government systems has been steadily increasing over the last decade. North Carolina needs penetration testers, security engineers, IT managers, and cybersecurity analysts to help reduce these attacks.

Is cybersecurity a good career in North Carolina?

Cybersecurity is a fast-growing career field, and North Carolina offers security professionals a wealth of opportunities in technology research, healthcare, and manufacturing.

Page last reviewed Oct 28, 2022

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