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21st century careers spotlight: Information assurance

4 min read

Career-Technical Education

SmartBrief Education’s Path to Workforce content series brings you original content and events on the topic. #Path2W is our vision of college and career readiness, encompassing K-12, adult learners, career changers and non-traditional students. Florida Polytechnic University in a recurrent series will help us shine a light on 21st century careers. In this blog post, we learn more about information assurance.

Unlike a discipline that can be studied or memorized from textbooks, information assurance encompasses strategies that are best learned from hands-on experience. Information assurance, which draws on computer science and information technology knowledge, requires deep analytical skills and problem-solving abilities to protect information systems from security breaches.

Data — and the number of information systems used to store and manage the data — continues to grow at an exponential rate. Information assurance experts act as defense mechanisms to ensure that private business or personal information is less susceptible to theft, exposure or manipulation. A faultless information system is impossible to guarantee, however, more practical higher learning can help information assurance get as close to perfection as possible.

Here’s a look at why our future generation of information assurance experts will benefit most from hands-on information assurance degree programs at universities:

Fostering the right skills

To some extent, information assurance requires technical knowledge in computer and information systems, but it also requires skills that extend beyond the lecture hall. Professors who employ a more hands-on approach help students to improve their problem-solving abilities, enhance their communication and relationship-building skills, and enable them to make informed, strategic decisions under pressure.

Employers place a great deal of trust in information assurance specialists, and the type of education that these specialists receive often determines whether or not they’ll excel in the field. Rather than focusing on mundane tasks or coursework, a more pragmatic education offers students the opportunity to tackle real-world problems and learn best practices from educators. After graduation, students pursuing a career in information assurance will have the preparation, the knowledge and the confidence to identify weak areas in information systems, mitigate risks and implement procedures or policies to keep security threats at bay.

Familiarity with industry tools, resources and applications

The sheer number of devices and computing methods available to create, store and transmit data is overwhelming — and it’s still growing. Hands-on degree programs offer students the ability to analyze networks for numerous platforms, including mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

It’s essential to familiarize students with the platforms, tools and resources they may come across on a daily basis during their careers as information assurance experts. Familiarity will help students anticipate the tactics that may need to be implemented for a specific device — whether it involves adding more firewall and antivirus software for computers, or building more secure mobile applications for smartphones and tablets.

Filling the skills gap

As the rate and volume of data creation increases, so does the demand for information assurance expertise. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of information security analyst positions is expected to grow by 18% from 2014 to 2024, which is considered much faster than average.

The industry is witnessing a workforce shortage because of a lack of employable talent; however, hands-on higher learning programs in information assurance are designed to bridge this skills gap. Rather than focusing solely on the technological aspect of security, information assurance training focuses on the broad strategies and tactics used to protect all information systems — with and without computers.

Professors who have worked in the information assurance field offer a unique perspective on what students can expect in the real world. By drawing on previous experience gained in the workforce, professors can blend both traditional and practical teaching methods to enable students to become the information assurance experts whom employers search for.

As one of the fastest growing computer technology fields today, information assurance plays a vital role in information security across nearly every industry. As vital as information assurance itself, a hands-on education and a robust degree program are necessary to prepare students to be the next great defenders of sensitive information.

Lauren Willison is the Director of Admissions at Florida Polytechnic University.

Learn more about information assurance.