I was recently asked by a friend of mine (outside the computer science field) if he can be successful in web-application pen-testing

I took this as an excuse to ask a more comprehensive question. I personally found this question about career path quite interesting

What are the career paths in the computer security field?

Keeping in mind that there are people from majors like electric engineering successfully entering different security fields, what sort of college majors are required (or are acceptable) to enter a career in computer security?

Before anyone views this question as "opinion-based" I would like to add that I need specific reasons regarding mathematics background, work ethic, and courses included in the major.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Xander, TildalWave, schroeder, Gilles, Steve Jun 16 '14 at 17:13

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Your edit further insures that answers would be opinion-based. Security is a very broad field and the potentially acceptable majors would therefore also be broad. EE, Comp Sci, MBA, BTech, these are all equally applicable to security. What matters is what the hiring company expects for a particular role, and that is entirely the opinion of the company. – schroeder Jun 16 '14 at 0:55
  • So companies hiring security experts don't do so based on specific factors? What is Btech? – Abbas Javan Jafari Jun 16 '14 at 2:47
  • What I mean is that each company has their own specific factors, depending on their needs, the organizational culture, and personal whim. – schroeder Jun 16 '14 at 14:20
  • Thank you for your reply, but isn't certain qualifications and qualities required from a security expert wherever you go? – Abbas Javan Jafari Jun 16 '14 at 14:29
  • Interesting. What you mentioned above is probably the answer I was looking for. I basically wanted to know how "strict" hiring companies are regarding the qualifications of potential employees. I would like to contact you privately and further follow up on this discussion if you have time to spare :) – Abbas Javan Jafari Jun 16 '14 at 14:53

It depends on the type and level of security involved. "Security" is a MASSIVE topic: operational? network? web application? software development? defense? offense? penetration testing? auditing? policy? education? Each one of these can require vastly different qualifications and education.

Further, there is no inherent requirement to have any particular education. I got my first IT Security administration job without a degree at all, but I did have a lot of experience in network and database administration. On the other hand, for me to transition to top management requires an MBA, in some places. There is no defined path and no golden ticket.

To quote an old mentor: "It's not what you know, it's what you do with what you know."

  • Thank you as I mentioned earlier this is probably the answer I was looking for. I basically wanted to know how "strict" hiring companies are regarding the qualifications of potential employees. To quote my mentor: "It's not what you can do that matters, It's what others can't..." :) – Abbas Javan Jafari Jun 16 '14 at 14:57

I was searching for fields in master's for security. And I came upon these courses which would lead you into security field.

Master's in Information assurance (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Science_in_Information_Assurance)

Master of Science in Information Security Technology and Management (MSISTM) (http://www.ini.cmu.edu/degrees/pgh_msistm/)

Master's in Cyber security

And, also there are lots of individual specialization universities are providing in information security. But you have to surf those manually in their websites.

  • Thank you for your answer but I was more interested in less obvious majors (major other than computer science/information technology). For example I have seen people from communications engineering and electrical engineering enter this field. – Abbas Javan Jafari Jun 14 '14 at 13:45

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