Security and resilience studies bring together diverse disciplines, including public safety, information security, disaster prevention, and operations management, and explore the integrated roles they play in disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and adaptability. This emerging field holds a growing range of responsibilities and opportunities for prospective security professionals.
An education focused on security and resilience offers vast career options vested in leadership, organizational efficiency, and public well-being. If you’re interested in pursuing a degree in this field, here’s everything you need to know about the industry, what you can do with a master’s degree, and how to stand out in today’s highly competitive job market.
What Is Security and Resilience?
Although globalization, infrastructure, and technology offer many benefits, they come with their own modern challenges. Security and resilience studies combat these issues with a strategic approach to building communities and institutions that can withstand economic, environmental, and societal threats (e.g., pandemics, cyberattacks, and natural disasters).
To better understand what this field offers recent graduates or career changers, it’s crucial to explore the two foundational topics: security and resilience.
- Security studies use data analysis, risk assessment, systemic thinking, and leadership skills to identify and combat internal and external security risks, such as organized crime, rapid migration, and bioterrorism.
- Resilience involves the development of sustainable communities, businesses, and institutions that can survive, adapt, and improve in response to socioeconomic, governmental, and technological changes or conflicts.
Combining these concentrations creates an adaptable industry prepared to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. Here’s a look at just a fraction of the professional opportunities offered to students enrolled in a security and resilience master’s degree program.
What Can You Do With a Master’s in Security and Resilience
Graduate programs that examine security from a resiliency perspective are relatively new and provide unique flexibility for students with diverse interests. While graduates can enter into many traditional fields relating to public security, their academic history, interests, and goals also play a role in shaping how security and resilience studies can enhance their career opportunities.
“It depends on the background that people are coming from, what their undergraduate degree is in, and where their passion is,” says Ann Lesperance, Director of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University.
For example, someone with a business background might aspire to go into supply chain management or risk assessment, while someone with a technical degree might want to pursue a career in information security.
Unlike most higher degree programs, security and resilience education can be molded to fit a student’s objectives, especially for industries with high-risk, high-impact, and changing environmental factors. Here are six possible career paths for students pursuing a master’s degree in security and resilience.
1. Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts plan, implement, and manage computer networks for organizations. They identify potential vulnerabilities, respond to security breaches, and develop organization-wide protocols to minimize security risks as much as possible.
2. Project Management Specialists/Business Operations Specialists
Project management and operations specialists coordinate teams, workflows, budgets, logistics, and resources for projects or daily operations. They may manage large departments or entire enterprises and act as a key point of contact for internal and external stakeholders.
3. Computer Occupations
While this is a broad term, the computer occupations that fall under this umbrella mostly deal with cybersecurity. Some of the top technical positions in security include:
Security analysts protect an organization’s digital assets and network infrastructure from breaches. They create programs to track and identify suspicious activity, develop data recovery protocols, and test the security performance of company systems.
Security engineers create and maintain data security systems to protect digital information from being lost, accessed, or misused. They also perform testing, upgrades, and troubleshooting to keep data systems operating efficiently and safe from cyberattacks.
Security architects assess computing and network infrastructures for vulnerabilities and design solutions to make them more resistant to intrusion. They work with other IT security professionals to test the efficacy of various system elements and offer the right resources, hardware, and best practices to improve security.
4. Emergency Management
Emergency management directors and specialists develop procedures for responding to public health crises, such as natural disasters. These highly skilled professionals collaborate with other public safety specialists to gather data about potential hazards, analyze and simulate risks, and acquire funding and resources to manage emergencies.
Although director roles are in demand, they aren’t the only emergency management positions for graduates. “Many other positions are filled with emergency management professionals who bring in different kinds of disciplines, ” Lesperance notes. For example, a wide range of jobs in government, healthcare, business, and intelligence organizations focus on emergency management (e.g., crisis consultants, hazardous materials response specialists, and safety analysts).
5. Management Analysts
Management analysts advise organizations on the best strategies for boosting productivity, efficiency, and profit. Analysts gain as much insight as possible into an organization’s processes, policies, budgets, expenses, and resources to provide thorough evaluations of what can be improved. They also conduct follow-up assessments to see how the changes are implemented and recommend better options if necessary.
6. Medical/Health Services Managers
Medical and health services managers are responsible for making things run smoothly in health facilities. This high-level leadership role oversees every part of business operations, ranging from staff training and recruitment to organizational finances, compliance, and governance. Because patient well-being is at the core of medical services, leaders in this field must understand what clients need and make strategic decisions to deliver high-quality care.
What Industries Do Security and Resilience Professionals Work In?
Generally, the goal of a security and resilience master’s degree program is to train professional problem-solvers who are equipped to manage the complex conditions of large-scale operations.
As Lesperance notes, demand for such professionals is increasing. “Security and resilience are at the helm of so many issues worldwide at the moment. Plenty of additional positions will be growing in the future—certainly, security resilience officers, national security researchers, and jobs focused on critical infrastructure protection.” This educational path has broad applications emerging in a number of industries.
1. Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
Professional, scientific, and technical services are occupations that require specialized training to meet customer needs and help them achieve their goals. Now that service providers are increasingly tasked with handling huge volumes of private data, they need professionals who can help them build secure and resilient organizations.
“Opportunities are growing, not only within the government and the private sector but also in the consulting world,” according to Lesperance. “Many consulting firms are contracted by various levels of government to focus on security and resilience.”
2. Finance and Insurance
Finance and insurance companies sell financial products and provide guidance to clients on matters such as investing, banking, tax preparation, and insurance coverage. Similar to other professional services, financial organizations have to manage data privacy, potential fraud, internal breaches, risk analytics, and compliance issues.
3. Retail Trade
Retail organizations sell products directly to consumers in stores or online. Brick-and-mortar retailers must contend with physical operations challenges, such as natural disasters, injuries, theft, and socio-political unrest. While these issues require skilled leaders who are prepared to deal with emergencies and disruptions, an even bigger threat is posed to retail.
Both physical and online retailers rely on computing systems for daily operations, as well as handling consumer data, supply chain issues, and product defects or recalls. Security and resilience roles in retail are extremely valuable in tackling emerging challenges related to cybersecurity, equipment compliance, and emergency preparedness.
Manufacturing involves the production of physical materials and goods, but it’s increasingly becoming a more digitized industry. Manufacturers have to juggle the challenges involved in processing raw goods, creating safe workplaces, and maintaining complex, high-risk machinery while putting proper safeguards in place to protect digital assets and infrastructures. Security and resilience professionals play an important role in keeping these many components under control.
Cybersecurity is at the forefront of security and resilience. Modern organizations must run on technology and computer networking to be competitive in a global market. Cybersecurity professionals can help organizations choose the right hardware and software, design intrusion-resistant systems, create effective data protection processes, and set up protocols to prevent, identify, and monitor security breaches.
“Cybersecurity is an area with tremendous opportunities for entry-level positions,” says Lesperance. “We just don’t have enough people who are trained in cybersecurity.” For those interested in quick entry into the workforce, information technologies and cybersecurity may be the right choice.
Stand Out in the Job Market
Many professionals have traditionally entered the workforce through narrowly specialized education, such as cybersecurity or operations management. While these paths can help you achieve your professional aspirations, other options exist for those interested in career paths that don’t have a linear degree program.
Earning an advanced degree through an experiential learning program allows students to work with real data, engage with real-world problems, and get on-the-job training with sponsoring organizations. The Security and Resilience Studies program at Northeastern University is an excellent example of this type of immersive learning.
“Students go into different environments and work to understand what the issues really are,” Lesperance explains. “[And as faculty, we] bring our own skill sets to the table to help them think through what the issue is or to what scope.”
According to an article from Entrepreneur, students enrolled in experiential learning models retain as much as 90 percent of their education, making this type of program invaluable for graduates who want to become proficient, career-ready professionals. The Northeastern program is intensive and intended for students who are willing to commit full-time.
If you think you’re ready for this type of immersive education, check out Northeastern’s Master of Science in Security and Resilience Studies program to see what you can do to jumpstart your career in security and resilience.