Cybersecurity Salaries and Job Outlook
Gone are the days when a security guard, a card key, and your dog’s name as your password kept an airtight seal around you and your company’s private information. Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and with it has come a barrage of cybercrime. As a result, cybersecurity professionals with expertise in protecting digital information are in high demand.
As the lead federal agency for investigating cyberattacks, the FBI reports that cybercrime is a menacing threat that continues to grow. Computer and network invasions are one of the agency’s biggest concerns.
“The collective impact is staggering. Billions of dollars are lost every year repairing systems hit by such attacks. Some take down vital systems, disrupting and sometimes disabling the work of hospitals, banks, and 911 services around the country,” according to the FBI website.
Cybersecurity is now a priority business issue, and there is no scenario that is beyond possibility when it comes to cyberattacks, retired Adm. Michael Rogers told CNBC in 2018 after leaving the National Security Agency, which he oversaw for almost four years.
“It's something that can take your company to its knees,” Rogers said.
Because of this trend, careers in cybersecurity are on the upswing. Companies need cybersecurity professionals who can protect their financial information and intellectual property, fight online fraud, and create hack-proof client records, among other tasks. Many are willing to pay top salaries for experienced cybersecurity professionals.
The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies says that the demand for cybersecurity experts is growing 12 times faster than the current US job market. The US Department of Commerce estimated there are more than 300,000 cybersecurity jobs waiting to be filled in 2019 — and the field is expected to keep growing. There will be as many as 3.5 million unfilled positions in the industry by 2021, as predicted by Cybersecurity Ventures, a company that provides cyber economic market data, insights, and predictions to professionals in the field.
Top Jobs and Salaries in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity engineers, analysts, specialists, consultants, and architects are among the jobs that organizations are looking to fill. Senior leadership in cybersecurity, especially those who work in major cities or specialty fields such as the military, can pull in annual earnings in the six-figure range; this is particularly the case for chief information security officers (CISOs) 1, which are typically the highest-ranking cybersecurity employees in a company. Every state now has a CISO or the equivalent to make sure that statewide security management programs are keeping government information protected.
CISO is not the only position in the field pulling in a competitive wage, though. Other cybersecurity jobs that offer competitive salaries include the following:
Computer network architect. Computer network architects are responsible for designing and building their organization’s data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. They’re often tasked with upkeep of these networks, too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the median annual salary for a computer network architect is $109,020.
Computer programmer. There are plenty of cybersecurity jobs that do not require programming, but if you do know how to code, it’s a strength you can bring to any cybersecurity position. Source code auditors, for example, go line by line through source code to find vulnerabilities. You’ll need to know the coding language your company uses — be it C, C++, Java, or other languages. BLS data show the annual median salary for a computer programmer in any field is $84,280.
Information security analyst. Most information security analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. Employers — typically in the computer, business, financial, and consulting industries — tend to hire analysts with experience in a related occupation where they’ve learned to plan and carry out security measures that protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. The median pay for an information security analyst is $98,350 per year, according to the BLS. Those in management level jobs can net more than $120,000.
How to Boost Your Cybersecurity Salary
Cybersecurity is a relatively new profession, and those in the field have varied school and professional backgrounds. A bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science is often a requirement (but not always), and a master’s degree in cybersecurity can boost a job applicant’s appeal factor. Classes cover topics such as cybersecurity leadership, cryptology, government and national security, network security, privacy engineering, and problem-solving skills.
Companies are also looking for employees with project management experience; analytics and data science backgrounds; technical writing skills; and expertise in law, policy, and physical security such as law enforcement and military experience, says Pete Metzger, a recruiter of C-suite cybersecurity professionals with consulting firm DHR International, to CNBC.com. Metzger started his career in the Marine Corps and later served as a Central Intelligence Agency foreign intelligence officer. Organizations are seeking people with leadership skills who can problem solve and help them “reshape” how they think about security, he said. And even if you don’t have a cybersecurity degree, it’s never too late to advance your education so you gain a competitive edge in the job market.
Cybersecurity Salary by State
Cybersecurity salaries by state are listed below for three job categories in the profession; all are mean salaries based on BLS data.2 Some state data was unavailable.
|State||Computer Network Architects||Computer Programmers||Information Security Analysts|
|District of Columbia||$123,200||$105,200||$118,080|
1 Morgan, Steve. “Top Cyber Security Salaries In U.S. Metros Hit $380,000,” Forbes, January 9, 2016.
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Employment Statistics, OES Data, May 2017, National,” March 30, 2018.
Citation for this content: cybersecurity@berkeley, the online Master of Information and Cybersecurity from UC Berkeley