$116,000: What You Need to Pay for the Average Cyber Pro

By Brittany Ballenstedt

August 5, 2013

The high demand for cybersecurity professionals has caused annual salaries to creep up to $116,000 on average. But cyber pros are interested in more than just a six-figure paycheck; they most value a career that provides interesting, challenging and meaningful work, according to a new study.

The survey of 500 cybersecurity professionals, released Monday by Semper Secure and underwritten by Northrop Grumman, NetApp and MeriTalk, found that cyber pros are earning $116,000 per year, or $55.77 per hour, on average.

Federal agencies, which are challenged by strong demand for cyber talent while also facing budget cuts and pay freezes, may take heart in knowing that high salaries and benefits were ranked fifth in areas cyber pros most value, however.

The most valuable assets of a cyber career included interesting and challenging work (56 percent), important and meaningful work (44 percent), love for technology (39 percent), the constant change and dynamic industry (31 percent) and job security (27 percent). Just one in four cyber pros ranked high salaries and benefits as a top perk of their career.

In addition, the federal government may be a step up over other sectors in a key benefit cyber professionals want – flexible work arrangements and telework, the study found. Nearly half (47 percent) said flexible work arrangements are most important to their overall quality of life. In addition, 14 percent valued telework as the most important aspect of their jobs, even more than pay, benefits and prestige.  

More good news for federal agencies: Nearly half of cyber professionals consider the Washington, D.C. region as the center of cybersecurity innovation. Forty-four percent of those surveyed cited D.C., Maryland and Virginia as the top spot for cyber innovation, followed by California (33 percent) and other (23 percent).

In addition, many cyber pros cited the federal government as their dream job, second only to Google. Other top-ranked employers were self-employment and Cisco, the study found.

While cybersecurity professionals are a loyal group (65 percent have worked for two or fewer organizations during their career), they may still be interested in changing jobs, particularly if a job switch would provide greater growth opportunity, better total compensation or more prestige, the study found.

“These people aren’t jumping from job to job looking for salary bumps and signing bonuses,” said Lee Vorthman, chief technology officer for federal civilian agencies at NetApp. “Many of them want to work for federal agencies and most of them tend to stick with employers for the long term. For companies, that means they better get them early or risk not getting them at all.” 

By Brittany Ballenstedt

August 5, 2013