Cyber security (sometimes referred to as information security) is a computer science field focused on protecting technological systems from digital attacks, unauthorized access, or data breaches.
Cyberattacks pose an ever-growing danger to individuals and organizations, making cyber security an essential function of any business or institution’s technological arsenal. Cybercrimes combatted by cyber security include:
Cyber security professionals combat these threats and implement processes that protect networks. A career path in cyber security opens up a competitive job market with robust opportunities. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the job outlook for information security professionals will grow 31 percent from 2019 to 2029, more than seven times the rate at which the job market as a whole will grow over that period.
How much will you make if you pursue a cyber security career? This article explores cyber security salaries, addressing the following questions:
Cyber security professionals can be high earners. What you will earn depends primarily on your years of experience, technical skills, education, and location. All of these factors impact cyber security pay.
The current cyber security talent shortage provides opportunities for job seekers. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cyber security jobs worldwide by 2021, while Cyber Seek reports that there are currently 715,000 cyber security workers in the US, with another 314,000 unfilled positions in the field. If you’ve got the skills employers are looking for, you should be able to find a desirable position in this field.
Labor Insight reports a national average salary for cyber security professionals of $97,191. Note that not all cyber security job postings will include the term “cyber security” in the job title. You might come across titles such as security analyst, security engineer, or information security analyst in your job search.
Cyber security job titles, and their salaries, include:
According to Labor Insight, the top ten percent of cyber security professionals earn $126,205, while the bottom ten percent average around $65,794 annually.
Starting salaries in cyber security depend on location, related experience, skill level, and specialization. For example, a beginning cyber security analyst typically earns around $64,000, while a security engineer’s starting salary is $73,000. Location is also an important factor. Cyber security professionals in New York earn an average of $102,200 per year, while those in Oklahoma earn $85,000. (Note, however, that the cost of living in New York City is more than 50 percent higher than in Oklahoma City.)
The annual median salary for an entry-level candidate in the United States with 0 to 2 years of cyber security experience ranges between $64,300 and $97,700. The average entry-level salary averages around $81,400.
Entry-level cyber security jobs go by many different titles. Generally, entry-level roles are in areas such as networking, software development, systems engineering, financial and risk analysis, and security intelligence. Here are examples of positions you can expect to see at an entry-level:
Labor Insight reports the average salary for cyber security professionals with 10 or more years of experience is $108,900.
In its 2022 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, (ISC) estimates the size of the the global cyber security workforce at 4.7 million. It also indicates that the current workforce is 3.4 million workers short. That’s over 3 million positions waiting to be filled by qualified cyber security experts (nearly half a million of them in North America alone). (
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, top-paying employers in cyber security analytics include those in:
- Information services: $149,500
- Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial instruments: $142,000
- Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences: $129,000
- Scientific research and development services: $128,500
- Software publishers: $126,000
- Publishing: $125,700
The average salaries of professionals with a Master's degree are between $91,000 and $109,000, respectively. About half of all professionals in this field hold a graduate degree. ( )
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Your education level will have a significant impact on your compensation. Salary increases with education and is often a determining factor in salary negotiation.
According to Labor Insight, cyber security professionals with a bachelor’s degree earn $98,500 annually on average, which is over $18,000 more than those with an associate’s degree.
A bachelor’s degree in cyber security is the bare minimum requirement to enter the field. To qualify for high-level positions, a master’s or PhD is your best bet. However, it is possible to get hired with just a bachelor’s degree.
Here are a few positions in cyber security that you can get with a bachelor’s degree:
Cyber security is a field of high growth and high opportunity. A master’s degree is important to secure a high-paying job. programs like The University of Tulsa‘s online Master of Science in Cyber Security are designed with the working professional in mind. Students in this program graduate with the skills they need to succeed as industry leaders.
Here are some positions that you can expect to get with a master’s degree in cyber security:
If you want to become a cyber security expert and land a top leadership position in the field, a PhD will help get you there. Payscale reports that PhD holders command an average salary of $165,000.
Many job seekers with a PhD in cyber security pursue positions in academia and research. Non-academic positions include roles in management and leadership.
Here are some jobs that you can get with a PhD in cyber security:
In addition to education level, your salary will also depend on factors such as location, experience, and employer.
According to Payscale, the highest-paying positions in cyber security include:
Cyber security is a necessity across many fields. Cyber security positions are common in sectors like government, business, finance, healthcare, and telecommunications.
According to Labor Insight, these are the leading employers in cyber security in the past year:
Some of the most in-demand jobs in cyber security include positions such as cybersecurity engineer, information security manager, application security engineer, cybersecurity analyst, and penetration tester. Labor Insight reports the following employers had the highest demand for job openings in the past year:
Opportunities and salaries within cyber security look different throughout the country. States with the highest cyber security salaries include:
Research conducted by Comparitech ranks Virginia as the best state to work in information security. The median salary in cyber security in Washington DC/Virginia is $103,000.
The top ten percent of professionals in this area earn around $127,559; the bottom ten percent earn approximately $76,028. The top locations in Virginia by salary in the cyber security field are as follows:
According to Labor Insight, there have been 22,086 job postings in the cyber security field in Washington DC in the past 12 months. Here are the top employers for cyber security professionals in Washington DC, along with the number of job postings in the last 12 months:
California offers many opportunities for cyber security professionals. The median annual salary for those in cyber security is $103,156. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of 28.4 percent over the next decade. The top locations in the Golden State to secure a high salary in information security are:
As the tech capital of the West Coast, California offers many opportunities in the cyber security field. The demand for qualified professionals is high, with almost 18,000 job postings within the past 12 months. Here, according to Labor Insight, are the top employers and number of job postings in the past year for cyber security professionals in California:
New York employs thousands of cyber security professionals, and the average salary is $102,590 —with the top ten percent earning $131,926 and the bottom ten percent earning $70,609. Top locations in New York for a high-paying salary (according to Labor Insight) are:
In the last 12 months, there have been 6,311 job postings for cyber security positions in New York. These employers look for professionals with skills in network security, threat analysis, information technology, computer science, and security operations. Here are the top employers in New York State and the number of job openings within the past year:
Cyber security professionals in Florida earn a median annual salary of $89,653. The top ten percent of earners average $118,264; the bottom ten percent earn around $60,050. Top paying locations include:
There is high demand in Florida for qualified individuals in cyber security. With over 7,000 job openings in the past year, the upward trend continues with projected job growth at 38.3 percent. Top cyber security employers in the state include:
Across the country, cyber security roles pay well. Even states with the lowest median annual salary in the information security sector offer robust compensation. Two of the states with the lowest average salary in cyber security are Nevada at $87,700 and Arkansas at $88,100. That’s decent pay anywhere and especially in locations (like Nevada and Arkansas) where the cost of living is relatively low.
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