Worldwide cybercrime inflicted $8.4 trillion in damage in 2022. What’s worse is how quaint that number will soon seem: according to Statista, that number will likely balloon to $23.84 trillion by 2027. Whoever said crime doesn’t pay probably wasn’t a hacker.
Cybercriminals are continuously ramping up their attacks and coming up with new tactics—and cyber security professionals are working just as hard to protect against these threats. In the battle against cybercrime, cyber security architects are the ones who plan and build the defenses. They design, construct and oversee organizations’ network and computer security.
A career in cyber security architecture gives you a leading role in a company’s cyber security efforts—one that’s crucial to the organization’s success—and enables you to make a difference by helping protect the personal data of a company’s employees and customers.
If you enjoy thinking about things analytically and solving problems strategically and creatively, you have the right temperament for this job. You’ll also need to be able to take a big-picture view of an organization’s stance on cyber security, as these structures can be quite large and complex. And of course you’ll need to know a ton about computing, networking, the internet, and technology. You’ll also need managerial skills, since you’ll be overseeing a team of cyber security professionals who build out your plans.
According to data from ZipRecruiter, the average salary is about $148,000 a year, with top earners garnering around $213,000. The middle 50 percent of cyber security architects earn between $125,000 and $168,000 in salary. Most job listings for cyber security architects highlight additional compensation opportunities that include bonuses, incentives, and stock options.
Of course, salary varies depending on factors including your education, years of experience, the sector you work in and where you live. Before we dig in there, let’s talk education.
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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Most employers in this industry will require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, cyber security or a related field. Many will insist on a master’s degree. Some may even prefer candidates who hold a doctorate. According to O*Net, 36 percent of computing architecture jobs require a master’s degree.
Regardless, professionals with a master’s degree typically earn more (and fare better in competition for open jobs). According to PayScale, the average pay for someone with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science is $90,000, while someone with a Master of Science in Computer Science earns an average of $108,000. Thinking about heading back to school? You’re in luck. More than ever, schools offer flexible, part-time and online cyber security degree options.
Earning advanced security certifications from accredited organizations can also help boost your likelihood of getting a security architect job—and beef up your salary too. Some of these certifications include:
To land a cyber security architect job, you’ll also typically need five to ten years of experience in an IT-related position, including three to five years in a position focused on security. Most employers look for experience in systems analysis, application development and business planning. IT professionals may move up from jobs such as security analysts, cyber security engineers and security consultants to become a cyber security architect.
Once you get a security architect job, your pay will increase as you gain more experience and knowledge in the field. The average total annual compensation for a security architect with under five years of experience is $99,634, according to PayScale. With five to ten years of experience, the average annual compensation jumps to $125,000. For someone with ten to 20 years of experience, it’s $142,000.
After gaining work experience as a cyber security architect, you may qualify for a position like senior security architect or chief security architect. You could also eventually become a chief information security officer.
Like any job, where you work can also affect how much you make in your profession. According to ZipRecruiter, Massachusetts offers the highest-paying jobs in cyber security architecture with average salaries approaching $170,000. Washington comes in second at $157,000, followed by:
At the bottom of the list? Louisiana pays its average cyber security architect just under $105,000.
Do you want to make a difference by playing a leading role in the fight against cybercrime? Would you enjoy building complex IT systems and designing strategies to protect against cyber-threats?
As a cyber security architect, you can make a difference by protecting the increasingly important computer networks and digital solutions we depend on. Take a look at this article for information on how to get started in your career as a cyber security architect.
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