Semper Secure announced the results of its Cyber Security Census. Based on a survey of 500 cyber security professionals from 40 different industries across 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and underwritten by Northrop Grumman, NetApp, and MeriTalk’s Cyber Security Exchange, the census reveals what motivates today’s cyber security professionals as well as how to train and recruit the next generation.
According to the report, cyber security professionals earn on average $116,000 annually, but are driven by more than a paycheck – they want to work for an employer with a reputation for honor and integrity.
Today’s cyber security professionals have a genuine interest in their work – 56 percent of cyber security professionals say the most interesting aspect of their profession is the challenge, 44 percent say it’s doing something important and meaningful, while 39 percent simply love the technology.
Just 25 percent of cyber security professionals identified the high salary and benefits as the most interesting aspect of their profession. The average salary of a cyber security professional is $116,000 annually or approximately $55.77 per hour.
Concentrated in California and the Greater Washington, D.C. metro area, the majority of cyber security professionals work in government, manufacturing, or defense/aerospace.
“Government agencies and defense/aerospace firms remain magnets for cyber security professionals,” said Jim Duffey, Secretary of Technology, Office of the Governor of Virginia. “For top talent, cyber security isn’t about just a job and a paycheck. It is about the hottest technology, deployed by honorable organizations, for a purpose that is inherently important. It is no surprise that Virginia is an ideal location for these types of people.”
According to a recent report from Burning Glass Technologies, the demand for cyber security professionals in the past five years has grown more than 3.5 times faster than the demand for other IT jobs and about 12 times faster than the demand for all other jobs. While employers may be scrambling to hire and keep skilled cyber security workers, the professionals themselves can afford to be selective.
The top reasons cyber pros change jobs are greater growth opportunity, better total compensation, and the opportunity for more prestige or to work for a better organization. “One in three cyber security professionals view California as the center of cyber security innovation. Nearly half (44 percent) say the Greater Washington, D.C. metro area (Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia combined) is the center of innovation in cyber security.”
Cyber security professionals have one of the most important jobs in government and industry – protecting our precious data and systems from hackers, data leaks, and viruses. Consequently, cyber security professionals are looking for a reputation of integrity in their ideal employer – 44 percent of cyber security professionals want an employer who can demonstrate a well-respected code of honor.
Thirty-four percent are looking for an employer with a reputation as a leader in cyber security and 33 percent describe their ideal employer as a leader in addressing cyber security challenges. When describing their ideal employer, just one-third of cyber security professionals say they are looking for a relatively high compensation scale.
“The Cyber Security Census paints a very different picture of cyber security professionals,” said Lee Vorthman, Chief Technology Officer, Federal Civilian Agencies, NetApp. “These people aren’t jumping from job to job looking for salary bumps and signing bonuses. 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.”
Connecting to cyber security professionals early in their career is a significant obstacle. The majority of cyber security professionals do not become interested in the profession until after they begin their careers.
Forty-three percent of cyber security professionals discovered their interest in cyber security during their career and 36 percent discovered their interest while in college. One in four (26 percent) have been working in the cyber security field for less than five years.
“Industry, academia, and government need to do more to create a clear and comprehensive career path in cyber security starting as early as middle school,” said Diane Miller, Director, InfoSec and Cyber Initiatives, Northrop Grumman Corporation, which is headquartered in Falls Church. “Current staffing shortages are estimated between 20,000 and 40,000 and unfortunately that trend is continuing. We need to support programs that excite and motivate students, early-on, to pursue careers in cyber security but with an eye toward developing a strong sense of ethics and integrity. After all, these students will be put in a position of trust so it’s critical that we help them understand this aspect to position them for success.”