We’re happy to share a three-part guest blog series from writer Tricia Hussung on behalf of Russell Sage Online. As formal education becomes integral to the cybersecurity industry, more and more colleges and universities are establishing programs of study focused on digital culture and technological security. Russell Sage Online offers both a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and Cybersecurity and an undergraduate Cybersecurity Certificate. Here’s more from Tricia on the latest trends in cybersecurity careers.

The work environment for cybersecurity professionals is largely dependent on whether an organization is experiencing a security attack. During these times of crisis, workload priorities shift dramatically from a “steady-state operating environment” to a surge capacity. To adjust, cybersecurity professionals need the knowledge and skills to quickly respond to threats as soon as they arise. The ability to quickly and effectively counter security threats is vital, as the stakes are dangerously high. However, during maintenance periods in which no threats are imminent, these individuals must maintain high performance. This means that there is no such thing as an ‘average work day’ for cybersecurity professionals. They must be prepared with a wide range of technical abilities to perform a wide variety of activities while remaining collaborative.

Though it is often considered a subset of information technology, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) reports that daily cybersecurity work goes beyond the scope of IT. It includes “the analysis of policy, trends and intelligence to better understand how an adversary may think or act — using problem solving skills often compared to those of a detective.” Because of this, the IEEE recommends that prospective cybersecurity professionals be “those who can see themselves in fast-paced environments” with unpredictable working hours. However, one of the advantages of the field is that it is constantly evolving. Professionals in the developing cybersecurity workforce come from different educational backgrounds and are prepared for varying career paths such as those mentioned above.

Salary Information
In general, the salaries for cybersecurity careers are high. The Wall Street Journal reports that the salary for engineers, analysts, architects and other types of trained cybersecurity professionals averaged $101,000 based on advertised information. The same article states that this is “well above” the expected salary for IT professionals, which according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is $86,000.

Though these broad numbers are certainly encouraging, salary data for specific cybersecurity careers is even more impressive. It is important to note that these salaries are estimated and can vary based on experience and specific skill area.

  • Data security analysts earn anywhere from $89,000 to $121,500 according to Robert Half Technology, a national provider of IT professionals. Modis, a global provider of IT staffing services, reports that analysts at entry-level earn an average of $70,500, while those in supervisory and management roles earn from $93,300 to $110,100.
  • Security administrators have a wider range of earning potential, from $49,400 to $114,500 per year according to Modis. Robert Half categorizes security administrators into two groups: systems security and network security. By their estimate, a systems security administrator can earn $85,250 to $117,750 per year, while network security administrators earn from $85,000 to $116,750 annually.
  • Information systems security managers earn from $103,500 to $143,500 per year according to Robert Half, while Modis projects annual earnings to be from $78,300 to $142,000. These numbers include base pay and incentives.
  • Systems/application security analysts can expect to earn $85,800 per year for base salary, according to Modis. With incentives, this number rises to $89,200.
  • Network security engineers earn anywhere from $89,500 to $116,750 annually according to Robert Half.

Want more information about careers in cybersecurity? Read more at Russell Sage Online.