Cybersecurity Salary: How much do we really make?

As organizations continue to embrace new technologies to store and process corporate and consumer data, so does the risk and complexity of cyberattacks grow with each passing hour. This is especially true for IoT and mobile devices which are constant targets for cybercriminals. It is projected that by 2023, hackers will have stolen an approximate 33 billion records which comprise personal information such as names, credit card information, and social security numbers to mention just but a few. The situation is further compounded as organizations continue to be plagued by inadequate cybersecurity expertise, insufficient end-user awareness of cybersecurity best practices and inability to keep up with the ever-growing threat landscape.  The cost of cyberattacks is substantial and could run into millions of dollars in data recovery, malware cleanup, and business continuity. For this reason, companies will not hesitate to offer a competitive cybersecurity salary to a highly skilled and qualified cybersecurity professional to safeguard their digital resources. Let’s dive in and have a glance at the highest paying cybersecurity jobs.

Do you want to get started in Cybersecurity yourself and don’t quite know where to start? I have put together a huge guide on How to get started with Cybersecurity that may be worth your time, totally free and beginner-friendly.

Another good starting point would be picking up a good book on the matter. I have compiled a list of my favorite Hacking Books that got a lot of attention lately, check it out as well if you like!

cybersecurity salary

Network Security Engineer

A network security engineer is tasked with the overall security of a corporation’s network. The main tasks of a professional in this role include designing, planning, auditing and troubleshooting an organization’s network to ensure a secure, malware-free network. A network security engineer protects the organization’s network from the risks of intrusions and breaches from hackers. Additionally, and most importantly, the network security engineer ensures disaster recovery and business continuity in the event of a security breach or physical disaster. The skillset of a Network Security Engineer includes CEH ( certification in Ethical Hacking), CCSP( Cisco Certified Security Professional) and CCNP (Cisco Certified  Network Professional).  If we look at Payscale, the average salary of a network engineer is $84000 per year. As more companies migrate their infrastructure to cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS), the role of a network engineer cannot be ignored.

Penetration Tester

Also referred to as an Ethical Hacker, a penetration tester’s primary role is to hack or break into an organization’s network, web application, servers, and security systems with an aim of identifying vulnerabilities or weaknesses. They work round the clock, particularly during business hours, conducting various tests on organizations’ systems and applications. They conduct penetration tests on organizations’ websites,  servers, and applications while keeping up with the latest penetration testing tools. Additionally, they participate in formulating security policies and security assessment reports after performing penetration tests. Penetration Testers should be competent in Linux, Windows, and macOS and should be familiar with programming languages such as Python, Javascript, and Ruby. Additionally, they should be very competent in penetration and sniffing tools such as Aircrack-ng, Metasploit, BurpSuite, SQLMap, and Veil to mention just a few. These professionals should also be conversant with security frameworks such as NIST, HIPAA, and SOX.  Desirable certifications of a penetration tester include CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and The average cybersecurity salary of a Penetration tester is $82,235 per year according to Payscale.com.

Application Security Engineer

An application security engineer is tasked with the responsibility of testing and identifying vulnerabilities in the software applications in compliance with laid out policies. His/her main duty is to unearth existing vulnerabilities in software applications by carefully examining lines of programming code and ensuring there are no loopholes through which an attacker can find their way through. Additionally, an application security engineer performs penetration tests in order to uncover exploits and weaknesses that hackers can take advantage of. Further, the application security engineer performs threat modeling and reviews the source code written by other developers. To perform these tasks, the professional should have a mix of ethical hacking, vulnerability scanning, threat modeling, and secure coding skills. To add to the list, the application security engineer should be adept at an array of modern programming languages such as Python, and Java and competent in Windows and Linux/Unix operating systems. Desirable certifications for this line of expertise include CASE (Certified Application Security Engineer), OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project), CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and CISSP ( Certified Information Systems Security Professional). the average cybersecurity salary for an Application security engineer according to glassdoor.com is $129,847 per year.

Cybersecurity Engineer

A Cybersecurity engineer plays a more general role in the cybersecurity scape. Such a professional is involved in the planning, implementation, monitoring, and formulation of security policies in order to safeguard an organization’s network, IT resources and data. A cybersecurity Engineer also takes part in daily administrative tasks such as troubleshooting any security or network issues, mitigation of risks and communicating with relevant personnel in other departments within an organization. At a glance, a cybersecurity engineer ensures the security of an organization’s IT infrastructure and data by implementing the required security controls and cybersecurity policies.

For this role, one needs to demonstrate an excellent understanding of technologies such as VPNs, firewalls, Web proxies, as well as intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems. You should also be adept in Unix/Linux and Windows as well as programming languages such as Python, Java, C++, Ruby, and PowerShell scripting. It’s more preferable if the expert possesses certifications such as CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor), CISM (Certifed Information Security Manager), CISSP (Certified Information System Security Professional), and CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker). Given the diverse role of a cybersecurity secure, security-minded and forward-thinking companies will waste no time in paying top dollar for a skilled cybersecurity engineer. The average cybersecurity salary of a Cyber Security Engineer is $129,847 per year according to glassdoor.com.

Chief Information Officer

Popularly referred to as a CIO, a Chief Information Officer is an IT executive who mostly performs an oversight role in the implementation of IT Security needs in an organization. Key functions of a CIO include risk management, formulating IT policies, strategic planning of the Company’s Security needs, and creating business value using technology. In most cases, they delegate some of these responsibilities to other security experts within an organization. The role of a CIO varies from one organization to another: what a CIO does in one organization may vary slightly with what a CIO at any organization does. The takeaway home of a Chief Information Officer is $157,557 per year.

Where to go from here?

Has this article sparked your interest in becoming a Cybersecurity specialist? If so, I recommend you checking out my popular Getting started with Cybersecurity article and also my Hacking Books article. Both of those are great resources to get you started. The journey of becoming a Cybersecurity specialist is not an easy one and it requires a lot of dedication and a high pain threshold, but it definitely is possible if you really want it.

Conclusion

It is quite clear that companies are prepared to pay a competitive cybersecurity salary for the right cybersecurity professionals with the right mix of skills to safeguard their resources in the wake of the ever-increasing and evolving cyberattacks. This is because they know all too well the ramifications of failing to do so. We cannot emphasize further the importance of continuous cybersecurity training for these experts in order to keep up with the industry’s standards. Also equally important is the training for regular employees because contrary to popular opinion, cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility – not just for the security team.

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