California and Washington, D.C., continue to lure the lion’s share of cybersecurity professionals, with the majority working in government, manufacturing or defense-aerospace, according to a survey by the public-private partnership Semper Secure. In addition, such expertise is earning an average annual salary of $116,000, or approximately $55.77 an hour.
Earlier this year, a report by Burning Glass International found that the demand for cybersecurity experts is growing at 3.5 times the pace of the overall IT job market.
“For top talent, cybersecurity 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,” said Jim Duffey, Secretary of Technology in the Office of the Governor of Virginia, in a statement.
Indeed, 56 percent of the survey’s 500 respondents said the most interesting aspect of their work is the challenge. Forty four percent consider their job important and meaningful, while 39 percent simply love the technology. Just 25 percent of them said high salary and benefits are the most interesting aspects of their field.
In terms of credentials, 85 percent have a professional certification. The most common were the Certified Information Systems Professional (CISSP), Cisco Certified Network Professional Security (CCNP) and the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). Forty-four percent have a bachelor’s degree, 34 percent a master’s and 5 percent a Ph.D.
Cybersecurity professionals tend to be a loyal bunch, too. For example, 65 percent have had only one or two employers in the course of their careers. Their ideal employer has a reputation for integrity, a code of honor and a reputation as a leader in the field.
Only 26 percent of respondents have been in the field less than five years. That could change if the Pentagon gains the funding it needs to expand its cybersecurity force fivefold over the next few years. Its Cyber Command is expected to grow from a staff of about 900 to include 4,900 military personnel and civilians, according to The Washington Post.
Although Semper Secure focuses on encouraging students to consider a career in cybersecurity as early as middle school, the survey found that most professionals developed their interest in the field in college or after graduation.