Cybersecurity expert working on a project

Cybersecurity engineers must use their skills to ensure their organizations’ networks and data remain secure. It’s a complicated job that relies on a combination of skills and intuition, which is one reason why employers everywhere are scrambling to find cybersecurity engineers who really know their stuff. Given that demand, how high can a cybersecurity engineer salary climb?

What is a cybersecurity engineer’s starting salary?

According to Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, the median annual salary for a cybersecurity engineer with between zero and two years of experience is $79,000. Of course, that number rises considerably with experience and skills; for example, those with more than nine years of experience can pull down as much as $124,000 per year—and that’s before you incorporate other benefits and types of compensation, including stock options.

What is the average cybersecurity engineer salary?  

Lightcast pegs the median cybersecurity engineer salary at $96,933 per year. According to Dice’s latest Tech Salary Report, the average salary for a cybersecurity engineer/architect is quite high: $145,512 per year, up 7.7 percent between 2021 and 2022. That puts it comfortably above other tech professions, including data scientist, network engineer, and others. (The average tech salary currently stands at $111,348, up 2.3 percent between 2021 and 2022). Given the high degree of specialization required for a cybersecurity engineer role, that high salary shouldn’t be shocking.    

What do cybersecurity engineers make in comparison to other popular tech positions?  

According to the Dice Tech Salary Report, the average technologist salary currently stands at $104,566, up 6.9 percent between 2020 and 2021. The average cybersecurity engineer salary outpaces that number by a healthy margin.

How do you negotiate salary?  

Proving your mastery of certain skills and certifications can give you the leverage necessary to land a higher salary from a current or prospective employer. Security-related certifications such as CISSP, CISA, CISM, and CompTIA Security+ can all assure hiring managers and recruiters that you have the knowledge necessary to protect their systems; knowledge of in-demand skills such as information security, network security, NIST cybersecurity framework, and vulnerability assessments are likewise invaluable.

But that’s only part of the equation. During your job interview or annual review, you’ll need to show how you’ve used those skills and certifications to protect networks and stop threats. Arrive at any discussion with several examples that put your background in the best possible light. If you can show that you consistently deliver performances that make a substantial difference, you’ll have a good chance of landing the compensation you truly deserve.

Are cybersecurity engineers in demand?  

According to Emsi Burning Glass, employers posted some 179,765 open positions for cybersecurity engineers in the past year, a sizable number. The average time to fill an open position was 43 days, putting cybersecurity engineers up there with software engineers, network engineers, and other in-demand roles.

Is cybersecurity engineering a dying career?  

Emsi Burning Glass also predicts that the cybersecurity engineering profession will grow some 23.4 percent over the next ten years. As long as organizations need their networks and employees defended against cyber-threats, they’ll need cybersecurity engineers—and it’s clear (sadly) that the rate of cyber-attacks is only increasing.

Even as organizations continue to post open cybersecurity engineering jobs, many remain unfilled. An analysis by Cyber Seek, a job-tracking database developed by the Department of Commerce and CompTIA, found more than 597,000 open cybersecurity positions across the U.S. (with 38,600 open across federal, state and local government agencies). Unless the federal government, educational institutions, and companies invest more in cybersecurity training, those slots could take some time to fill.

What are the most valuable skills for a cybersecurity engineer?  

Here’s Emsi’s breakdown of the cybersecurity engineering skills that pop up most frequently in job postings; based on this frequency, you can safely assume that employers find these really valuable:

Beyond specific skills, the most valuable cybersecurity engineers have learned how to combine their cybersecurity, software, and infrastructure knowledge in a way that allows them to identify threats quickly. With the “Great Resignation” leaving many organizations scrambling for qualified talent, there’s no better time for someone in the cybersecurity industry to see what the market has to offer when it comes to jobs and salaries.   

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