Earning a degree in cybersecurity will give you computer technology skills that can prepare you well for many computer and IT-related careers. With appropriate cybersecurity training, you will be eligible for a variety of computer technology jobs in many industries.
To get a better understanding of a potential salary in cybersecurity, this article will cover the following factors:
- The level of cybersecurity degree: bachelor’s or master’s
- The type of career you choose
- Work experience
With this information, it is then possible to determine an approximate salary you can expect with your cybersecurity degree.
Level of Cybersecurity Degree
Much research has been performed that suggests that obtaining a master’s degree in many fields will net you a higher overall salary. A 2015 study conducted by Georgetown University found that professionals with a bachelor’s degree earned an average salary of $61,000 annually. Those who earned a master’s degree earned an average salary of $78,000 annually. This is a difference of $17,000 per year.
Other studies have shown that professionals with an undergraduate degree earned $2.27 million in their entire lives, while professionals with a graduate degree earned $2.67 million.
But what the difference between earning a cybersecurity or related technical degree? What is the salary difference between a bachelor’s and master’s degree in this and related fields?
The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that having a bachelor’s degree in computer science – closely related to cybersecurity – will net you a starting salary of $62,200. A master’s degree will earn you a salary of $80,400. This is a difference of $18,000.
Whether or not it is financially worth it depends upon what your career goals are. If you want to move into management in cybersecurity or a related field, you will probably need your master’s degree eventually. A bachelor’s degree may be sufficient if you are satisfied with lower or mid level developer and security positions.
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Types of Cybersecurity Careers
Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in cybersecurity can make a difference in your salary, but so can the exact technical job you end up getting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS provides salary information for various types of IT and computer technical professions. See in-depth Cybersecurity career figures.
These are median salaries that you can expect to earn in cybersecurity and related technical occupations:
Information security analyst
This is the most common type of computer and technical professional with a cybersecurity degree. An information security analyst plans and executes computer and software security measures to protect the computer systems and networks of a company or organization. The responsibilities of this professional continue to expand as the number and complexity of cyberattacks accelerate.
BLS reports that the median salary for information security analysts was $92,600 in 2016. The range was between $53,700 and $147,200; this suggests a widely varying salary based in part on the level of degree you have. Meanwhile, Payscale.com reported that the median salary in this field is $74,548, and the range is between $49,500 and $117,600.
Information security analysts had varying salaries also depending upon the exact industry in which they worked:
- Finance and insurance: $94,050
- Computer systems design: $93,400
- Information: $92,900
- Administrative and support: $92,800
- Management of enterprises and companies: $87,500
There also are specific types of cybersecurity roles with different salaries:
- Application security engineer: As more companies are using third party products to build their own applications, it is becoming clear that it is vital to ensure these solutions are secure from hackers. This role is specialized in securing all of the software that is used by the organization, and ensuring that compliance and privacy rules are followed: $100,000 to $210,000.
- Network security analyst: The responsibilities in this role are to manage the security of the company’s networks and information systems: $90,000 to $150,000.
- IS security manager: As data is becoming more vulnerable to different types of attacks, it is more important than ever to have a manager who is highly qualified to secure the most vulnerable data from attack: $120,000 to $180,000. Additional data jobs include Data Analyst Salary,Data Manager Salary,and Data Scientist Salary. Learn more about How to Score a Career in Big Data.
- Penetration tester: Companies hire these workers so that they can regularly test the effectiveness of their cybersecurity efforts, and ID any potential vulnerabilities. This specialty of cybersecurity should rise in demand as the years go by: $80,000 to $130,000.
- IS security engineer: Typically at work under the IS manager, the security engineer is in charge of keeping a network that is free of viruses. Also responsible for doing regular security testing and properly communicating security systems protocols to the other employees in the company: $90,000 to $150,000.
Other related computer and technical careers that often involve cybersecurity include the following, with median salaries noted:
- Computer and information research scientist: Inventing and designing new ways to approach computer technology, and find innovative ways to use current technology. Also study and solve complex security related issues that affect business, medicine, science and other related fields: $111,840.
- Computer and information systems manager: May be referred to as information technology (IT) managers. Responsible for planning, coordinating and directing all computer and security related activities in the company. Help to determine what the IT and security goals are for the company and how to implement them.: $135,800.
- Computer network architect: Design and build complex data communication networks, such as LANs, WANs and intranets. Networks can range from small ones between two offices to huge ones that serve many clients across the world. These systems must be secure from cyber criminals, so cybersecurity skills are paramount: $101,200.
- Computer programmer: Write and test computer code that is secure and allows various computer applications and software programs to properly function. They transform designs that are created by developers into clear instructions that computers and devices can follow: $79,800.
- Computer systems analyst: Sometimes referred to as systems architects are responsible for studying the computer systems and procedures for a company, and designing secure solutions to help them to operate in a more efficient manner. Bringing IT and business together by having a complete understanding of the needs and limits of each: $87,200.
- Software developer: Creative minds that devise all types of computer programs; cybersecurity skills are also needed to ensure that the software is safe from malware and cyberattacks. Some software developers create apps that let people do certain tasks, and others will create the systems underneath that run the electronic devices: $102,300.
- Web developer: Responsible for designing and creating websites. It is important for developers to have and work with professionals with cybersecurity skills to create sites that are as secure as possible. They are in charge of the technical aspects of the site, including capacity and performance, which are important for allowing the maximum amount of traffic on the site: $66,100.
- Computer systems analyst: May be referred to as systems architects. They study the current computer systems and procedures, and devise solutions to assist the company to operate more efficiently: $87,200.
Cybersecurity Work Experience
Work experience in any field is a common factor to earn a higher salary. But it is especially true in technical fields such as cybersecurity that you will earn more money over time. According to a recent Dice Salary Survey, technical professionals with higher levels of experience will see substantial salary hikes.
The Dice survey shows that those with the least amount of experience in technology jobs, such as cybersecurity, earn a average salary of $50,321. After approximately two years of experience, the average salary is bumped to $62,500, which is a big 24% increase.
After three to five years, the average salary increases to $68,040, or a 6.3% increase. From six to 10 years, the salary average for tech jobs is $83,143, or a rise of nearly 7%.
After technical professionals have been in the field for 10 years, they often land in management and executive roles, which can lead to even higher pay. Years of experience as a cybersecurity professional with the coveted Certified Information Systems Professional (CISSP) credential also is critical in terms of salary level. Just to qualify to take the examination for the CISSP certification, you must have at least five years of full time work experience in the cybersecurity field.
A recent survey of CISSPs by Payscale.com showed a salary range between $54,820 and $152,311. This is a big range, and years of experience is a major factor in the disparity:
- Less than one year: $51,244
- One to four years: $69,899
- Five to nine years: $87,000
- Ten to 19 years: $102,500
- 20+ years: $117,200
The industry in which you work as a cybersecurity professional or related technical professional.
According to the Dice survey mentioned earlier in this article, the highest paying industries for all technical professional are in this order:
- Banking, finance and insurance
- Aerospace and defense
- Entertainment and media
- Utilities and energy
- Professional services
- Computer software
- Computer hardware
- Consumer products
This article demonstrates that there are important factors in the cybersecurity and related fields that will affect your level of salary. If you consider these factors, you should be able to maximize your salary with a cybersecurity degree.
Related Security Job Titles
- IT Analyst Salary
- IT Project Manager Salary
- IT Security Specialist Salary
- Network Security Engineer Salary
- Security Engineer Salary
- Security Supervisor Salary
- Information Security Analysts. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
- Cybersecurity Analyst Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Cyber_Security_Analyst/Salary
- Highest Paying Cybersecurity Jobs. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.mondo.com/blog-highest-paid-cybersecurity-jobs/
- How Much Will Experience Increase Your Salary? (2014). Retrieved from https://insights.dice.com/2016/02/11/how-much-will-experience-increase-my-salary/
- Average CISSP Salary. (2013). Retrieved from http://resources.infosecinstitute.com/average-cissp-salary-2013/#gref