As society’s reliance on computers, electronic devices and software grows more complex, there is an increased need for information assurance professionals to protect users and keep our personal information from the hands of hackers and other cyber threats. An information assurance degree is designed to help you to prepare and develop the skills and knowledge to be able to secure critical information and assets of the public and private sectors.
If you are interested in a career in information assurance, it is a good idea to research what your salary could look like in this growing field. It is recommended that you review these important factors that determine the salary for a professional with this degree:
- The level of information assurance degree you obtain – typically either a bachelor’s or master’s degree
- The occupation you choose
- Years of work experience in the field
- The industry in which you work
When you review these important factors, you will be able to get a good idea of a potential salary with an information assurance degree.
Level of Information Assurance Degree
There has been extensive research conducted in recent years that indicates that obtaining a master’s degree in many fields will result in higher earnings. For example, a 2015 study that was performed by Georgetown University determined that workers with a bachelor’s degree only earned an average salary of $61,000, while those who have a master’s degree earned a salary of $78,000 – a different of $17,000 per year. Other studies have shown professionals with a bachelor’s earn $2.27 million over their working lives, and those with a master’s earn $2.67 million.
What is the potential difference between a bachelor’s and master’s in information assurance? According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, getting an undergraduate bachelor’s degree in computer science will result in a starting salary of $62,200, and a master’s degree has a starting salary of $80,400. A computer science degree is closely related to information assurance, so this gives you a good idea of the possible salary difference.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS also reports that you can enjoy a higher salary with a master’s degree in technology management fields. The Bureau reported in 2013 that information security analysts with a bachelor’s degree earned $85,000 per year, and $100,000 with a master’s degree.
Is an Information Assurance Degree Worth It?
Did you know that nine out of 10 companies in the US reported that they were hacked at least once in 2016? Some of these companies were big names – Yahoo, Home Depot and Target were among them. And Americans are worried. A 2015 study showed that cyber terrorism and ID theft are major concerns.
As there is such concern about information assurance, you should consider these facts as you weigh the benefits of an information assurance degree:
- Cybersecurity jobs are increasing. BLS reports that salary for cybersecurity degree jobs will grow by 20% by 2026, which is much faster than average. Also, work for these professionals is slated to grow by 36% in the computer systems design business.
- Cybersecurity workers are needed in all sectors. In today’s technology-driven world, almost every company in all industries has a need for information security services. So you will not just be restricted to certain industries with an information assurance degree. In particular, BLS finds that there is a strong and growing need for information assurance workers in government and healthcare.
- Companies do not have enough qualified information assurance workers. There are plenty of jobs out there, but there still are not enough qualified workers. One recent report found that there could be a shortage of two million cybersecurity and information assurance workers through 2019.
- Employers want workers with technical degrees. A recent analysis of job postings in cybersecurity found that 86% of the jobs requested at least a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a related field.
Types of Information Assurance Careers
Earning a bachelor’s or master’s in cybersecurity or information assurance can make a major difference in your salary, as can the type of job you eventually choose. BLS provides extensive salary information for many technical careers; below are median salaries for workers in cybersecurity and related fields.
Information assurance analyst
These analysts are in charge of planning, implementing, upgrading and monitoring security measures that protect government or company computer networks. They are also responsible for ensuring that company safety controls are established to protect electronic data and the infrastructure where the data is stored. Also, the job involves responding to attacks on computer systems that come from viruses.
Information assurance analysts deal frequently with computer access issues, security violations and program changes with company users. Much of their time is spent on the documentation of emergency and security measures and the tests that accompany them.
Payscale.com reports that the median salary for this role is $72,931, with a range between $52,100 and $110,500.
Information security analyst
This is one of the most common occupations for professionals with an information assurance degree. An information security analyst is responsible for planning and executing software and computer security measures to protect computer systems and networks of almost any type of organization, whether it is public, private or nonprofit. The responsibilities of information security analysts will continue to grow with time, as the complexity and number of cyberattacks continue to increase.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median salary for information security analysts was $92,600 in 2016. The range of salary was $53,700 to $147,200. This tells us that there is a wide range between workers depending upon experience and degree level. Payscale.com also reported that the median salary for information security professionals was $74,548, and the range is between $49,500-$117,600. See also information security director salary.
Information security analysts also had different salaries based upon the industry in which they work:
- 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
Also, there are other information assurance and cybersecurity roles that have different potential salaries:
- Application security engineer: More firms are using 3rd party products to design their own applications, so it is more important to ensure that the third party solutions are secure from cyber attack. This role involves securing the software used in the organization, and making sure that privacy and compliance rules are strictly followed. Salary is between $100,000 and $210,000.
- Network security analyst: This professional is responsible for managing the security of the entity’s networks and information systems. The salary is between $90,000 and $150,000.
- IS security manager: Data is becoming more vulnerable to attack, so it is vital to employ managers who are qualified to secure vital systems from cyber attack. Salary is $120,000 to $180,000.
- Penetration tester: These cybersecurity professionals are hired so that cybersecurity systems can be tested regularly. To prevent future attacks, it is very important to regularly pinpoint any possible vulnerabilities. Salary is $80,000 to $130,000.
Other related technical occupations that could involve information assurance and security roles include the following:
- Computer and information research scientist: Responsible for designing and inventing new methods to work with computer technology; also find better ways to use modern technology. It also is required to study security problems that affect businesses, medicine and science: $111,800.
- Computer network architect: Responsible for designing and building complex data communication networks, including LANs and WANs. The networks can be small, between two offices, or large ones that serve clients across the globe: $101,000
- Software developer: These software professionals are responsible for creating many types of software programs. Cybersecurity skills are desired to make sure that new software cannot be hacked or infected with viruses: $102,300.
- Web developer: These computer professionals design and create websites. Developers need to have cybersecurity skills and background so that sites are created that are safe from hackers: $66,100.
Information Assurance Work Experience
Work experience in almost any profession is important in terms of salary level, but it is definitely true in information assurance and cybersecurity. A recent Dice Salary Survey indicated that many technical professionals with more years of experience will see higher salaries.
That survey indicated that those with the lowest level of experience in technical jobs, such as information assurance roles, earn an average salary of $50,300. After two years of work experience, the average salary increases to $62,500. After three to five years of experience, the salary average goes up to $68,000. From six to 10 years, the salary you can expect on average is $83,100.
Payscale.com also reports that the salary for an information security analyst will increase over time as follows:
- Less than five years of experience: $63,000
- Five to 10 years of experience: $82,000
- 10 to 20 years of experience: $89,000
- More than 20 years of experience: $91,000
Further, a recent survey of cybersecurity professionals with the coveted Certified Information Systems Professional (CISSP) credential found the following salary ranges based upon years of experience:
- 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
Information Assurance Industry
The industry in which you work as an information assurance professional will have an effect on salary level, as well. The Dice survey mentioned earlier showed that the top paying industries for all computer and technical professions were as follows:
- Banking, finance and insurance
- Aerospace and defense
- Entertainment and media
- Utilities and energy
- Professional services
- Computer software
- Computer hardware
- Consumer products
BLS data also showed that the top-paying field for information security analysts was finance and insurance, with a median pay of $94,000.
This article shows that professionals who earn an information assurance degree can expect a high salary, but how high depends upon the level of information assurance degree, job chosen, level of experience and industry.
- Cybersecurity and Information Assurance Bachelor’s. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/bachelors/cyber-security/information-assurance
- Should I Get a Master’s Degree? (2015). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm#STEM
- Is a Cybersecurity Degree Worth It? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.businessstudent.com/education/cybersecurity-degree/
- Information Security Analysts. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm#tab-5
- How Much Will Experience Increase Your Salary? (2014). Retrieved from https://insights.dice.com/2016/02/11/how-much-will-experience-increase-my-salary/