IT professionals with proven security skills, professional certifications and government security clearances have a distinct advantage in the technology job market.
Demand for IT security professionals with certifications is
hot and does not appear to be cooling down. Whether for federal government
organizations, enterprises or small and midsize businesses, several studies
reveal a strong demand for security skills.
"Professionals with 'cyber' on their resume can command
a 20 percent salary premium, as both the public and private sectors are
becoming more aggressive in building their security-talent pipeline," Tom
Silver, vice president at online technology job board Dice, said in a
statement. "Efforts in cyber-security have been gathering momentum, but
they've become white-hot in the last 24 months and there is a growing sense of
urgency among officials and technology executives."
Security-related certifications are also in demand. A
forthcoming quarterly analyst report on IT skills and certifications
Partners ranks security certifications in continuing high demand along with
network, virtualization, open source, Windows, and Java programming. But
security certifications are undoubtedly the dominant force in 2010.
"The security bubble continues to burst in 2010," David
Foote, chief research officer and CEO of
Foote Partners, said in an interview with eWEEK.
Certifications in security auditing, security system administration
and intrusion analysts among those expected to be in the most demand over the
next six months.
"Since 2007, when this recession started, overall the
market value of security certs is up 3 percent," Foote said in a podcast
with Interarbor Solutions.
"But if you
look at all 200 certified skills that we track in this survey that we do of 406
skills, overall skills have dropped about 6.5 percent in value, but security
certifications are up 2.9 [percent]."
Individuals with federal security clearances, for example,
have a distinct advantage in the marketplace in terms of ability to obtain high
salaries, according to a February study by Dice-owned ClearanceJobs.com. At
issue for employers, however, is a high turnover rate since the best way for
individuals to reach these salary heights is by changing jobs, ClearanceJobs.com
pointed out in the study.
"Continued increases in defense and homeland security
needs drive both the strong job market and healthy compensation," said
Evan Lesser, director of ClearanceJobs.com. "However, government agencies
and contractors should take note of the turnover issue, which isn't new, but
indicates a level of competition to fill key security-cleared positions not
seen in other industries."
Yet, turnover is not the only issue in play. Uncle Sam is
having a difficult time attracting
away from the private sector. Average salaries may
be a tad higher with the government, but they are not necessarily enough to
draw workers away from the cushion of the private sector.
The ClearanceJobs study revealed that on average those with
Federal security clearances garnered salaries of $92,368. If you are willing to
pass a polygraph test, then the average pay increases over 20 percent to
$105,785. In terms of job satisfaction, 62 percent of 3,633 security-cleared
workers polled found their job experiences positive.
"To be sure, professionals are becoming well-versed in
the area, and certifications like CISSP allow them to demonstrate their skills,"
Silver said. "But at the end of the day, the pipeline of talent is still
being filled with the first generation of technology professionals who have the
option to make full careers of cyber-security."