Salaries for IT security professionals are projected to increase by 4.5 percent in 2012, according to a new salary survey.
The increasingly hostile threat landscape and growing demand for cloud computing has made security the hottest IT career in terms of salary growth, staffing firm Robert Half Technology said in its latest 2012 Salary Guide released Nov. 15.
The guide listed projected percentage increases over 2011 salaries as well as estimated base salaries. The IT salaries in general are expected to see a 3 percent increase in 2012; security jobs are expected to outpace the projected average.
The salary survey tracks 70 IT occupations, including six information security positions. All six jobs, including data security analysts, network security administrators, systems security administrators, information system security managers, chief security officers and network security engineers are projected to have higher salary increases than the average across all IT jobs. Robert Half Technology also lumped mobile application developers with security professions because the jobs require significant security skills and knowledge.
In fact, 24 percent of CIOs polled cited security as their top professional concern.
"A common feature of high-demand jobs is a large degree of specialization," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology.
Companies are rapidly ramping up their presence on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, creating a high demand for professionals who can develop for the small screen, according to the staffing company. Salaries for mobile application developers are projected to grow 9.1 percent over 2011 salaries with an estimated base salary range of $85,000 to $122,000, according to the guide.
There were some geographic differences, with higher salary ranges for mobile applications developers in Seattle; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; New York City and Boston. Denver, Dallas and Charlotte were on the lower end of the salary range.
The recent rash of data breaches has intensified organizations' focus on recruiting more IT security professionals to protect data and reputations and has led to "increased job openings and hires in IT security," Reed said. Security threats are constantly evolving and firms need professionals who can analyze risk, according to the survey. Data security analysts are projected to grow 6 percent with an estimated range of $88,000 to $121,500. Systems security administrators are expected to grow 4.6 percent, with projected base salaries of $85,250 to $117,750.
The move toward cloud computing also means organizations are worried about their networks and need professionals who can keep data safe in virtual environments. Network security administrators are projected at 5 percent, with base salaries of $85,500 to $116,750. Network security engineers are projected at 3.8 percent, which is the lowest growth rate for a security jobs, but the base salary is projected to be in the $88,500 to $116,750 range.
Interestingly, the salary increases for network engineers were projected to be more than the increases for more specialized network security professionals, but the base salaries would still be lower. Starting salaries for network engineers are expected to rise 5.8 percent to a range of $75,000 to $107,750. Organizations will be investing in engineers who can manage increasingly complex networks and data flowing across them.
Organizations need to think about securing the network and keeping up-to-date with the overall security strategy. Starting salaries for information system security managers are projected to grow 4.1 percent to about $104,500 to $143,500. Chief security officer salaries are expected to grow 3.9 percent, from $115,000 to $172,250.
The salary guide is based on analysis drawn from thousands of job placements managed by Robert Half Technology across North America and includes insights from CIOs and other senior executives, according to the company. Industries surveyed include health care, financial services, retail, professional services, IT consulting, manufacturing and telecommunications.