Wanted: Security Managers

As far as Patrick McBride is concerned, the seller's market in security skills is far from over.

As far as Patrick McBride is concerned, the sellers market in security skills is far from over.

While his colleagues snatch employees from a rich talent pool, McBride, executive vice president of security consultancy Meta Security Group, in Atlanta, still cant find enough qualified security managers. "In the actual employment market itself ... it just doesnt seem like the supply is going to catch up with demand any time soon," McBride said.

The news only gets better for qualified information security managers. Security-related job postings jumped after the terrorist attacks in September, said Scot Mellard, president and CEO of New York-based Dice Inc., which runs the Dice.com tech job site. And highly coveted security consulting positions are expected to make a comeback within six to nine months, said Lee Kushner, president and CEO of security recruiting company L.J. Kushner and Associates LLC, in Freehold, N.J.

Headline-grabbing denial-of-service attacks and the realization that corporate networks could become terrorist targets are among the reasons that security managers have been shielded from a cooling job market.

While salaries for IT positions in areas such as the help desk and e-commerce have remained flat, compensation for security positions has grown 2 percent to 3 percent overall this year, according to a survey by Foote Partners LLC, in New Canaan, Conn.

Top security professionals have networking savvy, an understanding of security technologies, and experience developing and enforcing security procedures and policies. Theyre also business-savvy and capable of managing large deployments. Over the last few years, as enterprises embarked on large authentication projects such as public-key infrastructure, security managers with experience in project management and a vision of the role security plays throughout an enterprise were the ones who rose to the top.

McBride agrees. He said that because so few technical people can also manage projects efficiently, its those candidates with project management skills who stand out.

So security manager hopefuls, consider yourselves forewarned: While many may want the job, only those with experience in the trenches are getting hired, experts say.

"Were looking for people who have been there, done that," McBride said.