Cyber-Security Pros Value Integrity, Leadership

More than half (56 percent) of cyber-security professionals said the most interesting aspect of their profession is the challenge.

When describing their ideal employer, one-third of cyber-security professionals say they are looking for a relatively high compensation scale, while factors such as an employer with a reputation as a leader in cyber-security (34 percent) and employers that acts as a leader in addressing cyber-security challenges (33 percent) carry equal weight, according to Semper Secure’s Cyber Security Census.

Based on a survey of 500 cyber-security professionals from 40 different industries across 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and underwritten by Northrop Grumman, NetApp and MeriTalk’s Cyber Security Exchange, the census revealed cyber-security professionals earn on average $116,000 annually, but are driven by more than a paycheck–they want to work for an employer with a reputation for honor and integrity.

"The Cyber Security Census paints a very different picture of cyber-security professionals," Lee Vorthman, chief technology officer for federal civilian agencies at NetApp, said in a statement. "These people aren’t jumping from job to job looking for salary bumps and signing bonuses. Many of them want to work for federal agencies and most of them tend to stick with employers for the long term. For companies, that means they better get them early or risk not getting them at all."

More than half (56 percent) of cyber-security professionals said the most interesting aspect of their profession is the challenge, 44 percent said it’s doing something important and meaningful, while 39 percent said they simply love the technology. Just 25 percent of cyber-security professionals identified the high salary and benefits as the most interesting aspect of their profession.

"Government agencies and defense/aerospace firms remain magnets for cyber-security professionals," Jim Duffey, secretary of technology for the office of the governor of Virginia, said in a statement. "For top talent, cyber-security isn’t about just a job and a paycheck. It is about the hottest technology, deployed by honorable organizations, for a purpose that is inherently important. It is no surprise that Virginia is an ideal location for these types of people."

The survey results also suggested connecting to cyber-security professionals early in their career is a significant obstacle. The majority of cyber-security professionals do not become interested in the profession until after they begin their careers. Forty-three percent of cyber-security professionals discovered their interest in cyber-security during their career and 36 percent discovered their interest while in college. One in four (26 percent) have been working in the cyber-security field for less than five years.

According to a recent report from Burning Glass Technologies, the demand for cyber-security professionals in the past five years has grown more than 3.5 times faster than the demand for other IT jobs and about 12 times faster than the demand for all other jobs. One in three cyber-security professionals view California as the center of cyber-security innovation. Nearly half (44 percent) say the greater Washington, D.C. metro area (Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia combined) is the center of innovation in cyber-security.