Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
We live in a digital world, and our lives are increasingly tied to computer-based tools and apps. There are massive benefits to us from all of the connectivity and computerization — in terms of convenience alone, for example — but also serious liabilities. And until someone creates a foolproof protection tool, there will be an ongoing need for trained cybersecurity professionals.
There are many different options for those looking to enter the information security field, but one of the most popular is to pursue and achieve the Security+ certification offered by IT industry association CompTIA. We typically hear from a large number of Security+-certified individuals when doing our annual Salary Survey, and 2016 was no exception, with Security+ checking in at No. 62 on our Salary Survey 75 list.
Almost 84 percent of Security+ holders who responded to our survey are from the United States, but we also heard from certificants in 20 other countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe.
Among U.S. Security+ holders, the average annual salary in 2016 was an enticing $99,790, with a median annual salary of $101,720. The average annual salary across all countries outside the United States was $64,620, with a median annual salary of $73,330.
As with many cybersecurity certifications, Security+ holders are almost all men — 90.8 percent — but we did hear from a number of women as well. Security+ is popular in many high school IT programs, but we didn't hear from any certification holders 18 or younger, and just 1.9 percent of respondents are between the ages of 19 and 24, with an additional 17.7 percent checking in somewhere between the ages of 25 and 34. The largest group of those surveyed (35.8 percent) are between the ages of 35 and 44, with 24.8 percent between the ages of 45 and 54, and 18.4 percent between the ages of 55 and 64. Also represented: a small faction of geezers (1.8 percent) between the ages of 65 and 74.
The highest level of education attained by most Security+ holders in the survey is either a bachelor's degree (37 percent) or master's degree (32 percent). A few (4.4 percent) rose no further through the educational ranks than to graduate from high school, while similar segments of the crowd claim either technical training (11.1 percent) or an associate's (two-year) degree (11.4 percent).
An impressive 94.9 percent of surveyed Security+ holders are employed full-time, while 1.7 percent have a part-time schedule, 0.5 percent are students, and 2.9 percent are unemployed. Among those with jobs, 42.4 percent have a standard 40-hour work week, while 45.5 percent work between 41 and 50 hours per week. Just 7.6 percent of respondents work more than 50 hours per week, and a further 3.5 percent work between 31 and 39 hours per week.
Security+-certified professionals can be found at all levels of the standard org chart, though the largest single group, 39.2 percent, are at the senior specialist level. A healthy 25 percent are either managers (17.8 percent) or senior managers (7.2 percent), with 6.9 percent at the director level, and 3 percent who are executives. At the other end of the spectrum are specialists (16.4 percent) and rank-and-file employees (9.5 percent).
There are quite a few old hands in our Security+ survey population, with 45.1 percent of those surveyed having work in information security for more than 10 years. Roughly 10 percent have been in the field for between 9 and 10 years, 16.4 percent have worked in cybersecurity for between 6 and 8 years, and 16.7 percent have been thus engaged for between 3 and 5 years. About 12 percent are still getting their feet wet, having worked in security for between 0 years (1-11 months) and two years.
Finally, here's the view of Security+ holders on key questions from the survey about how certification impacts job performance:
At my current job I use skills learned or enhanced through certification:
Several times a day: 51.2 percent
Several times a week: 26.5 percent
Several times a month: 11.9 percent
Occasionally: 8 percent
Rarely: 2.4 percent
Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills.
Strongly agree: 40.3 percent
Agree: 38.4 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 15.6 percent
Disagree: 2.9 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.7 percent
Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 22.3 percent
Agree: 45.1 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 22.2 percent
Disagree: 6.6 percent
Strongly Disagree: 3.7 percent
Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 20.4 percent
Agree: 39.5 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 29.4 percent
Disagree: 7.1 percent
Strongly Disagree: 3.4