Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)
Posted on
May 14, 2021

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

The CHFI credential prepares infosec professionals for deep investigation of hacking incidents.

Lest you suppose that the branch of forensic investigation that deals with computers and information technology (IT) is either dull or inconsequential, consider that such digital detective work has been use to catch a serial killer, a serial cheater, a kidnapper, and more. (An Infosec Institute article relates some of the grim�details.)

Now combine digital forensic investigation with hacking — using digital tools to detect and pursue hackers — and you practically have a comic book superhero. You also have a certification offered by industry group EC-Council: Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI), No. 46 on our most recent Salary Survey 75 list.

Here's what the salary picture looks like for CHFI holders who responded to the Salary Survey:

All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $114,040
Median Annual Salary: $121,250
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 15.3 percent
Very Satisfied: 15.4 percent
Satisfied: 46.2 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 23.1 percent
Not At All Satisfied: [No responses]

All Non-U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $70,660
Median Annual Salary: $70,630
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 23.5 percent
Very Satisfied: 17.6 percent
Satisfied: 47.1 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 5.9 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 5.9 percent

The largest single body of CHFI holders to participate in the survey is made up of U.S. residents (45.2 percent), but we also heard from credential holders in 11 other countries: Canada, China, Croatia, India, Jamaica, Malta, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.

Nearly all of the CHFI holders who participated in the survey are men (96.3 percent of those surveyed), though we did hear from a handful of female credential holders. The range of ages among CHFI holders skews somewhat younger than is the norm in cybersecurity, with nearly half of those surveyed under the age of 45, either between the ages of 25 and 34 (23.2 percent) or between the ages of 35 and 44 (23.5 percent). Most of the rest are between the ages of 45 and 54 (46.7 percent of respondents), with a small group nearing retirement between the ages of 55 and 64 (6.6 percent).

More than 95 percent of the CHFI holders who responded to the survey have an educational background that includes time spent at a college or university. The highest level of education completed by most CHFI holders is either a master's degree (63.3 percent of those surveyed), bachelor's degree (23.3 percent), doctorate (3.3 percent), or associate's degree (6.7 percent). The outliers are the 3.4 percent of respondents who departed the realm of formal education after completing some level post-high school technical training.

A rock-solid 96.7 percent of the CHFI holders we surveyed are employed full-time, with 3.3 percent currently out of work. Among those with full-time jobs, most either put in between 41 and 50 hours per week (43.3 percent of respondents) or have a standard 40-hour schedule (30 percent). The rest are either overworked at more than 50 hours per week (13.5 percent of those surveyed) or getting off easy while putting in between 31 and 39 hours per week (13.2 percent).

As with many certified IT professionals, a lot of CHFI holders spent time working from home over the past year — likely as a result of COVID-19 precautions — with more than half of those surveyed filling their entire work schedule without leaving the house, working from home either 40 hours per week (26.7 percent) or more than 40 hours per week (36.7 percent). The rest worked from home for either between 31 and 39 hours per week (3.3 percent of respondents), between 21 and 30 hours per week (10.1 percent), between 10 and 20 hours per week (9.9 percent), or fewer than 10 hours per week (13.3 percent).

In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of CHFI holders we heard from (28.6 percent of those surveyed) are at the manager level. The rest, in descending order, are either senior specialists (22.0 percent of respondents), senior managers (20 percent), directors (11.3 percent), specialists (8.6 percent), or rank-and-file employees (also 8.6 percent).

Nearly half (48.6 percent) of the CHFI holders who participated in the survey are tech veterans, having worked in a role that directly utilizes one or more of their certified skills for more than a decade. The rest have been plying their certified skills for either between zero years (1 to 11 months) and 2 years (17.1 percent of those surveyed), between 3 and 5 years (8.6 percent), between 6 and 8 years (14.3 percent), or between 9 and 10 years (11.4 percent).

Finally, here's the view of CHFI 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: 48.6 percent
Several times a week: 28.6 percent
Several times a month: 11.4 percent
Occasionally: 5.7 percent
Rarely: 5.7 percent

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills.
Strongly agree: 45.8 percent
Agree: 37.1 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 11.4 percent
Disagree: [No responses]
Strongly Disagree: 5.7 percent

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 31.4 percent
Agree: 48.6 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 17.1 percent
Disagree: 2.9 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 28.6 percent
Agree: 42.9 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 22.8 percent
Disagree: 5.7 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]



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