Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of both our annual Salary Survey and our smaller Salary Survey PLUS polls. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
It's an unusual day that doesn't bring news of some sort pertaining to information security. Whether it's headlines about the latest gigantic data breach, fallout from the latest gigantic data breach, or predictions of the next gigantic data breach, cybersecurity is a hot topic everywhere you turn.
The information security industry association EC-Council is perhaps best known for its widely respected Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential. EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) was the group foremost credential by average annual salary, however, checking in at No. 5 on our most recent Salary Survey 75 list.
EC-Council certs are everywhere, especially the CEH, but we only heard from a smattering ECSAs from non-U.S. nations. Hence, we only have data about credential holders from the United States. ECSA certification was a winner for those folks, however, who earned an average annual salary of $141,050 in 2016, with a median annual salary of $145,000.
Many of the cybersecurity credentials we cover are held largely by men, and that's certainly the case with ECSA. There are surely female ECSA holders somewhere out there, but 100 percent of ECSA-certified survey respondents are men. About 64 percent of those surveyed are comfortably middle-aged, either between the ages of 35 and 44 (32.1 percent of respondents) or between the ages of 45 and 54 (31.1 percent), with a further 21.1 percent nearing retirement between the ages of 55 and 64. The youngsters of the bunch (15.7 percent of respondents) are between the ages of 25 and 34.
Higher education, it would seem, is more or less a must for those seeking ECSA certification. A whopping 80 percent of those surveyed are university educated, having climbed the ladder far enough to hold either a bachelor's degree (42.1 percent of respondents), master's degree (36.8 percent), or doctorate (2.7 percent). Even among the remaining 19 percent of respondents, most have at least an associate's (two-year) degree (10.5 percent of respondents), with the rest having completed at least some level of post-secondary technical training (7.9 percent).
Full-time employment among ECSA holders is strong at 94.7 percent, with just 5.3 percent of respondents presently out of a job. Among those clocking in, everyone is working at least a 40-hour schedule, which is something of a rarity. The largest single group of ECSA holders in the survey work between 41 and 50 hours per week (52.6 percent of respondents), with the balance split between those who have a standard 40-hour schedule (31.6 percent) and those who put in more than 50 hours per week (15.8 percent).
ECSA holders are quite often found in leadership roles, it would seem, with 62 percent of those surveyed acting as either managers (22.1 percent of respondents), senior managers (20.5 percent), or directors (20 percent). Everyone else who responded to the survey (37.4 percent of ECSA holders) is at the senior specialist level.
As you might expect, all of that organizational seniority is mostly in the hands of IT veterans: 68.4 percent of ECSA holders in the survey have worked in role that directly utilizes one or more of their certified skills for more than a decade. Among the remaining third of respondents, 17.3 percent have been so engaged for between 6 and 8 years, and 14.3 percent have been plying their information security skills for between 9 and 10 years.
Finally, here's the view of ECSA 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: 69.5 percent
Several times a week: 25.4 percent
Several times a month: [No responses]
Occasionally: 5.2 percent
Rarely: [No responses]
Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills.
Strongly agree: 42.1 percent
Agree: 36.8 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 11.1 percent
Disagree: 10 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]
Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 42.6 percent
Agree: 26.8 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 18.4 percent
Disagree: 7.5 percent
Strongly Disagree: 4.7 percent
Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 31.6 percent
Agree: 36.8 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 15.8 percent
Disagree: 10.5 percent
Strongly Disagree: 5.3 percent