Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
Posted on
October 9, 2020

Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Response and remediation is critical in the event of a cybersecurity breach. GCIH is the right credential to prepare specialists for that role.

Accidents happen. As do oversights, neglect, understaffing, and more. There are numerous different causes of cybersecurity breaches, but what's required in the aftermath of every incident is the same: proper response and remediation. That brand of disaster cleanup skills are verified by the GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH) credential, No. 19 on our most recent Salary Survey 75 list.

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

All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $128,310
Median Annual Salary: $127,500
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: [No responses]
Very Satisfied: 41.2 percent
Satisfied: 29.4 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 23.5 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 5.9 percent

The GIAC certification program (administered by the SANS Institute) is global, and there are certainly GCIH holders in countries outside the United States. We didn't hear from enough of those folks, however, to provide meaningful salary data. Hence, everything discussed here applies only to credential holders in the United States.

A not-surprising 95 percent of GCIH holders who participated in the survey are men. What is rather unexpected, given the industry-wide effort to recruit young talent into the cybersecurity profession, is that more than 85 percent of the GCIH holders we heard from are ensconced in middle age, either between the ages of 35 and 44 (43.7 percent) or between the ages of 45 and 54 (42.6 percent). That leaves just the 11.8 percent of those surveyed who are between the ages of 25 and 34, and the 1.9 percent who are between the ages of 65 and 74.

There tends be a strong correlation between certification and higher education, so it's a bit unusual that only slightly more than 65 percent of survey respondents have an educational background that includes time spent at a college or university. The highest level of education completed by most GCIH holders is either a bachelor's degree (41.2 percent of those surveyed), master's degree (18.2 percent), or doctorate (6.5 percent). The outliers are the 17 percent of respondents who topped out at some level of post-high school technical training, the 11.8 percent who exited the realm of formal education after completing high school, and the 5.3 percent who are currently in the process of completing or furthering their schooling.

A shade under 95 percent of GCIH holders who responded to the survey have full-time jobs, with the rest presently not employed. Among those who have full-time jobs, most either have a standard 40-hour work week (47.1 percent of respondents) or put in between 41 and 50 hours per week (35.3 percent). The remaining 17.6 percent of respondents have a full-time schedule of more than 50 hours per week.

Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 94 percent of respondents were spending most (or all) of those hours in a traditional workplace, working from home either fewer than 10 hours per week (52.9 percent) or between 10 and 20 hours per week (41.2 percent). The only respondents not covered by those two groups, 5.9 percent of those surveyed, were better accustomed to what has become the norm for many, working from home a full 40 hours per week.

In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of GCIH holders we heard from (66.7 percent of respondents) are employed at the director level. The rest, in descending order, are either directors (11.1 percent of respondents), senior managers (8.9 percent), managers (7.2 percent), or specialists (6.1 percent).

An impressive 77.9 percent of GCIH holders holders who participated in the survey are IT 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 (5.3 percent of respondents), between 3 and 5 years (11 percent), or between 6 and 8 years (5.8 percent).

Finally, here's the view of GCIH 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: 61.1 percent
Several times a week: 33.3 percent
Several times a month: 5.6 percent
Occasionally: [No responses]
Rarely: [No responses]

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills.
Strongly agree: 63.9 percent
Agree: 30.6 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 5.5 percent
Disagree: [No responses]
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 38.9 percent
Agree: 44.4 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 16.7 percent
Disagree: [No responses]
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 37.8 percent
Agree: 45.6 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 16.6 percent
Disagree: [No responses]
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]





About the Author

Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

Posted to topic:
Jobs and Salary

Important Update: We have updated our Privacy Policy to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

CompTIA IT Project Management - Project+ - Advance Your IT Career by adding IT Project Manager to your resume - Learn More