Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
Posted on
April 28, 2023

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

GCIH is a top-tier credential for cybersecurity disaster remediation professionals.

No business or organization can indefinitely prevent bad things from happening, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. It's important to have a plan for a cybersecurity rainy day, and it's important to have access to smart, professionally trained personnel who can step in and take charge when disaster strikes.

When a hurricane or a flood causes chaos somewhere in the United States, various kinds of first responders step in to assist. Among the frontline first responders in the IT sphere are cybersecurity professionals whose cleanup skills are verified by the GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH) credential, No. 33 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: $134,110
Median Annual Salary: $134,500
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 10.1 percent
Very Satisfied: 35.5 percent
Satisfied: 27.8 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 22.8 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 3.8 percent

All Non-U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $92,790
Median Annual Salary: $88,750
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 9.3 percent
Very Satisfied: 25 percent
Satisfied: 56.3 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 9.4 percent
Not At All Satisfied: [No responses]

The GIAC certification program (administered by the SANS Institute) is global, but more than 71 percent of the GCIH holders who participated in the 2023 survey live in the United States. The rest are scattered across 16 different countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom.

It's rare for women to have a strong presense in cybersecurity circles, but a striking 19 percent of GCIH holders who participated in the survey are women, compared to 77.8 percent who are men. (A bare handful or respondents, 3 percent, are evenly divided percent between those who chose not to identify their gender and those who identify as gender variant or nonconforming). There's not exactly a youth movement afoot, but it bears noting that nearly 88 percent of the GCIH holders we heard from are younger than 55, either between the ages of 19 and 24 (0.9 percent ), between the ages of 25 and 34 (17.1 percent), between the ages of 35 and 44 (29.7 percent), or between the ages of 45 and 54 (39.7 percent). That leaves just the 11.7 percent of those surveyed who are between the ages of 55 and 64, and the 0.9 percent who are between the ages of 65 and 74.

There tends be a strong correlation between certification and higher education, and that's true here as well: More than 85 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 (29.7 percent of those surveyed), master's degree (46.8 percent), associate's degree (5.4 percent), doctorate (2.7 percent), or professional degree (also 2.7 percent). The outliers are the 10 percent of respondents who topped out at some level of post-high school technical training, the 1.8 percent who exited the realm of formal education after completing high school, and the 0.9 percent who are currently in the process of completing or furthering their schooling.

A tick more than 82 percent of GCIH holders who responded to the survey have full-time jobs, with 6 percent holding part-time employment, 5.2 percent on sabbatical, 4.4 percent who are students, and 2.2 percent out of work altogether. Among those who have full-time jobs, most either have a standard 40-hour work week (37.9 percent of respondents) or put in between 41 and 50 hours per week (41.7 percent). The remaining roughly 20 percent of respondents either have a full-time schedule of more than 50 hours per week (10.2 percent), put in between 31 and 39 hours per week (7.4 percent), or are on the clock for fewer than 20 hours per week (2.8 percent).

In the lengthening aftermath of the COVID pandemic, just 25 percent of respondents are spending most (or all) of those hours in a traditional workplace, working from home either fewer than 10 hours per week (14.5 percent) or between 10 and 20 hours per week (10.9 percent). The leaves 23.6 percent of those surveyed working from home between 21 and 30 hours per week, 13.6 percent at home for between 31 and 39 hours per week, 18.2 percent toiling at home 40 hours per week, and 19.2 percent working from home for more than 40 hours per week.

In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of GCIH holders we heard from (29.6 percent of respondents) are employed at the senior specialist level. The rest, in descending order, are either managers (23 percent of respondents), senior managers (14.1 percent), directors (14 percent), specialists (9.6 percent), rank-and-file employees (6 percent), or executives (3.7 percent).

A notable 46 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 (10.4 percent of respondents), between 3 and 5 years (13.3 percent), between 6 and 8 years (22.2 percent), or between 9 and 10 years (8.1 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: 51.1 percent
Several times a week: 21.5 percent
Several times a month: 10.4 percent
Occasionally: 10.4 percent
Rarely: 6.6 percent

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills.
Strongly agree: 43.7 percent
Agree: 31.9 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 14.1 percent
Disagree: 5.2 percent
Strongly Disagree: 5.1 percent

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 37 percent
Agree: 31.9 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 21.5 percent
Disagree: 7.4 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.2 percent

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 26.7 percent
Agree: 37.8 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 23.7 percent
Disagree: 6.7 percent
Strongly Disagree: 5.1 percent







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