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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
Sometimes the reputation of a given IT credential is such that it almost becomes synonymous with the specialization represented. There are (many) other advanced cybersecurity certifications out there, but the Certified Information System Security (CISSP) credential (No. 22 on our most recent Salary Survey 75 list) curated by professional association (ISC)² is probably the first one that would roll off the tongue of most tech people asked to name a security certification.
Here's what the salary picture looks like for CISSP holders who responded to the Salary Survey:
All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $127,560
Median Annual Salary: $121,950
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 11.1 percent
Very Satisfied: 23.5 percent
Satisfied: 43.5 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 18.6 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 3.3 percent
All Non-U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $79,350
Median Annual Salary: $76,090
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 5.9 percent
Very Satisfied: 16.4 percent
Satisfied: 41 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 30 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 6.7 percent
The largest single body of CISSP holders to participate in the survey is made up of U.S. residents (51.5 percent), but we also heard from credential holders in a remarkable 72 (!) other countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vietnam, and Zambia.
Most of the CISSP holders we heard from are men (92.8 percent of those surveyed), with just a handful of female certified professionals in the mix. A majority of the survey group is pretty tightly concentrated in middle age, with nearly 70 percent of respondents either between the ages of 35 and 44 (27.6 percent) or between the ages of 45 and 54 (31.5 percent). The rest are either between the ages of 19 and 24 (0.05 percent of those surveyed), between the ages of 25 and 34 (13.8 percent), between the ages of 55 and 64 (15 percent), between the ages of 65 and 74 (2 percent), or older than 75 (0.05 percent).
Nearly 90 percent of the CISSP 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 CISSP holders is either a master's degree (41.1 percent of those surveyed), bachelor's degree (37.1 percent), associate's degree (6 percent), doctorate (2.2 percent), or professional degree (1.5 percent). The outliers are the 6.3 percent of respondents whose formal education went no further than completing some level of technical training after high school, along with those who topped out with a high school diploma (4.3 percent), those currently in school (1.1 percent), and those who had no formal education before entering the workforce (0.4 percent).
An impressive 96.5 percent of CISSP holders who participated in the survey are employed full-time, with the remaining 3.5 percent either employed part-time (1.7 percent), out of work (1.1 percent), primarily engaged as a student (0.2 percent), or currently on sabbatical (0.5 percent). Among those who have full-time jobs, most are punching the clock either for standard 40 hours per week (34.6 percent of respondents) or for between 41 and 50 hours (44.1 percent). The rest are either at the office more than 50 hours per week (11.7 percent of those surveyed), between 31 and 39 hours per week (9.4 percent), between 20 and 30 hours per week (0.2 percent), or fewer than 20 hours per week (0.1 percent).
In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of CISSP holders we heard from are employed at the senior specialist level (38.4 percent of respondents). The rest, in descending order, are either managers (20.1 percent of those surveyed), senior managers (12 percent), directors (11.7 percent), specialists (8.8 percent), executives (5.7 percent), or rank-and-file employees (3.7 percent).
A notable 57 percent of the CISSP holders who responded to 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 (3.3 percent of those surveyed), between 3 and 5 years (13.3 percent), between 6 and 8 years (14.1 percent), or between 9 and 10 years (12.3 percent).
Finally, here's the view of CISSP 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: 51.4 percent
Several times a week: 27.6 percent
Several times a month: 12.2 percent
Occasionally: 7.5 percent
Rarely: 1.3 percent
Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills.
Strongly agree: 37.4 percent
Agree: 41.7 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 16.8 percent
Disagree: 2.9 percent
Strongly Disagree: 1.2 percent
Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 23.2 percent
Agree: 43.2 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 24.1 percent
Disagree: 7.1 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.4 percent
Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 22 percent
Agree: 40.9 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 27.4 percent
Disagree: 7.2 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.5 percent
PAST CISSP DEEP FOCUS FEATURES