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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
Security certification is a topic of increasing interest among both IT pros and employers. Organizations that are private and public, civic and commercial, for-profit and nonprofit, all have an interest in protecting data and securing networks and websites. Certification is a great means for IT pros to enter a challenging and rewarding field, and a nice measuring stick for employers looking for security skills.
The Security Pro credential (No. 73 in this year's Salary Survey 75) offered by training and certification provider TestOut is a great place for aspiring security specialists to get started. Security Pro follows a foundational path similar to CompTIA's Security+ credential and, indeed, TestOut's Security Pro training doubles as a CompTIA Approved Quality Content (CAQC) primer for Security+ certification.
Starting at the top of the Deep Focus checklist, U.S. IT workers who hold TestOut's Security Pro have an average annual salary of $52,830, with a median annual salary of $51,550. Though popular in the United States, TestOut is a relative newcomer to the international market, so we didn't get any reliable data about non-U.S. certification holders.
A striking 16.9 percent of Security Pro holders are women, so the male certification population, at 83.1 percent, is high — but not nearly as high as for many IT credentials. This more inclusive split is likely tied to a generally youthful skew: Exactly half of all respondents are age 34 or younger, and a further 35 percent are between the ages of 35 and 44, leaving just 15 percent who are 45 or older.
When it comes to educational attainment, Security Pro holders tend to have college experience. Roughly 42 percent have either a bachelor's degree (36.7 percent) or master's degree (5.2 percent). Some are currently in school (13.3 percent), and associate's (two-year) degrees are also prevalent (28.3 percent). That leaves 4.8 percent who have yet to ascend higher than a high school diploma, with 11.7 percent who have pursued technical training after high school but to date have not undertaken college studies.
Roughly 68 percent of Security Pro holders are employed full-time, with 10 percent holding part-time jobs. There's a strong population who are currently students (17.1 percent) and just under 6 percent who do not currently have jobs. The typical work week for most (77.6 percent) is either a standard 40 hours (44.9 percent), or falls somewhere between 41 and 50 hours (32.7 percent).
Among Security Pro-certified workers, most are either rank-and-file employees (45 percent of the total Security Pro survey population) or specialists (33.3 percent). There are considerably fewer upper-echelon jobs, though there are notable contingents of both senior specialists (10.9 percent) and managers (7.6 percent).
Generally speaking, the Security Pro crowd is a little wet behind the ears, with 72 percent of all Security Pro holders having worked in a role that directly utilizes their certified skills for between zero years (1-11 months) and 2 years. The next largest group, at 17.8 percent, have been in the game for between 3 and 5 years, while 3.3 percent have been in a security role for between 9 and 10 years, and 6.7 percent have been thus engaged more than 10 years.
Finally, here's the view of Security Pro 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: 38.2 percent
Several times a week: 30 percent
Several times a month: 15.4 percent
Occasionally: 9.6 percent
Rarely: 6.8 percent
Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills.
Strongly Agree: 31.9 percent
Agree: 30 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 28.1 percent
Disagree: 7.2 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.8 percent
Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly Agree: 28.3 percent
Agree: 44 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 21.7 percent
Disagree: [No responses]
Strongly Disagree: 6 percent
Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly Agree: 31.8 percent
Agree: 40 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 18.4 percent
Disagree: 8.3 percent
Strongly Disagree: 1.5 percent