Salary Survey PLUS: The modern cybersecurity professional
Posted on
December 2, 2015

This feature first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.

There are more woman workers in cybersecurity than you might think.

There's often concern among industry watchers that not nearly enough women have jobs in IT security, and that is certainly reflected in our findings. The ratio isn't as overwhelming as you might think, however, certainly compared to some other IT disciplines. When we surveyed Linux certified professionals earlier this year, 98 percent of all respondents were men.

Cybersecurity, by contrast, is noticeably more gender-inclusive, with 10.2 percent of respondents being female, compared to 89.8 percent who are male. It's still not what you'd call a progressive outlook, but at least women aren't on the verge of being out of the picture entirely.

Among other characteristics, cybersecurity certification carries a strong likelihood of being rooted in higher education. There aren't many doctorates in the field (3.2 percent of those surveyed), but master's degrees (25 percent) and bachelor's degrees (40.3 percent) are plentiful, and a fair number of two-year college degrees (9.7 percent) are also in the mix. Taken together, that's 78 percent of those surveyed who entered the field with some level of university- or college-tested security smarts.

There are decent odds of breaking in on the basis of post-secondary technical training (14.4 percent of those surveyed), but you'll need quite a bit of luck if you're intending to make your mark with nothing more than a high school diploma (5.1 percent) or professional degree (1.4 percent).

The really good news is that having a "job" in cybersecurity refers almost exclusively to regular full-time employment: 97 percent of those surveyed are takin' what they're givin' ('cause they're workin' for a livin'). Just 1.6 percent of cybersecurity professionals are unemployed, with part-time employment (0.8 percent) and full-time student status (0.6 percent) accounting for the leftovers.

Somewhat surprisingly, cybersecurity is decidedly not the domain of young punks � there are quite a few old dogs out there who are learning new tricks every day. A little more than 78 percent of those surveyed are 35 or older, with the largest group residing between the ages of 35 and 44 (41.7 percent). An additional 22.7 percent are between the ages of 45 and 54, with pre-seniors ages 55 to 64 (12 percent) and 65- to 74-year-old retirees (2.3 percent) making up the balance.

At the kiddie table are just 18.5 percent of respondents who are between the ages of 25 and 34, followed by a nearly non-existent cabal of 19- to 24-year-olds (2.3 percent) and straight-up kids 18 or younger (0.5 percent). Consistent with the overall age skew, cybersecurity professionals who have worked in field for more than 15 years (20.7 percent) are the largest single faction in terms of prior work experience.

If you do have a job in cybersecurity, then it's quite likely that you have a veritable horde of coworkers. Slightly more than 38 percent of all survey respondents work for organizations with more than 10,000 employees, while an additional 25.3 percent have either between 5,000 and 10,000 fellow employees (11.3 percent) or between 1,000 and 5,000 (14 percent).

Small business has a foot in the door, with 24 percent of respondents working for organizations with 200 or fewer employees, but the midsized and truly large enterprises are Hoovering up most of the available talent.

In keeping with our new tradition of lightening the mood, we asked some only semi-serious questions at the end of the survey and found that there's considerable disagreement about the best way to eat a bagel.

Roughly 33 percent of those surveyed require some kind of schmear, compared to just 7.7 percent who are schmear-averse. Keep an eye on to find out where the rest of the field falls, as well as learn security professionals' opinions of such time-honored dilemmas as "Which Hollywood actor is the most convincing movie hacker," and "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"

TABLE TALK - Who jobs do IT security pros do, and what industries employ them? Here's an overarching view:

Put that on my Business Card

We learned a few other things, too. It's all available right now in our latest quarterly issue, or you can pull up a virtual chair and settle in here at for the big (and gradual) reveal.

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.

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