Cyber Security Salary Guide (Wages By Job Level & Top Paying Metros)

female cyber security analyst monitors activity on websites

Once you decide to enroll in a cyber security degree program, you'll probably want some sort of reassurance that when you graduate, you'll be able to not only find a job but earn a good salary. If you're sure cyber security is the right field for you to pursue, you can rest assured you've chosen a career path that not only promises a great job growth rate over the coming years but pays well too.

Comparitech's 2022 Cyber Security Salary & Employment Survey may help alleviate any concerns you may have, citing the following salary and job growth trends, starting in 2020:

  • Average salary for cyber security jobs increased 5.29% from $107,580 in 2020 to $113,270 in 2022.
  • The number of people working in cyber security increased 13.93% from 138,000 in 2020 to 157,220 in 2022.
  • Employment per 1,000 people (the number of jobs in the given occupation per 1,000 jobs in the given area) increased 24.69% from 0.81 in 2020 to 1.01 in 2022.
  • 10-year growth projection for cyber security roles increased 10.34%, from 29% in the period of 2018 through 2028, to 32% for the period 2020 through 2030.

What's the career ladder for cyber security positions?

The professional association, Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), has created a Cyber Security Career Lifecycle, which cycles through the stages of security careers, from those just starting out in the profession to those who are retiring. Each of these career cycles commands a different salary, further refined by role within the cycle.

Here are some of the titles you may hold within each—and keep in mind that title will determine salary, which will rise as you progress through the ranks, and is pulled from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' and its subsidiary, O*NET's, database.

Entry-level cyber security salary

Workers in this cycle have titles such as cyber security specialist, associate network security analyst, cyber crime analyst, IT auditor, incident and intrusion analyst and cyber security risk analyst. They represent workers who hold a two-year associate degree and are just entering the field of cyber security or moving over from IT roles such as application analyst, database administrator, systems administrator, network administrator or programmer.

Cyber security specialist | $85,270

What they do: Protect, implement and monitor security measures under the supervision of a senior security analyst as needed for the protection of computer networks, data, PII and other information.
Starting salary (BLS): $85,270

Associate network analyst | $70,120

What they do: Help design, implement, develop and maintain network systems and related communications.

Starting salary (BLS): $70,120

Cyber crime analyst | $85,270

What they do: Recover file systems on computers that have been hacked or damaged and recover data from computers that can be used in prosecuting cyber crimes in court.

Starting salary (BLS): $85,270

IT auditor | $66,010

What they do: Ensure an IT systems and infrastructure run smoothly and efficiently. Make sure all systems and technologies are compliant with necessary security protocols.
Starting salary (BLS): $66,010

Incident analyst | $79,100

What they do: Monitor, detect and report cyber threats against a company's networks and systems.

Starting salary (BLS): $79,100

QA tester | $75,710

What they do: Develop and execute software tests to identify software problems and their causes prior to implementation and document software and application defects and report defects to software or web developers.
Starting salary (BLS): $75,710

Mid-level cyber security degree salaries

When you get to this stage, you'll probably have found an area of specialty that you enjoy working in and are able to command a larger salary. The titles here may include network security analyst, systems analyst, cryptographer, cyber security analyst, cyber security consultant, penetration and vulnerability tester, cyber security forensics analyst or application security engineer.

Network security analyst | $112,000

What they do: Proactively protect a company's technology from cybersecurity risks by analyzing hardware applications, software programs, phone lines and any other resources with an online connection.
Median salary (BLS): $112,000

Cryptographer |

What they do: Develop systems that can encrypt sensitive information and manage cryptographic keys. Develop and test mathematical models to analyze data and solve security issues.
Median salary (BLS categorizes under Mathematicians):

Cyber security analyst | $112,000

What they do: Develop and execute software tests to identify software problems and their causes prior to implementation and document software and application defects and report defects to software or web developers.
Median salary (BLS): $112,000

Cyber security consultant | $102,240

What they do: Assess and identify problems, evaluate security issues, look at risk factors and implement solutions to defend against potential cyber threats to a company's networks, systems and information infrastructure. May work for more than one company at a time.
Median salary (BLS): $102,240

Penetration and vulnerability tester | $95,270

What they do: Use tools to proactively examine a website or system for weaknesses, including application security issues and open source vulnerabilities. 
Median salary (O*NET): $95,270

Digital forensics analyst | $63,740

What they do: Collect digital evidence to help law enforcement agencies track sources of cyber crime in the (primarily) private sector.
Median salary (BLS): $63,740

Senior-level cyber security salaries

At the highest end of the spectrum of roles in this cycle are the "senior" job titles such as senior network security engineer.

When you reach this level, you'll probably have been in the cyber security field for a good 10 years and hold a title such as principal application security engineer, cyber security manager, cyber security engineer, cloud security architect, cyber security architect and director of cyber security. Logically these careers comprise some of the highest paying jobs in cyber security. Take a look at senior roles and salaries:

Senior network security engineer | $140,430

What they do: Manage teams and focus on large-scale efforts to implement, test and manage security solutions related to enterprise networks.
Median salary (BLS): $140,430

Principal application security engineer | $95,270

What they do: Anticipate structural vulnerabilities and determine how to correct them. Update software, create firewalls and run encryption programs within a computer network or application.
Median salary (O*NET): $95,270

Cyber security manager | $164,070

What they do: Monitor channels through which information flows in and out of an organization's network. Responsible for observing all the operations occurring across the network and infrastructure.
Median salary (BLS): $164,070

Cyber security engineer | $95,270

What they do: Plan, implement, monitor and perform upgrades of security measures to protect an organization's data, systems and networks.
Median salary (O*NET): $95,270

Cloud security architect | $185,170

What they do: Build, design and install security systems for cloud-based computing and data storage systems.
Median salary (BLS): $185,170

Senior cyber security architect | $185,170

What they do: Monitor and ensure compliance on the standards and protocols that affect and impact a businesses' security. 
Median salary (BLS): $185,170

Cyber security leader salaries

You'll need extensive security experience, director skills and the ability to integrate security systems into an organization as a leader or chief technical officer. Titles in this highest tier include Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or Chief Cyber Security Architect. According to the BLS these titles' salaries would align with Chief Executive Officer and Information Systems Security Manager positions:

Chief information security officer | $189,520

What they do: Determine the security policies and provide overall direction for them within a company. Plan, direct and coordinate security operations activities at the highest level of management.
Median salary (BLS): $189,520

Chief cyber security architect | $185,170

What they do: Plan, coordinate and direct cyber security-related activities in an organization. Set the strategy and technical direction to ensure a company's data and applications throughout the business and/or ecommerce environments remains secure. 
Median salary (BLS): $185,170

Diversity and factors that affect cyber security pay

The (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study found that in 2022, even though the cyber security field expanded to 4.7 million professionals globally, there were still 3.4 million unfilled jobs. In the U.S., over 1.2 million people work in this sector, but the job gap is growing faster than the workforce, despite adding 464,000 workers last year. This situation offers a unique chance for women and minorities to join and impact the cybersecurity industry.

Male vs female cyber security pay compared

That said, there's also a pay gap in the cyber security workforce, with SC Media, A CyberRisk Alliance Resource, reporting that while women made up approximately 25% of the cyber security workforce in 2022, they also averaged $22,046 less than their male coworkers. (ISC)2 broke down the diversity statistic further, saying that the cyber security workforce had the following age, race and gender divisions:

Under 30 age group:
White male: 40%
White female: 10%
Non-white male: 27%
Non-white female: 22%

30 to 38 age group:
White male: 48%
White female: 10%
Non-white male: 30%
Non-white female: 12%

39 to 49 age group:
White male: 61%
White female: 7%
Non-white male: 26%
Non-white female: 6%

These statistics offer a hard look at a field that clearly has a need for more women, both white and of color. Only with an infusion of female talent can the pay gap close and become more equitable. The opportunity is certainly there for those inclined to take it. 

Where do cyber security salaries hit heights?

It makes sense that there are states and cities in the U.S. that have a higher percentage of cyber security jobs. Wherever there is a large population of tech companies and tech-related industry, it's likely there will be more jobs. But you may be able to find a great job in a mid-size city that has ecommerce, finance or banking, insurance, hospitals and healthcare facilities—or any industry that stores information and requires user data security.

Recently, Forbes did a study of cyber security salaries in U.S. metro areas and found—not surprisingly—that they are well worth the time, money and education it takes to enter the field. For those workers already in the IT sector and who hold a bachelor's degree, moving over to cyber security may be as basic as earning a professional industry certification. Before we delve into professional certification and career advancement, let's look at top states and their salaries for cyber security workers.

Top metro areas for cyber security pay

The BLS lists the top metro areas for information security analyst roles nationwide along with the annual median salary that these professionals command:

Metro Area Median Annual Salary
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $158,650
Midland, MI $141,400
Idaho Falls, ID $136,620
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC $136,460
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $136,010
Trenton, NJ $135,590
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA $134,700
Portsmouth, NH-ME $133,680
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT $133,030
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV $132,640

Cities with the highest demand for cyber professionals

The BLS also tracks cities with the highest number of security analysts employed. This may give some insight into where there are industries needing cyber security analysts and other roles within the field:

Metropolitan Areas Employment
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 17,150
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 10,270
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 6,430
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 4,720
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 4,280
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 4,230
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 3,920
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 3,860
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 3,650
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 3,600

What industries pay security analysts the most?

The BLS says information security professionals will earn the highest average annual salaries in these areas:

IndustryAverage annual salary
Web search portals$165,110
Social advocacy organizations$152,450
Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing$161,240
Motor vehicle manufacturing$143,770
Motion picture and video industries$151,380

How does a cyber security salary compare to other tech roles?

If you still have concerns about the long-term security and salary for cyber security careers, compare cyber security salary for information security analyst with some of the most common roles in tech, according to Money magazine.

As of 2022, Money says these seven tech careers pay the best, with salaries from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of interest is the cyber security role, data security analyst, is the third highest paying job on the list—and these salaries are median. Depending upon where you live and the company you're employed by, you may be able to earn considerably more.

Tech careerMedian annual salary
Full stack developer$126,900
Data/information security analyst$112,000
Computer systems analyst$102,240
Database administrator$99,890
Network architect$126,900
Cloud architect$98,740
IT project manager$95,370

Ways to increase your salary in cyber security

Despite having a huge presence globally, the tech industry within a geographic area is somewhat like a town. People know each other and move from job to job in order to gain new skills and advance in their careers. If you're interested in earning a better salary, there are some ways to help yourself. Consider the following suggestions:

Gain practical experience while still in school.

If you're new to the field and are still finishing up your degree, gain some practical experience in your last year of school by looking for an internship at a tech company or financial institution in your area. Paid internships provide experience, give you a sense of real-life, day-to-day workload and flow, and most of all help you network and build your reputation as a trustworthy and dependable professional.

Understand what's out there

Doo you have a good grasp of the career ladder for the job you're interested in? The more you know, the better prepared you'll be to ask for what you want, especially in a market where there are more jobs than employees.

Continue learning

Cyber security is a field that changes by the day, and you'll need to keep pace with its frequent advances and challenges. The best way to arm yourself for your battle against cyber crime is with professional certifications. These are usually organized around learning a specialized skill, and you'll be required to study and practice and then pass an exam to earn the credential. Most certifications take a few months to complete, can be taken online and may be paid for by your employer if it's a skill that will benefit and be implemented by the company.

Learn some negotiation skills

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests five tips for HR professionals, but are applicable to all careers, to help you get the salary you want.

  • The first is know what your skills are worth. In the cyber security market, they're probably worth a lot since there are more jobs than workers. Do your research around your experience, education, location and professional certifications, if any, and be prepared to present your case rationally.
  • Second, define what you want. Have a number in mind and don't be afraid to mention vacation and benefits too.
  • Third, try to raise the initial offer. The SHRM says this strategy is most important for women, who rarely negotiate when it comes to salary.
  • Fourth, plan what you're going to say. Have a speech ready if the offer you're given is disappointing. Bring up your experience and unique skills then get out of your own way and let the company make the next move.
  • Last, be specific when it counts. Know what you want and state it, then be patient and wait for the response. If they really are interested in your skills, they'll respond.

Why choose cyber security as a career?

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers 2022 Global Economic Crime Survey, 46% of global organizations claim to have experienced cyber crime within the past 12 months. That's an astronomical figure, so with no sign of cyber crime decreasing, it's easy to see why cyber security as a career field is in demand by all companies and agencies in the private and public sectors, and there has seldom been a better time to invest in a cyber security education.

Forbes enforces this statistic, stating that already in 2023, though "Cyber security capabilities and awareness seem to be improving, unfortunately the threat and sophistication of cyber-attacks are matching that progress." Says Chuck Brooks in his Forbes article, "Cybersecurity Trends & Statistics for 2023: What You Need to Know," "The emerging digital ecosystem is treacherous. In our current digital environment, every company is now a reachable target, and every company, large or small, has operations, brand, reputation, and revenue pipelines that are potentially at risk from a breach."

While that sounds ominous, it does present an opportunity for those interested in joining the cyber security field. New avenues are opening up as tech evolves, and those intrigued by the idea of working in the cyber universe will need to be consistently on their toes and looking toward the next area that may become the focus of cyber criminals. Already artificial intelligence and machine learning—while presenting great strides for research and analytics—can also be used by hackers for advanced attacks. Says Brooks, "Deep fakes are already being deployed and bots are continuing to run rampant."

...those intrigued by the idea of working in the cyber universe will need to be consistently on their toes and looking toward the next area that may become the focus of cyber criminals.

"Small business, organizations—and especially healthcare institutions who cannot afford significant investments in defensive emerging cybersecurity tech such as AI—are the most vulnerable," writes Brooks, and "Extortion by hackers using ransomware and demanding payment by cryptocurrencies may become a more persistent and evolving threat." 

 Challenges aside, everything points to positive job growth—with salaries to match—for those looking to enter the cyber security workforce.

Get started finding cyber security programs today

it and cybersecurity professional monitors company security system

Cybercrime is increasing, offering opportunities in cyber security careers with competitive salaries. You may need to take on entry-level roles to get started, but the potential for advancement is there if you're ambitious and willing to work hard. With such a promising job growth outlook and salaries to match, why not investigate cyber security degree programs? To gain an edge, consider the right education and these steps:

  • Choose your cyber security specialty, such as ethical hacking, cyber security analysis, or cyber forensics.
  • Decide how fast you want to start working. An associate degree is quicker but may limit advancement. A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is often preferred and can be more beneficial long term.
  • Apply for financial aid early, keeping track of deadlines for FAFSA and scholarships.
  • Have a salary goal in mind to guide your career choice in cyber security.

If you're interested in helping bring cyber criminals to bay and have an aptitude for problem-solving and technical finesse the field demands, there are accredited online and classroom programs waiting for you. You provide the smarts and perseverance, and we'll help you find the right program that can help you succeed.

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