Should You Become a Cyber Security Engineer?
Demand in the cyber security job market is soaring while supply is running critically low. According to Cisco, there are currently 1 million unfilled cyber security jobs worldwide. In the U.S. alone, job postings are up 74% over the past five years with 209,000 current job vacancies, as reported by Forbes. Quite simply, there aren’t enough qualified and skilled cyber security professionals to fill the growing need. And among the most sought after in the field are cyber security engineers.
Cyber security engineers perform a number of functions including architecting, developing and fielding secure network solutions to protect against advanced persistent threats, developing/engineering trusted systems into secure systems, performing assessments and penetration testing, and managing security technology and audit/intrusion systems. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “The demand is making it harder for chief information security officers to attract and retain seasoned engineers who can detect and neutralize threats.”
As a consequence of the strong demand for engineers and the deficit in qualified professionals, salaries, job outlook and job opportunities are great. So, if you have an engineering background and are interested in this burgeoning field, a job as a cyber security engineer can be an enticing and lucrative career move.
Cyber Security Engineer Salaries
According to Dice, engineers make up three of the top 10 best paying jobs in security with cyber security engineer taking in an average salary of $170,000, lead security engineer commanding an average salary of $175,000 and lead software security engineer earning an average salary of $233,333 – more than the CSO who they likely report to.
And a Computer World salary survey found that compensation for network engineers increased 4.6% from 2015 to 2016.
There is no doubt that salaries are good and they are only getting better. Robert Duncan, CISO of stock exchange operator Euronext N.V., said he knows of a security engineer who changed companies twice within a year and saw his salary double to about $121,000, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Of course, cyber security engineering salaries will vary depending on a number of factors, including:
- Employer (including whether they are in the private or public sector)
- Geographical location
- Education (both level attained and alma mater)
Job opportunities in the cyber security engineering field are plentiful, with unemployment in the field hovering around zero. As CSO reported, just over half (51.3%) of security executives and managers surveyed in Computerworld’s 2016 IT Salary Survey said they expect IT staff headcounts to increase in the coming year. Marketo CSO Jason Hoffman says his company is currently recruiting for a Director of Information Security and he expects to “expand the security team this year focusing on technical roles such as security architects, security engineers and security analysts.”
A 2015 Burning Glass jobs report supports this sentiment, finding that engineering job postings accounted for 26% of all the cyber security job listings in 2014, more than any other cyber security position.
One reason for the worker shortage in the cyber security field is that companies are looking for highly qualified, educated and skilled professionals. A bachelor’s degree is almost always required, while a master’s degree is typically preferred, especially if you want to work in a leadership position. In addition, many companies require specific certifications and extensive experience in the field.
Source: Burning Glass Technologies, 2015
If you are interested in learning more about a career in cyber security engineering or want to advance your information security skills, consider a Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering from the University of San Diego.