Security

15 US cities with the highest salaries for cybersecurity jobs

Find out which US city outranks San Francisco and New York City as offering the highest salary for information security specialists.

Image: iStock/Rawpixel Ltd

Cybersecurity professionals are a hot commodity. Steve Morgan, a contributor at Forbes, expects one million new cybersecurity jobs to be created in 2016. Report (independent analysis by Peninsula Press of Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers) after report (Cisco white paper) seem to agree with Morgan, claiming growth percentages in double digits for the cybersecurity job market.

To add fuel to the fire, Fortune's Gerrard Cowan quotes Budgie Dhanda, sales director of security at QinetiQ, a defense and security business, as saying, "We have an awful lot of cyber vacancies, as does everybody else. There aren't enough people out there to meet the needs of all the suppliers."

The lack of qualified people means salaries of cybersecurity professionals are skyrocketing. Dan Restuccia, chief analytics officer of market intelligence at Burning Glass Technologies, in the company's Cybersecurity Jobs 2015 report (PDF), writes, "Cybersecurity postings advertise a nine percent salary premium over IT jobs overall."

SEE: Breaking into the IT security field: 5 things prospective professionals should know

Where are these jobs, and how much do they pay?

For those interested, it becomes important to know the locations of these high-paying cybersecurity jobs, as any increase in pay can be quickly eaten up by differences in the cost of living. For example, according to Zillow.com, renters in Washington DC pay, on average, $2,595 per month—110% more than renters in Salt Lake City who pay, on average, $1,445 dollars per month.

Knowing a salary's "real value" for a given location is critical. Indeed is a recruitment advertising network that posts jobs from company websites and job board; they include cost-of-living number-crunching as a service for their customers. The Indeed blog post Where Are the Highest Paying Cyber Security Jobs? states:

"The results are surprising, to say the least. In fact, once the numbers are adjusted for cost-of-living using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), it turns out that the city with the best paid information security specialists is not a glamorous, west coast tech-hub but rather the midwestern city of Minneapolis."

The blog's author went on to explain that due to the many specialized jobs in cybersecurity, the researchers at Indeed narrowed their study down to one specific job: information security specialist.

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Image: Indeed, Bureau of Economic Analysis

Information security specialists in San Francisco topped the unadjusted annual salary list with $149,744. However, in the more important adjusted annual salary category, information security specialists in Minneapolis were on top with $127,757, whereas security professionals in San Francisco dropped to third place with $119,346. Some additional observations:

  • Minneapolis, MN: The blog post suggests that Minneapolis may be more security conscious, and willing to pay for qualified cybersecurity professionals due to the very-publicized Target data breach (Target headquarters are in Minneapolis).
  • New York City, NY: The location of who's who in finance and a highly attractive cybercriminal target placed ninth.
  • Arlington, VA: The home of the Pentagon came in 15th, sending the signal that some government IT security jobs are less financially rewarding than some private-sector positions.

SEE: Job description: Information security analyst (Tech Pro Research)

A new twist: Remote workers

Location is obviously important, but becoming less so with the increased ability of cybersecurity professionals to work remotely. These tech-savvy workers can shop for the highest salary positions, live where they want, and find a cost of living within their comfort range. "With ever more salary data available online, cybersecurity professionals know their worth," write the blog authors. "Meanwhile, highly mobile tech talent, or tech talent interested in flexible working arrangements, will be looking not only at how much a person with their skills makes in their immediate vicinity but across different metro areas."

SEE: Gender gap: Why information security needs more women

The bottom line

IT professionals with cybersecurity skills can write their own ticket now and for the foreseeable future. And, if they work at it a bit, they can live where they want, leverage cost-of-living differences, and get big bucks for their cybersecurity experience.

To learn more about how location affects the tech job market, download the Indeed Hiring Lab report: Beyond the Talent Shortage.

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About Michael Kassner

Information is my field...Writing is my passion...Coupling the two is my mission.

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