What Are Cyber Salaries Like?

Dear Deb from QA: What are salaries like for cybersecurity jobs?

What Are Cyber Salaries Like?

Welcome to “Ask Deb from QA,” an advice column from MxD.

Deb from QA — with decades of experience on the factory floor — will answer your questions to demystify and explain the digital manufacturing industry.

Please submit your questions to debfromqa@mxdusa.org

Dear Deb from QA: What are salaries like for cybersecurity jobs?

The short answer to that question is good. Very good.  

And the best part for those of you looking? Cybersecurity jobs aren’t reserved just for university graduates. There are even entry-level positions, like an Industrial Control Systems Analyst, that can pay in the six figures. That’s according to The Hiring Guide: Cybersecurity in Manufacturing put together by my friends at MxD. That Hiring Guide describes 247 jobs—current and future—and recommends ways companies can train workers to fill them.

It also shows career paths, all nice and tidy. So, on the “Vulnerability Detection & Investigation” career path, that Industrial Control Systems Analyst (average salary $113,600) is the first step, perfect for someone who has completed an apprenticeship or has a two-year technical degree and some experience. Next step is an Incident (Breach) Response Manager (average salary $136,250). And for that you would need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology plus more experience. Capping the path is a “White Hat”/Ethical Hacker (average salary $143,000), which usually requires a master’s degree. Not bad coin for spending your day foiling attacks!

On the “Cyber Assessing & Advising” career track, someone who’s done some studying since high school and has technical support work experience could get hired as Cybersecurity Tech Support (average salary $65,000). Next stop (with a bachelor’s degree and more experience) would be Cybersecurity Analyst, with an average salary of $95,000. And with a master’s degree, you could be a Cybersecurity Advisor (average salary $148,000). 

Like I said, good money. 

Before your bosses get all jittery seeing those numbers, a smaller shop isn’t likely in the market for an ethical hacker and will probably combine multiple jobs into one cyber hire. 

The biggest reason those salaries are so high? Competition. There just aren’t enough people trained to do this kind of work. The last time I checked, Cyber Seek’s Cybersecurity Supply/Demand Heat Map showed 464,420 cyber jobs open in the United States. California, which always ranks among the top states for manufacturing, had 55,487 openings. Texas had 42,469.

That heat map is a good overview, with one caveat: It shows cybersecurity jobs across all industries. Manufacturing is an important part of that picture. Last year it moved into the No. 2 most-targeted industry (right behind finance) on IBM Security’s annual X-Force Threat Intelligence Index. So even if you’re in a tiny factory somewhere in the middle of America with a staff of 15—including the owner’s son-in-law and aunt—you need to take this cyber stuff seriously. No target is too small for cyberthugs and their nasty ransomware attacks. 

Look, I get it. Smaller factories may not have much time to think about cyber threats and how to prepare. If a factory is in desperate need of a welder, the only cybersecurity analyst you want is one who can weld. 

But COVID-19 taught us many hard lessons, and one of the biggest is that we need to be looking around the next corner. Factories must be ready for anything, and workers need jobs with a nice long career path.

I’m at what’s politely called the “late” career stage, which means the only path I am looking for is the one that heads straight to a beach with a margarita stand.

But for you others, what are you waiting for? Cyber attacks are going off around us faster than corn kernels in my air popper. It’s time to get moving, either by getting an apprenticeship or schooling that will get you on a path to earning the big bucks or, if you are the boss, getting some cyberstars on the payroll. 

As I always say, paying a cybersecurity analyst (even if she can’t weld) is better than paying ransom to some unethical hacker. 

Download MxD’s free Hiring Guide to read about job opportunities in cybersecurity.

Check out the last Ask Deb here:
What does Zero Trust mean?

Deb from QA wants to hear your questions. Send ’em to debfromqa@mxdusa.org and she’ll answer as soon as she’s done with her dinner.