Cybersecurity engineer job & salary
One of the most sought-after careers in information security is the cybersecurity engineer role, and for a good reason: cybersecurity engineers get to use a broad information security skill set. They help organizations secure information environments from hackers and get a firsthand opportunity to further develop their skills on the job. What may be even more attractive is the pay cybersecurity engineers earn.
FREE role-guided training plans
FREE role-guided training plans
What does a cybersecurity engineer do?
Before you examine anything properly, you must first define the universe you are examining. Cybersecurity engineers are information security professionals who protect computers, information, and networking systems from cyberattacks, hacking and persistent threats. This role may go by another name depending on the organization, including IT/IS security engineer.
Some organizations have their cybersecurity engineers focus on more day-to-day cybersecurity tasks. In other organizations, they focus more on higher-level cybersecurity decision-making, but most cybersecurity engineers find their day peppered with a good amount of both types of tasks.
There are other cybersecurity engineer roles with a specific focus, including application security engineer, which may allow for a higher pay scale — but more on this point later.
How much do cyber engineers make?
As mentioned earlier, salary is one of the biggest pros of working as a cybersecurity engineer, and according to PayScale, the numbers prove it. The Average cyber security engineer salary at the time of this writing is $98,928. This figure is more than double the median income of the national average wage, which is $54,132. While a cybersecurity engineer’s salary may not make you as wealthy as the tech elite in Silicon Valley, you will be living comfortably.
Even better, this figure is only the national average for all cybersecurity engineers and is not the ceiling. Cybersecurity engineers at the mid-career level can expect to earn $105,301. Cybersecurity engineers in their late careers earn $120,502, while the highest level of cybersecurity experience will take home an impressive $127,749.
Salary contributing factors
Other factors affect your cybersecurity engineer salary apart from your years of experience. Below are the main factors that will increase your salary.
Hard skills: What hiring managers are looking for
Cybersecurity engineers need to have a well-rounded background of different hard skills. These hard skills are all used at varying levels in the day-to-day job of a cybersecurity engineer and, taken as a whole, show how well-versed you must be just to be competent in the job role. The hard skills that hiring managers are looking for in a cybersecurity engineer are:
- Computer networking
- IT support
- Operating systems
- Network security
- Computer programming
- Computer hardware and software
- Virus and malware protection software
- Security standards
- Data management
- Risk identification and management
Soft skills: What hiring managers are looking for
Cybersecurity engineers must also have a firm grasp of soft skills to succeed. In the normal workday, they are expected to communicate important technical information to different organizational departments in a way that non-technical people can understand. They also have to zero in on the more granular side of cybersecurity which often includes serving as an escalation point for lower-level troubleshooting.
The soft skills that hiring managers are looking for are:
- Communication between different organization departments in a way that they can understand
- Logical reasoning and troubleshooting
- Project management
One of the most important factors determining how much you will earn is your cybersecurity skill level, or in other words, how valuable the organization will perceive you. While five to 10 years of information security experience is generally expected, not all experience is the same.
Candidates with five years of high-level information security experience will probably be more useful as cybersecurity engineers than candidates with the same number of years in a less skill-intensive role. This value is most often expressed with a better salary.
Do you need a degree from a college or university?
Most organizations require a bachelor’s degree for cybersecurity engineer candidates. More and more organizations are extending their educational requirements to include a master’s degree. An advanced degree will boost your cybersecurity engineer salary because organizations generally demand a master’s degree when there is a greater demand for higher-level or specialized skills.
Do cyber engineers specialize?
Yes, they absolutely do! Cybersecurity engineers specialize in the areas they are most interested in, which is commonplace today among professionals in general. Specializations not only give the cybersecurity engineer a focus that is more their cup of proverbial tea, but it also typically results in more pay since specializations allow a cybersecurity engineer to stand apart from the rest of the cybersecurity engineers applying for a specific job role.
If you are interested in specializing in cybersecurity, a good place to start is with an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree in your preferred area of specialization. Hiring organizations tend to pay more to cybersecurity engineers who specialize.
Yes, you should have certifications
Another great way to ensure you get paid more than the national average is to earn cybersecurity engineer certifications (if you have not done so already). While no statistics measure how much specific certifications will boost your pay, the most relevant certifications should help you snag a better salary. Some examples of relevant cybersecurity engineer certifications include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacking (CEH) and GIAC®️ Security Essentials (GSEC).
As a rule of thumb, having a specialized skill set will help you earn more, and the cybersecurity engineer role is no exception. As some food for thought, consider this— According to ZipRecruiter, application security engineers can expect an average salary of $131,956 — about 50% more than the national average for cybersecurity engineers!
Average salary by U.S. metropolitan area
Investing in your career with skills, education and certifications is not the only way to increase your pay as a cybersecurity engineer. What would you say if I told you there is a more down-to-earth factor at play here? Well, there is — the city that you live in. This can significantly impact your cybersecurity engineer's salary.
Below are some examples of the average salaries in some popular metropolitan areas in the United States:
- National average: $99,928
- San Francisco, California: $127,500
- Atlanta, Georgia: $107,489
- Washington, District of Columbia: $107,392
- San Diego, California: $105,578
- Charlotte, North Carolina: $95,554
- New York City, New York: $78,611
As you can see, your metropolitan area can greatly impact your cybersecurity engineer salary.
Cybersecurity engineer requirements
To work as a cybersecurity engineer, you need to meet specific requirements, although these are not set in stone. First, you will need to earn a bachelor of science degree — preferably in computer information systems, computer science, information technology or a related field. Next, you must have five to 10 years of information security experience. These requirements may vary from organization to organization and will have a noticeable impact on your salary.
Where to find cybersecurity engineering jobs
The need for cybersecurity engineers is nationwide. So are job opportunities. You can work with a recruiter to shorten your job search and work your network on Linked-in. There are also general career sites like Indeed and Monster to explore, as well as sites for cybersecurity professionals such as the info-sec job board, Cyber SecurityJobs and the Cybersecurity Job Board.
Cybersecurity engineering: The career outlook is bright!
The role of cybersecurity engineer is currently one of the hottest in the information security field. Organizations are increasingly demanding this role because of the value they give organizations.
While cybersecurity engineers can expect a high median salary out of the box, the proverbial buck does not stop there. Applying other factors to your career — including more education, more certifications and moving to a big city — will help you get paid significantly more than the national average for this already high pay rate. Without a doubt, cybersecurity engineers get paid well and even better if they make the right moves.
ChatGPT: Self-paced technical training
ChatGPT: Self-paced technical training
Still have more questions? We can help
Navigating your cybersecurity engineer career and the cybersecurity world can be complex. Information is your best guide to success. Check out our many cybersecurity blogs, from Top 13 tools every security engineer should know to Cybersecurity engineer interview questions and answers.