SAN FRANCISCO -- Overall pay for those with security clearances might be down, but those in cybersecurity are being paid quite well, according to a new report from Clearancejobs.com.
The report, released Feb. 25, details survey results from 16,300 professionals with active security clearances. Overall, the professionals saw a 3 percent dip in compensation in 2012, down to $88,447 on average.
But while the numbers are down for many, cybersecurity professionals, who made up 22 percent of respondents, are seeing better paydays. The report did not have earnings numbers for the group for 2011, but 82 percent of cybersecurity professionals said their compensation was either static or had gone up in the last year.
As a group, those who work in cybersecurity earned an average of $101,198. That number, however, hides a meaningful gap between compensation for those employed by the federal government and those who work for contractors.
Government cyber-employees earned $99,309 in 2012, while their industry peers earned $107,260. Unsurprisingly, given the fierce competition for talent in a marketplace with few qualified experts, 64 percent of cybersecurity professionals said they were interested in testing the job market, with 36 percent of respondents saying they were likely to switch jobs in the next year.
Those market conditions will make it hard for the government to find the experts it wants as the Defense Department seeks to hire thousands of new cyber warriors, said Clearancejobs.com Managing Director Evan Lesser.
“It’s no surprise that the government has said for a few years now that they are lacking in talent and that they’re relying on industry to supply that skill set,” he said. “I don’t think there are 4,000 people with the skill level that they’re looking for, with the clearances that they’re looking for, and with the certifications that they’re looking for.
“I’m not an alarmist, but we’re really sitting at a pretty vulnerable position,” Lesser said.
One of the hot new areas, he said, is an increased desire to hire those skilled at cyber attack.
“It’s only been the last 18-19 months that we’ve seen government focusing on attack,” he said.