Let’s face it: if you’re putting in the time, money, and effort to make a career change, then chances are you want to be sure your decision pays off financially. And while we hear about Application Developers and Data Scientists easily making six figures, we don’t hear as much about cybersecurity experts.
So if you’re thinking about a career in cybersecurity, how much can you expect to make? The great news is that, like their web development and data science cousins, cybersecurity experts can expect to make six figures, depending on experience, location, and their specific role. Ethical Hackers, for example, earn over $100,000 a year on average. (Check out our free Introduction to Ethical Hacking course to learn more about this exciting career.)
One reason for this is because cybersecurity experts are in extremely short supply. In fact, reports indicate that cybersecurity jobs pay 16% more than other IT jobs.
Ahead, we’ll go through a few types of cybersecurity jobs and how much you can expect to make in those roles.
6 high-paying cybersecurity expert jobs and their salaries
One factor that determines how much a cybersecurity expert makes is their specific job role. Here are six high-earning jobs in the cybersecurity industry and the salary you can expect to make in each position.
Information Security Manager
Topping many tech salary lists is the Information Security Manager, whose job is to protect companies’ information systems from data leaks. Information Security Managers must look at security from three angles: local laws on data privacy, current security measures, and possible future vulnerabilities to attack.
Information Security Managers are paid so well not only because of the high demand, but because the penalties of failing to protect consumer data can cost a company hundreds of millions of dollars.
Information Security Managers are paid an average of $125,000 to $215,000 per year.
Cybersecurity Engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and implementing network security measures. Good Cybersecurity Engineers are equally able to prevent one-time hacking attempts as well as persistent threats to network security. Their multiple skill sets make them hard to find and deserving of high salaries.
The average Cybersecurity Engineer can make between $120,000 and $200,000 per year.
Application Security Engineer
Fewer and fewer companies use software hosted exclusively on company servers. Instead, more companies are developing and using applications designed to be hosted by third-party servers, such as AWS or Azure. Application Security Engineers specialize in securing business and software applications that connect to these third-party servers.
Besides protecting sensitive company data, Application Security Engineers ensure that business applications stay compliant with company and regulatory data privacy requirements. In companies that develop and maintain apps, Application Security Engineers also make sure that apps aren’t unexpectedly shut down by hackers or malicious software.
With an average salary between $120,000 and $180,000 per year, Application Security Engineers are among the highest-paid cybersecurity experts.
Also known as Ethical Hackers, Penetration Testers try to hack into a company’s network with the company’s consent. A system that’s secure today can easily become vulnerable in just a few months, so companies have Penetration Testers conduct security tests quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily.
Penetration Testers use a variety of tools and conduct tests across security networks before reporting back on vulnerabilities that could be exploited by less well-intentioned hackers.
If you decide to pursue a career as a Penetration Tester, you can expect to make between $80,000 and $130,000 per year on average.
Cybersecurity Analysts work closely with Information Security Managers and Penetration Testers to create and implement security measures to keep company infrastructure secure. Cybersecurity Analysts are experts in identifying vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit them.
Like the other types of cybersecurity experts, Cybersecurity Analysts are in high demand, and companies are willing to pay them between $90,000 and $160,000 per year on average.
Network Security Engineer
Network Security Engineers specialize in a variety of roles within a company, such as maintaining a company’s local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), and server architecture. Network Security Engineers also monitor and protect virtual networks, firewalls, and email and software security.
As you can imagine, a Network Security Engineer is a critical part of any company’s security team, and they’re paid well for their work. The average salary of a Network Security Engineer ranges between $125,000 and $185,000 per year.
Other factors that influence a cybersecurity expert’s salary
Besides the actual job responsibilities, location has a big influence on the salary of a cybersecurity expert. Part of the reason is the cost of living — it’s more expensive to live in Seattle and Silicon Valley than in a small rural town — but it’s also because the highest need for cybersecurity experts is in areas where many companies are competing for the same relatively small group of talent.
When you factor in the cost of living, the U.S. cities with the ten highest average cybersecurity expert salaries are:
- Minneapolis, MN — $127,750
- Seattle, WA — $119,350
- San Francisco, CA — $119,350
- Dallas, TX — $117,900
- Denver, CO — $117,300
- Chicago, IL — $111,300
- Austin, TX — $110,200
- Salt Lake City, UT — $106,200
- New York, NY — $102, 300
- San Jose, CA — $99,100
How to get into cybersecurity
Cybersecurity has become a top priority for many companies, and with the industry's ongoing need for talent, it's a great time to enter the field. If a career in cybersecurity sounds right for you, check out our cybersecurity courses. A good place to start is our free, beginner-friendly course Introduction to Cybersecurity.
In our Fundamentals of Cybersecurity and Fundamentals of Cyber Resilience and Risk Management skill paths, you'll learn about common cyber threats and how to prevent them. And our Introduction to Ethical Hacking course explores the tools and strategies cybersecurity experts use to identify potential vulnerabilities in systems and networks.
The good news? No matter where you want to start, you can get started today.