The modern world is almost entirely dependent on technology and its underlying data. As a result, practically every industry now grapples with an ever-changing, consistently relevant piece of internal infrastructure — cyber security.
As digital threats evolve to target an increasingly remote workforce, the need for cyber security professionals is at an all-time high. In fact, security analyst employment alone is expected to grow at a rate of 31 percent by 2029!
What’s more, top positions in the field have become remarkably lucrative. Security-based roles for ethical hackers, information security engineers, cyber security sales engineers, chief information security officers (CISO), and cyber security architects all earn six-figure annual salaries.
If you have already concluded your formal cyber security education — whether through traditional college studies, a self-guided venture, or a cyber security bootcamp — you are probably eager to find employment in this promising industry. Read on for a closer look at several of the highest-paying cyber security jobs in the U.S.
The Five Highest-Paying Cyber Security Jobs in the United States
Cyber security has grown into an industry of specialized, high-paying roles; each of which represents a different need, skillset, or professional vantage point. Your educational experience and personal preferences will ultimately define your career trajectory — though it certainly won’t hurt to aim for one of the particularly lucrative roles listed below!
Average annual wage: $119,289*
Average annual wage in NYC: $123,510*
Also known as “bug bounty hunters,” ethical hackers are some of the most crucial and well-paid cyber security professionals worldwide. These white-hatted hackers have become more prominent in the last decade, as major companies like Tesla have begun employing them to help fortify their cyberinfrastructure.
Ethical hackers strive to identify flaws in a cyber security network by simulating threats as a type of practical auditing. By utilizing these professionals, companies can preemptively shore up their systems ahead of actual attacks.
Naturally, given the nature and structure of this type of work, freelance hacking positions can be hard to generalize financially. Still, ZipRecruiter reports a national average cyber security salary of $119,289 — with New York City producing figures just above this average. That said, it is possible to make far more. Some top-tier freelancers reportedly make a cyber security salary of up to $500,000 per year.
Information Security Engineer
Average annual wage: $105,106*
Average annual wage in NYC: $126,534*
Information security engineers wear many hats — but their core responsibilities are planning, implementing, and upgrading security measures for their clients’ computer systems and networks. Security engineers also ensure the safe transmission of network data via the fortification of firewalls and the application of pre-designed security controls.
However, information security engineers aren’t just proactive planners. They also monitor and respond to real-time security breaches, including viruses, hacker intrusions, and other malicious attacks. Should a breach occur, security engineers perform forensic investigations to determine when and how the situation arose, as well as provide critical insights to help prevent similar violations in the future.
Annual pay for information security engineers is high. Nationally, those in the profession earn around $105,106 per year. In New York City, rates are even better — local compensation stands at over $20,000 higher than the national average.
Security Sales Engineer
Average annual wage: $97,282*
Average annual wage in NYC: $117,115*
Though most of the highest paying cyber security jobs are focused primarily on defense-related coding and auditing, IT sales roles are equally vital to the industry (and financially advantageous for you). This career path arose as companies in sectors dependent on sensitive consumer data (i.e., healthcare, finance) raced to update or adapt their network security protocols.
Cyber security sales engineers are responsible for selling security-centric goods and services. Individuals serving in this role are expected to familiarize themselves with market statistics, gather information to define customer needs accurately, and exhibit extensive knowledge of a product’s design or technical characteristics. An occupational license may be required to begin work as a cyber security sales engineer in some states.
Security sales engineers are well paid for their efforts. ZipRecruiter reports that the national average pay for the role is $97,282. New York City-based professionals earn about 12 percent more, clocking in at $117,115 per year.
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
Average annual wage: $145,667
Average annual wage in NYC: $175,364*
Chief information security officers (CISOs) are invaluable senior-level executives and some of cyber security’s highest-paid professionals.
CISOs merge their business management skills with technological prowess to simultaneously lead security teams, aid in incident response and system fortification, and oversee company data management and general security compliance. Success in this position is synonymous with versatility, organizational skills, and rapid adaptability to internal and external hazards.
These professionals are well-compensated for their extensive responsibilities. According to ZipRecruiter, CISOs in the U.S. earn an average of $145,667 annually. Those in New York City earn slightly more — $177,556 per year.
Network Security Architect
Average annual wage: $130,302*
Average annual wage in NYC: $156,857*
Network security architects are primarily responsible for building, implementing, and testing networks to ensure compliance with security policies and procedures.
Beyond that, architects are typically responsible for constructing local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), extranets, intranets, and other similar data networks. Additionally, these professionals regularly make recommendations for network improvements, maintain contingency plans to prevent or resolve breaches, and analyze data to fix various operational problems.
While several years of industry experience are typically required to land an architect position, some companies offer apprenticeships through which aspiring coders can combine instruction with on-the-job experience.
Employment in this role is expected to grow slightly faster than the national average. U.S.-based network security architects enjoy a lofty annual wage of $130,302. In New York City, the average yearly salary sits much higher, at $156,857.
How Much Do Cyber Security Professionals Make in New York City From Starting Salary to Highest Pay?
At the end of the day, averages can only tell you so much. If you’re applying for a job, you need to know what cyber security starting salary you can reasonably negotiate for based on the role’s demands, your prior experience, and your location.
Let’s break down the five highest paying cyber security jobs again — but this time, keeping in mind to how different experience levels can impact your expected pay if you live in New York City.
Entry Level: $67,147*
Senior Level: $114,783*
Keep in mind that these figures exclude single payments from one-off freelance projects and bug bounties, which can lead to significantly higher annual wages.
Information Security Engineer
Entry Level: $67,650*
Senior Level: $119,043*
To qualify for cyber security engineer jobs, professionals typically need a few years of experience in roles such as cyber security specialist, cyber crime analyst, or incident responder.
Cyber Security Sales Engineer
Entry Level: $60,701*
Senior Level: $90,364*
Cyber security engineer jobs are advanced roles. According to CyberSeek, successful candidates typically spend at least a few years gaining experience as cyber security analysts, cyber security consultants, or penetration testers.
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
Entry Level: $106,176*
Senior Level: $167,464*
Like engineers, CISOs are senior-level positions. Applicants must have several years of experience in applicable entry- to intermediate-level roles (or, in some cases, equivalent preparation as assessed by the employer).
Cyber Security Architect
Entry Level: $78,612*
Senior Level: $131,227*
Architect roles also typically require a few years of prior job experience in relevant security roles. According to CyberSeek, these roles include cyber security engineer, cyber security analyst, cyber security consultant, and penetration tester.
Cyber Security Job Outlook — In New York City & the US
The outlook for cyber security professionals isn’t just good — it’s downright sunny. Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job opportunities in the field will grow by a whopping 31 percent by 2029. This is a phenomenal number. For context, the average expected growth of all other industries is just four percent. Cyber isn’t just growing; it’s thriving.
These aren’t new conclusions, either. In 2018, the ISC(2) Cybersecurity Workforce study (PDF, 1 MB) noted that 63 percent of surveyed organizations reported having a shortage of security-dedicated IT staff. Of those, well over half (60 percent) said their companies were “at moderate or extreme risk of cyber security attacks due to this shortage.”
Given these factors, it’s not all that surprising that cyber security professionals currently enjoy strong market demand for their skills, even amid the economic challenges posed by Covid-19. The BLS’s outlook for all information security roles remains optimistic despite the economic challenges posed by COVID-19, projecting steady growth throughout the next decade. In fact, the need for security professionals’ skills has only increased during the pandemic as cybercriminals took advantage of the chaos to launch attacks against vulnerable businesses.
These trends have positively impacted the New York City cyber security market, leading the state to the fourth-highest industry employment rate in the U.S. From architects to engineers, the state’s future job opportunities remain very positive across a variety of roles.
If you believe this career is for you, make sure to check out our guide on how to become an information security analyst.
Cyber Security Salaries in Comparison
While cyber security workers are undeniably important right now, they are hardly the only in-demand professionals within the tech field. Here is how the salaries of the highest paying cyber security jobs stack up to other prominent industry roles.
Average annual wage: $86,523*
Average annual wage in NYC: $86,002*
Software developers research, build, and further develop all aspects of an application or software program. Average annual pay for these roles is notably higher in New York City than in the U.S. overall, and the market is expected to grow in the future. If you’re looking to become a coder, you may want to look into academic options such as bootcamp programs, college courses, or self-guided study.
Average annual wage: $86,833*
Average annual wage in NYC: $95,231*
Database administrators are tasked with testing, administering, and otherwise managing computer databases. These professionals possess enough advanced knowledge of these systems to properly diagnose performance issues and accurately identify scalability potential and capacity.
The BLS reports that New York City, again, records an above-average annual wage for database administrator roles. To become an administrator, one must first seek proper educational training and certification.
Average annual wage: $65,142*
Average annual wage in NYC: $67,918*
As masters of code, computer programmers continually strive to write and improve computer applications, working off their client’s or employer’s specifications. Despite a mild decline in overall employment figures, New York City programmer wages remain mostly consistent with the national salary average.
Interested? This is How You Can Get Into the Cyber Security Field
If you plan to pursue a role in the promising cyber security industry, you will be happy to know that the field allows for a variety of career paths and that upskilling is possible regardless of which sector from which you wish to pivot.
Those coming from an IT background can expect many of their skills to translate well into cyber security employment. Many of these “feeder roles” directly cater to such a career path, providing the underlying fundamentals of advanced cyber security positions like administrators and engineers.
Sought-after skills include, but are not limited, to cryptography, risk assessment and management, and the presentation and articulation of complex subjects. Interested individuals will need to gain certification in a cyber security capacity to finalize their overall readiness.
Those with little to no tech experience can still get into cyber security. All it takes is the willingness to learn and a handful of hard skills such as penetration testing, digital forensics, and cloud security. Management experience also represents a viable gateway into a security-based role.
Want to get started? Regardless of your prior experience, a cyber security bootcamp represents an excellent way to hone (or establish) a working set of skills through practical learning. Why not get started today? Columbia’s Engineering Cybersecurity Boot Camp is a fantastic place to learn the fundamentals of cybersecurity and kickstart your career in this high-potential field.
Disclaimer: Salary data provided by Payscale, Ziprecruiter, and Glassdoor is often self-reported by individuals and is not guaranteed to be confirmed by employers. The inclusion of this data by Columbia Engineering Boot Camps and Trilogy Education Services, a 2U, Inc. brand, is intended only to provide general insights into potential salaries for the stated fields and does not indicate a confirmation of its validity.