The Exabeam 2019 Cyber Security Salary, Skills and Stress Survey was compiled from an international survey of 479 security professionals who work in cyber security, threat management, or information security. We present the following key findings from the report.

There’s a lack of diversity in cyber security staffing

Among the security analysts surveyed in the United States, UK, Canada, India, Australia, and the Netherlands, 91 percent of respondents of the survey were male – up from 90 percent in 2018 – representing the gender disparity in cyber security.

A wide racial disparity continues, with African-Americans represented by less than three percent of respondents to the survey. Of the total number of respondents, the majority, or 65 percent, identified as Caucasian. People of Latino/Hispanic descent made up just 13 percent of respondents, while even fewer (9 percent) were Asian followed by people of Middle-Eastern descent.

Salaries are in line with expectations

Roughly 71 percent of cyber security professionals stated that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their salary, with the highest satisfaction response rates for those earning between $100,000 and $150,000. Yet, the largest percentage of our participants (22%) reported earning less than $50,000 per year, down from the 2018 cyber security salary range, where a quarter earned in the $50,000 – $75,000 range.

Cyber security salary breakdowns by demographics provided interesting insights. While only 9 percent of participants identified as women, they reported the same average median salary ($75,000 – $100,000) as their male counterparts. Likewise, while there were less than a dozen participants who identified as African-American, these professionals reported the highest median salaries based on a racial breakdown. Caucasian professionals reported an average median salary range of $75,000 – $100,000.

In an increase from 2018, participants reported increased median cyber security salary ranges in Asia, matching North American salaries at around $75,000 – $100,000 per year. Of the new regions we added to our questionnaire, professionals in the Middle East also reported median salaries of $75,000 – $100,000.

Professionals are stressed, but will recommend a career in cyber security

Stress and work-life balance are important aspects of any profession, and survey participants reported that both factors significantly affected their work. Almost three-quarters (62%) of participants stated that they were experiencing some level of stress in their jobs. Along the same lines, 44% stated that they did not have work-life balance.

Despite this, 78 percent stated that they would recommend a career in cyber security. When asked about why they stayed at their jobs, 58 percent of participants stated that challenge in the workplace was the most important aspect of their job.

Automation is welcome and seen as helpful, but underutilized

When it came to discussing automation, AI and SOAR solutions in their work, 80 percent of participants stated that the tools could improve security in their organizations. Also, 65 percent stated that they did not feel professionally threatened by automation compared to 10 percent who said that they feel threatened.

Despite this feedback, only 16 percent said that they use some sort of automation in their work, and over a third (36%) stated that they had no plans to use automation at all even though it could help them and improve security.

This suggests that while professionals aren’t worried about automation impacting their jobs negatively and possibly improving their workload, they still prefer to work manually without the assistance of automation technology. This could, in turn, contribute to the increased levels of stress and work-life imbalance reported.

What the Cyber security Salary, Skills and Stress Survey covers

Our focus in this survey was to understand trends related to how security professionals do their jobs. Aspects of our survey included:

  1. A breakdown of cyber security salary trends in the field, including those related to markers like race, gender, region of employment, and industries served.
  2. A comparative analysis of cyber security salary and job satisfaction related to these markers and demographics.
  3. A study of the emerging technologies, including AI and SOAR solutions, and how security experts view their impact on aspects of their jobs.
  4. A study of personal development and satisfaction in the industry, including how security professionals work with others, how they do or don’t manage work-life balance, and how they perceive the demands and stress of their positions.

Our approach

Of those surveyed, we collected demographical data related to where security professionals work and in what roles. This data allowed us to make comparisons between self-assessments involving job security, job satisfaction, and salary satisfaction and categories such as industries served, primary responsibilities, and experience.

Participants were asked to provide the following information:

  • Gender and racial identification
  • Experience in the profession
  • Education and certifications
  • Cyber security salary range
  • Industries served
  • Primary responsibilities
  • Tenure with current employer
  • Size of current employer
  • Region of current employer
  • Current job title

Download the full cyber security salary report for more on the how cyber security professionals responded to trends in the field.

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