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US Cybersecurity Pay Outstrips Europe and Asia: 90% of Professionals Happy

Few fear AI, but Millennials are profoundly disinterested...

By April Slattery

A massive 90 percent of cybersecurity professionals would recommend the profession to graduates – and few fear the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the sector, a new survey from security specialists Exabeam shows today.

The report, which focuses on salaries in the sector, also reveals that European and Asia Pacific-based cybersecurity professionals are being outstripped in earnings by their US-based counterparts, who typically earn $75k- $100k (versus $50k to $75k) in Europe.

The survey comes, however, as a mere 9 percent of millennials reported an interest in pursuing a cybersecurity career, according to a Tuesday report from ProtectWise and Enterprise Strategy Group – a figure described as “deeply worrying”.

Millennials: not interested in cybersecurity careers, survey says.

The lack of interest in cybersecurity does not stem from a lack of interest in tech, the report found: of the 524 millennials and post-millennials surveyed, 48% had been part of a STEM program during their K-12 education.

A majority of respondents said they are interested in computer-related careers, including video game development (33%), computer sciences/software development (21%), engineering (15%), scientific research (13%), and information technology (11%).

Commenting on this, Tim Helming, director of product management at DomainTools said: “This is a deeply troubling statistic. Cybersecurity, as well as being a growing and a high paying field when compared to other tech jobs, is an industry that is increasingly necessary for the safety and economic security of nations, companies and individuals alike.”

He added: “As the recent DomainTools survey conducted with Ponemon found, while some of the low-skill tasks within the cybersecurity space may be carried out using emerging automated techniques, talented, passionate and diligent cybersecurity staff are still absolutely paramount in order to carry out additional work on the more advanced threats, which pose the greatest threat.”

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Some 36 percent of the 481 cybersecurity professionals surveyed by Exabeam meanwhile are already using AI and Machine Learning (ML) in their work. Over 40 percent are planning to do so. A massive 90 percent were male.

The survey aimed to gain insights on the trends across salaries within the security profession, job satisfaction and attitudes towards innovative and emerging technologies.

Salaries were reported to be highest in North America – up to double those in Europe and the Asia Pacific, with a range of $75,000 – $100,000 for the US and $50,000 – $75,000 for Europe/APac.

Broken down into sectors; the retail sector stole the show with the highest salaries, with those working in the telecoms profession reporting the lowest salary.

Satisfaction versus Salary

The report found that generally job satisfaction was reflective of the salary for individuals; with those working as ‘Chief Security Inspector’ among the top earning salaries, at between $175,000-$200,000, and are the most satisfied with their current salaries. In total 35 percent of respondents shared this view.

In comparison, 40 percent of security professionals said they were unsatisfied with their current salary; including those with the tasks of compliance officers, security programme managers and SOC/security leaders (25 percent) that are least satisfied with their current salaries.

Overall, 83 percent said they are satisfied with their jobs and only 9 percent saying they are unsatisfied.

Those in the telecommunications and technology industry were amongst the lowest in job satisfaction, with 33.9 percent admitting they are unsatisfied with their jobs; the same industries were also amongst the lowest earners, at $50-$75,000 per year. The automotive sector gave a positive response, with 100 percent of workers in the industry saying they are satisfied in their role.

The research shockingly revealed those looking at malware analysis or in depth security research reported the lowest salaries, at just $50,000, despite their roles being crucial in the current cyber security environment. Comparatively, those responsible for compliance and forensics had a higher median salary of between $75,000-100,000.

Security professionals revealed being minutely more satisfied than unsatisfied in their jobs; 32 percent and 30.3 percent respectively.

Will Technology Impact Job Security?

Emerging technologies such as AI, robotics and machine learning have somewhat hindered job prospects; with individuals concerned about job security and their position in the company.

However the survey from Exabeam positively revealed that 80 percent do feel secure in their jobs, despite the rise in emerging technologies, and only 6.3 percent admitted to having concerns.

Nearly three quarters of security professionals agreed that emerging technologies will help their business, with just 5 percent disagreeing. A similar number of respondents agreed that machine learning and AI can make their jobs easier, not hinder them; with only 7 percent feeling the technology will negatively impact their job prospects.

Furthermore, 68 percent admit AI and machine learning is not a threat to their job security; however 10 percent do still feel threatened. Despite the 10 percent that are concerned, AI is amongst the technologies security analysts cited to be most excited about.

Reflective of the response to using AI to benefit business, the energy and healthcare sectors are the top two industries utilising AI; 57.7 percent and 37.8 percent respectively. A quarter of those working in insurance and 13.8 percent working in financial services reported the highest level of concerns for job prospects using the technology.

Future Prospects

The survey positively revealed that 86 percent of current security professionals would recommend a career as a security analyst to new graduates; recommending getting qualifications in the area and always continue learning in the field.

Other future prospects for organisations include the implementation of new technologies, such as AI and machine learning; with 32.2 percent planning to use the technology at some point in the future, however 21 percent said they have no plans in the area at all.

The report from Exabeam was based on 481 global participants working in the security profession, in March this year.

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