According to the IT Skills and Certification Salary Index published by renowned analyst firm Foote Partners LLC, technical certifications continued their three-year price decline in the third quarter of 2021 and are now at their lowest point since early 2013.
However, there are still some IT security certifications that employers are willing to pay extra for.
To ensure you invest in training and certifications that provide the highest possible return, here’s a salary guide for the highest paying IT security certifications. This blog post will compare the most common cybersecurity certification awards and examine their impact on cybersecurity certification salaries.
CompTIA’s Security+ is an excellent entry-level certification focusing on cryptography, identity, and threat management. Although not required, successful candidates must have at least two years of professional experience before attaining the Security+ certification.
Perhaps because Security+ is considered an entry-level certification, it is associated with slightly lower earnings than more rigorous certifications. For example, top information security analysts with CompTIA’s Security+ certification earn an annual salary of $97,000, a CISM salary of $123,000, and a CISA salary of about $200,000 yearly.
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) is one of the primary standards for information systems auditing. Over 100,000 individuals hold this certification, and its popularity continues to grow. The increased demand for CISA certification can be traced to the financial scandals of the early 2000s and the subsequent passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002. Today, the demand for CISA is high across all industries and is growing. Cyber
Although the CISA exam is significantly more complex than most security certifications—carrying an unusually high failure rate—and requiring a minimum of 5 years of professional information systems auditing experience, the rewards are well worth the effort. Most financial institutions worldwide are increasingly looking to hire CISA certified IS auditors and risk managers. CISA-certified professionals can command annual compensation above $100,000 and reach nearly $200,000 a year, a 38% increase over the salary of a CISM certification professional.
CISM vs CISSP
Although CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) and CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) are two of the most popular and recognized industry certifications, they are also two of the most financially rewarding certifications. Each certification has unique requirements and areas of focus. Both are vendor-neutral, cover a broad set of topics and require at least five years of work experience in the specific domain.
Security professionals with any of these certifications can expect to earn an average six-figure annual salary and a maximum of $200,000+. However, CISM-certified professionals, regardless of job role, make slightly more than CISSPs, as shown by the graph below. This difference is particularly pronounced for top performers, with CISM-certified IT security professionals earning 7.0% more than their CISSP-certified counterparts at the 90th percentile.
GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
GSEC is another entry-level certification that can lead to higher income. It focuses on assessing an individual’s practical knowledge of information security—the certificate best suits security professionals with a hands-on security role.
At the high end, GSEC-certified professionals can expect to earn more than $100,000 in annual salary. While the average information security analyst with a GSEC degree can start earning under $50,000, the exact role can pay $106,000 in the 90th percentile. When comparing GSEC vs CISSP salaries, a person with a GSEC certification can earn about 10% less than someone with a CISSP certification.
While almost any certification can enhance your resume and increase your market value, it’s clear that companies are most concerned about advanced persistent threats and protecting valuable data and information. Until supply meets demand, earning any of these IT security certifications can give you a competitive advantage and the best opportunity to move into higher salaries, bonuses, and possible management. Ultimately, a candidate’s job performance will depend not only on the type of certification they hold but also on their experience level, work ethic, and results.