Cybersecurity Spotlight 2018: Where Are the Highest Paid Jobs?

If you’ve turned on the TV, listened to the radio or picked up a newspaper lately, you know that cybersecurity is a huge issue. From breaches of privacy to election controversies, it can impact us all. In one 2017 incident alone, 143 million Americans were directly hit by this issue when an Equifax data breach exposed their sensitive personal information.

Because of the seriousness of these threats, every organization, whether private or nonprofit, needs professionals who can protect its data. The recent implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which gives individuals more power over how their data is used, only increases the stakes. Noncompliance with GDPR can result in fines equivalent to around $27 million or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is higher.  Meanwhile, we have seen a 261% increase in job postings for data protection officers on Indeed since May 2017 (and an 829% increase since May 2016).

So we know it’s important. But what’s the state of cybersecurity hiring today? We can learn a number of things from Indeed data, including where jobs are located, how much they pay and which roles are most in demand. Here’s what we found.

Recently, we have seen some growth in both supply and demand for jobs related to cybersecurity: between March 2017 and March 2018 postings of roles in this field increased by 3.5% on Indeed, while job searches for cybersecurity roles increased by 5.7%.

But where are they located? Our analytics team scrutinized job postings by metro area and ranked the cities with the most cybersecurity jobs.

where the cybersecurity jobs are

As the table shows, no one geographic region is dominant—the cities with the most cybersecurity jobs represent the East and West Coasts, as well as the Midwest and South. When we compare the metros with the most cybersecurity jobs to the list of top tech hubs in the US as identified by the Indeed Hiring Lab, the cities that appear on both lists are Washington, DC, Baltimore, Boston, San Francisco and San Jose.

Coming in at number one for the most jobs is Washington, DC, where many cybersecurity professionals are protecting data for our federal government, the defense industry and other large nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations; Washington, DC was also number two on Indeed’s top tech hubs list. The city with the second most job postings in cybersecurity is New York, the financial capital of the US.

Dallas-Fort Worth, Baltimore and Chicago round out the rest of the top five—cities that may not typically be associated with tech in the popular imagination. But the need for cybersecurity professionals applies to all industries, and the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is home to no fewer than 22 companies on the 2018 Fortune 500 list, including AT&T, American Airlines and ExxonMobil. Dallas and Fort Worth both made the list of fastest-growing cities between 2016 and 2017, coming in at numbers three and four, respectively.

Baltimore, which places fifth for the most cybersecurity jobs, also made the Indeed top tech hubs list, coming in at number three. Baltimore is home to over 15,000 social security and centers for Medicare and Medicaid services employees, as well as a number of universities and medical centers.

Meanwhile, although San Francisco and San Jose may be tech giants (numbers six and one on Indeed’s tech hubs list, respectively), they round out the bottom of this list, with Los Angeles joining them in 9th place.

Metros that pay the most for information security specialists

Cybersecurity professionals with the right skills are in high demand, and these jobs typically pay well—but high salaries can be deceiving, unless adjusted for the cost of living.

To better understand how far a cybersecurity dollar stretches, we calculated average salaries (“unadjusted”) for information security specialists—a role that includes the design, implementation, monitoring and testing of different types of cyberdefense. The results were then adjusted for the cost of living using the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s (BEA) Price Parity Index, which accounts for price differences in goods, rents and other services, such as transportation. The result is our top ten metro areas that pay the most for these jobs.

Metros that pay the most for information security specialists

When you look at unadjusted salary, San Francisco places highest at $148,621. But because the cost of living in San Francisco is so high, money doesn’t go as far to cover costs like rent, groceries and transportation as it does in other cities.

Once adjusted, the picture is very different: This year’s number-one best-paid city for information security specialists is Charlotte, North Carolina, with an average adjusted salary of $125,173 per year. With a population of just under a million, Charlotte is the headquarters for a number of companies, including Bank of America and LendingTree.

High cost of living may also explain why Washington, DC and New York didn’t make the list of metros that pay the most for cybersecurity jobs, despite placing at the top of the list for the number of opportunities. Money goes further in a lower-cost city like Charlotte, which explains why it is ranked higher.

This information is helpful not only to job seekers trying to get the biggest bang for their buck but also to employers. Knowing how salaries compare to other cities while considering cost of living can give employers a sense of how competitive their offers are.

Most in-demand cybersecurity roles

Finally, to get a sense of the cybersecurity roles in the highest demand, we tallied the job titles with the most postings in the US. The top five are listed below.

Most in-demand cyber security roles

The role with the most postings in 2018 is IT security specialist, followed by information security analyst (#2) and network security engineer (#3). Security engineer (#4) and application security engineer (#5) round out the top five.

The infamous Target breach of 2013 occurred when attackers gained access to the retailer’s network; though it’s been five years since this happened, network security engineers remain as important as ever, and the position made it to number three on our list of most in-demand cybersecurity roles.

We also see solid demand for application security engineers, as the role places fifth on our list. And as more and more devices connect to the internet and each other, we can expect that securing information will remain a top priority for individuals and companies alike. This is good news for those in the cybersecurity space, as demand for their products and services will likely continue to increase and lead to more jobs.

Where will the trends lead next? We’ll be watching.

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Methodology: For metros with the most cybersecurity job postings, Indeed calculated each metros’ % of national postings and clicks, and local shares (per 1M) of postings for IT security job postings over the last year. For metros that pay the most for information security specialists, Indeed calculated the average salary for information security specialists and determined the metros that had the highest salaries for that same job title over the last year, then adjusted for cost of living. For in-demand cybersecurity roles, Indeed calculated the share of (per 1M) of job postings postings and clicks on cybersecurity job titles in the US for those IT security over the last year. For supply and demand of searches and job postings, Indeed calculated the percentage increase of job postings and job searches for cybersecurity roles per million from March 2017 to March 2018.


Cybersecurity Spotlight 2018: Where Are the Highest Paid Jobs?