I don’t trust salary surveys because they don’t take into account all of the variables that go into a persons salary. These variables include location, experience, education, certifications, and the company. Most salary surveys only take into account one or two variables and completely ignore the others. While these other variables do get included within an “average” this average can be so much different than your salary range that it doesn’t do any good to know it.
Will a CISSP in West Virginia make the same salary as a CISSP that lives in Chicago? Of course not. If you are a new security analyst that just obtained a CISSP, you probably won’t make as much money as a senior CISO that has had the CISSP for years. Likewise, some consulting businesses offer high reward salaries, while also offering high risk (and more travel). Will a high school dropout make as much as a CISSP with a doctorate? You can see how these wildly different scenarios make for a wildly inaccurate salary survey.
Salary surveys aren’t all bad. They do a reasonably good job at showing trends about the one variable they analyze. For example, in 2005 CertMag published a salary survey that said CISSP’s make and average of $94,070 per year. Should you expect this salary after passing the CISSP? Maybe, maybe not. The survey just isn’t helpful in that regard.
What the survey can do is compare this one variable (certifications) against one another to develop trends. Using this survey we can see that the CISSP, CISM, and CISA are among the highest trending security surveys. The ISSMP and ISSAP concentrations throw a different wrench into the analysis because you can’t obtain those without first getting the CISSP. Here is a short list of comparable certification from that survey:
- CISSP-ISSAP $114,210
- CISM $112,490
- CISSP-ISSMP $111,280
- CISA $99,040
- CISSP $94,070
- SSCP $78,430
- Security+ $68,280
You shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations about your salary based on a salary survey. However, the CISSP is regularly among the top of the list among certifications on any salary survey and its commonly listed as a requirement or “good to have” in job postings.
Image courtesy sushiina
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