Survey: Raises for security pros decline

Salary increases for security professionals in the US have dropped over the past 18 months, despite the renewed focus on security since the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to a survey released yesterday by the SANS Institute.

          Salary increases for security professionals in the US have dropped over the past 18 months, despite the renewed focus on security since the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to a survey released yesterday by the SANS Institute.

          Even though they remain among the highest-paid IT workers, security and systems administrators are still affected by the dot-com bust and the overall gloomy economic climate, according to the survey of 1214 security and systems administration professionals.

          According to the survey, conducted during April and May, salary increases for security professionals have declined since December 2000 from 11.6% to 7%. But, according to SANS, a research and education organisation, security professionals still get better raises than their colleagues who work in networking and application development.

          The average annual salary paid to security and systems staff surveyed was $US69,340. Bonuses paid to security pros last year averaged 14.5% of base salaries, SANS said.

          Alan Paller, director of research at the Bethesda, Maryland-based SANS Institute, says there has been a fundamental shift for a once highly mobile community.

          According to Paller, companies suffering from budget cuts aren't hiring new security personnel and instead are training their current employees in security functions. Therefore, there's no increase in demand to drive up salaries.

          Another recent survey, by Foote Partners, a management consultancy and IT workforce research firm in New Canaan, Connecticut, found that salaries for corporate security positions increased from the first quarter of 2001 to the first quarter of 2002 by an average of 3.1%, while bonuses increased by an average of 9.5%. (David Foote, president of Foote Partners, is a Computerworld (US) columnist.)

          But security pros fared better than other high-tech workers, whose salaries dropped 5.5% on average during that same time period, according to Foote, which interviewed 30,000 IT workers, including 1245 security pros.

          New England, New York and New Jersey reported salaries that were 9% more than the US average, while the West Coast and Mid-Atlantic states reported salary increases of 4% and 3% above the national average, respectively, according to the SANS survey.

          Companies that had more than 10,000 employees paid their security and systems administration staff nearly 10% more on average than smaller employers, SANS says. And security and systems administrators overseeing Unix systems reported salaries 25% higher than those who worked mostly with Windows systems.

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