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Security Pros With Written Career Plans Make More Money

New survey shows half of security professionals are unhappy in their jobs; of those who move on, nearly half do so for bigger challenges

Most security professionals who officially map out their career plans make higher salaries than those who don't.

Around 60 percent of those who have written career plans earn more than $100,000 a year, while about 45 percent of those without career plans land in that salary bracket, according to just-released data from a comprehensive voluntary survey taken of security pros from late 2008 through 2009.

The survey found that security pros with a career plan are 33 percent more likely to earn more than $100,000, and 46 percent are more likely to earn more than $120,000.

The Information Security Career Survey, which was conducted by InfoSecLeaders.com to provide an inside look at what security professionals are doing and thinking about their careers, encompasses responses from around 940 IT security people, two-thirds of whom are engineers, team leaders, and security architects from all sizes of organizations.

And as was the case in July when InfoSecLeaders' Lee Kushner and Mike Murray took a preliminary snapshot of their survey results, today only half of all security pros said they are actually happy with their jobs (PDF).

"This survey is a bit of a wake-up call," says Kushner, who is president of LJ Kushner and Associates. "People are not alone in their frustrations, and they have the power to do things about it."

Kushner says the survey seems to indicate that job satisfaction would be higher among security pros if the economy were performing better. "They would be more free [to change jobs]. Their appetite for risk is a lot lower, so their willingness to stay in a crappy job is better than no job," he says. "This might be a self-fulfilling prophesy there. But the more unhappy you are in a job, the less effort you're going to give, the more crappy work that gets thrown on your desk, and the less you're going to like your job."

Interestingly, 65 percent of the respondents said they are more than confident they will achieve their "ultimate career goal." Fifty-six percent are confident their resume is strong, nearly half think their resume gives them a boost over a competitor's, and 40 percent want to become chief security officers (CSOs).

But Kushner says much of this may be false confidence. The survey also asked how much security pros would spend on their careers if that investment guaranteed they'd reach their career goal and job satisfaction: If they were assured that investing in their career would give them a 90 percent better chance at reaching their goals, 38 percent said they would spend more than $5,000, while close to 15 percent said they would invest more than $10,000.

"They spend money on an accountant or a financial adviser and gym membership, but they don't willfully commit financial resources to their careers unless there's a guarantee," he says.

Among the reasons security pros are unhappy in their current jobs: 46.3 said their job doesn't offer enough creative thinking; 57.9 percent said they don't get the recognition they deserve; 56.6 percent said their job takes less effort than they are capable of expending; 46.3 percent said there's too little teamwork in their positions; and 44.9 percent said communication between their peers and management is worse than average.

More than 20 percent are "more than satisfied" with their current jobs, according to the survey.

"Folks who take the time to have a career plan seem to make more money, achieve great things, and have a higher job satisfaction," Kushner says.

InfoSecLeaders' Mike Murray, who is co-founder of MAD Security, says anecdotally he has seen security professionals who have written career plans tend to better understand where they are going and are better able to make decisions in their jobs based on those plans. "It gives you a compass," he says.

Meanwhile, security pros rely heavily on informal networking among their peers and social networking for job hunting, the survey found. Nearly 92 percent said they've had good experiences with informal networking, and 65.9 percent said the same with online and social networking for job searching. More than half said they use social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to keep up with their business contacts and for other, business uses.

That doesn't mean Twitter is where official job postings are going, however: Kushner says social networks are more for finding jobs of the same type, rather than promotions, such as CSO positions. It's more of "peer group" effect, he says.

Kushner and Murray today also launched the first of a series of short, 10-minute surveys. To participate in the first one, which is on compensation in the current economic climate, go here.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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1/30/2012 | 9:52:15 AM
re: Security Pros With Written Career Plans Make More Money
gr8 article-á
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