What It Takes to Earn Six Figures in Tech Security

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The latest Dice Report details those tech-security jobs that can earn six-figure salaries—but what does it take to obtain those jobs, and what do you actually need to do in those roles? Let’s explore the top 10 security jobs, as broken down by average salary for 2015:

Lead Software Security Engineer

Lead software security engineers are often charged with quite a lot. Depending on the specific job, someone in this role might be tasked with doing everything from maintaining and deploying training programs for employees to developing security-related aspects of application programs. In addition to certifications, and at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a similar technical field, lead software security engineers typically must have some “soft skills” such as excellent communication.

Average Salary: $233,333

Chief Security Officer

Chief security officers must prepare organizations to counter not only existing but also emerging threats. This includes establishing and communicating best practices for maintaining data security, as well as monitoring the effectiveness of security operations. This role often requires certifications in addition to at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or similar field.

Average Salary: $225,000

Global Information Security Director

This role involves the maintenance and execution of information-security projects; if there’s a database breach or similar incident, the global information security director also coordinates the response. Depending on the organization and its market, tech pros in this role may be required to have a working knowledge of certain industry rules and regulations such as HIPAA or FISMA.

Average Salary: $200,000

Security Consultant

Security consultants must work with clients to devise a strategy for effective cybersecurity. In addition to knowing best practices and recommended procedures, they must also possess solid communication skills. Organizations prize consultants with multiple years of experience, as well as a working knowledge of industry rules, regulations and (often) enterprise products.

Average Salary: $198,909

Chief Information Security Officer

This role is similar in many ways to that of the chief security officer, albeit with a more intensive focus on protecting an organization’s database and other information-related assets. As with the other jobs on this list, responsibilities typically include maintaining best practices and designing effective policies to handle breaches and other disasters. (Directors of information security, who handle many of the same responsibilities, can expect to earn $185,714 a year, or a bit lower on average than chief information security officers.)

Average Salary: $192,500

Director of Security

Responsibilities for directors of security can vary widely depending on the organization, with most centering on minimizing the risk of attack while guiding internal teams in maintaining proper security procedures. As with other roles included on this list, the director of security will need to interact with employees as well as external vendors and partners, so good “soft skills” are a must.

Average Salary: $178,333

Cyber Security Lead

The cyber security lead has a particularly demanding job: evaluating the organization for potential vulnerabilities (in conjunction with analysts and other security staff), detecting any attacks underway and informing management.

Average Salary: $175,000

Lead Security Engineer

Depending on the organization, lead security engineers might find themselves tasked with securing any number of operating environments; one recent job posting on Dice, for example, included an organization’s telephony and video-conference systems as part of the candidate’s responsibilities. Whether the organization wants its lead security engineer to focus on apps or hardware, though, the job’s constants typically include reviewing code and procedures to detect security vulnerabilities, spreading awareness of those potential vulnerabilities to employees and implementing security tools to protect the organization.

Average Salary: $174,375

Cyber Security Engineer

Cyber security engineers generally have a lot of experience in penetration testing and cybersecurity tools, and they’ll use them all to keep an organization buttoned up tight against internal and external threats. Many jobs require certifications in addition to at least a bachelor’s degree in a technical field, along with some actual experience.

Average Salary: $170,000

Application Security Manager

Application security managers are in charge of ensuring any apps produced or used by their organization meet standards for security and privacy. This role often reports to a director of security or similar position.

Average Salary: $165,000

Based on this list, it’s clear that certifications are key to climbing the career ladder in tech security, and that soft skills matter just as much as technology knowledge when it comes to actually doing some of the security industry’s more lucrative jobs. If you’re interested in the industry, explore whether a CISA, CRISC, CISM, or CEH certification is best for you—and work on your people skills.

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