Career / Career Progression

13 Honest Cybersecurity Engineer Salaries

by Josh Adams
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Updated on January 4, 2024

What's the real average salary for a cybersecurity engineer? A quick Google search could do the trick. But on the first page of results, you'll see numbers ranging between $40,000 to $160,000. Wow. That's a pretty sizable range — and likely isn't the most accurate. Let's dive a little deeper.

The guise of an average salary is super misleading. There are major outliers that skew data like crazy. A cybersecurity engineer based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, will not make the salary someone with the same role makes in San Francisco, California. The employee’s location determines the cost of living and, therefore, usually affects salary.

We've done it before with Information Security Analysts and Data Center Technicians. And we'll do it again, this time for Cybersecurity Engineers, one of the most in-demand IT security roles on the market now. Let's get some honest salaries and go through how you can earn those (realistic) big bucks.

What's a Cybersecurity Engineer?

First, let's quickly define the role of a cybersecurity engineer. They are usually tasked with using an engineering approach to design and implement security systems customized to fix vulnerabilities. The position is usually described as intermediate-level, with security analysts and security admins typically getting bumped up to engineers. Cybersecurity engineers can grow into security architects, consultants, and even chief information security officers (CISOs).

Unlike analysts, who are primarily concerned with monitoring and tracking threats, the cybersecurity engineer is called upon to develop security policies, mitigate vulnerabilities, investigate breaches, and respond to incidents.

Cybersecurity Engineer Salaries Chart

We scoured Glassdoor, Indeed, and local job boards to compile as much data about cybersecurity engineer salaries in larger, but not massive, metropolitan areas. We capped the population at one million.

We aren't looking at this data through rose-colored glasses. Here's our most honest look at IT security salaries across the United States.

  • The national average salary for a Cybersecurity Engineer is $150,000

  • The average high: $188,000

  • The average low: $121,000

The chart below offers more detailed averages based on location. Note that factors like experience, industry, and size of the company impact salaries in any location. 

Cybersecurity Engineer Salaries
Fairfax, VA$128,000$158,500$199,000
Chicago, IL$113,000$139,500$174,000
New York, NY$133,000$152,500$173,000
Phoenix, AZ$110,000$133,500$165,000
Dallas, TX$109,000$134,500$166,000
San Jose, CA$141,000$169,500$206,000
Portland, OR$113,000$139,500$175,000
Seattle, WA$117,000$143,000$178,000
Albuquerque, NM$127,000$141,000$156,000
Council Bluffs, IA$127,000$141,500$156,000
Charlotte, NC$130,000$146,500$162,000
Atlanta, GA$112,000$128,000$169,000
Salt Lake City, UT$106,000$132,000$165,000

What is the Experience Required to Become a Cybersecurity Engineer? 

Although the real numbers aren't as high as the ones in that first Google search, being a cybersecurity engineer can provide a six-figure income. There are a variety of skills that go along with getting hired for a cybersecurity engineer role.

You need to have the technical skills to get in the door. An ability to maintain systems, identify vulnerabilities, track issues, and improve automation is key to earning a cybersecurity engineer role. Whether you achieve this knowledge through certifications, a degree, or hands-on experience, you must build a technical foundation to take on the threats you'll face as a cybersecurity engineer.

You'll also need to communicate complex ideas quickly and simply, so soft skills are crucial in any cybersecurity role. Active listening, presentation, and communication skills are all crucial for anyone entering this field.

4 Certifications to Get You Started in Cybersecurity Engineering

Certifications boost your hireability potential. They are beneficial when you have little corporate experience but need to demonstrate strong knowledge of a subject. However, certifications are still beneficial even if you have years of experience. They'll keep your security knowledge current and demonstrate your commitment to current infosec trends.

CompTIA's Security+ is one of several certifications that are in demand. It covers common-sense security procedures and skills, giving you the foundation to protect information and networks. It's technically an entry-level cert and is a great first step toward InfoSec mastery. But don't consider it a cakewalk.

Another entry-level certification, the GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) certification is designed to show you are ready for hands-on security roles. The Security Essentials comprises one exam, and though it is pricier than Security+, it continues to build on your foundation for a cybersecurity engineer role.

Cisco's CCNP Security certification is a logical next step toward infosec certification mastery. Cisco provides security products to a significant number of enterprise organizations. So, their security certification track helps IT pros fully embrace and understand their solutions. When you earn your CCNPSecurity certification, you demonstrate you know how to secure Cisco networking products.

The (ISC)2 CISSP requires five years of cumulative, paid, full-time work experience in the field. It also requires specific experience in two domains of the (ISC)2 CISSP Common Body of Knowledge

The certification ensures learners have the knowledge and technical skills to develop, guide, and manage security standards, policies, and procedures. It's the cream of the crop regarding certs that prove your mettle as a true infosec professional.

Engineer Your Way to the Big Bucks

A 2023 study from the Center for Cyber Safety and Education reported a cybersecurity workforce shortage of just under four million workers. That means there's an urgency to attract more motivated people into cybersecurity and train them quickly. Keeping current on cybersecurity know-how will benefit you professionally and financially in the long run. Even with us removing those rose-colored glasses,  the "real" salaries are pretty lucrative.

IT pros know they can never stop learning. Every IT manager knows that, too. That’s why CBT Nuggets provides a complete training platform for IT professionals at any level and IT teams of any size. Start learning with us today.


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