Chief Information Security Officer Career and Salary Outlook

by

Updated November 30, 2022

check mark Reviewed by

Our Integrity Network

CyberDegrees.org is committed to delivering content that is objective and actionable. To that end, we have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the most helpful information to our readers.

Drawing on their firsthand industry expertise, our Integrity Network members serve as an additional step in our editing process, helping us confirm our content is accurate and up to date. These contributors:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Integrity Network members typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for CyberDegrees.org as a side project. All Integrity Network members are paid members of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Explore our full list of Integrity Network members.

Chief information security officers play an important role in keeping their organizations' digital information safe. Learn about the typical CISO career and salary outlook.

CyberDegrees.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Credit: Marko Geber / DigitalVision / Getty Image

A chief information security officer (CISO) is a senior-level professional who focuses on big-picture issues relating to information security issues and policies.

CISOs earn strong salaries in an in-demand field, making the role an attractive choice for people with extensive tech industry experience.

This page discusses the CISO career outlook and explains how much a chief information security officer can make. We explore different factors that can affect earning potential and career opportunities.

What Does a CISO Do?

CISOs oversee organizations' strategies, practices, and policies for secure data management. Typical tasks may include creating budgets, managing IT teams, and creating IT security best practices. CISOs need strong communication, management, and problem-solving skills.

The role requires expertise in cybersecurity, information management, and computer hardware and software. CISOs also need advanced knowledge of computer systems, networks, and government regulations for the field.

Chief information security officers work across industries, including in computer systems design, management, education, and local and state government.

As a high-level role with management duties, a CISO career includes a lot of responsibility, which can be stressful. A CISO may find their position particularly challenging when dealing with a security breach or cyberattack on their company.

How Much Does a Chief Information Security Officer Make?

Chief information security officers can earn high salaries. Payscale reported an average CISO salary of $172,910 as of October 2022. The strong earning potential can make this career path attractive.

Keep in mind that the road to becoming a CISO is long and takes significant work. CISOs spend 4-6 years in school earning bachelor's and sometimes master's degrees.

They may also devote time to pursuing professional certifications. As top executives, CISOs need extensive related work experience — often five or more years.

Factors that can influence CISO salary expectations include specialization, industry, and location. Experience and education can also affect earnings.


$172,910

Average Annual Salary of Chief Information Security Officers, 2022

Source: Payscale

Average Salary for Chief Information Security Officers by Experience

The average salary for a chief information security officer varies with experience and continues to change. CISOs steadily make more money as they spend more time in their role. Early-career professionals make an average salary of $130,760.

By the time they hold 20 or more years of experience, a CISO earns an average yearly salary of more than $184,000.

Payscale does not have adequate data to provide an average annual salary for CISOs with less than one year of experience on the job.

Average Salary for CISOs by Education

The average CISO salary varies by education. Professionals with more advanced degrees earn higher average salaries. The data in the following table does not represent solely chief information security officers, but rather all respondents who hold that degree.

You can earn a higher average annual salary by pursuing additional higher education. However, there are pros and cons to earning more advanced degrees. Consider the time and money required to earn a new degree and calculate whether the return on investment is worth it.

A professional certification may allow you to earn more money without earning another degree.

Discover Which Education Path Is Right for You

Average Salary for CISOs by Location

The average salary of a chief information security officer varies by location, with some cities and states offering much higher wages. Factors like population density, demand, and cost of living/quality of life can impact salaries.

The table for top-paying states is not specific to CISOs, but represents top executives, a set of careers grouped by the BLS that includes this occupation.

Top-Paying Cities for Chief Information Security Officers, 2022
City and State Average Annual Salary Percent Above the National Average

New York, New York

$228,280

32%

San Francisco, California

$204,810

18%

Chicago, Illinois

$202,430

17%

Dallas, Texas

$198,700

15%

Washington, District of Columbia

$197,470

14%

Source: Payscale

Top-Paying States for Top Executives, 2021
State Number of Chief Information Security Officers Employed Average Annual Salary

District of Columbia

1,700

$290,560

Hawaii

360

$289,860

Washington

2,990

$279,590

South Dakota

440

$272,780

Massachusetts

5,580

$267,070

Source: BLS

CISO Career Outlook and Job Prospects

The career outlook and job prospects for chief information security officers appear promising. The BLS projects a 6% growth rate for top executives from 2021-2031, which aligns with the average for all U.S. occupations. Demand for this career is stable and keeps up with national growth projections.

In the coming years, factors that may affect a CISO's employability include technological improvements and changes to organizational structures that lead to fewer chief executive jobs.

Many of the projected openings in coming years are likely to come from the need to replace workers who retire or change jobs.

Demand for CISOs varies depending on the location or their industry. Some places and sectors employ many more chief information security officers than others.

We discuss the best locations and industries for this profession below. The following data is not specific to the career discussed here but represents top executives — a BLS grouping of careers that includes CISOs.


Change in Projected Employment for Top Executives:

+6% from 2021-2031

Source: BLS

Best Locations for Chief Information Security Officers

Depending on where you pursue a CISO career, you may find better and worse options. Some states, cities, and metropolitan areas offer many more job openings for chief information security officers than others. Similarly, metropolitan areas offer more job opportunities than rural locations.

Top States for CISOs

Some of the best states for chief information security officers include California, Florida, and Illinois. Pennsylvania and Minnesota also employ some of the highest numbers of CISOs in the country. Job demand for CISOs is high in these states, which often makes it easier to get a job and land a higher salary.

The data in the tables below is not specific to CISOs but represents top executives, several careers grouped together by the BLS.

Top-Employing States for Top Executives, 2021
Top-Employing States Number of Chief Information Security Officers Employed Average Annual Salary

California

33,930

$230,730

Florida

19,610

$215,050

Illinois

8,500

$244,390

Pennsylvania

7,510

$232,630

Minnesota

6,330

$213,270

Source: BLS

States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Chief Executives, 2020-30
State Percent Projected Change, 2020-30 Average Annual Openings

Greatest Projected Percentage Increase

Washington

19%

480

Utah

15%

500

Alaska

11%

130

Idaho

7%

270

Arizona

7%

380

Most Projected Average Annual Openings

California

-0.6

3,170

Florida

3%

2,170

Tennessee

2%

830

New York

0.2%

740

Texas

3.5%

650

Source: Projections Central

Top Metropolitan Areas for CISOs

Metropolitan areas that employ large numbers of CISOs or pay them the highest salaries may be particularly appealing for this career. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro areas rank among the top CISO employers.

The data below is not specific to chief information security officers but represents top executives, which the BLS groups among several similar careers.

Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Top Executives, 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Chief Information Security Officers Employed Average Annual Salary

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

12,110

$256,600

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

9,100

$259,960

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

6,860

$250,860

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

6,740

$218,330

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

5,350

$258,010

Source: BLS

Best Industries for Chief Information Security Officers

The top-employing industries for CISOs include management, local government, and computer systems design. Conversely, the top-paying industries for this profession all employ small numbers of CISOs.

The data in the tables below is not specific to a CISO career but represents top executives, a BLS grouping of several careers.

Top-Paying Industries for Chief Executives, 2021
Top-Paying Industries Number of Chief Executives Employed Average Annual Salary

Coal Mining

100

This wage is equal to or greater than $100.00/hour or $208,000/ year.

Deep Sea, Coastal, and Great Lakes Water Transportation

160

This wage is equal to or greater than $100.00/ hour or $208,000/ year.

Insurance and Employee Benefit Funds

40

This wage is equal to or greater than $100.00 per hour or $208,000 per year.

Offices of Dentists

40

This wage is equal to or greater than $100.00/ hour or $208,000/year.

Household Appliance Manufacturing

50

$315,360

Source: BLS

Employment by Industry for Chief Executives, 2021
Industries With Highest Employment Number of Chief Executives Employed Average Annual Salary

Management of Companies and Enterprises

14,780

$289,840

Local Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS Designation)

13,980

$112,800

Computer Systems Design and Related Services

13,160

$256,280

Elementary and Secondary Schools

9,580

$148,400

State Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OEWS Designation)

8,930

$124,850

Source: BLS

Upward Mobility for Chief Information Security Officers

Chief information security officers are considered top executives. It is often difficult or impossible to advance further once you reach this level in your career. CISOs can continue to earn more money over time as they gain experience or pursue additional education or certifications.

Learn More About Chief Information Security Officers

Questions About CISO Salaries and Careers

  • What cities pay the most for CISOs?

    The highest-paid CISOs are those working in cities like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. CISOs with 20 or more years of experience make $184,410 annually, on average.

  • Where is the best state to work as a chief information security officer?

    The best states for a CISO career offer higher-than-average pay and plentiful job openings. States that employ the most CISOs include California, Florida, and Illinois. Top-paying areas for this profession include Washington, D.C., Hawaii, and Washington state.

  • What is the best industry to work in as a chief information security officer?

    Top-employing industries for CISOs include management, local government, and computer systems design. The highest-paying industries include coal mining and deep sea, coastal, and Great Lakes water transportation, but these sectors employ very few CISOs.

  • What is the average salary for a CISO?

    Payscale reported an average annual salary for CISOs of $172,370 as of October 2022. Factors that can affect earnings include education, experience, location, and industry.

Reviewed by: Darnell Kenebrew

Darnell Kenebrew is a first-generation graduate of San Francisco State University's class of 2020. He graduated with a bachelor's in computer science, which helped him kick off a career in tech and pursue roles within data and engineering.

Currently, he's a data analytics engineer at Meta and an executive captain for COOP Careers — a nonprofit for overcoming underemployment. Kenebrew strongly believes in giving people a chance and that everyone should have an equal opportunity within the job market. He believes that COOP Careers helps this equality materialize.

Kenebrew is passionate about how the industry is shaped with data and its use in business decisions to meet goals. In addition, he's passionate about inclusion, community, education, and using data for good. He hopes that he can pivot business decisions to make a meaningful impact to positively affect end-users and meet business goals.

Darnell Kenebrew is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.


Page last reviewed Oct 25, 2022

Recommended Reading

Take the next step toward your future.

Discover programs you’re interested in and take charge of your education.