Security Engineer Career and Salary

Security Engineer Career and Salary

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Security engineers build security systems that keep computer networks safe from intrusion. They protect valuable data, sensitive information, and proprietary knowledge. They work in various industries, including computer systems design, insurance, finance, and manufacturing.

A security engineer's career and salary outlook is excellent. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 33% growth for information security analysts from 2020-2030, much faster than the average 8% growth rate. Note that security engineers perform many of the same duties as analysts, but the BLS does not collect data for security engineers.

Increasing cyberattacks and the adoption of cloud services will likely spur demand for security engineers. This page explores salary potential and job prospects for security engineers.

What Does a Security Engineer Do?

Security engineers find computing solutions to security problems. These professionals use their knowledge of computer programming languages and operating systems to conduct security checks and find vulnerabilities.

Security engineers possess high-level technical skills. They also have an advanced understanding of incident response and intrusion detection and prevention. They need expertise in computer forensics. Many jobs for security engineers require communication, teamwork, math, and problem-solving skills. Security engineers can deal with stressful situations at times.

A security engineer career fits into the larger information technology field with a focus on cybersecurity. Security engineers often collaborate with other engineers and IT professionals. They may report to security managers or security directors. They typically work in office environments.

How Much Can You Earn as a Security Engineer?

People who pursue careers as security engineers can expect above-average salaries. The average annual salary for a security engineer was $95,770 as of February 2022, according to Payscale. This makes security engineering a solid career choice for many people.

Security engineers' salaries vary based on experience, education, and location. Industry and specialization can also impact typical earnings.

Average Annual Salary of Security Engineers, February 2022

$95,770

Source: Payscale

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Security Engineer Salary by Experience

The average salary for a security engineer increases with experience. The typical annual salary for these professionals goes up by more than $46,000 in their first 20 years of work.

The table below includes average base salaries only and does not account for bonuses, commissions, or profit sharing.

Security Engineer Salary by Education

Education level can affect a security engineer's average salary. Security engineers typically need at least a bachelor's degree in a field like cybersecurity or information security.

Salaries for security engineers typically increase along with education. The table below shows how higher education can help graduates earn more money each year. Make sure to consider the pros and cons of pursuing additional education. Earning a college degree usually entails substantial time, work, and money.

Completing a cybersecurity bootcamp or earning a professional certification can also lead to higher pay. The data below includes all graduates, not just those working as security engineers.

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Security Engineer Salary by Location

Location can affect salary for security engineers. Some states, cities, and metro areas offer salaries that differ from the national average for this occupation.

Factors impacting how much security engineers make include local demand for the job, cost of living, and population density. Other things that may affect earnings in an area are population density and quality of life.

Note that the tables below for top-paying metro areas and states are not specific to security engineers. This data is for information security analysts, a similar career.

Top-Paying Cities for Security Engineers, February 2022
City Average Annual Salary Percent Above the National Average
San Francisco, California $128,990 35%
Seattle, Washington $117,730 23%
New York, New York $115,440 21%
Washington, D.C. $104,230 9%
Austin, Texas $99,810 4%

Source: Payscale

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Information Security Analysts, 2020
Metropolitan Area Number of Security Engineers Employed Average Annual Salary
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 1,870 $147,160
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 2,590 $136,910
Idaho Falls, ID 210 $130,620
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 8,280 $130,000
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 160 $128,750

Source: BLS

Top-Paying States for Information Security Analysts, 2020
State Number of Security Engineers Employed Average Annual Salary
California 10,470 $125,990
New York 6,450 $125,920
New Jersey 4,000 $123,280
District of Columbia 1,810 $119,460
Virginia 16,160 $116,920

Source: BLS

Security Engineers' Job Outlook and Career Prospects

Demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals is on the rise, which makes a security engineering career a smart choice right now. Jobs for security engineers will likely continue to grow as cybersecurity threats increase.

The BLS does not collect data specific to security engineers, but the agency projects 33% job growth for information security analysts from 2020-2030. This projected growth rate is much faster than the national average growth projection for all occupations.

Factors that may affect a security engineer's employment chances include their education level and professional certifications. Employers typically expect securitying engineering candidates to hold at least a bachelor's degree. A master's degree is sometimes preferred.

Professional certifications can help security engineers land new and better-paying jobs by demonstrating their mastery of technical skills.

Change in Projected Employment for Information Security Analysts

+33% from 2020-2030

Source: BLS

Best Locations for Security Engineer Jobs

Location can dramatically affect a security engineer's career and salary prospects. Some states, cities, and metropolitan areas offer security engineering jobs that pay significantly higher wages.

When deciding where to launch your career as a security engineer, consider employment levels, average salary, and projected job growth. Also think about cost of living, quality of life, and population density.

Top States for Security Engineers

When deciding where to start your career as a security engineer, research which states offer the most jobs in this field. Virginia, Texas, and California all rank among the top-employing states for jobs for information security analysts. You can also look at the tables below to see which states are projected to offer high numbers of these jobs in the future.

The data below is not specific to security engineers. It represents information security analysts, a similar career with data from the BLS.

Top-Employing States for Information Security Analysts, 2020
Top-Employing States Number of Security Engineers Employed Average Annual Salary
Virginia 16,160 $116,920
Texas 13,410 $113,400
California 10,470 $125,990
Florida 7,600 $95,190
Maryland 16,160 $116,920

Source: BLS

States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Information Security Analysts, 2018-28

Greatest Projected Percentage Increase
State Percent Projected Change, 2018-28 Average Annual Openings
Utah 59% 80
District of Columbia 53% 220
Colorado 50% 510
Virginia 45% 1,930
Nevada 44% 70
Most Projected Average Annual Openings
State Percent Projected Change, 2018-28 Average Annual Openings
Virgina 45% 1,930
Texas 38% 1,040
New York 34% 830
Florida 44% 750
California 33% 630

Source: Projections Central

Top Metropolitan Areas for Security Engineers

Some metro areas offer more jobs for security engineers than others. The Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria area employs nearly double the number of information security analysts as the next top-employing metro area.

Recent graduates who apply for security engineering jobs in one of the metro areas mentioned in the table below may find better luck than those applying in other locations. Consider researching how many security engineering jobs exist in various metropolitan areas. Target your applications to areas with high concentrations of security engineer jobs.

The data below does not refer specifically to security engineers, but rather to information security analysts, a similar career.

Top-Employing Metropolitan Areas for Information Security Analysts, 2020
Metropolitan Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 15,750 $117,920
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 8,280 $130,000
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 6,130 $117,480
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH 4,520 $109,220
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 4,370 $112,870

Source: BLS

Best Industries for Security Engineers

When starting your career as a security engineer, consider what industry you want to work in. A security engineer's career and salary outlook varies dramatically by industry. Some industries pay much higher salaries for security engineers but offer relatively few opportunities for employment.

Security engineers can increase their chances of finding jobs by looking in industries that employ large numbers of these professionals, such as computer systems design. The BLS does not collect data specific to security engineers. The tables below include data for information security analysts, a career similar to security engineer.

Top-Paying Industries for Information Security Analysts, 2020
Top-Paying Industries Number of Security Engineers Employed Average Annual Salary
Electronic Shopping and Mail-Order Houses 330 $132,150
Other Information Services 680 $131,050
Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing 790 $128,330
Automotive Repair and Maintenance 40 $127,150
Legal Services 660 $125,980

Source: BLS

Employment by Industry for Information Security Analysts, 2020
Industries With Highest Employment Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 36,280 $108,910
Management of Companies and Enterprises 13,330 $104,960
Credit Intermediation and Related Activities (5221 and 5223 only) 10,880 $110,490
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services 7,410 $110,440
Insurance Carriers 5,450 $103,230

Source: BLS

Upward Mobility for Security Engineers

A security engineer's career and salary outlook can improve over time. Security engineers with years of professional experience earn more money and have more responsibilities.

Some security engineers move into senior security engineer roles with higher salaries. Senior security engineers may help train new employees, participate in big-picture thinking, and take on special projects as needed.

Pursuing higher education and professional certifications can also improve career advancement. For example, some employers may prefer to promote security engineers with MBAs into higher-level management roles. Potential opportunities for upward mobility include jobs like security manager, security director, and security consultant.

Learn More About Security Engineers

1

What Is a Security Engineer?

This page discusses what to expect from a career as a security engineer, job requirements, and typical daily tasks.

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1

How To Become a Security Engineer

We explain common education, experience, and certification requirements for becoming a security engineer.

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1

Certifications for Security Engineers

This page explains how earning a professional certification can increase a security engineer's career opportunities.

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1

Day in the Life of a Security Engineer

Explore a typical day at work for a security engineer. We go over common duties, work environments, and industries.

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Questions About Security Engineer Careers

How much does a security engineer make in the first year?

Payscale reports that the average salary for entry-level security engineers was $72,780 as of February 2022. Salaries for security engineers increase as they gain professional experience.

Where is the best state to work as a security engineer?

The best state for a security engineering career depends on cost of living, average salary, projected demand, and quality of life. For example, Virginia employs more information security analysts than any other state, but California offers the highest average salaries.

What is the best industry to work in as a security engineer?

Top-paying industries for information security analysts include electronic shopping and mail-order houses and other information services. However, information security analysts may find more job opportunities in the computer systems design and related services industry.

What is the average salary for a security engineer?

Payscale reports that the average salary for a security engineer was $95,760 as of February 2022. Factors like education level, prior experience, and industry can affect salary.

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