Vulnerability Assessor Salary and Career Outlook

| CyberDegrees.org Staff Modified on June 24, 2022

Vulnerability Assessor Salary and Career Outlook

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Vulnerability assessors apply advanced knowledge of cyberthreats and hacking techniques to help clients and employers protect valuable information. Observers often quote the saying "it takes a thief to catch a thief" when describing their job duties.

Vulnerability assessment specialists draw on the same tactics cybercriminals use to breach systems. However, they use those skills to protect rather than attack.

As of June 2022, Cyberseek estimated the U.S. cybersecurity workforce at over one million people. The organization also reported nearly 600,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs across the country. These statistics align with broader trends, which point to a global shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals.

This is good news for aspiring vulnerability assessors. The U.S. and international labor markets are hungry for capable professionals and job prospects look bright.

What Does a Vulnerability Assessor Do?

Vulnerability assessors occupy important roles in cybersecurity teams. Their main duties focus on testing networks and systems for security flaws. Vulnerability assessors also perform security audits and track their findings in detailed reports.

Most vulnerability assessors work in a branch of cybersecurity known as security information and event management (SIEM). Other SIEM roles include penetration testers, threat intelligence specialists, and cybersecurity engineers. Together, SIEM teams build and maintain the cybersecurity systems businesses use to safeguard sensitive data.

Vulnerability assessors often work for cybersecurity consulting firms and technology services companies. Some hold full-time positions with organizations that have ongoing cybersecurity needs. Examples include government agencies and financial institutions. Assessors can also work on a freelance basis.

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How Much Does a Vulnerability Assessor Make?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes vulnerability assessors within the broader category of information security analysts. BLS data from May 2021 suggests these professionals earn the most in areas with well-established tech sectors. Examples of these regions include California's Silicon Valley, New York's Tech Valley, and Virginia's Dulles Technology Corridor.

Payscale specifically tracks nationwide salary data for vulnerability assessors and other cybersecurity specializations. The site regularly updates vulnerability assessor salary information to reflect changing pay rates.

$84,000


Average Annual Salary of Vulnerability Assessors, June 2022

Source: Payscale

Average Salary for Vulnerability Assessors by Experience

As in most professional roles, vulnerability assessors usually see their salaries rise over the course of their careers. Earnings tend to keep pace with experience: the more experience, the higher the salary.

Some vulnerability assessors advance to higher-level roles in cybersecurity management as they develop skills over time. For instance, technical knowledge, professional certifications, and/or advanced degrees can help assessors move into security architect positions. Such a shift can increase a vulnerability assessor's salary.

Average Salary for Vulnerability Assessors by Education

Aspiring vulnerability assessors do not always need a college degree. As with many technical professions, employers often value proven skills over formal credentials.

Even so, educational programs can help develop the critical skills employers need. College degrees are a popular option. Shorter than many college programs, cybersecurity bootcamps may offer a time-saving alternative route.

The following table summarizes vulnerability assessor average salary data by education level. It uses salary information associated with common degrees for vulnerability assessors and other cybersecurity professionals.

As in most professions, vulnerability assessor career earnings tend to rise with further education. Upgrading an associate degree to a bachelor's or a bachelor's to a master's requires time and expense. However, career-long earning potential increases can generate a positive long-term return.

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Average Salary for Vulnerability Assessors by Location

Location has a major impact on a vulnerability assessor's salary potential. Areas with higher living costs usually pay higher salaries. Competition is another important factor. The harder employers must compete to recruit candidates, the more lucrative their offers tend to be.

Prestige also plays a role. Companies in high-profile areas like Silicon Valley and the Dulles Technology Corridor look for elite talent. Thus, they may offer attractive salaries even after correcting for high local living costs.

The following tables present BLS local salary data for information security analysts. The BLS includes vulnerability assessors in this category. You can use this data to inform your research into top-paying destinations for cybersecurity professionals. Vulnerability assessors may earn more or less than these figures. Actual earnings depend on factors like experience, education, and local labor market conditions.

Top-Paying Cities for Information Security Analysts, 2021
City and State Average Annual Salary Percent Above the National Average

San Jose, CA

$150,820

47%

San Francisco, CA

$149,250

45%

Des Moines, IA

$135,080

32%

New York, NY

$134,930

31%

Source: BLS

In general, the top-paying cities for infosec professionals host high-profile technology industries. Des Moines is a notable exception. It has recently emerged as a hotbed of tech startup activity.

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Information Security Analysts, 2021
Metropolitan Area Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

N/A

$150,820

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

N/A

$149,250

Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA

890

$135,080

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY/NJ/PA

10,250

$134,930

Idaho Falls, ID

230

$134,100

Source: BLS

Idaho Falls employs relatively few vulnerability assessors or information security professionals. However, those that do work in the area tend to enjoy excellent pay. Idaho hosts a surprising density of companies that handle sensitive data and thus need advanced cybersecurity. For instance, the credit reporting bureau Equifax maintains a regional office in Idaho.

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

California

N/A

$135,200

New York

7,500

$133,210

Maryland

7,330

$126,110

Iowa

1,280

$125,650

District of Columbia

2,130

$124,980

Source: BLS

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Vulnerability Assessors' Job Outlook and Career Prospects

Many cybersecurity careers have explosive growth projections. Vulnerability assessors are no exception. Labor market analysts expect demand for cybersecurity professionals to rise as technology increasingly penetrates everyday life. At the same time, the cybersecurity industry continues to suffer from a major skills gap. These factors combine to create a positive outlook for job-seekers.

The BLS projects job growth of 33% for information security analysts from 2020-2030, much higher than the 8% average for all occupations. Meanwhile, a vulnerability assessor career profile published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cites a projected 20% growth rate.

Unlike BLS projections, the DHS figure specifically targets vulnerability assessors. However, it is undated and does not indicate a time range over which that 20% growth is expected to occur.

Change in Projected Employment for Information Security Analysts, Including Vulnerability Assessors:


+33% from 2020-2030

Source: BLS

Best Locations for Vulnerability Assessors

As in many other careers, job opportunities for infosec professionals often cluster in larger urban areas. Employment also tends to rise in places with big, fast-growing technology industries.

Vulnerability assessors work in many different settings. The subsections below consider the role from a traditional on-site perspective. However, professionals can sometimes work remotely. Some employers may offer hybrid and off-site options.

Top States for Vulnerability Assessors

Many factors affect a state's appeal as a place to build a career. These factors often depend on a job-seeker's personal goals, priorities, and preferences.

With this in mind, the Infosec Institute issued its picks for the top five states for cybersecurity professionals. The list, published in 2020, included the following locations:

  • Virginia: Best for public-sector work
  • Texas: Best for growth potential
  • Colorado: Best for employment growth
  • New York: Best for high salaries
  • California: Best overall due to the strength of its technology industry

The following table cites BLS data for states that employ the most information security analysts. Vulnerability assessor jobs fall within this broader umbrella category.

Top-Employing States for Information Security Analysts, 2021
Top-Employing States Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary

Virginia

16,930

$121,940

Texas

13,530

$101,800

Florida

9,360

$102,850

New York

7,500

$133,210

Maryland

7,330

$126,110

Source: BLS
States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Information Security Analysts, 2018-28
State Percent Projected Change, 2018-28 Average Annual Openings

Greatest Projected Percentage Increase

Utah

59.3%

80

District of Columbia

52.6%

220

Colorado

50.3%

510

Virginia

45.4%

1,930

Nevada

44.2%

70

Most Projected Average Annual Openings

Virginia

45.4%

1,930

Texas

38.2%

1,040

New York

34.3%

830

Florida

44%

750

California

32.7%

630

Source: Projections Central

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Top Metropolitan Areas for Vulnerability Assessors

As with states, infosec professionals may prefer certain metro areas for different reasons. Some cities provide a favorable balance between salary potential and living costs. Others offer an appealing quality of life or local culture.

Local labor market conditions, hiring trends, career opportunities, and earning potential can also drive city preferences. These subjective preferences depend on individual factors.

The following table summarizes the U.S. metropolitan areas that employ the most information security analysts. It uses BLS data that covers the broad category of information security analysts. Vulnerability assessors are a specialization within this field. The actual number of vulnerability assessors working in each location will be lower than the cited BLS data.

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

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

15,690

$129,110

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY/NJ/PA

10,250

$134,390

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

5,400

$108,550

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

4,050

$130,580

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA

4,020

$110,450

Source: BLS

Best Industries for Vulnerability Assessors

Jobs for vulnerability assessors generally cluster in sectors that process high volumes of sensitive information. These industries often employ infosec analysts in significant numbers and offer above-average pay. Industries that manage critical infrastructure also tend to pay infosec professionals well.

BLS data for information security analysts yields valuable industry insights, as shown in the tables below.

Top-Paying Industries for Information Security Analysts, 2021
Top-Paying Industries Number of Information Security Analysts Employed Average Annual Salary

Remediation and Waste Management Services

40

$173,250

Information Services

10,130

$149,540

Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing

400

$144,040

Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Services

3,140

$142,070

Motion Picture and Video Industries

60

$141,070

Source: BLS
Employment by Industry for Vulnerability Assessors, 2021
Industries With Highest Employment Number of Vulnerability Assessors Employed Average Annual Salary

Computer Systems Design and Related Services

42,590

$110,450

Enterprise Management

14,790

$108,000

Credit Intermediation

10,170

$112,660

Information Services

10,130

$149,540

Technical Consulting

8,660

$110,780

Source: BLS

The BLS focuses on quantitative factors when compiling its data. However, qualitative factors also play a role in choosing industries for job-seekers to target. The Infosec Institute identified these four industries as the leaders for cybersecurity professionals in 2020:

  • Healthcare
  • Technology
  • Financial services
  • Government

Healthcare providers are an attractive target for cybercriminals, which explains the industry's inclusion. Government agencies have ongoing, high levels of demand for capable infosec professionals.

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Upward Mobility for Vulnerability Assessors

Vulnerability assessors occupy entry-level to mid-level roles on cybersecurity teams. Candidates usually need 2-3 years of related experience. People can qualify for vulnerability assessor positions through a combination of education, technical skills, and professional certifications.

Professionals who build deeper knowledge and experience over time can step into higher-ranking positions. Examples include cybersecurity engineers, security architects, and chief information security officers (CISO).

Payscale data from May 2022 shows that these senior roles pay more than the typical vulnerability assessor salary of $84,000. According to Payscale, the average U.S. cybersecurity engineer earns about $97,770 per year. Security architects typically earn even more, collecting an average annual salary of about $128,410.

For many professionals, the CISO role represents the top of the cybersecurity career ladder. Professionals typically reach this high-profile, high-responsibility position after a long and successful pattern of career advancement.

Learn More About Vulnerability Assessors

Interested in cybersecurity jobs? Discover a career as a vulnerability assessor for information applications and systems. Do you need a cybersecurity degree or certification? Discover the path to becoming a vulnerability assessor. Learn more about the typical duties of a vulnerability assessor in various roles and environments. Vulnerability assessors can use tech industry certifications to enhance their professional credentials. Find out more with this helpful guide.

FAQ About Vulnerability Assessor Careers


What is the highest salary a vulnerability assessor can make?

According to Payscale, experienced vulnerability assessors earned an average annual salary of about $120,460 as of May 2022. Performance bonuses and profit sharing can push that figure even higher.

Where is the best state to live and work as a vulnerability assessor?

The best state for vulnerability assessors depends on each person's priorities and career goals. In 2020, the Infosec Institute listed Virginia, Texas, New York, Colorado, and California as its top five destinations for cybersecurity professionals.

What is the best industry to work in as a vulnerability assessor?

According to BLS data from May 2021, the computer systems design and related services industry employed the most infosec analysts. The technology, IT services, financial services, and healthcare industries also rank as top sectors.

What degree do I need to have a good salary as a vulnerability assessor?

Vulnerability assessors do not always need a college degree to earn a good salary. However, earnings usually rise along with education level. Professionals with master's degrees tend to out-earn those with bachelor's degrees. The same is true when comparing four-year bachelor's and two-year associate degrees.


Featured Image: Georgijevic / E+ / Getty Images

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