Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)

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Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Are you an investigative professional with a strong interest in cybercrime? CHFI could lead you into a key area of specialization.Forensic investigation is decidedly less glamorous in real life than it looks on TV. And there’s even less glamour — though also considerably fewer odors, residues, and fluids — when you step back from, say, forensic investigation of a homicide to forensic investigation of a hard drive. You can still catch criminals, on the other hand, by, say, decrypting a file.

EC-Council, the industry group that offers the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification, also has a credential for those who’d like to specialize in digital forensic investigation. The Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) cert, No. 38 on our most recent Salary Survey 75 list, makes sense for investigative professionals in many different sectors.

Here’s what the salary picture looks like for CHFI holders who responded to the Salary Survey:

All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $113,810
Median Annual Salary: $92,500
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 8.3 percent
Very Satisfied: 25 percent
Satisfied: 37.5 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 25 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 4.2 percent

All Non-U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $56,250
Median Annual Salary: $45,000
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: [No responses]
Very Satisfied: 20.8 percent
Satisfied: 29.2 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 41.7 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 8.3 percent

The largest single body of CHFI holders to participate in the survey is made up of U.S. residents (50 percent), but we also heard from credential holders in 16 other countries: Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Saudia Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

Nearly all of the CHFI holders who participated in the survey are men (93.8 percent of those surveyed), though we did hear from a handful of female credential holders. The range of ages among CHFI holders skews somewhat younger than is the norm in cybersecurity, with more than half of those surveyed under the age of 45, either between the ages of 25 and 34 (23 percent) or between the ages of 35 and 44 (33.3 percent). Most of the rest are between the ages of 45 and 54 (33.3 percent here as well), with a small group nearing retirement between the ages of 55 and 64 (10.4 percent).

More than 87 percent of the CHFI holders who responded to the survey have an educational background that includes time spent at a college or university. The highest level of education completed by most CHFI holders is either a master’s degree (47.9 percent of those surveyed), bachelor’s degree (31.3 percent), doctorate (4.2 percent), or professional degree (also 4.2 percent). The outliers are the 10.4 percent of respondents who departed the realm of formal education after graduating from high school, and the 2 percent who completed some level post-high school technical training.

An impressive 97.9 percent of the CHFI holders we surveyed are employed full-time, with 2.1 percent on sabbatical at the time of the survey. Among those with full-time jobs most either put in between 41 and 50 hours per week (45.8 percent of respondents) or have a standard 40-hour schedule (39.6 percent). The rest are either overworked at more than 50 hours per week (8.3 percent of those surveyed) or getting off easy while putting it between 31 and 39 hours per week (6.3 percent).

In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of CHFI holders we heard from (42.6 percent of those surveyed) are at the senior specialist level. The rest, in descending order, are either managers (14.8 percent of respondents), specialists (12.9 percent), directors (11.1 percent), senior managers (9.3 percent), executives (7.4 percent), or rank-and-file employees (1.9 percent).

More than half (59.3 percent) of the CHFI holders who participated in the survey are tech veterans, having worked in a role that directly utilizes one or more of their certified skills for more than a decade. The rest have been plying their certified skills for either between zero years (1 to 11 months) and 2 years (1.9 percent of those surveyed), between 3 and 5 years (14.8 percent), between 6 and 8 years (11.1 percent), or between 9 and 10 years (12.9 percent).

Finally, here’s the view of CHFI holders on key questions from the survey about how certification impacts job performance:

At my current job I use skills learned or enhanced through certification: 
Several times a day: 61.1 percent
Several times a week: 18.5 percent
Several times a month: 11.1 percent
Occasionally: 9.3 percent
Rarely: [No responses]

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills. 
Strongly agree: 44.4 percent
Agree: 44.4 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 9.3 percent
Disagree: 1.9 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 40.7 percent
Agree: 50 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 3.7 percent
Disagree: 5.6 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 37 percent
Agree: 48.2 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 7.4 percent
Disagree: 7.4 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

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