Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

GSEC lets you start your career in information security with a solid grounding in skills and best practices.Certified cybersecurity skills are in hot demand, and individuals who want to enter the field as versatile and fundamentally solid entry-level professionals are squarely in the target group of the GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) credential (No. 31 on our most recent Salary Survey 75 list). This is a great place to jump in and start enriching your skill set with practical experience.

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

All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $118,210
Median Annual Salary: $103,750
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 7.7 percent
Very Satisfied: 30.8 percent
Satisfied: 38.5 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 19.2 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 3.8 percent

All Non-U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $90,370
Median Annual Salary: $90,000
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 22.2 percent
Very Satisfied: 5.6 percent
Satisfied: 33.3 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 22.2 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 16.7 percent

The largest single body of GSEC holders to participate in the survey is made up of U.S. residents (59.1 percent of those surveyed), but we also heard from credential holders in nine other countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, New Zealand, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

In a somewhat rare development, 100 percent of the GSEC holders we heard from are men. There are doubtless female credential holders out there, but none of them participated in the 2019 Salary Survey. Most of those surveyed are squarely in the center of the age spectrum, either between the ages of 35 and 44 (29.5 percent of respondents) or between the ages of 45 and 54 (also 29.5 percent). The rest are those between the ages of 25 and 34 (16 percent of respondents), those between the ages of 55 and 64 (18.2 percent), and those between the ages of 65 and 74 (6.8 percent).

More than 85 percent of the GSEC 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 GSEC holders is either a bachelor’s degree (40.9 percent of those surveyed), master’s degree (25 percent), associate’s degree (11.4 percent), doctorate (4.5 percent) or professional degree (4.5 percent). The outliers are the 13.7 percent of respondents who completed some level of technical training after high school.

Here’s another Deep Focus rarity: 100 percent of the GSEC holders who responded to the survey are employed full-time. Among respondents, most are punching the clock for either between 41 and 50 hours per week (40.9 percent of those surveyed) or for the standard 40 hours (31.8 percent). The rest are at the office for either between 31 and 39 hours per week (20.5 percent of respondents), for between 20 and 30 hours per week (2.3 percent), or for more than 50 hours (4.5 percent).

In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of GSEC holders we heard from are employed at the senior specialist level (53.2 percent of respondents).  The rest, in descending order, are either managers (14.9 percent of those surveyed), senior managers (10.6 percent), specialists (8.5 percent), executives (6.4 percent), directors (4.3 percent), or employees (2.1 percent).

A notable 66 percent of the GSEC holders who responded to the survey are IT 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 (4.3 percent of those surveyed), between 3 and 5 years (8.4 percent), between 6 and 8 years (17 percent), or between 9 and 10 years (4.3 percent).

Finally, here’s the view of GSEC 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: 59.5 percent
Several times a week: 23.4 percent
Several times a month: 12.8 percent
Occasionally: 4.3 percent
Rarely: [No responses]

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills. 
Strongly agree: 38.3 percent
Agree: 40.4 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 19.2 percent
Disagree: 2.1 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 25.5 percent
Agree: 51.1 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 19.1 percent
Disagree: 4.3 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 23.4 percent
Agree: 42.6 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 29.8 percent
Disagree: 4.2 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

PAST GSEC DEEP FOCUS FEATURES

2018

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