Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on (ISC)² CSSLP

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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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Security is essential to software development and CSSLP can help you master best practices.It’s hard to imagine a world without software, which is so deeply embedded at all levels of public and private infrastructure — to say nothing of its ubiquitous presence in on the internet and in the palm of the hand of anyone holding a mobile device — that it’s generally transparent.  How often do you think about the role of software in maintaining and operating the power grid that supplies electricity to your home?

Thinking about the involvement of software in delivering power or maintaining clean water underscores the critical importance of software security, which begins with development. Secure software development is the bullseye of the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP) credential offered by (ISC)², the top-salaried certification (that is to say, No. 1) on our most recent Salary Survey 75 list.

Here’s what the salary picture looks like (or looked like) for CSSLP holders who responded to the 2021 Salary Survey:

All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $165,890
Median Annual Salary: $157,500
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 15.4 percent
Very Satisfied: 36.8 percent
Satisfied: 34.7 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 13.1 percent
Not At All Satisfied: [No responses]

All Non-U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $92,160
Median Annual Salary: $93,750
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 7.2 percent
Very Satisfied: 6.6 percent
Satisfied: 58.6 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 27.6 percent
Not At All Satisfied: [No responses]

The largest single body of CSSLP holders to participate in the survey is made up of U.S. residents (32.6 percent), but we also heard from credential holders in 20 other countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Norway, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

The cybersecurity realm is typically dominated by male professionals, and only a handful of the CSSLP holders we heard from — 9.3 percent of those surveyed — are women.  The age of credential holders also falls mostly in line with expectations, with 34.9 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 35 and 44 and 39.5 percent between the ages of 45 and 54. The outliers are the 16.3 percent of CSSLP holders between the ages of 55 and 64 and the 9.3 percent between the ages 25 and 34.

A overwhelming 96 percent of the CSSLP 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 CSSLP holders is either a bachelor’s degree (44.2 percent of respondents), master’s degree (39.5 percent), doctorate (7 percent), associate’s degree (2.8 percent), or professional degree (2.5 percent). The remaining 4 percent of CSSLP holders either completed some level of post-high school technical training (3.6 percent of those surveyed) or had no formal education prior to entering the workforce (0.4 percent).

Straight out of the Deep Focus gate, CSSLP is the first credential from the 2021 Salary Survey to register 100 percent full-time employment — every CSSLP holder who participated in the survey has a full-time job. For most, that means either a standard 40-hour work week (25.6 percent of respondents) or a regular schedule of between 41 and 50 hours per week (53.5 percent). Out of the remaining roughly 19 percent of those surveyed, 11.6 percent work between 31 and 39 hours per week, while 7 percent put in more than 50 hours per week.

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reshuffled workplaces worldwide in 2020, and there’s strong evidence of that here: More than half of the CSSLP holders we heard from — 60.5 percent — are spending their entire work schedule at home, with 23.3 percent putting in 40 hours per week from home, and 37.2 percent working beneath the same roof that’s overhead when they sleep at night more than 40 hours per week. The rest haven’t entirely separated from their cubicles (or corner offices), working from home either between 31 and 39 hours per week (16.2 percent of respondents), between 21 and 20 hours per week (7 percent), between 10 and 20 hours per week (2.3 percent), or for fewer than 10 hours per week (14 percent).

In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of CSSLP holders we heard from are employed at the senior specialist level (48.9 percent). The rest, in descending order, are either senior managers (14.9 percent of respondents), managers (10.6 percent), specialists (6.6 percent), rank-and-file employees (also 6.6 percent), directors (6.2 percent), or executives (also 6.2 percent).

An impressive 63.8 percent of CSSLP 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 between zero years (1 to 11 months) and 2 years (8.5 percent of respondents), between 3 and 5 years (2.1 percent), between 6 and 8 years (10.6 percent), or between 9 and 10 years (15 percent).

Finally, here’s the view of CSSLP 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: 51.1 percent
Several times a week: 38.3 percent
Several times a month: 4.3 percent
Occasionally: 6.3 percent
Rarely: [No responses]

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills. 
Strongly agree: 41.3 percent
Agree: 37 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 17.4 percent
Disagree: 4.3 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 30.4 percent
Agree: 37 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 17.4 percent
Disagree: 13 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.2 percent

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 26.1 percent
Agree: 30.5 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 34.7 percent
Disagree: 6.5 percent
Strongly Disagree: 2.2 percent

PAST CSSLP DEEP FOCUS FEATURES

2020

2019

2017

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