Tally up the data on several levels and cyber careers are coming out on top.  By comparison, this field pays more than most other IT jobs in both private and federal sectors.  As a rule, the gender gap graph is missing.  And surveys indicate high job satisfaction along with a strong sense of job security.  Given its growing demand and projections for the next few years, qualified, cleared job seekers have better than average prospects ahead.

First off, according to the ClearanceJobs 2012 salary survey the median salary for cyber professionals in the Washington, D.C. area is $110,936. While men dominate in cyber professions, the salary differential between men and women is virtually nonexistent.

On the heels of a recent Gallup report that indicated 70 percent of Americans either hate their jobs or are disengaged from their work, the opposite is true among cyber professionals.  More than half, 63 percent, say they are satisfied with all aspects of their work.


If it sounds like a good career and a transition you want to make, there are a few considerations to take into account.

Private sector cyber jobs pay more than federal jobs.  Even while federal workers seem happy with their positions, the draw of a higher paycheck is cited as the chief reason for leaving.  Companies like Boeing, for example, and other defense contractors, pay cyber professionals about $15,000 to $18,000 more per year than government agencies.


Certifications matter.  If you don’t have the paper, expect it to count against you.  Certifications are usually prerequisites for cyber jobs.  The certifications most sought after by hiring managers include basic CompTIA Security +, Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).


Most jobs require a college degree.  In the D.C., Maryland region, the demand for cyber professionals is among the highest in the nation.  Here, according to the University of Maryland, a bachelor’s degree is required for about 76 percent of cyber jobs.  There is sometimes more leniency in the federal sector.  For example, agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, consider cleared candidates with a combination of two-year, associate degrees and a specified number of training hours.  Candidates currently taking courses or in the process of earning certification are also considered more often than those not enrolled.


Up your Chances with SAML. The acronym for Security Assertion Markup Language, SAML is really all about the cloud.  Increasingly, employers are looking for professionals who have mastered SAML, and understand the mix of technology, policy and intelligence required to extend directories and identity management systems into cloud-based applications.

Data analysis knowledge is an emerging must-have.  Hiring managers still find a gap when it comes to potential employees who understand log monitoring and how to search for security breaches within huge amounts of data.  If you can demonstrate past experience with say, finding evidence of SQL injection, consider yourself a gold mine.


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Tranette Ledford is a writer and owner of Ledford, LLC, which provides writing, editorial and public relations consulting for defense, military and private sector businesses. You can contact her at: Tranette@Ledfordllc.com.