The most reliable predictor of compensation level among security professionals is the job itself. If its responsibilities are high, the compensation will likely be as well. Your rank within the department and the company is one indicator of the level of responsibility you bear. Among the other factors are the size of the budget that the position is responsible for and the number of locations overseen.
Rank. The bucks climb higher where the security buck stops. The 40 percent of respondents who were the top-level security person at their company reported a median income of $103,000, while those who were not in charge reported a median of $90,000. The average salaries by that distinction were $124,000 and $98,000 respectively.
Budget. Budgetary responsibility is one of two primary indicators. Those with no budgetary responsibility earn a median of $89,000; those whose duties include budgetary recommendations earn $94,000 median; those who plan and submit budgets earn $97,000 median; and those who approve budgets—16 percent of the respondents—earn a median of $110,000.
Facilities. The other historically reliable predictor of compensation is the number and geographic dispersion of facilities for which the position is responsible. Responsibility for a single facility equated to a median of $77,000 in 2008, while those with responsibility for multiple locations within a single state reported a median of $85,000.
Compensation jumped for those with responsibility for facilities in more than one state to $97,000 and even more dramatically for those with international responsibilities—up to a median of $124,000.
Issues. The types of issues falling under security’s purview also affected compensation levels. Security professionals were asked to indicate which of four general fields of responsibility best described their jobs—physical security, IT/logical security, life safety, and VIP security offsite; they could check off more than one. The duties most highly compensated were IT security (about 16 percent of respondents) and executive protection (about 33 percent) with medians of $105,000 and $107,000, respectively.
Two-thirds of respondents included physical security among their responsibilities and about half included life safety issues. Those whose duties did not also include IT and executive protection reported a median compensation of $94,000 and $95,000, respectively.
Poor predictors of compensation include factors such as how many employees are in security, how many people report directly to a position, and how many years a person has served in an organization. Having military or law enforcement experience does not affect compensation.
What’s in a name? Titles don’t matter much when it comes to compensation, perhaps because companies follow no standards for what they call a person with any specific job.
Overall, the key to earning more appears to be to pursue continuing education through certifications while seeking positions of maximum responsibility in fields where security’s worth is recognized within the corporate structure.
Mike Moran is special projects editor for the Publishing Department at ASIS International. He conducts and analyzes results of the ASIS salary survey each year.