The hierarchy of industries as gauged by compensation has remained both stable and substantial for the five consecutive years this survey has been conducted (see chart below). The natural resources and mining industry continues to have the sector with the most highly paid security professionals, with an average compensation of $158,000 and a median of $142,000. This sector is also one of the smallest each year, with respondents totaling just 1 percent of this year’s survey population.
The construction sector ranks second among industries for security compensation with an average of $126,000 and a median of $114,000. Construction also reports the second fastest growing median income, rising 9 percent over 2008, just behind the wholesale/retail trade sector in which median compensation rose 10 percent.
The manufacturing sector ranks third among sectors with the most highly paid security professionals, with an average compensation of $118,000 and a median of $106,000.
The largest population in this year’s survey is the professional services sector, which includes security services and comprises 26 percent of respondents. Security and Professional Services reports an average compensation of $97,000 and a median of $82,500, which grew 6 percent over 2008.
The professional services sector also represents the widest distribution of compensation rates, with the 90th percentile reporting an average of $164,000 and a median $157,000. The 10th percentile in this sector ranks as the lowest recorded at just $37,000 average and $36,000 median.
Education—the perennial bottom rung on the pay scale—this year reports stagnant wages for security, with virtually no change in the median salary between 2008 and 2009. Those working as security professionals in this sector have an average compensation of $81,000 and a median of $76,000.
The size of the company determined by both number of employees and gross revenue has a strong correlation to the rate of compensation, with larger companies offering progressively higher salaries. The number of employees, rather than the gross revenue, is the more important gauge for compensation. The historic exception, which holds true this year as well, is that the smallest companies—those with fewer than 100 employees and less than $5 million in gross revenue—offer a slight advantage over somewhat larger organizations.
In these smallest companies, compensation for security professionals is an average of$99,000 and a median of $85,000. This median figure trumps salaries at companies in both the 100-499 employees range and the 500-999 employees range, coming in at $80,000 and $83,000, respectively. It matches the median salary for companies with 1,000-4,999 employees.
What’s in a Title
Security managers’ duties can vary as widely as their salaries. The same is true for security directors, chief security officers (CSOs), loss prevention directors, and every other title captured in this survey.
The survey showed that compensation benchmarks are more directly related to the duties of the position, the nature of the employer, and the nature of the candidate than to titles, which often appear to be handed out in lieu of legal tender. Even so, when prospective employers or employees seek salary information, they most often ask what a given title is paid on average, perhaps because it offers an easy benchmark. According to the survey, security professionals with “loss prevention” in their titles are among those seeing the fastest compensations rise.
Rank. Forty percent of this year’s respondents are top-level security professionals at their organization; this group earns an average salary of $118,000 and a median of $100,000.
Top-level security professionals do not always report directly to the CEO or president, but that does not determine whether they will be among the most highly compensated professionals in the industry.
Only 25 percent of respondents report directly to the top executive at their company; these individuals earn an average of $105,000 and a median of $90,000.
In some companies, security positions are organized within other business units or departments. Those who report directly to the legal department earn the highest compensation, a 2009 average of $127,000 and a median of $108,000. Closely behind are those reporting through the IT department: They earn an average of $124,000 and a median of $105,000.
Duties. Responsibilities also affect compensation, relative rank being equal. Among the higher compensated are security professionals performing VIP security off premises—they earn an average compensation of $119,000 and a median of $98,000. Also well compensated are those tasked with IT/logical security of the company, who earn an average of $113,000 and a median of $104,000.
For those charged with physical security, among the most reliable indicators of compensation based on the responsibilities specific to the job are the size and geographic range of the facilities. Nineteen percent of respondents indicate they are responsible for security at facilities in more than one country; they cite an average compensation of $138,000 and a median of $123,000.
Security professionals responsible for facilities in multiple states report an average compensation of $109,000 and a median of $100,000. Those overseeing multiple intrastate facilities report an average of $89,000 and a median of $82,000. Finally, those charged with a single facility report an average of $80,000 and a median of $71,000.
The number of staff within the overall security function appears to have no appreciable correlation to compensation. Just 24 percent of respondents indicated that more than 40 staff worked within the overall security function. Similarly, the number of staff reporting directly to a security professional appears to have no substantial connection to compensation, which is probably fortunate as 64 percent of respondents had 5 or fewer employees reporting to them.