Two clear indicators of compensation for security professionals are the size of the security budget and the respondent’s overall influence over it. Twenty-five percent of respondents work with a security budget exceeding $5 million and receive an average compensation of $132,000 and a median of $122,000. Thirty-three percent of respondents have a security budget between $1 million and $5 million and report an average compensation of $109,000 and a median of $98,000.
Twenty-three percent of respondents report an annual security budget of less than $1 million and have an average compensation of $87,000 and a median of $80,000.
A security professional’s level of responsibility for that budget is a strong indicator of compensation. Eleven percent of respondents have no control or influence over the security budget and report an average compensation of $86,000 and a median of $78,000. Thirty-three percent of respondents are responsible for making budget recommendations and report an average compensation of $97,000 and a median of $87,000. The 41 percent of respondents who are responsible for planning and submitting security budgets report an average compensation of $106,000 and a median of $96,000.
Fifteen percent of respondents are in a position to approve security budgets and report an average compensation of $123,000 and a median of $109,000.
Professional certifications, formal education, and years in the security field and in security management are all bellwethers of earnings potential.
The 40 percent of respondents whose highest level of education is an undergraduate degree report an average compensation of $107,000 and a median of $93,000. Fully 28 percent of respondents hold a master’s degree and report an average compensation of $112,000 and a median of $102,000.
Established professional certifications demonstrate tested knowledge of best practices within a professional discipline. In the security profession, holding one of the core certifications correlates to compensation that is 10 percent to 12 percent higher than the compensation of peers with no certification.
Approximately 50 percent of respondents hold a professional certification. The most popular certification among respondents is the Certified Protection Professional (CPP), which is held by 32 percent of the respondents. Those holding the CPP report an average compensation of $114,000 and a median of $104,000. Those holding a Professional Certified Investigator (PCI) designation earn an average compensation of $120,000 and a median of $105,000. Those who earned the Physical Security Professional (PSP) credential report an average compensation of $102,000 and a median of $104,000.
Years of experience in the security field are another good predictor of compensation rates. Respondents with 1 to 9 years in the industry earn an average compensation of $81,000 and a median of $72,000. Those with 10 to 19 years in the field report an average compensation of $85,000 and a median of $95,000. If experience ranges from 20 to 29 years of experience, respondents earn an average compensation of $112,000 and a median of $103,000. Those with more than 30 years’ experience in the field report the highest average salary of $115,000, though the median dropped slightly to $99,000. Respondents are evenly distributed throughout this range.
Respondents were asked how many years of their experience have been in a security management capacity. Here, too, the population is evenly distributed and progression up the compensation scale is commensurate with years of service. Those with 20-plus years in security management earn an average of $122,000 and a median of $109,000. Respondents with 10 to 19 years of security management experience earn an average of $101,000 and a median of $90,000. Those with nine or fewer years in security management earn an average of $81,000 and a median of $76,000.
Respondents were also asked about the number of years they have been with their current employer. Fully 46 percent of respondents have been with their current employer five years or fewer, while just 22 percent have been at their current company more than 10 years.
Like years of experience and years in security management, compensation rises with time with an employer, though here the progression curve is shallow, with a tight range from $97,000 to $110,000. Other correlations to compensation noted in this survey have a far wider range with lower lows and higher highs. In short, fidelity to a specific employer is not well rewarded.
Overall, security professionals seem to be weathering the recession fairly well, though it has definitely dampened increases in compensation. The general factors affecting salary increases remain the same as in past years.
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.
The 2009 ASIS International U.S. Security Salary Survey results will be published in book form next month and will be available for purchase at the ASIS International 55th Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Anaheim, California. The book will also be available for purchase from the ASIS Online bookstore, accessible via www.asisonline.org, in October.