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Cybersecurity’s million dollar jobs

Feb 01, 20173 mins
CareersCyberattacksInternet Security

​Top U.S. cyber jobs attract military experts, but it's not about the money.

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Jeremy King says there’s some cybersecurity leadership roles at large U.S. corporations offering $1 million compensation packages. The recipients of these big pay packages include military cyber experts making a switch to the commercial sector.

King has helped many dozens of senior intelligence community (IC) and Department of Defense (DoD) transitioning government officials find private sector roles and consulting​ (and board) opportunities. His active Top Secret clearance and connections at Fortune 500 corporations make him a top 20 cybersecurity matchmaker (and credible source of compensation data), according to Hunt Scanlon Media.

What’s luring military cyber leaders to the other side? King says that while top cyber experts in the commercial sector can earn as much as 5x what their counterparts in the military earn, money is not the number one motivator. the top reason is because commercial capabilities are now crucial to the national security mission, and the commercial sector will always be more agile and innovative. The passion they have to serve their nation never leaves them. Now they are providing a dual-use solution, the U.S. Government and commercial customers.

Although there are only so many of these elite million dollar jobs, there are senior roles where compensation packages range from $500,000 and up for CISOs and Chief Risk Officers (CRO). Mid-sized and smaller public companies typically pay in the $250,000 to $500,000 range (total comp) for their senior cyber and risk executives.

King notes that as an employee at an agency in the U.S. Government, they follow the U.S. Civil Service pay scale. It goes from GS-1 to GS-15, the highest level. Even the most talented producers who climb to GS-15 level max-out making $133,000 per year, even the top cyber experts protecting our networks and infrastructure. For the select few that are promoted to Senior Executive Service (SES), they max-out making around $200,000 per year. Unlike the private sector, there are no large bonuses or stock options.

What comes around goes around. U.S. military men and women devote their careers (and lives) to defending and protecting our country. Those with cyber experience are no different, except that they’ve unexpectedly become valuable commodities – and their service is being rewarded with lucrative career opportunities in the commercial sector.

What are the hot skills in demand at U.S. corporations? King lists some of them – which the military cyber defense specialists bring:

  • Red Team hackers who find vulnerabilities in your defenses;
  • Insider threat experts who map out risky behavior of your employees;
  • Incident response experts who do breach analysis and remediation;
  • Threat intelligence experts who can evaluate your threat landscape;
  • Security experts who can help design and manage security operations centers.

For more information read the quarterly “Ask The Recruiter” report featuring King.


Steve Morgan is the founder and CEO at Cybersecurity Ventures and editor in chief of the Cybersecurity Market Report. The Cybersecurity Market Report is published quarterly and covers the business of cybersecurity, including global market sizing and industry forecasts from consolidated research by IT analyst firms, emerging trends, employment, the federal sector, hot companies to watch, notable M&A, investment and IPO activity, and more.