Cybersecurity salary rises have stalled, finds survey

Despite cyber being rated the scarcest technology skill in the world, a new report has found that the world’s largest tech hubs are not giving payrises.

Despite cyber remaining a top priority and being rated the scarcest technology skill in the world, a new report has found that many of the world’s largest western tech hubs such as the US and UK are not backing this up with pay rises for cyber security staff and could therefore be running the risk of making the shortages worse. Two thirds (67%) of cyber professionals did not get a pay increase, which compares poorly to many other tech roles.

The Harvey Nash Tech Salary & Hot Skills Report 2021, based on global research of almost 6,000 technologists, found that although the cyber roles in greatest demand included Ethical Hackers, CISOs, Cyber Security Consultants and Information Security Analysts, those working as a CISO or Security Specialist were ranked just joint 14th amongst technology roles worldwide receiving a pay rise in the last 12 months. 

While cyber security has always been an area where there is strong stability in salaries – with security professionals the least likely technology roles to receive a salary decrease - during the last year the Harvey Nash data shows that organisations have chosen to focus on rewarding those roles that are related to releasing value and creating agility for the business. Therefore, the top three roles to experience pay rises were Development Management/Team Leadership (59%), Design/UX/UI (50%), and Quality Assurance (50%).

The Harvey Nash research also found that some cyber security related roles such as CISOs and Security Specialists are among those most likely to be automated in the next 10 years. CISO/Security Specialists ranked fifth in this respect, just behind Testing (1st), Quality Assurance (2nd), Database Administrating (3rd), and Business Intelligence/Analyst (4th). However, this was actually welcomed by many security postholders - with the attack surface massively increasing during the pandemic, part automation of their role is providing much needed support to their expanded remit. 

Bev White, Chief Executive, Harvey Nash Group, says: “Technology roles are hugely important and deserve to be well paid. In today’s environment where cyber threats are an ever-present, security roles in particular are critical to the success of organisations and should be properly remunerated. But despite the key role that security specialists have played in keeping businesses protected during the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic and the move to mass homeworking, this doesn’t seem to have translated into pay rises for the majority of cyber professionals.

"Instead, organisations have chosen to reward those individuals that have led or supported their focus on developing innovative ways in which they can pivot their business and build new systems with a customer/outward focus. This has meant that roles such as Development Management/Team Leadership and Design/UX/UI have been rewarded the most.

"While one can see the rationale behind this, it is vital that organisations don’t score an own goal by under-rewarding their cyber teams – and then facing an exodus of talent looking for better remuneration elsewhere. There is a balance to be achieved, but the signs are that the reward strategies of many businesses have perhaps tipped too far in one direction.”

Ireland and Poland ranked top for increasing tech salaries

The Harvey Nash report also found that there were some significant differences in the level to which organisations in different countries rewarded tech professionals last year, with Ireland and Poland leading the way. In both countries over half of tech experts (57%) received a pay rise in the last year - 43% higher than the global average. In contrast, in the UK less than a third (30%) of tech professionals received a pay rise.

Healthcare sector – top for increasing tech pay and headcount

The Healthcare sector (54%) led the top five sectors for tech pay rises in the last 12 months, followed by Retail/Leisure (50%), Charity/Not for Profit (43%), Technology/Telecoms (39%), and Financial Services (36%). Healthcare also led the ranking of the top three sectors globally to increase technology headcount in the last year, followed by Financial Services – Investment Management, and Retail.

New tech roles focus on data and wellbeing

When asking technologists for some of the new job roles that had been created recently, Harvey Nash was presented with an incredible list of new titles covering two common themes - data and the need for human interaction and wellbeing. New jobs roles included: Technology Trust Builder, Happiness Officer, Data Curator, Robot Shepherd and Robot Overlord.

Bev White, concludes: “Technology remains a generally well-remunerated and rewarding career. And with tech solutions in such high demand, new employment opportunities will also remain strong. It’s a good industry to work in, even if workloads can be heavy and patterns of reward vary quite significantly between roles, sectors and countries.

"It’s encouraging too that the tech industry is moving dynamically to create new roles centred on emerging technology solutions. Chatbot Manager anyone? Technology Trust Builder? These are just the first emerging signs of the new frontiers that technology is taking us towards – opening up fresh career possibilities and aspirations for the next generation of talent.”


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