CISO compensation gap widens

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The gap between the highest and lowest-paid Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) is growing wider, with the top earners making up to three times more than their bottom-paid counterparts.

A survey of 600 U.S.-based CISOs by IANS found that the majority (52%) earn less than $400,000 annually, and most in this bracket (30%) earn less than $300,000. One in five of all CISOs earn above $700,000, and half of this group are paid more than $1 million a year.

CISOs who fell into the middle ranges were less common, with 14% earning $400,000-500,000, 6% earning $500,000-600,000, and 8% earning $600,000-700,000.

Total compensation in this case is calculated by combining base salary, annual target bonus, and annual equity value. Overall, CISO compensation grew 11% year-on-year, but the growth rate has slowed from last year’s 14%.

The growth rate of those receiving bigger retention bonuses and equity packages has also fallen year-on-year, despite rising overall, to 12% (from 21%) and to 8% (from 24%) respectively.

The same proportion of CISOs that earn above $700,000 annually (20%) also didn’t receive a pay rise at all this year – double the number whose earnings didn’t increase last year.

CISOs looking to become a member of the top-earner club should target roles in the top-three sectors, the only ones on average to pay above the median package of $500,000.

Finance took the top spot with an average total compensation package of $728,000, with tech coming in second with $678,000. The general business services sector also pays above average at $569,000.

CISOs in the legal sector earned on average less than those in other industries with a $333,000 total package, although nearly all of this was cash rather than a combined total including equity value. Healthcare was the only other industry to offer a package that was both below the average total comp and total cash comp.

Three-quarters of the 600 surveyed CISOs say they’re either “definitely” or “maybe” looking for a new role – an increase of 8% compared to last year.

The report noted that while compensation was an influencing factor in this, especially among the lower earners, those earning in the top quartiles were also looking elsewhere, mainly citing issues with job progression and work-life balance as their reasons.

The sources for this piece include an article in TheRegister.

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