As security hiring trends evolve, it can be difficult to ascertain the average salary of a chief security officer, even when these metrics are helpful tools for increasing employee retention and job satisfaction.
The Foushée Group, a leading compensation research company has produced the Security & Compliance Compensation Survey annually for the last 22 years. The survey is designed to provide accurate and timely compensation information on 78 security and compliance positions to companies whom seek to market price their positions to the national market.
The survey input is not based on self-reporting, rather the survey questionnaire is sent to human resources (HR) professionals who review the provided job descriptions and match their jobs to the survey position descriptions. All data reported is aligned with the Department of Justice safe harbor guidelines for reporting compensation information. No individual company data is identifiable; the data is reported in weighted averages, median, percentile distributions and other pertinent data. Participating companies range in revenue size from under 500 million to more than 250 billion.
Compensation Surveys are a snapshot in time, reflecting the data at the effective date of the information. For the 2023 survey, it’s important to keep in mind that the Foushée Group requested data be returned to them at the end of January 2023, with an effective date of January 1, 2023.
The numbers presented have not been trended to reflect the date of publication of this article.
Merit increases continue to trend higher than years prior, and security and compliance positions surveyed showed an average 4.1 percent annual overall increase.”
Looking back at the state of the country at the beginning of 2023, there were significant challenges. Inflation was still creeping up and the monetary tightening from the Federal Reserve Board was accelerating. Some large high technology companies were “right-sizing” while many other industries were scrambling to attract employees. Some employees were still working from home, companies had formulated “work at home” policies that to some, did not align with what their employees desired. Many employees opted not to come back to work, or retire early and the “great resignation” continues. Merit increases continue to trend higher than years prior, and security & compliance positions surveyed showed and average 4.1 percent annual overall increase. Bonuses were calculated and paid for 2022 based on company and personal performance, long term incentives were being calculated for the calendar year 2022 also.
Security magazine has asked the Foushée Group to provide some trend data from the 2018 survey and compare data points to the 2023 survey for the same roles. All data points (weighted average, aggregate) included base salary, total compensation (base plus bonus) and annual long term incentive target. Five roles from the survey are highlighted here:
- Top Global Security Executive (Chief Security Officer)
- Director, Computer, Network & Information Security
- Manager, Corporate Investigations
- Senior Regional Manager, Domestic Security
- Manager, Protective Forces, Armed
Top global security executive (Chief Security Officer)
When comparing reported data from the 2018 survey to the 2023 survey, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) position’s base pay weighted average in the aggregate increased by 1.3% over the reporting period to $345,266 annually. Base salary plus bonus increased by 5.3% to $471,638 annually. Bonuses are pay at risk and tend to vary based on company goals, profitability and employee performance and recognize company and employee performance for the past year or 2022. Most CSO positions are eligible for a long-term incentive (LTI), usually paid in company stock over a set number of years — typically a rolling plan of three to five years. The LTI annual target increased significantly by 36% over the reporting period to $204,897 annually. In this comparison, companies have awarded a moderate base pay increase for the CSO and significantly increased pay at risk including LTI, focusing the executive on long-term company goals with the possibility of a significantly greater upside in LTI compensation spread over the number of years in the plan.
Director, Computer, Network & Information Security
Comparing data from the 2018 survey to the 2023 survey, the Director, Computer, Network & Information Security base pay weighted average in the aggregate increased by approximately 5.1% to $217,415 annually. Base salary plus bonus increased by 2.8% to $252,163, while in those positions eligible for LTI, the target decreased by 15% to $55,079. Information, network and cybersecurity continues to have a significant impact on company operations and industry trends predict these positions will continue to be in short supply and high demand. Compensation for these positions will be increasing at a higher than normal rate well into the future.
Manager, Corporate Investigations
Comparing data from the 2018 survey to the 2023 survey, the Manager, Corporate Investigations base pay weighted average in the aggregate increased by approximately 13% to $162,571 annually. Base salary plus bonus increased by 13.3% to $189,561, while in those positions eligible for LTI, the target increased by 62.4% to $34,484 when comparing the 2018 survey numbers to 2023 reported numbers.
Senior Regional Manager, Domestic Security
When comparing data from the 2018 survey to the 2023 survey, the Senior Regional Manager, Domestic Security base pay weighted average in the aggregate, increased by approximately 21.6% to $200,649 annually. Base salary plus bonus increased significantly by 30.8% to $250,689 while in those positions eligible for LTI, the target increased significantly by 67.1% to $47,166. This position manages the organizations largest geographic/profit regions security function reflected by the company’s operations in a particular area.
Manager, Protective Forces, Armed
The Manager, Protective Forces, Armed base pay weighted average in the aggregate when comparing data from the 2018 survey to the 2023 survey increased 5.8% to $128,325 annually. Base salary plus bonus increased by 4.9% to $140,590, while most of those surveyed reported the positions ineligible for an LTI Grant.
Based on the data reported during the reporting period of 2018 compared to 2023, many security positions have increased base pay, bonus and long-term incentives as companies try to maintain a competitive market positon. While market conditions change over the reporting period, current market compensation trends show that many companies continue to emphasize “pay at risk,” offering the employee significant upside potential with bonus and LTI programs. These programs are designed to align employees to company and personal goals while maintaining competitive base pay. Pay at risk is very attractive to employers because the company can keep fixed costs, such as base pay, to a manageable level while incentivizing employees to align with company and personal goals.
Many factors influence the reporting numbers, such as company participation, market timing, the company’s ability to pay, compensation philosophy and value of the position to the company. Security leaders are wise to participate in a compensation survey typically housed in their Human Resources group. The first question leadership should ask Human Resources is, “Are my jobs market-priced annually?” and if not, why not. In today’s market, a company that does not have mechanisms to gauge positon value in this competitive human capital market may find it difficult to attract and retain excellent talent and maintain their competitive position.
The Security & Compliance Survey
The survey solicits data and the competitive practices of 78 management, professional and technical positions in the security and compliance field. Current security and compliance job families include:
- Classified Materials/Material Controls
- Corporate Investigation
- Console Operator
- Computer & Information Security
- Domestic Security
- Emergency Preparedness
- Executive Protection
- Global Compliance & Ethics
- Global Security
- International Security
- Network Security
- Nuclear Accountability
- Physical Security — Unarmed
- Protective Forces — Armed
- Regional/Business Unit Security
- Regulatory Compliance
- Security Clearance
- Security Programs
- Security Systems & Training
- Threat Analysis
The survey typically starts in November. Participant input is not due back to the Foushée Group until the end of January and the survey is published in March.
The Foushée Group also publishes an Environmental, Health & Safety survey annually, currently on the 38th edition.
If you would like further information on participating, you can locate the Foushée Group’s webpage at www.fousheesurvey.com or contact Steve Walker at 239-282-1929 directly.