Despite cybersecurity urgency, Australian security specialists still not earning salary premiums

Australian ICT security specialists are earning less than ICT sales professionals, network specialists, telecommunications engineers, and other skilled ICT professionals, a new Australian Computer Society (ACS) analysis has found.

The organisation's Australia's Digital Pulse report evaluated the country's ICT skills landscape and found that average weekly earnings for ICT staff in May 2014 – the last period for which data were available – ranged from $921 for ICT sales assistants to $3015 for ICT managers.

The analysis drew on Australian Bureau of Statistics figures that put the average wages for Category 2621 – which includes database administrators and ICT Security Specialists – at $1827 per week, just below the $1876 threshold that marks the 75th percentile of all Australian workers.

Males were paid an average of $1881 per week while females earned an average $1614 per week.

Salaries for ICT security specialists were on par with those paid to Management and Organisation Analysts ($1834), Software and Applications Programmers ($1825), ICT Support and Test Engineers ($1889), and Telecommunications Technical Specialists ($!832).

This result suggests that, while businesses regularly flag the need for more ICT security specialists to keep up with a changing threat profile, businesses are still not matching that recognition with higher salaries for ICT staffers.

This is out of step with moves by companies like US based retailer Target, which last year invested $US5 million in cybersecurity education for employees in the wake of a massive breach of its customer data.

Australian security experts have long pegged the opportunities for Australian businesses to become regional cybersecurity centres of excellence, with PwC recently warning that a lack of cybersecurity investment could backfire on company boards that fail to invest adequately in relevant skills and technologies.

The figures provide context for a follow-up report, released today, in which the ACS found that demand for ICT workers would grow 3.2 percent in Victoria each year through 2020 – outpacing national growth rates of 2.5 percent that will, the organisation has pegged, create national demand for an additional 100,000 ICT workers in the same period.

Read more: More information sharing on cyber threats, says Abbott

Victoria's “sustained focus on digital education and training” would help the state meet its expected demand for 40,000 new ICT workers in that period, ACS president Brenda Aynsley said in a statement that also noted the need for an alignment between Australia's education system, policy settings and business practices.

The comments echo the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA)'s April Review of Australian Government Cyber Security Strategy, which noted the importance of addressing the cyber security skills deficit.

The AIIA recommended that the government address the shortfall in the long-term by embedding cybersecurity education into an educational curriculum that incorporated an increased focus on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

The AIIA also recommended a focus on cybersecurity within the youth-focused Digital Careers program, and encouraged public-private partnerships to develop best-practice pedagogies and ensure industry involvement in the design of educational courses.

“As a priority we must look beyond cyber security as a cost of doing business,” the AIIA submission concluded, “and leverage our comparative advantage in highly specialised skills to become a world leader in identifying and managing cyber security threats as well as awareness and education campaigns from foundation education to the Boardroom.”

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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Tags ICT managementICT sales professionalscybersecurity urgencySoftware and Applications Programmersaustralian computer society (ACS)security specialiststelecommunications engineersnetwork specialistsCSO Australia

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