How the 0% Cybersecurity Unemployment Rate Affects Your Salary

March 30, 2024 • April Miller


Do you want a raise? You’ll probably get one with the cybersecurity unemployment rate at 0%. 

The Cybersecurity Unemployment Rate Is at 0%

The cybersecurity unemployment rate is at 0% — and it doesn’t look like it will improve any time soon. It’s technically at zero because there are 3.4 million job openings globally. Even though individuals might still struggle to find work, the sheer number of vacancies outnumbers them.

The situation doesn’t even improve after breaking it down. In 2022, there were over 700,000 unfilled cybersecurity roles in the United States alone. Unfortunately, many experts believe things will only worsen in the coming years. 

Factors Contributing to the Cybersecurity Shortage

Although the cybersecurity unemployment rate has been low for a while, it has only worsened recently. Here are some of the main contributing factors.

1. Cyber Attack Frequency

Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and the cloud are just a handful of promising technological advancements that have, unfortunately, made cybersecurity more challenging. As the threat landscape continues to evolve, professionals’ jobs will get more demanding.

2. Lack of Diversity

Like most tech-adjacent fields, the cybersecurity industry is dominated by men. In fact, women accounted for only 20% of its workforce in 2020. While the lack of diversity isn’t intentional — it’s much more complex than that — it contributes to the lack of qualified candidates.

3. Widespread Burnout

As more people quit their jobs, permanently leave the field or age out of work, the ones who stayed behind have to shoulder the additional workload. Burnout has become a severe issue in cybersecurity because understaffed teams can’t manage all of those extra responsibilities.

4. Time to Learn

Most cybersecurity roles require a bachelor’s degree and various certificates. On top of that, many also require newly graduated applicants to have a few years of hands-on experience. The time it takes to jump through these hoops makes it difficult to fill short-term shortages.

The Response to the Cybersecurity Shortage

Organizations are responding to the cybersecurity shortage in a number of ways. 

Automation Adoption

Organizations can’t afford to waste time while understaffed — but many don’t have a choice. For example, over 50% of them admit their teams spend too much time manually collecting data. Many are turning to automation because it frees time for more critical tasks. 

Lowered Expectations 

Even though most organizations would prefer a professional with years of experience, dozens of certificates and a proper education, many have realized their situation is desperate and are willing to lower their standards to accept less qualified people. 

Aggressive Hiring 

Some organizations have responded to the 0% cybersecurity unemployment rate by hiring aggressively. After all, positions in this industry take 21% longer to fill than other IT jobs. Their chance of finding talent increases when they search for candidates in underrepresented groups. 

The Cybersecurity Unemployment Rate Impacts Security

The cybersecurity unemployment rate remaining at 0% for so long has impacted security. How are professionals supposed to keep up with ever-evolving threats and increased scrutiny from higher-ups if they can’t get enough team members to cover basic duties?

Many organizations have had to throw money at the issue in the hopes it’ll go away. Experts believe the average amount spent per employee on cybersecurity will reach $26 by 2028, up from just $5 one decade prior. Although budgets are technically increasing, it’s often just to maintain the same level of security — not substantially improve it. 

Besides, as cybersecurity becomes one of the most expensive departments to maintain, organization leaders are scrutinizing their teams more heavily. The increased pressure to perform and make no mistakes makes for an unpleasant work environment. 

Even though more cybersecurity professionals feel demotivated and stressed, their workloads are only increasing — and they’re struggling to keep up. In fact, 51% of chief information security officers believed their teams were overwhelmed with the number of alerts they received every day.

For many organizations, these factors have contributed to a noticeable workforce decline. They take longer to identify indicators of compromise, respond to alerts and address threats. On average, it takes them 207 days to detect a data breach — and 70 more to manage it. If no one finds a solution to the cybersecurity shortage, it may soon take over a year. 

The Cybersecurity Unemployment Rate Impacts Salaries

Increased salaries are the silver lining of the 0% cybersecurity unemployment rate. Many organizations are desperate to fill open roles because they have clients to please and regulations to remain in compliance with, so they’re willing to pay more. 

Considering 31% of cybersecurity professionals say their employers can’t get any applicants because they don’t offer competitive salaries, the move to increase pay isn’t surprising. Having said that, it might be shocking to learn how much these teams are already making. 

Cybersecurity professionals can easily make a six-figure salary even in junior-level positions. The top 10% in the United States earned more than $783,000 in 2023. As demand and availability continue to skew, those figures will likely keep increasing. 

Should You Enter the Cybersecurity Industry?

The 0% cybersecurity unemployment rate presents a unique opportunity for people looking to enter the industry. Since many organizations are desperate for help, they might be willing to accept people who don’t meet their typical education or experience requirements. 

People who enter the field now have a good chance of making six figures even if they don’t have a bachelor’s degree and dozens of certificates. In fact, those with an associate’s degree can make $127,750 per year on average. Besides, the abysmal unemployment rate is essentially guaranteed job security for the next few years.

Currently, most job outlooks in the industry are impressive. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects information security analyst jobs to have a 32% growth rate from 2022 to 2032 — one of the fastest out of all professions.

While we aren’t encouraging anyone to quit their current job and try to get hired without an ounce of experience in cybersecurity, we do want to acknowledge what an incredible opportunity it could be for self-taught, underrepresented and overlooked candidates.