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The Key to Earning

Security professionals did well in 2002, with overall compensation among security managers up 13 percent from 2001, according to the ASIS International 2003 Employment Survey. The highest paid security professionals manage multiple facilities for publicly owned global enterprises and work in the fields of information technology, manufacturing, and retail.

The survey, conducted for ASIS International by Westat Inc., analyzed 2002 employment data from 339 responses. Among the factors examined were the type of company, the number of employees, annual company revenue, the level of education, industry certifications, age, and years of experience. Companies were also asked about hourly rates paid to guards and investigators. A section also included questions about security professionals’ opinions of the color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System (see the sidebar on page 50).

Respondent profile. More than half (57 percent) of those surveyed worked for a private company, while 27 percent worked for a public company. Twelve percent were employed by other types of organizations, such as nonprofit groups and educational institutions, or were the sole proprietor of their own business. Government employees made up 4 percent of respondents.

Personal information. Respondents had an average age of 49 and had been in the security field for about 22 years. The average respondent had worked as a supervisor for about 17 of those years.

More than one-third of respondents (35 percent) had earned an undergraduate degree. Almost the same amount (34 percent) had participated in postsecondary education, such as attending a technical school, completing an associate’s degree, or taking college courses. Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed had earned a master’s degree or higher.

Almost one-third of respondents (31 percent) hold the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) designation from ASIS. Seven percent of those surveyed hold the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) designation, and 25 percent hold some other professional designation.

Responsibilities. On average, those responding to the survey had been employed at their current job for 10 years. Almost half (43 percent) held the top security management position at their company. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents were responsible for security at two or more facilities within their organization.

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of all respondents managed a security budget. Of these, 37 percent managed a budget of less than $1 million, and 38 percent managed a budget of $1 million to $5 million. More than three-quarters (79 percent) directly managed security personnel. Of those managers, 24 percent managed 1 to 5 employees, 21 percent managed 6 to 15 workers, 23 percent oversaw the work of 16 to 50 staff members, and 20 percent managed more than 50 employees.

Organizational structure. More than half of those surveyed (51 percent) worked in standalone security departments, and 49 percent were in a company where security is located under the auspices of another department. Of those security functions located under a different division, 21 percent were structured under facilities and property management departments; 19 percent under human resources; 19 percent under operations; 11 percent under administration; 9 percent under finance; 7 percent under legal; and 3 percent under IT. Fifteen percent reported working under another type of department such as engineering, health and safety, or environmental. This allocation is similar to that indicated on previous surveys.

Locations. Most respondents (78 percent) had security responsibilities in two or more locations, while 21 percent managed a single facility. Thirty-seven percent of respondents managed two or more locations in one state, 27 percent managed two or more facilities in different states, and 14 percent managed locations in more than one country.

Business sectors. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed worked in security services as consultants or investigators. Twelve percent of respondents worked in the manufacturing industry, 9 percent worked in retail, 8 percent were in banking or other financial services, and the same number were employed in the healthcare field; 4 percent of respondents worked in education and an equal number were employed in the entertainment, hospitality, and gaming industries. Similarly, 4 percent of those surveyed worked in IT companies, and the same number worked in the utilities and energy sector. Three percent of respondents worked in transportation, 2 percent were employed in architecture and engineering firms, and another 2 percent worked in museums, libraries, and cultural properties. One percent of those surveyed worked in the fire prevention and safety field.

Company revenue. More than one- third of those surveyed (37 percent) worked for companies with gross revenues of more than $500 million. Thirty-two percent of respondents worked for companies that earned $1 million to $100 million, and 17 percent worked in companies that made $100 million to $500 million. Ten percent of survey respondents said they worked in companies that grossed under $1 million. (Four percent of respondents did not answer the question.)

Number of employees. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed worked for companies that had 1,001 to 10,000 employees. Twenty-seven percent worked for organizations with more than 10,000 people, 20 percent for companies that had 100 to 1,000 workers, and 14 percent for employers with fewer than 100 employees on the payroll.

Salary correlation. According to the survey, salaries in the security field varied depending on whether the employer was a publicly held company or a privately owned venture. Security managers working for public companies earned $96,116, 11 percent more than their counterparts in private companies, who earned $85,708. Also, those in public companies earned 26 percent more than those in other organizations, such as academic institutions or nonprofit groups, who earned $76,408. However, this disparity is less pronounced than in previous years. For example, in the prior year’s survey, which applied to earnings for 2001, those in public companies earned 34 percent more ($97,621) than those in the private sector ($72,848). Those in public companies also earned 66 percent more than those in other types of organizations—who earned an average of $58,927.

In the case of salaries by business sector, the highest paid security professionals worked in information technology ($98,520), followed by those in manufacturing ($91,746) and retail ($90,417). Compensation was lowest for those in education ($66,944), the hospitality industry ($65,500), and the museums and cultural properties field ($56,233).

While salaries in publicly traded companies were on average, as noted, higher than in private organizations, a few industries bucked the trend. In banking, for example, those in public companies earned 9 percent less than those in private institutions. Similarly, among those in the security services, consulting, and investigations fields, employees of public companies earned 9 percent less than those in private companies. This also held true in the retail sector—those in public companies made 8 percent less than their private counterparts.

However, the trend was clear in other sectors. For example, those in the utilities and energy field earned much more in a publicly traded company ($91,225) than in a private organization ($67,750). The same held true in the entertainment and hospitality sector. In this field, security professionals earned an average of $89,000 if working for a public company but only $63,542 if working for a private firm.

Employees. Security salaries rose with both the number of employees in a company and the size of the staff managed. A review of survey data from the past two years shows that the effect of these factors has held steady.

Those security professionals who worked in companies with more than 10,000 employees earned an average of $99,900, 19 percent more than the next category of 1,001 to 10,000 employees. A similar disparity was true in 2001 earnings, where those in the largest organizations earned 23 percent more than those in the next category.

Security managers who oversaw a staff of 30 or more proprietary employees earned $81,879 on average, 10 percent above the average $74,979 earned by managers supervising 21 to 30 employees. This disparity was even more pronounced in the previous survey, when respondents managing more than 30 employees reported a year 2001 salary that was a full 20 percent higher than those who managed 21 to 30 employees.

Offices. The number of facilities and the locations of those facilities also had a correlation to salary, according to the survey. Security professionals charged with protecting only one location earned $65,700, while those managing two or more locations in one state earned $75,300. Compensation increased even more ($95,800) for those with two locations in different states, a 27 percent jump from those with multiple locations in the same state. Respondents managing facilities in two or more countries earned $132,500—a 38 percent average differential over those professionals managing facilities in multiple states and slightly more than double that earned by those managing one location.

This correlation between salary and the number and location of facilities managed existed in the prior survey. Respondents managing only one facility had an average salary of $62,196, while those managing two or more international locations had a salary of $106,485—a 71 percent increase.

Revenue. Annual revenue correlated to the salary of security professionals at the high and low ends of the scale. Companies that made less than $1 million a year paid an average of $88,100. This dropped by 13 percent, to $78,100, for those working for companies that earned $1 million to $100 million. Salaries remained almost unchanged at $73,700 in the next category—companies that brought in $100 million to $500 million.

At the highest level, $500 million or more, salaries jumped to $102,400, a 16 percent increase over the lowest category and a 38 percent increase over the next highest category. In previous years, salaries were more evenly distributed, with earnings increasing marginally or staying relatively unchanged in each successive category.

Budget. The size of the security budget was also a factor in a security manager’s salary, especially at the higher end of the scale. For those managing a budget of $1 million to $2.5 million in 2002, salaries averaged $89,049, while the average salary was $126,116 for those managing a budget of more than $2.5 million. Those responsible for budgets less than $500,000 earned on average in the low $60,000 range.

Experience. According to the survey, those with the most experience in the security profession are also the most highly paid. Those in the highest category—more than 21 years—earned an average of $101,295, approximately 37 percent more than those who had been in the profession for between one and five years.

Salaries also rose for those in the mid-range. Those in the profession six to 10 years earned $76,396, those employed for 11 to 15 years were paid $76,839, and those serving in the profession for 16 to 20 years made $88,729.

The age of the respondents also correlated with salaries, with the oldest being paid the most. In the survey, respondents aged 18 to 34 earned $52,700; those 35 to 44 earned $72,800; those 45 to 54 earned $92,600; and those 55 and older earned $99,500.

In looking at survey results from the past two years, a trend is evident. While the salaries for the youngest groups have remained static or decreased, salaries for the oldest respondents have increased. In 2000, those aged 18 to 34 earned $55,028, and in 2001 the salary for this group increased slightly to $56,959. However, the amount decreased to $52,700 in the current survey.

Only a slight increase is seen in the 35 to 44 category. In 2000, the average salary in this category was $66,691, in 2001 it was $68,336, and in 2002 respondents report an average salary of $72,800.

Such modest gains are replaced by significant jumps in the next two categories—especially between 2001 and 2002. For those in the 45 to 55 age group, salaries averaged $75,032 in 2000 and $73,049 in 2001. This number jumped 27 percent to $92,600 in 2002. This also held true for those aged 55 and older. In 2000, respondents in this category earned an average of $83,632, and in 2001 this number increased to $84,218. In 2001, respondents earned $99,500—an 18 percent increase over the prior year’s salary.

Staff salaries. The survey also queried managers about the salaries they paid to in-house and contract workers. Respondents were asked about the wages of security officers, investigators, and console operators.

According to the survey, unarmed proprietary officers earned between $13 and $17 an hour in 2002. Armed proprietary officers earned $15 to $21 an hour. Unarmed contract officers were paid $10 to $14 hourly, and armed contract officers earned $17 to $19 an hour.

In-house investigators earned $24 to $31 an hour. However, their contract counterparts made significantly more at $31 to $56 an hour. Console operators, on the other hand, earned the same amount of $12 to $15 an hour whether they were in-house or contract operators.

Education. Personal development factors such as certification and education continue to correlate to higher salaries. Those holding the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) designation from ASIS earned 22 percent more on average ($98,332) than those holding no certification ($80,485) in 2002. However, the disparity in the salaries was most evident in private companies and those in the “other” category. In private companies, CPPs earned $101,572, while their counterparts with no certification earned $81,003.

CPPs employed in publicly traded companies earned roughly the same ($94,184) as those with no certification ($95,697). In other types of organizations, CPPs earned $97,754, and those without certification earned significantly less at $61,251.

Education had a similar correlation. Those with a master’s degree earned 18 percent more than those with only a college degree and 38 percent more than a professional with no degree. The survey results indicated that those with a post-graduate degree earned significantly more in 2002 ($102,600) than those with a four-year degree ($86,700) or no degree at all ($74,100).

This trend has held steady. In 2000, those with a post-graduate degree earned 32 percent more ($83,083) than those with no degree ($62,951). In 2001, the disparity was even greater, with post-grads earning 42 percent more ($89,954) than those with no degree ($63,525).

Employee benefits. Most security professionals in 2002 received comprehensive benefits from their employers. According to respondents, 93 percent had healthcare coverage, 84 percent had dental insurance, 82 percent had disability insurance, and 72 percent had vision coverage. The survey also revealed that 83 percent of respondents received life insurance from their employers, 83 percent had a 401(k) plan, 57 percent had a pension program, and 19 percent were provided with childcare support benefits.

Methodology. Surveys were mailed to all of the 481 respondents from last year’s survey and to an additional 1,000 randomly selected ASIS International members. After follow-up interviews to ensure accurate results, 339 surveys were completed by the close of the survey period.

Teresa Anderson is a senior editor at Security Management.