The median compensation for security professionals rose 2 percent in 2012 to $102,000, while the average annual compensation for security professionals rose 14 percent to $121,000, according to the 2012 ASIS International U.S. Security Salary Survey. The industry reporting the most rapid rise in compensation was Natural Resources and Mining, where the average compensation was $181,000. At the other end of the spectrum, median compensation rates in the Education sector—a perennial anchor—were less than half that of Natural Resources and actually fell by 1 percent in 2012 to $79,000.
The survey was conducted in March 2012 and reflects the responses of 1,438 members of ASIS International. This is the 9th consecutive annual compensation survey of ASIS members. It is the largest survey on this issue in the industry.
One new question asked of members this year dealt with security professionals tasked with protection of national critical infrastructure. In terms of compensation, those most highly rewarded were responsible for the assets related to national defense, energy, and large corporate interests. These included Agriculture (median $127,000), Defense Industry (median $121,000), and Energy (median $120,000). Those charged with public-oriented security such as Emergency Services (median $93,000), Special Events (median $90,000) and Water Supply/Waste (median $67,000) earned far less.
Region. Compensation varied by region as well. Security professionals in the South Atlantic region (West Virginia through Florida) reported the highest median compensation of $115,000 and New England (Connecticut through Maine) posted the highest average salary of $242,000. The West North Central (North Dakota and Minnesota and as far south as Missouri) reported the lowest compensation with a median of $88,000 and an average of $96,000.
Education. Respondents’ profiles showed that they were on average well-educated, with 74 percent having completed a four-year degree and 35 percent having earned a master’s degree or higher. More than half of respondents had a professional law enforcement background.
Certification. The group was also highly credentialed and experienced. Fully 89 percent of respondents held widely recognized professional security certifications and 74 percent had more than a decade of security management experience. As expected, ASIS certifications were the most prominent, with 57 percent of respondents holding a CPP (Certified Protection Professional) designation.
The individual qualifications of a security professional that are most closely correlated with higher compensation include years in security management, highest level of education attained, and professional certifications. Forty-four percent of respondents reported more than 20 years’ experience in security management. They earned a median compensation of $113,000 and an average of $134,000.
The 32 percent of respondents holding a master’s degree earned a median compensation of $116,000 and an average of $138,000. The 40 percent of respondents with an undergraduate degree earned $105,000 and $122,000, respectively. Those with a two-year degree or some 4-year college experience (approximately 7 percent of the sample), earned a median of $83,000 and an average of $88,000.
CPPs earned a median compensation of $111,000 and an average of $130,000. Eleven percent of respondents held a PSP (Physical Security Professional) and reported a median compensation of $98,000 and an average of $108,000. Five percent of respondents held the PCI (Professional Certified Investigator) and earned a median of $102,000 and an average compensation of $117,000. Nine percent of respondents held the Certified Fraud Examiner certification. They earned a median salary of $122,000 and an average of $162,000.
Level. Given their education and experience, it is not surprising that 59 percent of respondents were the top-level security professional on staff and that 37 percent reported to the senior executive.
They earned a median compensation of $106,000 and an average of $122,000. Those reporting to departmental heads beneath the senior executive typically report lower compensation, though there were exceptions such as those organized under IT (median $114,000 and average $126,000) and the legal department (median $130,000 and average $153,000).
Public vs. private sector. Of those in the private sector 47 percent worked for privately held companies and earned a median compensation of $100,000 and an average of $120,000. Their colleagues employed by publicly traded companies earned considerably more, with a median compensation of $117,000, which was up 7 percent over 2011; they earned an average of $148,000, up 18 percent since last year.
Just 15 percent of respondents worked in the government (public) sector. Of those, the state and local levels reported the lowest median compensations—$85,000 and $87,000, respectively, with average compensation of $88,000 and $91,000, respectively. In contrast, those in the federal government earned a higher median compensation than those in any other type of organization. Also, at $69,000, the bottom 10th percentile of the federal government category earned more than any other, and at $120,000, the median salary bests those employed by publicly traded companies by $3,000.
But at the average and 90th percentiles, the picture changes. At those levels, compensation for security professionals in the federal category falls well short of that of their colleagues in the private sector. It’s $115,000 average and $154,000 at the 90th percentile for federal and $149,000 average and $253,000 at the 90th percentile for the private sector. And where salaries rose just 1 percent for those in the federal government at the 90th percentile, that percentile employed by publicly traded companies reported a 7 percent increase.
Revenue. There is a rough correlation between the gross annual revenue of a company and how well it compensates its security personnel. Those working for companies with annual revenue of $20 billion or more reported a median compensation of $124,000 and an average compensation of $150,000. The compensation rates march slowly downward for those with companies earning less revenue. Respondents working at companies grossing less than $5 million earned a median $90,000 and an average $101,000.
Consultants. While the vast majority of respondents were proprietary security employees, working in security departments within organizations, 14 percent earned a living as security consultants. Consultants reported slightly lower compensation, with a median of $99,000 and an average of $110,000 compared to those employed as in-house security professionals, who earned $103,000 and $122,000 respectively. The difference is most stark comparing those in the lowest 10th percentile, where consultants averaged $51,000, compared to $59,000 for their in-house colleagues—16 percent less.
Scope, geography. The scope and geographic diversity of responsibilities is another perennially reliable indicator of compensation. Those charged with a single facility reported a median income of $83,000 and an average of $93,000; multiple locations within a single state reported a median $87,000 and an average $95,000; interstate facilities garnered a median $105,000 and an average of $117,000. Twenty-three percent of respondents were responsible for international locations and reported a median of $139,000 and an average of $167,000.
The findings from the 2012 ASIS International U.S. Security Salary Survey show that the trend of steadily advancing compensation for security professionals continues. In the nine years the survey has been conducted, that upward trajectory was interrupted only briefly in 2009 by a slight dip associated with the onset of the economic recession.
Mike Moran is special projects editor for the ASIS Publishing Department. The 2012 ASIS International U.S. Security Salary Survey was conducted in March 2012. All members of ASIS employed by companies based in the United States were eligible to participate; 1,438 people fully completed the survey.