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Chief Information Security Officer Responsibilities, Skills, and Salaries

People working on a computer representing a CISO career after IT project management program at the Tulane School of Professional Advancement in New Orleans, LA

What Is a CISO Salary Range?


In a world of increasingly complex and targeted cyberattacks, cybersecurity professionals must adapt traditional information security strategies and approaches. It is the duty of chief information security officers (CISOs) to anticipate and respond to data breaches, as well as to manage systems to make sure they can readily detect and mitigate threats. Because of these significant responsibilities, CISO salaries are competitive, and companies across many fields value these professionals as important leaders.


Typically, a CISO is the top cybersecurity executive within a business. These high-level professionals have complex responsibilities that include analyzing cyberthreats in real time, keeping an eye on firewalls and other defensive mechanisms, assessing the security risk of new products and protocols, protecting the company from data loss, detecting fraud, architecting network security, and managing data access.

The role of the CISO can vary depending on the industry, business structure, and company size. Because companies have varying goals and cultures, many CISOs approach security with different styles of leadership and implementation. Despite these variations, the work of CISOs often comes down to people. CISOs must understand the habits of those within their companies, the actions of customers or users, and the aims of hackers. Effective communication, active listening, and leadership are some of the skills that make for successful leaders in the field of cybersecurity.


The role of the modern-day CISO requires advanced knowledge of computer systems, coding, and business, as well as how to manage others and lead effectively. Providing guidance to manage threats and having the industry know-how to anticipate threats and evolve security architecture apace with the market fall within the purview of these high-level executives.

As such, chief information security officers are some of the highest-ranking employees in their organizations. As companies store more data digitally, and an increasing number of businesses conduct affairs online, IT departments have also grown. To be a CISO is to have great interpersonal and managerial skills and to be a highly collaborative risk management professional who is deeply aware of business processes.

Before stepping into a CISO role, most aspiring cybersecurity experts first complete a four-year undergraduate degree in cybersecurity or a related field, such as computer science. Many go on to earn advanced degrees in information technology management or cybersecurity management. There are also a number of certifications available that many find useful in their ongoing education.

To secure a position at this level also requires considerable experience. Generally, those who land jobs as CISOs have spent years working in IT in both entry-level and managerial positions. To acquire the skills and expertise necessary to direct the information security operations of a business, on-the-job experience is an invaluable complement to formal education.

For this advanced level of knowledge and experience, a CISO salary is typically around $100,000 annually, according to publicly sourced data from PayScale. Although CISO salaries remain relatively high across the country, the exact rate of pay can vary according to the location and organization, and it can depend on individual experience and education.


While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics hasn’t yet compiled data on the CISO profession in particular, it has published projections for information security analysts, a closely related profession. These projections indicate that cybersecurity as a whole will continue growing at a fast rate — about 28 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is well above the BLS’ projected 8 percent average growth for all professions.

In the coming years, cybersecurity will become increasingly important. For example, according to cyber-risk analytics company IntSights, the number of phishing scams has increased dramatically from 2018 to 2019. With the advent of the internet of things (IoT), more and more hackers are finding weak entry points into vulnerable networks. This has required CISOs and other cybersecurity professionals to become more thorough and creative than ever before. Meanwhile, evolving federal regulations are forcing businesses to double down on cybersecurity in order to protect the sensitive information of their clients.

Taken as a whole, the business, economic, and social landscape points to an increased reliance on the web to get things done, which also means that, behind the scenes, CISOs and their teams are striving to keep all networks running smoothly and all their constituents protected.


IT and cybersecurity are integral to the success and safety of modern business. Through the dedicated study of security architecture and IT management in programs such as Tulane University’s online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management, students have the opportunity to learn the skills that are highly valued in chief information security officers. Find out more about graduate degrees in IT management and where the exciting and dynamic world of computer science can take you.

CNBC, “Here’s What Cybersecurity Professionals at Companies Actually Do and Why They’re So Vital”
Forbes, “Five Cybersecurity Trends To Watch For in 2019”
Information Systems Security Association International
IntSights, “Banking & Financial Services Cyber Threat Landscape Report”
National Technology Security Coalition
PayScale, Chief Information Security Officer Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Security Analysts

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