With high-tech industrial hubs in the Bay Area, SoCal, and San Diego, California is home to some 750,000 people working in the tech sector according to the California State University system. This means cybersecurity is big business in California, offering the right people opportunities for the kind of starting salaries not seen in many other fields.
The public sector is also a major employer of IT security analysts. California’s government takes cybersecurity very seriously, and in 2003 became the first state in the country to require data breach notifications. State Attorney General Kamala Harris released a document entitled Cybersecurity in the Golden State in 2014 that described several severe cybersecurity incidents in California in recent years.
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In 2013, criminals committed a $1.5 million cyberheist against California’s Efficient Services Escrow Group causing the firm to close and lay off all of its staff. A cyberattack against the website of Bank of the West on Christmas Eve in 2012 distracted bank officials from an online account takeover of one of its clients, costing them more than $900,000.
After these nefarious crimes, Governor Jerry Brown instructed the Office of Emergency Services to establish the California Cybersecurity Task Force. The Task Force hopes to position California as a preferred location for cyber business, research, and education and as a national leader in cybersecurity.
California is home to such cybersecurity stalwarts as Symantec in Mountain View and Cisco in San Jose known for paying top salaries, in addition to a large number of other well-paying information security contractors and consulting firms. Palo Alto Networks’ worldwide operations are based in Santa Clara where it conducts threat research for its next-generation security platform. Sunnyvale’s Fortinet manufactures the FortiGate series of ASIC-accelerated firewalls.
Cybersecurity response is also big business in California. For instance, FireEye provides incident response to cyber security breaches through its Mandiant Consulting operation. Its cybersecurity experts have experience with advanced threat actors from around the world, and are among the top earners in the field.
Salaries for Key Cybersecurity Positions Throughout California
Companies throughout the Golden State hire cybersecurity specialists, who can expect to earn salaries within the ranges shown here (Robert Half Technology 2016 Salary Guide). The most experienced master’s-prepared cybersecurity professionals can expect to earn on the high end of these ranges:
Data Security Analysts:
- San Francisco: $156,630 – $220,800
- San Jose: $153,225 – $216,000
- Los Angeles: $145,280 – $204,800
- San Diego: $139,605 – $196,800
Systems Security Administrators:
- San Francisco: $145,590 – $206,310
- San Jose: $142,425 – $201,825
- Los Angeles: $135,040 – $191,360
- San Diego: $129,765 – $183,885
Network Security Administrators:
- San Francisco: $142,485 – $202,860
- San Jose: $139,388 – $198,450
- Los Angeles: $132,160 – $188,160
- San Diego: $126,998 – $180,810
Salaries for California’s Information Security Analysts
The California Employment Development Department placed information security analysts as 5th on its list of the fastest growing occupations between 2012 and 2022. The Department predicted 40.2% job growth in this field.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provided a detailed salary analysis for information security analysts in a large number of metropolitan areas in California as of 2015. Analysts with a master’s degree in cybersecurity can expect to earn salaries in the highest percentiles: