7 High-Paying Careers in the Security and Resilience Industry

Industry Advice Analytics

Security and resilience offers several different career paths for professionals with various backgrounds. According to Ann Lesperance, director of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University, “It’s an exciting area because there’s a lot of opportunity, not only for students but also for career changers.” This is largely due to increasing threats from cyber to natural disasters, which has sparked innovation around tools and technologies to address these challenges.

With so many opportunities available to those willing to enter a relatively new field, future resilience and security professionals need to understand which careers are available. Career changers looking to leverage their industry experience may also want to discern which positions offer the highest earning potential.

High-Paying Security and Resilience Careers

A major benefit to entering the security and resilience industry are the competitive salaries. Here are seven security and resilience career paths that can offer professionals the financial security they want.

1. Security Architect

Median Annual Salary: $145,200

Security architects overlook organizations’ information technology and computer systems. They analyze, identify, and modify the strengths and weaknesses of a company’s computer system to prevent or combat cyberattacks. To accomplish this, security analysts are often expected to think like hackers to find vulnerabilities in the systems they’re trying to protect.

Since cybersecurity is a demanding field, security architects earn a very high salary. According to a Lightcast report, the median annual salary is $145,200. In fact, the top ten percent in the field—mainly leadership and managerial positions—earn up to $173,000 a year, with the potential to earn even more depending on the industry.

2. Information Security Analysts

Median Annual Salary: $145,200

Information security analysts work alongside security analysts, planning and implementing security measures for organizations’ information technology systems. This role is crucial to any organization as they work to safeguard sensitive and proprietary data.

Information security analysts make an average annual salary of $145,200, similar to their security architect counterparts. This number is expected to grow as more jobs in their field become available. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to grow 33 percent from 2020 to 2030, leaving plenty of room for career and earning growth.

3. Security Engineer

Median Annual Salary: $119,700

While security architects implement architectural changes to increase security and information security analysts safeguard the organization’s data networks, security engineers maintain the organization’s security systems to ensure they’re effective. A security engineer’s day-to-day responsibilities range from testing new security systems, troubleshooting existing systems, planning and building new security measures, and responding to security breaches.

Security engineers are expected to make an average of $119,700 per year. Lightcast data shows that job opportunities are expected to grow over the next decade. This means a job in security engineering isn’t just a high-earning position, but a stable career path with endless options.

4. Emergency Management

Median Annual Salary: $82,700

Emergency management professionals, including emergency management directors, plan responses to potential emergencies, ranging from natural disasters to planned security breaches. They are also responsible for leading efforts to respond to emergencies when they happen. “Emergency management is more aligned on the logistics or planning side of response. You can also include public information officers into this category,” Lesperance says.

Emergency management directors can work in both the public sector (i.e., the government) and the private sector (i.e., hospitals, schools, or companies). While your earning potential is highly dependent on which sector you work in, the median annual salary of emergency management directors is $82,700.

5. Medical and Health Services Managers

Median Annual Salary: $79,700

Medical and health services managers plan and coordinate the activities of healthcare providers in organizations, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and group medical practices. Since healthcare is built on private electronic health patient records, a medical/health service manager must be extremely organized, detail-oriented, and effectively communicate to ensure their organization runs smoothly.

Medical and health services manager jobs are rapidly growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs in this field are projected to grow by 32.5 percent between 2020 and 2030. As a result, the median annual salary for medical and health services managers is $79,700.

6. Management Analysts

Median Annual Salary: $78,200

Management analysts, also known as management consultants, are hired to increase company’s efficiency and profits. They collect and analyze data to make recommendations to solve business problems and present them to leadership teams for implementation.

Management analysts have always been a popular career choice and continue to do so. The estimated employment growth rate of 14 percent from 2020 to 2030. As a result, the median annual pay of management analysts is $78,200.

7. Project Management Specialists/Business Operations Specialists

Median Annual Salary: $78,100

Project management specialists, also called business operations specialists, oversee projects to ensure they’re completed on time and within budget. They serve as the point of contact for everyone involved. They also identify and mitigate risks that could endanger the project’s success. These risks can vary from solving a specific operational issue to dealing with technical issues for a research organization.

Every organization has high-priority projects; therefore, project management specialists are always in demand. According to the BLS, employment in this field is estimated to grow by 14 percent from 2018 to 2028. According to a Lightcast report, the average annual salary for this career is $78,100.

3 Things that Affect Your Earning Potential

While each job comes with an average salary, your actual earning potential will vary depending on what you bring to the table. Three main factors will influence your final salary: skills, experience, and education.

Skill Set

Each job requires a different set of skills, but from the list above, the skills required can be split into two umbrella categories.

For security jobs, such as security architects, information security analysts, and security engineers, the three skills you’ll need to gain a leg up on the competition:

  • Resilience: The ability to protect the integrity of a business so it can overcome unpredictable threats. To achieve this, security professionals must develop various technical skills such as audit, compliance, and digital forensics.
  • Communications: The competency to effectively communicate problems and solutions to ensure quick response time.
  • Management: The capacity to manage small or large teams to ensure consistency and efficiency. In addition to managing teams, it’s also important to manage projects, data, and processes.

While all three skills are important for a successful security professional, Lesperance notes that “communications is high on the list.” This includes verbal communication, as well as the ability to write effectively when putting a presentation together for an audience.

Positions in the emergency management sector require slightly different skills to succeed. Three specialized skills emergency management professionals should consider obtaining are:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Training: This organization exists to support emergency management professionals to build, sustain, and improve the nation’s security and risk mitigation. Most emergency management professionals are expected to hold some form of FEMA certification in areas such as emergency response.
  • Emergency Management: The managerial function of creating frameworks to reduce vulnerability to natural disasters within communities. It seeks to promote safer communities with the capacity to cope with various hazards.
  • Emergency Response: Any systematic response to an unexpected or dangerous event. This skill is meant to mitigate the impact of a catastrophic event on both the community and the environment.

While these skills are just a piece of the puzzle, it’s important that emergency management professionals have the additional tools needed to respond effectively. Emergency management is about “how we respond; how we follow incident command structure. You can get certified by FEMA, but [Northeastern’s] program really makes you think about how to bring these kinds of societal and critical infrastructure pieces together,” says Lesperance.

Experience Level

There’s a significant correlation between experience and salary across most industries, and security and resilience is no exception. The more experience prospective professionals have, the higher salary they’ll likely earn.

How much experience will impact your salary potential depends highly on the industry you hope to work in, however. While some security and resilience professionals can more easily access experience opportunities, this experience is harder to acquire in other fields. However, as a student, a possible solution is experiential learning. For example, Northeastern’s experiential learning program gives students on-the-job experience while earning a degree. This can set you up for success when you begin to apply for jobs for the first time.

Degree Type

Educational background always plays a major role in the earning potential of security and resilience professionals. For example, a master’s degree can lead to a higher salary since the additional coursework typically focuses on specialized topics and skill sets.

Northeastern’s Master of Science in Security and Resilience Studies is the perfect stepping stone to a career in the industry. “This program gives you an insight into resilience, what resilience means, and differing perspectives on the subject,” says Lesperance. “From doing statistical analysis to being involved in what we call XN projects.

Take the First Step to a Financially Rewarding Career

The security and resilience industry is full of high-paying career options with abundant growth opportunities, and it’s only projected to increase in the next decade. Take advantage of this trajectory to advance your career to the next level.

If you think you’re ready for this type of immersive education, check out Northeastern’s Master of Science in Security and Resilience Studies program to see what you can do to jumpstart your career in security and resilience.