Benchmark Report Preview: CISO Job Satisfaction

January 17, 2023 | By IANS Faculty

In this piece, we're highlighting findings from our 2022 State of the CISO Report which deep dives into the current CISO role, including job satisfaction and its key underlying drivers.

This edition of the annual survey, jointly fielded with Artico Search, featured objective data from over 520 CISOs on job satisfaction, career development, the scope of their role and benchmarking data on soft-skill development and mentorships.

Survey Data of CISO Job Satisfaction 

Our data found that CISO job satisfaction is at its highest in the 3 years of our annual survey.

Nearly three-fourths of CISOs, 74%, are somewhat or very satisfied in their job, up from 69% in last year’s sample, 7% higher than in the 2021 sample. Job satisfaction overall was more than double that 45% of the 2020 sample. 

Financial services, business services and tech sectors have the highest share of respondents who are very satisfied in their current position and company.

Matt Comyns’, co-founder and president at Artico Search, observation on the rising satisfaction numbers: “What this data shows is that the stereotype image of a CISO as a back-office technologist carrying the load of the company’s security problems on their shoulders is clearly outdated. Instead, we are seeing leaders with high visibility who (though stressed) increasingly express their satisfaction with their job, its status and the organizational support they receive.” 

Additionally, the share of CISOs with low satisfaction fell from 18% in last year’s sample to 14% this year (see Figure 1). 

Figure 1

Bar Chart showing CISO Job Satisfaction Higher Than Last Year

Drivers of CISO Job Satisfaction 

Our research study covered the five key drivers of job satisfaction— compensation, budget, career development, executive visibility and organizational support— with the latter three drivers having the strongest satisfaction from respondents.  

  • Organizational support has the highest satisfaction among respondents, followed by  career development and executive visibility 
  • Budget and compensation have the greatest shares of dissatisfaction

However, strong satisfaction doesn’t equate to loyalty, as our data indicated that 44% of CISOs outright agree they are considering a job change in the near future.

Those strongly considering a job change generally have lower satisfaction scores than those who don’t. Although our data found a larger share of CISOs that are satisfied than those that are not, for the latter group, dissatisfaction with compensation and security budgets are the common underlying reasons.

Steve Martano, co-founder at Artico Search explains what is behind the lower satisfaction for the security budget and compensation: “This data highlights the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in terms of budget and compensation. There is still a cohort of CISOs whose businesses haven’t fully woken up to the criticality of security and, consequentially, aren’t yet caught up to market-level compensation and budgetary levels, leaving their CISOs less satisfied. The majority of CISOs, who are getting the right support in terms of comp and budget (and visibility), show higher satisfaction.”

CISO Retainment Recommendations 

To keep help keep CISO satisfied in the roles, organizations are encouraged to assess how they view their organization’s overall security.

For CISO’s, you can use the data in this report as a guide to better inform executive leadership about the importance of compensation and budgetary levels and their effect on job satisfaction levels. 

Research-backed data like this is not only helpful for CISOs to use it as input regarding their own job satisfaction, but also in benchmarking how their job satisfaction compares to their industry peers. 

CISO Compensation & Security Budget Benchmark Reports 

Each year, IANS, in partnership with Artico Search, conducts a survey of CISOs across the U.S. and Canadas on CISO compensation, security budgets, key security staff compensation and job satisfaction. 

The findings from this survey are published in a series of in-depth reports that feature new takeaways, uncover a wealth of insights, and provide valuable leadership guidance to fine-tune your current role, department, and career path.

Download our 2022 State of the CISO Report – the fourth in our 2022 series of reports – for additional insights and data for CISOs, including job satisfaction and its key underlying drivers. 

Although reasonable efforts will be made to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in our blog posts, no liability can be accepted by IANS or our Faculty members for the results of any actions taken by individuals or firms in connection with such information, opinions, or advice.


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State of the CISO, 2023–2024 Benchmark Summary Report

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