Benchmark Insights: Guide to Hiring and Retaining Security Leadership

February 16, 2023 | By IANS Research

In this piece, we're highlighting insights from our 2022 Guide to Hiring and Retaining CISOs and Security Leaders which dives into key strategies for hiring and retaining cyber security leaders.

This report compiles survey findings from our third annual CISO Compensation and Budget Survey, jointly  fielded with Artico Search. This report features objective data from our survey of over 550 CISOs on job satisfaction, career development, the scope of their role and benchmarking data on soft-skill development and mentorships.

Compensation is Key to Competitive Hiring 

Our survey respondents reported an average increase of 37% to their total compensation as a result of changing employers. To initiate a move, prospective employers are willing to offer significant wage increases in terms of base salary, equity or enticing sign-on bonuses that offset any compensation left behind with their previous employer. 

To convince qualified prospective CISOs a new opportunity is worth their time to consider, and to mitigate the risk of counteroffers from current employers, hiring managers should craft competitive offers in the top 25% quartile range. For total compensation, the top quartile starts at $606,000, annually, including base salary, target bonus and equity. The average total compensation in the top quartile is $1.1 million (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure showing Top 25% of Total CISO Compensation


Retainment Tactics Boost Job Satisfaction 

Higher levels of job satisfaction coincide with lower attrition risk. What can managers and their HR partners do to positively influence satisfaction levels to mitigate against attrition? Our survey data points to five tactics aligning to key satisfaction drivers beyond compensation like organizational support, budgets and executive visibility (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Chart showing Tactics for Improving CISO Satisfaction


Steve Martano, co-founder at Artico Search explains: “While compensation is certainly a key driver in considering a job change, we see across the board that CISOs consider new opportunities when they feel they are not positioned for success in the organization, whether it’s budgeting, proper visibility or general organizational support. “

CISO Hiring and Retainment Recommendations 

To help hire and mitigate risk from losing security leaders organizations are encouraged to take compensation cues from the market. Be prepared to pay more for CISOs and integral team members. 

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

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 Guide to Hiring and Retaining CISOs and Security Leaders – the fifth in our 2022 series of reports – for additional insights into key strategies for hiring and retaining cyber security leaders and ways to increase job satisfaction.

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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