Over the last few years, Washington has quietly become one of the top markets in the country for the technology industry. While this is great news for highly skilled candidates, such a booming market means employers in the D.C. area need faster, more efficient hiring — and competitive compensation packages to put themselves in the running for those candidates.
Thriving startups, federal contracting and tax incentives for high-tech companies fuel the area’s flourishing technology scene, making it home to a multitude of organizations vying for the most experienced tech professionals the region has to offer.
The city, which ranked third overall for career prospects in the Robert Half Career City Index
, has seen a jump in the number of tech workers thanks in part to graduates from institutions like Georgetown and George Washington universities entering the workforce. But demand remains high.
With this kind of job growth and the tech industry’s foothold in the D.C. area continually growing, opportunities for IT professionals are on the rise. Network security analyst is one position that’s gaining demand — which means the competition for top talent is getting even more intense.
Network security analyst salary
Salaries in Washington are trending 33 percent above the national average, driven partly by the city’s high cost of living. Additionally, job seekers in the IT field with in-demand skills may field multiple offers and expect even higher compensation. To stay competitive, hiring managers must keep up with the city’s and industry’s salary trends.
Currently, the midpoint salary for a network security analyst in Washington, D.C. is $160,930. Candidates working for large organizations or who have advanced skills and specializations — such as experience with the Host Based Security System (HBSS), penetration testing or malware hunting — can earn salaries as high as $228,095. Candidates who possess a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) designation will also expect a higher-than-average salary.
What to look for in a candidate
A network security analyst is charged with performing system audits and reviews to look for vulnerabilities. They also develop security policies and create recommendations for improving network security. At a minimum, candidates should have extensive knowledge of computer and network systems, including firewalls, encryption and network protocols.
Look for the following in your top applicants:
- A bachelor’s degree in a technical field or equivalent work experience in a technical profession
- At least three years of experience in information security
- A minimum of three years of experience in building and managing Windows and Linux platforms
- Experience with security scanners (SecurityCenter, WebInspect, DbProtect, AppScanner)
- Ability to perform technical audits and identify unusual files and data
- Knowledge of hacking techniques used to penetrate networks
- Strong analytical skills
- Ability to communicate complex technical information to nontechnical colleagues
- For certain roles, especially those with the federal government, Department of Defense (DoD) clearance may be required, along with familiarity with DoD systems. Some employers insist on HBSS certification.
Speed is a factor
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing hiring managers in the D.C. area is staffing open positions quickly enough. As the demand for network security analysts grows, it’s not uncommon for employers to compete for the same people.
In such an active hiring landscape, managers need to accelerate the hiring process to land top talent before they’re off the market. Slogging through an unnecessarily long hiring process or hesitating on a highly skilled applicant because they don’t check every single box on the wish list only increases the risk of the best candidates getting hired by a competitor.
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