We as humans think a lot about money. Our parents probably tried to steer most of us into a field where there was lots of money to be made. At Dartmouth for example, almost everyone was “Pre Med” as it was seen as a very lucrative field.
In infosec, we are in a well paid field. Law is a well paid field. So are many others. But there are plenty of competent unemployed or underemployed lawyers and certainly many unemployed infosec people.
It’s not the field you choose
The field you choose is not the most important when it comes to how much money you make. There are hot dog vendors making $100,000 plus. And competent starving lawyers.
The best are not paid the most
Being competent is important; hopefully you are more than just “good” at what you do. But most of us work with or know people that are mediocre or worse that make more money than we do.
Being good to (hopefully) great is important but doesn’t affect our pay that much really. You can be awesome and poorly paid.
Let’s look beyond security.
Who is the highest paid rock star? Who is the highest paid hockey player? Who is the highest paid whatever?
It’s not the best, although they are all good. It’s not whoever has the best negotiators, although that may matter. It’s not whoever is the luckiest, although that can matter.
The most famous get paid the most! The Rock Stars!
In other words, Positioning Determines Pay – what people think about you.
Donald Trump charges over 1 million dollars for a speech
- Is he the best speaker? I’ll bet he’s good, but no way is he the “best.”
- Is he the smartest guy in business? There are probably plenty of people equally smart. I’d love to see Trump talk, but there are plenty of other business people I’d rather see talk.
- Trump is the most famous business person out there, hence he gets paid the most!
Bruce Schneier is undoubtedly a rock star in our field
Let’s look at security. Bruce Schneier is undoubtedly a rock star in our field. The dude is super well known. Probably the best known of all.
I have no idea how much people pay Bruce, but I’m sure it’s more than me. He probably gets what he wants. We both keynoted at a conference once. I was paid very well; he was paid better. No surprise.
Now, Bruce is a super smart guy, there is no question. I like Bruce like many others. I’m a fan of Bruce’s like many others.
I’m sure there are plenty of other people equally as smart. Hey, I work with lots of people that are so smart they are scary.
Why is Bruce paid more than equally smart and competent infosec people? Because he is more famous. Because he is a Rock Star! Because of the position Bruce holds in our minds: “World’s Most Famous Security Guy.”
Kevin Mitnick is (in)famous, hence highly paid
Hey, Kevin Mitnick gets about $20,000 for a speech. I get less. Plenty of people have told me that Mitnick is an extremely good speaker, but that I’m better.
Why does Mitnick get more money than me to speak? He is WAY more famous. It’s the Position he holds in people’s minds: “World’s Most Famous Former Hacker.”
So, how do you increase how much money you make? You increase your fame. You improve the position you hold in people’s minds. You became a Rock Star.
And that is what this site is about.