Before we highlight the best states for cybersecurity jobs in 2021, it’s vital to keep in mind that the demand for cybersecurity experts continues to grow and doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon.
Although the talent gap of certified cybersecurity professionals continues to grow, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 31% employment growth of information security analysts between 2019 and 2029.
With the United States experiencing a cybersecurity workforce shortage of about 314,000 in 2019 and that figure rising to 498,480 as of 2021, pursuing a career in cybersecurity might be the best career decision of your life. Besides, the workforce shortage saw a 50% increase in data breaches in 2019, which gives you the perfect opportunity to be part of the solution.
That said, anyone looking to accelerate their careers as a cybersecurity professional should know important numbers and statistics in the industry, such as the best states for cybersecurity jobs based on elements such as strong average salaries, long-term growth potential, and high employment per 1,000 jobs.
Best States for Cybersecurity Jobs in 2021
According to a recent study by Comparitech, there are nine states that stand out as the best for cybersecurity professionals in 2021. These states offer the highest average annual wages, the strongest long-term growth potential, and the highest 5-year increase in employment number.
According to the research by Comparitech, Virginia is rated as the best state for cybersecurity jobs. The state boasts the largest number of employed cybersecurity professionals, the highest employment per 1,000 jobs, strong annual average salaries ($114,760), and a strong long-term growth projection of roles in cybersecurity (by 2028).
The role of Northern Virginia in federal contracting plays an important role in placing the state at the top of the pyramid. Forty-one (41) of the top 100 federal technology contractors in the D.C. area have their headquarters in Virginia.
According to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, five of the top 10 federal contracting companies in the 2020 Washington Technology Top 100 are headquartered in Virginia. The state is also home to 6 companies ranked in the Cyber 150, the 4th largest number of any state in the U.S.
The proximity to the Pentagon, the CIA, the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and other federal assets makes Virginia the ideal hub for cybersecurity companies and professionals.
A study also revealed that Virginia ranks 13th in the list of the highest paying states for cybersecurity jobs in the United States. Virginia also has the highest number of information security analysts of any state (15,010) and is a hub of some of the largest companies on the Cyber 500 list. The state’s current job openings stand at about 5,200.
Ranked second in 2018 for Infosec analyst employment (according to BLS), second by the Comparitech report, and third overall in cybersecurity jobs openings (according to CyberSeek), Texas has grown to become one of the best states for cybersecurity jobs in the U.S.
The latest rankings by Business Facilities identify Texas as the leading state for cybersecurity growth potential, outshining the likes of Virginia, Louisiana, Maryland, and Georgia.
The rankings were based on metrics such as higher education resources, employment rates, research labs and innovation centers, and the overall cyber ecosystem. The city of San Antonio, which bills itself as the “Cyber City”, played an integral role in Texas ranking top.
The city has been recognized for its mature and growing cybersecurity industry, which includes dozens of cybersecurity hubs, six NSA Excellence Centers, and more than forty cybersecurity company headquarters.
It’s also worth noting that San Antonio has grown to become one of the leading cybersecurity hubs and has the highest concentration of cyber and intelligence experts outside of the national capital region.
Texas currently has 10,430 employed information security analysts and job openings of about 3,400. The mean annual salary for cybersecurity professionals in the state of Texas is $108,810.
3. New York
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York ranks fourth among the states with the highest employment levels and tops the list of the top-paying states for cybersecurity jobs. BLS data shows the mean annual wage for information security analysts in New York is $121,750, which is higher than in any other state.
An initiative Cyber NYC by the NYC Economic Development Corp seeks to generate $100 million worth of public-private investments to make the city of New York an “international cybersecurity landing pad”. There are also plans to generate 10,000 cybersecurity jobs in the public and private sectors.
New York also harbors the headquarters of more than two dozen companies on the Cybersecurity 500 index, including Deloitte, Accenture, and Booz Allen Hamilton.
The state of California has more than 1.86 million tech experts (8th highest concentration of tech workers) and new tech jobs increase by about 60,000 year on year, including cybersecurity jobs.
According to CompTIA, the technology sector contributes about $492.8 billion (18.1%) to the California economy. When it comes to cybersecurity, California has:
- The highest number of jobs advertised (5,008)
- The third-highest number of information security analysts (9,200+)
- The fifth-highest salaries for cyber experts ($114,620)
Although Silicon Valley does not boast high job openings for cyber experts, the Los Angeles metro area has the 6th highest employment level in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
5. District of Columbia
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the District of Columbia has the second-highest concentration of jobs and third-highest location quotient for cybersecurity jobs in the United States. Apart from having more than 2,000 employed cyber experts, the state has an employment per thousand jobs ratio of 2.80, which is relatively high considering many states have an employment level of less than 2.0.
District of Columbia also ranks third among the top paying states for cybersecurity jobs. The mean annual wage of information security analysts is $119,160. Cybersecurity firms and agencies with branches in the District of Columbia include Booz Allen Hamilton and Accenture.
The report by Comparitech indicates that Colorado has the biggest five-year increase in cybersecurity employment at 139%. That is more than three times the increment witnessed in New York and Virginia (37%). According to Business Facilities, the state of Colorado ranks 8th for cybersecurity growth.
According to CyberSeek, Colorado also has one of the highest location quotients, which is a measure of the concentrations of a state’s cybersecurity demand relative to the national average. The state has a location quotient of 2.40 and ranks fourth after D.C. (7.9), Virginia (4.6), and Maryland (2.7).
Other factors that make Colorado one of the best states for cybersecurity jobs include the lower cost of living and higher mean annual salaries. According to statistics, the cost of living is 77% higher in San Francisco yet Denver, Colorado is the fifth-highest paying metro area for infosec experts, with the mean annual wages of cybersecurity experts in Colorado state being $104,510.
7. North Carolina
Business Facilities ranked North Carolina in the top ten of its new Cybersecurity Growth Potential state rankings for creating a conducive investment ecosystem by offering a growing talent of young skilled workers, targeted incentives, and attractive quality of life.
The Cybersecurity Growth Potential rankings are based on an across-the-board evaluation of each state’s cyber ecosystem, which includes higher education resources, partnerships with national security programs, research labs & innovation centers, and also employment statistics.
Other states that notched top positions in BF’s Cyber Growth Potential rankings include Texas, Virginia, Louisiana, Maryland, and Georgia in the top five.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland has more than 5,860 employed cybersecurity experts. Its employment per a thousand jobs ratio of 2.17 and location quotient of 2.54 makes it one of the best states for cybersecurity jobs in the U.S.
The mean annual wages for cyber experts working in the state of Maryland is $108,300, which is also among the highest in the nation. It’s also worth noting that Maryland was ranked fourth in the latest Business Facilities’ Cyber Growth Potential rankings.
This indicates their commitment to advance growth and development in the cyber industry through investments in research labs & innovation centers, higher education resources, and creating partnerships with national security programs.
Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida’s information security analysts workforce stands at 6,630. The mean annual wage of information security analysts working in Florida is $91,580, which is among the highest in the nation.
Florida’s employment per thousand jobs is 0.75 while its location quotient is 0.88, that’s according to BLS.
Recap: Best States for Cybersecurity Jobs 2021
We have highlighted just a few of the best states for cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. These states pay some of the highest wages, have a lot of job openings, and strong career growth potential. Notable mentions include Florida, New Jersey, and Delaware which can also be attractive options if you live in any of these states.