Cybersecurity is hot. How hot?

Everybody knows cybersecurity is the hot topic in IT today. Just how hot is it?

The short answer is “very.”

Here’s an example: The role of Information Security Analyst has the #2 position on the US News & World Report list of Best Technology Jobs. It’s also #32 on the publication’s overall list of The 100 Best Jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is all over this security role as well. The bureau’s Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts a 28% growth in Security Analyst employment during the years from 2016 to 2026, which is above average growth.

Another sign of cybersecurity’s heat is the view that we’re already seeing a shortage of people. By the end of the year, in fact, an estimated one to two million cyber security jobs will remain unfilled. About six million cyber security analysts will be needed, with only between four and five million available to fill the positions. In other words, one out of two job openings will go begging.

High demand for a shortage of skilled workers should equate to rising wages, right? That’s absolutely happening in cybersecurity.

The BLS reports that the median wage for Information Security Analyst in 2017 was $95,510; that’s a couple thousand higher than the U.S. News and World Report figure.

According to one of the major job boards, wages in specific metropolitan areas are much higher.

One of the boards conducted a scientific survey of cybersecurity demand and wages by looking at activity on its own website. It found that the five metropolitan areas with the most job openings were, in order, Washington, DC; New York; Dallas-Fort Worth, Baltimore, and Chicago.

That same website found that the five metros with the highest annual wages (adjusted for cost of living) were Charlotte, Chicago, San Francisco, Austin, and Denver. Cybersecurity professionals can command $125,000 and more in Chicago and $119,000 in Denver.

And another job board dug into the details of job titles and specific skills to determine their impact on wages. According to that one, presenting yourself as an ‘engineer’ is your best bet: It’s a title that tends to pay on the higher end of the tech pro salary spectrum. In fact, that board said to avoid the ‘analyst’ role so highly touted by U.S. News & World Report.

It pays slightly less, and adding specialized skills doesn’t shift the needle very much.

The one meaningful skill that can boost any cybersecurity salary? Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP, certification can add a 10 percent bump.

So cybersecurity is very hot, but what does that really mean?

It means companies looking to fill open cybersecurity positions are already facing stiff competition for scarce resources. Companies looking to add cybersecurity professionals need to budget for the salary demands, while the pros themselves need to keep their skills current.