How much you can earn in your profession in the Netherlands largely depends on your sector or industry. But exactly how high (or low) are the wages for different professions? This week: cybersecurity specialists.
An increasing part of our lives takes place in a virtual environment. To protect digital traffic, companies and government agencies rely on cybersecurity specialists.
Krijn de Mik, Operations Director at cybersecurity company Hunt & Hackett: “As a cybersecurity specialist you combine the digital roles of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. You actively follow hackers and do digital forensics to trace exactly where they have been and what information has been stolen. This makes it a unique and to some extent also exciting profession.”
How do you become a cybersecurity specialist?
Many IT courses now pay attention to the cybersecurity specialization. But in this field it also counts heavily whether you have experience as a hacker, both good and evil (white hats versus black hats). As an autodidact you can go far in digital security.
Experience as a volunteer is also valued by employers. Such as work for the Dutch Institute for Vulnerability Disclosure (DIVD), an organization involved in detecting and reporting digital vulnerabilities.
We do not have permission for the necessary cookies. Please accept the cookies to view this content.
What do you earn if you are just starting out?
There is a great demand for specialists from companies as well as the police, the judiciary, intelligence services and other government agencies. There is no collective labor agreement that covers digital security officers, which means that salaries vary considerably. Many professions in ‘cyber’ are not very much bound by national borders and therefore not by national regulations on salaries.
De Mik about the starting salary at companies in the Benelux: “The amount is determined, among other things, by the experience gained with cybersecurity during the study period, such as with a side job or internship. The amounts are between 2,200 and 3,500 euros gross, without specific specialization.”
How much work do you have to do for that salary?
In an average working week, the focus is on detecting hackers and investigating possible malicious behavior in the networks of customers, says De Mik. “You also look for better detection methods, for example through automation.”
Cyber security specialists often work in an international context of both organizations and hackers located all over the world. “You also have contacts with foreign cybersecurity companies and sometimes with international investigative services.”
“Within the commercial cyber world in the Benelux, the top salaries for operational positions are between 80,000 and 120,000 euros per year.”
Krijn de Mik, Hunt & Hackett
Working weeks of 32 to 36 hours are the norm in the Netherlands, but a cybersecurity specialist is expected to be “always on” and available for emergencies. “On a Friday afternoon you can just be alerted by an organization that reports a digital spy in the network, or an infrastructure shut down by ransomware.”
Going home because your shift is over is not an option. “That’s when the real work begins. Your expertise is immediately needed to help such an organization in need.”
How do you make steps and what is the highest achievable salary?
The cybersecurity market has been tense for years and will remain so for some time to come. This means that there are many opportunities to grow in the workplace. Because there is a lot of demand, gaining expertise from different employers is relatively easy.
De Mik: “Within the commercial cyber world in the Benelux, the top salaries for operational positions are between 80,000 and 120,000 euros per year, excluding any bonuses. For governments, it is slightly lower.”
You earn the most at companies such as Meta, Google, Microsoft or Apple. “Here, most salaries start at around 90,000 euros per year for starters. But then you usually have to have a special profile and be above average talented.”