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Starting off Pay

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Joshsevo

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Post Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:28 pm

Starting off Pay

If I was to walk into an interview for a CF job with a Bachelors degree in CIS (duel tracks in CF and Network Security) and certifications but with no experience what could I demand as starting off pay?

The certs I would have would be as follows:
Sec+, Net+, CCE, CHFI, CCFE, CEH, CPT.

Am I too low ball myself because I have no experience or can I get a healthy amount? Healthy to me 45K+.

Tried searching older posts, got some answers but they are a bit outdated,  Looking for newer pay scales.

Thanks.
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hell_razor

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Post Thu Oct 14, 2010 8:37 am

Re: Starting off Pay

In my previous life, I would have hired in a network technician with a couple of years experience around the 45k figure.  With no experience, but a great interview, I would probably go about 2 years of raises lower than that (~40k).  But, I must say our IT salaries in my part of the country are pretty low, but so is our cost of living.
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ziggy_567

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Post Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:09 am

Re: Starting off Pay

This is a great question, but its impossible to answer accurately. Your starting salary is going to depend greatly on where you live. For example, I am currently a Systems Administrator in Jackson, MS with roughly 5 years experience. As such, I can expect my salary to range from 45K to 60K. However, if I go to dice.com I can find the same job listed for 80-90K in New York.

Two great resources for salary information are glassdoor.com and wsj.com.
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Joshsevo

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Post Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:12 pm

Re: Starting off Pay

Ziggy,

I checked out both of the sites that you mentioned and one was helpful but the wsj.com didn't show me anything after doing a search.  Were you looking in a particular area?

The glassdoor.com was helpful the first time I went onto it but after that I got blocked until I join.  It stated that here in Colorado average pay was around 46K going all the way up to 96K.

So does have the mentioned certs mean nothing?  Having these certs is as bad as a new college student that has no certs, since I would be starting off at the same amount as college student.
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ziggy_567

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Post Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:53 pm

Re: Starting off Pay

Certs may or may not mean a bump in pay. That depends a lot on your employer. After the job has been offered to you and you are in salary negotiations, I would point out that you have certs applicable to the position and use that as a bargaining chip for a higher salary. It may or may not work, but at least you tried.

You may have to have a paid subscription to the Wall Street Journal now that I think about it for the salary finder. I used to have one way back and I haven't used their site in a while...

You do have to join glassdoor.com to get full functionality, but it doesn't cost anything to join...
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Ketchup

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Post Thu Oct 14, 2010 2:47 pm

Re: Starting off Pay

I think that certs in Computer Forensics are generally respected, especially in the consulting world.  The CCE is a particularly good cert to have in the private sector because some states are starting to require it.  Another one you may want to consider is EnCE.    In my company, we definitely value certs, but not anywhere as much as experience. 

I think that the certs will get your foot in the door, but you may want to be prepared doing entry level work for a couple of years.  You would likely be imaging computers, keeping evidence paperwork, logging cases, etc.  You can also consider government work.  Former FBI, Secret Service, Customs, etc agents are highly sought after in the forensics consulting circles.  With any of these, you would likely be a regular agent before you can transition into forensics.  Still, the feds pay well at first.  Most agencies require you to in the DC area initially for training.

As far as salaries are concerned, take a look at this link for government positions:

http://www.fbijobs.gov/113.asp

For the private sector, I think that 40k to $45k is reasonable for an entry level position.  Although, considering the current economy, it may be lower.
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mallaigh

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Post Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:40 pm

Re: Starting off Pay

Ketchup and Ziggy have pretty much covered the topic, but I wanted to add something.  Most employers will take your degree and certs into consideration when they are offering a job.  Also, when you go in for a interview it is okay to ask about pay (you might have multiple interviews, so you talk about this with the hire Directors/Managers). 
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Joshsevo

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Post Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:24 pm

Re: Starting off Pay

It's funny cause I posted this same post on a different website and they are saying I will make $15 per hr entry level with all of these certs.

Why the difference of opinions?
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Ketchup

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Post Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:10 am

Re: Starting off Pay

Probably because they are no more than that, opinions.  It's all based on personal experience and prior knowledge.
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ziggy_567

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Post Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:48 am

Re: Starting off Pay

I know a guy that graduated from a top 20 law school in the top 5 of his class that is unemployed right now. He's been looking for a job for over a year and a half. And I know a guy that just finished his college degree from a local University that is not well known at all that probably makes somewhere in the 60-75K range.

Compensation, overall, is highly dependent on the motivation and work-ethic of the employee. There are companies that are known for their aggressive compensation and there are companies that are know for their lackluster compensation. But, generally speaking those that pay well only employ those that are good, productive employees.

The long and short of it is, if you are a "go-getter" you will make good money. Your current job may not pay you what you feel is fair, but you will eventually seek out other employment. The reason why certifications and degrees tend to increase your earning potential is not because of any virtue bestowed on you by the degree or certification. Degrees and certifications are only outward symbols to those making the hiring decisions that you are a "go-getter." Therefore, they are more willing to invest in you than someone who doesn't have them. This is the reason why I said in an earlier post that you could use your certifications as a bargaining chip in salary negotiations.
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Joshsevo

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Post Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:32 pm

Re: Starting off Pay

Ziggy,

I agree with you.  I would "assume" that me wanting to learn this stuff will show the potential employers that I truly want to know this stuff and become a great Analyst.  I really like this stuff and want to know everything I can.

Thanks for the advice!

I know I will be doing entry level stuff.  Going to customers sites and doing imaging is the fun stuff.  Get to meet new people ask them questions and start to learn the in-and-outs of the trade.

I wouldn't mind working for the FBI or CIA, NSA but honestly they are not on the top of my list to work for. I applied for a summer internship with the NSA but didn't get accpeted.  Maybe because they were looking for a slightly younger intern where as I am 31.

But I do have an internship right now with a local Computer Forensics company but it's tough to leave my full time job and go down there and work for free and then work paid on some job they have for me.

Now the EnCe is one that I have heard of and always see it on job postings.  So I know that it is a huge cert.  Isn't there a requirement of working at least a yr with it before you take the test?  It is a cert I will try to get for sure.
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sil

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Post Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:56 pm

Re: Starting off Pay

Take your pick

http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=Encase+ ... aminer&l1=
http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=certifi ... hacker&l1=
http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=certifi ... igator&l1=

Outside of certs, experience trumps them all. To be honest with you, I've made more money WITHOUT my certs (strange but true). When I read a comment like this "Going to customers sites and doing imaging is the fun stuff.  Get to meet new people ask them questions and start to learn the in-and-outs of the trade." This is where I offer harsh criticism - and no I'm not trying to put you down... "There is nothing fun about doing forensic work that you want to admit to"

From a professional perspective, something had to have occurred for you to be there to offer your expertise. While you may find it fun to analyze it at the end of the day, forensics is not a fun job. Challenging, interesting, sure, fun is something sort of "amateurish" follow me?

As for working for the feds, they make little money ;) Sorry would have made this more detailed, but I have to run, will follow it up some time.
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Ketchup

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Post Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:53 pm

Re: Starting off Pay

I agree that forensics is very serious work, there is much at stake.  Your investigation, report, and/or testimony can make or break a case. It also has a direct influence on the lives of the people involved.  Still, if you find the investigative aspect of the work interesting, why can't you enjoy it?  I tend to equate interesting and enjoying with fun.  Sil, I think that you and I may have a different definition of fun ;)

Also, I don't know about all feds, but the ex-feds I work with made good money in the government.  The problem with the fed pay scales is that you can move up very quickly, but after a while your salary plateaus.  You are still making good money, but not as much as the high-end of the private sector.  This is usually when some make the jump.
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Joshsevo

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Post Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:29 pm

Re: Starting off Pay

sil wrote:Take your pick

http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=Encase+ ... aminer&l1=
http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=certifi ... hacker&l1=
http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=certifi ... igator&l1=

Outside of certs, experience trumps them all. To be honest with you, I've made more money WITHOUT my certs (strange but true). When I read a comment like this "Going to customers sites and doing imaging is the fun stuff.  Get to meet new people ask them questions and start to learn the in-and-outs of the trade." This is where I offer harsh criticism - and no I'm not trying to put you down... "There is nothing fun about doing forensic work that you want to admit to"

From a professional perspective, something had to have occurred for you to be there to offer your expertise. While you may find it fun to analyze it at the end of the day, forensics is not a fun job. Challenging, interesting, sure, fun is something sort of "amateurish" follow me?

As for working for the feds, they make little money ;) Sorry would have made this more detailed, but I have to run, will follow it up some time.


Sil,

Sorry I should have thought about that and used different terminology.  I should have said interesting, but serious.

Those websites were great!  Thanks.

I agree that there is a ton of stuff at stake including my ability to make money and provide for my family.  I understand this completely.

From what I heard the Ex fed guys are snagged up pretty quick once they come to the private sector.  I will look into it a bit more than what I already have.  Who knows maybe something great will come out of it.
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don

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Post Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:04 pm

Re: Starting off Pay

Also keep in mind the expectations of the employer and what he does to prejudge the applicant. Think about these scenarios:

Employer sees ivy league person for low level job and thinks 2 things. First he's probably spoon fed and won't work very hard. If he does at all, he's always going to have his mind on moving as quickly as popssible to a higher paying job and/or position with a big name company.

Employer sees a smart kid from a local university and thinks this kid is hungry and will do whatever he wants and will be thankful for the money he's making.

Right or wrong this is what people think. How would you view a similar situation?

Don
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