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Even amid one of the worst job markets in years, information security professionals collectively managed to garner salary increases and the vast majority of them hung onto their jobs in 2009.

A recent report by (ISC)2 examined the results of a survey of close to 3,000 security professionals world-wide, more than half of them from the U.S. This 2010 Career Impact Survey showed that 52.8 percent of information security workers earned a raise in 2009. Fewer than 11 percent of these professionals reported that that they experienced a pay or benefits cut and fewer than 5 percent reported that they’d been laid off.

“The results from our latest Career Impact Survey show that in a very difficult economic environment, organizations are placing an even higher value on the work that information security professionals do,” said W.

Hord Tipton executive director for (ISC)². “It’s a sign of the private and public sectors’ ever-increasing dependence upon the stability and security of the online world, providing a plethora of career opportunities for knowledgeable, qualified, motivated security professionals.”

The market is likely to remain strong in 2010 if survey respondents are a good indicator. According to the more than 800 respondents who also had hiring responsibilities within their security departments, 53.3 percent said they plan on hiring permanent or contract employees in 2010. Among those hiring, 40 percent reported they’ll be hiring three or more information security professionals in 2010. That’s a big jump over the same survey from 2009, when just 13.1 percent expected to be flush with so many new positions.

Survey respondents who reported a need for new permanent and contract employees told (ISC)2 that the biggest challenge they face is in finding qualified security professionals.

“The biggest challenge these top companies and government agencies face is finding enough of the right people with the right security skills to meet their needs, including security technicians, professionals and managers,” Tipton said.

Over 90 percent of survey respondents with hiring responsibilities said they had difficulty finding candidates with the right skills and level of experience, particularly in five key areas: operations security, access control systems and methodology, information risk management, applications and system development security, and security architecture and models.