As the world’s dependence on information technology and communication networks increases, the demand for cyber security experts and high-quality security standards will grow. A career in ethical hacking is one way to get in on the action early, and how to get a job in ethical hacking is a hot topic today.
This article discusses how to get a job in ethical hacking and some of the highest-paying ethical hacking jobs. It also contains information on what ethical hacking skills you’ll need to succeed in the industry.
What Is Ethical Hacking?
Ethical hacking, also known as penetration testing, involves identifying a system’s potential vulnerabilities and resolving them before a malicious hacker (a black hat hacker) gains unauthorized access. It is a legitimate attempt to test the integrity of the security of an application, data, or system.
Skilled professionals who perform these operations are called ethical hackers, white hat hackers, or penetration testers. Since they are authorized to perform the hack, they are opposed to black hat hackers, who generally engage in criminal activities.
Ethical Hacking Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for information security analysts, including ethical hackers, has a growth projection of 33 percent from 2020 to 2030. This is a much higher job outlook than the average eight percent growth rate across all occupations. This growth results from an increase in the number of cyber attacks and the need to actively fight them.
What Education Do I Need to Become an Ethical Hacker?
You need a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Cyber Security to work as an ethical hacker. You can also obtain professional certifications like CompTIA and the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker Certification. Additionally, you can attend ethical hacking bootcamps or top-rated coding bootcamps to improve your ethical hacker skills.
Can I Get an Ethical Hacking Job Without a Degree?
Yes, you can become an ethical hacker without a college degree. However, a degree provides a strong foundation for a role in the ethical hacking industry. Regardless, you must self-study, attend online courses, or enroll in a cyber security bootcamp to gain experience in penetration testing and network security. You’ll also need to obtain professional certifications to qualify as a cyber security professional.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Get a Job in Ethical Hacking?
Yes, a coding bootcamp can help you get a job in ethical hacking. Coding bootcamps teach various courses in cyber security coding and offer job search help. Some of the best coding bootcamps offer classes in computer programming, network security, and penetration testing.
81% of participants stated they felt more confident about their tech job prospects after attending a bootcamp. Get matched to a bootcamp today.
The average bootcamp grad spent less than six months in career transition, from starting a bootcamp to finding their first job.
The best ethical hacking bootcamps provide valuable practical experience and sharpen your technical skills. The better you are at your craft, the more likely you are to be hired for ethical hacker jobs.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Job in Ethical Hacking?
You can obtain a college degree in computer science in four years and then work as a professional penetration tester. Alternatively, you might find an entry-level hacking job within weeks if you attend a bootcamp or enroll in an online program to earn online degrees.
However, there is no preset time period to gauge how long it takes to get a job in ethical hacking. It depends on your educational qualifications, work experience, the quality of your resume, and the number of jobs you apply to.
Common Ethical Hacking Education Paths
A bachelor’s degree is a standard prerequisite for many roles in the cyber security industry. However, you can also obtain an associate degree from a community college or earn a professional certification. Below, we discuss some of these options.
Ethical Hacking Bootcamps
Ethical hacking bootcamps feature cyber security and network security programs. Many top bootcamps also provide hands-on experience for students and assist with job placements. These full-time bootcamps are quite rigorous and can prepare you with technical skills for the job market quickly.
A community college offers two-year programs in numerous fields of study. Computer science and systems technology are two popular subject options for many students and these associate degrees are affordable. If you want to kickstart your career in the cyber security industry, you can get an associate degree in either subject from a community college.
Ethical Hacking Degrees
Computer science degrees are relatively common and they provide an excellent way to get into the world of ethical hacking. If you want to work in the government or as a senior hacker at a big firm, you can major in information systems or computer science. You can also obtain an advanced degree, like a master’s degree or PhD, in these fields to start your ethical hacking career at a higher level.
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Key Ethical Hacking Skills to List on Your Resume
As an ethical hacker, your job is to protect data and systems from malicious attacks, and you need different skills to be helpful in the cyber security industry. Below, we discuss the most critical ones, like research, cryptography, and programming.
Also, since most systems, programs, and applications rely on code, programming knowledge is essential for employers to consider your candidacy. You need to understand how code is built to identify any potential vulnerability within it.
Cryptography involves secure communication techniques that allow only the sender and receiver of a message to view its content. It concerns creating and analyzing various protocols to prevent malicious third parties from gaining access to information.
As an ethical hacker, you must know how to securely encrypt and decrypt information packets. This is to ensure that information leaks across networks are minimal.
Black hat hackers) are nearly always a step ahead of you, the white hat hacker. To close the gap, you must be aware of new industry developments, security threats, and other potential threats.
There were nearly 294 million victims of cyber crime in 2021, according to the Identity Theft Research Center’s 2021 report. Therefore, as public consciousness of cyber security issues and the cost of cyber crime grows, it is vital to keep up with the relevant topics and minimize threats.
Where to Find Ethical Hacking Jobs
There are many options to consider when searching for your dream ethical hacking job, and they have different perks and drawbacks. Job boards, freelance job websites, and organization websites are all valuable job-hunting tools. Below, we discuss some of the most well-known resources for finding a job in ethical hacking.
Job boards like Indeed and ZipRecruiter are hotspots for ethical hacking jobs. Companies like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard have listings for several ethical hacking positions on these job boards. These sites also provide relevant job statistics and other essential information to help you understand your potential competition.
Freelance Job Websites
Globally, there are many well-known freelance job websites like Freelancer, Fiverr, and Upwork. They provide a link between potential employers and ethical hackers, allowing both parties to connect and work together remotely.
You can find ethical hacking jobs on the websites of many organizations and companies within and outside the cyber security industry. Security consultants are invaluable to these companies, as the activities of criminal hackers lose them billions of dollars annually.
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How to Prepare for Your Ethical Hacking Interview
Preparing for an interview can be nerve-wracking. To feel prepared, you should brush up on your advanced hacking techniques and network security knowledge. You should also review your prospective employer’s background and test yourself with some interview questions. Below are some common interview questions you can practice answering.
Ethical Hacking Interview Questions
- Explain your most-used password cracking techniques.
- What is network sniffing?
- What is the difference between hashing and encryption?
- What is penetration testing?
- What are the most popular penetration testing tools?
The Five Highest-Paying Ethical Hacking Jobs
|Ethical Hacking Jobs||Average Salary ($)||Projected Growth|
|Chief Information Security Officer||159,877||33%|
|Cyber Security Architect||146,768||33%|
|Lead Software Security Engineer||128,682||33%|
|Information Security Analyst||103,590||33%|
Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
- Salary: $173,705
According to ZipRecruiter, a job as a CISO can net you up to $221,000 per year. It’s a very demanding role, and you are responsible for overseeing the visions and strategies that ensure the protection of your organization’s information networks.
Cyber Security Architect
- Salary: $146,768
This job requires extensive experience in information security and IT risk assessment. You must also understand the intricacies of network security protocols and authentication. According to ZipRecruiter, you can expect to receive nearly $150,000 in average annual income within this role.
Lead Software Security Engineer
- Salary: $128,682
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual base pay for a lead software security engineer is nearly $130,000. The job description involves contributing to software security designs and applying software development life cycle (SDLC) techniques and practices. In this role, you plan and coordinate the security strategy of an organization.
- Salary: $116,323
The annual average salary for this role is about $116,000, according to ZipRecruiter. As a penetration tester, you will assess the digital and physical security of systems, servers, and other network devices to identify any weak areas.
Information Security Analyst
- Salary: $103,590
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is one of the fastest-growing jobs in the technology sector. As an information security analyst, you must stay updated on the latest technological advances and hacking techniques to protect your organization’s networks.
Ethical Hacking Career Path
The ethical hacking career path is filled with possibilities, as job roles are constantly created and modified. You may start your career as a security specialist or software security developer before moving up the ranks and becoming a freelance consultant or senior cyber security analyst. Below, we discuss some of these roles.
Entry-Level Ethical Hacking Jobs
- Information Security Analyst – Information security analysts install software and employ other security measures to protect their organization’s computer networks and systems.
- Junior Systems Engineer – Junior systems engineers are responsible for technical planning, system design reviews, and system requirements analysis.
- Junior Cyber Security Analyst – Junior cyber security analysts assess systems and networks and identify deviations from standard configurations within the network environment.
Mid-Level Ethical Hacking Jobs
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) – Certified ethical hackers prevent malicious hacking attempts through preventive counter-measures. These professional hackers apply cryptography techniques and use penetration testing tools to compromise various systems.
- Cyber Security Engineer – Cyber security engineers use their skills in digital forensics and other areas to troubleshoot and identify unauthorized access. These skills help them propose solutions regarding the security of an organization’s system and network.
- Information Systems Security Officer (ISSO) – ISSOs monitor and identify security threats, establish protocols for neutralizing them, and prevent damage to their organization’s network infrastructure.
Senior-Level Ethical Hacking Jobs
- Senior Cyber Security Analyst – This role requires extensive industry knowledge and understanding of key business and technological processes. Cyber security analysts examine a system and give professional counsel on implementing the proper security measures.
- Information Assurance Engineer – Information assurance engineers install firewalls, data encryption software, and other protections to guard computer networks and systems against malicious attacks.
- Information Technology Auditor – Information technology auditors are responsible for analyzing an organization’s technological infrastructure to ensure systems and processes run as intended, while also remaining secure and meeting compliance regulations.
Ethical Hacking Certifications
A certification in ethical hacking is a big draw for prospective employers. When you add certifications to your resume alongside your degree, your employability increases significantly. Below, we discuss some widely recognized ethical certifications offered by industry-endorsed bodies.
Certified Penetration Testing Engineer (CPTE)
This cyber security certification is internationally accepted and proves your network security expertise. It teaches data collection, enumeration, penetration testing, scanning, and exploitation. It is one of the core cyber security certifications to have.
EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) v11
This is one of the most widely recognized certifications in the cyber security industry. It is provided by the European Council and covers areas such as Internet of Things (IoT) security and Exploit Technology. It also covers security systems, malware analysis, and advanced hacking techniques.
GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)
This certification covers exploitation fundamentals and web application attacks to vulnerability scanning and password hashing attacks. Adding this certification to your resume would improve your chances of getting an interview slot.
Tips on How to Get a Job in Ethical Hacking
Becoming an ethical hacker is relatively straightforward if you have the right qualifications and relevant experience. Below are some tips on securing an ethical hacking job, whether you’re looking for an entry-level position or a senior role.
Obtain the relevant degrees and certifications
Obtaining an undergraduate computer science degree is a great way to start a career path in white hat hacking. However, you can pursue advanced college degrees or earn certifications from reputable institutions to boost your chances of getting your dream job.
Keep up with industry trends and developments
Technology and cyber security evolve constantly. Research and analyze the latest developments in your field of expertise. If you are unaware of what is going on in your area, you are unlikely to be valuable to any future employer.
Brush up on your technical and interpersonal skills
Improve your programming skills, as well as other soft skills. Effective communication with colleagues is vital to professional success, as is learning to work in teams to achieve goals and hit targets.
Update your resume and cover letter
While you may have excellent qualifications and relevant experience, a poorly written resume and cover letter will not send the right message to prospective employers. Let your resume and cover letter sell your ability and demonstrate how valuable you can be to an organization.
Build your professional network and look out for opportunities
Attend conferences and other gatherings with fellow professionals. Keep in touch with colleagues and build healthy professional relationships with them, using professional networking tools like LinkedIn. Look out for opportunities to demonstrate your skills and impress future employers.
Should You Get a Job in Ethical Hacking in 2022?
Yes, you should get a job in ethical hacking in 2022, if you’re interested in a lucrative, fast-growing tech career. Cyber security will continue to grow as the world evolves towards more technological dependency. There are numerous opportunities for career growth and professional development in the network security sector. These opportunities can help you build a fantastic career in ethical hacking.
Ethical Hacking FAQs
Yes, you can become an ethical hacker without a college degree. To do so, you’ll have to attend bootcamps in cyber security, earn an ethical hacking certification, and gain practical penetration testing experience. These steps will help you qualify for professional penetration testing positions in many organizations.
It can be challenging to get into ethical hacking. You must be familiar with several technologies and stay updated on the ever-evolving world of technology and cyber security. Adaptability and creativity are highly prized skills in this sector.
Yes, you can learn ethical hacking online through bootcamps, online courses, and self-study resources. There are online courses and programs on hacking techniques and other hacking activities. You can enroll in one of these programs at a community college or a bootcamp.
Ethical hacking is essential because information technology and software development have made information more valuable than ever. Ethical hacking helps to prevent user data from being stolen and misused by malicious attackers.
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