How to become a certified ethical hacker

Do you dream of sitting in a coffee shop in a hoodie on a computer where you’re furiously typing until you hit one final button and say, “I’m in” with your best Rami Malek impression? Good news! There is a way for you to build a legitimate career as a hacker!

Ethical hackers work as a part of a cybersecurity team to see security from an attacker’s perspective. They identify weak points in a system and point them out to the people in charge so they can get fixed, making the system and everyone who uses it safer.

Companies hire ethical hackers, or white hats, to test their cybersecurity and prevent breaches and attacks on systems from criminal hackers, or black hats. This is a lucrative and in-demand career, so read on to learn how to become a certified ethical hacker!

What is Ethical Hacking?

Where a criminal hacker might break into a system to cause chaos or steal information on behalf of a criminal enterprise, ethical hacking involves using your computer skills and hacking to protect systems and people. 

If you’re a software whiz who likes finding creative solutions to problems, keep reading!

Ethical hackers are like thieves who are paid to test a museum’s defenses, only they don’t steal anything. Once they’re done, they leave a detailed report of how they got in and the business pays them for their insight. You’re doing real hacking work, but it’s legal and you get paid for it!

Why Become a Certified Ethical Hacker?

If you’re interested in cybersecurity and information systems, this might be your job, or you just love to work with computers. Ethical hackers get to use their incredible hacking skills for good rather than evil, all while getting paid for it.

Getting your certification isn’t easy, but once you do, new jobs and experiences will open up to you in cybersecurity. You can freelance your skills, get hired full-time, or even use the certification to reach higher cybersecurity career goals.

You’ll also make a considerable amount of money: read on to learn more.

How Much Ethical Hackers Earn

The salary of an ethical hacker can range between $40,000 and $145,000. Typically those just starting won’t earn as much as the experienced, ethical hackers with impressive portfolios, but it depends on where you’re working and what experience you can bring to the table.

Becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker

Certified ethical hackers can have many career paths, but they all must learn the same skills and tools. Understanding, enjoying, or having a strong interest in computers is necessary to become a certified ethical hacker.

Boot Up Linux/Unixyou

Linux/Unix is an open-source operating system. They are far more flexible than closed source systems like Windows or Mac, so any wannabe hackers need to master this OS and understand how it works and how to modify it.

However, you should also understand the inner workings of Windows and Mac OS, as you’ll be very interfacing with these systems. Having a general idea of how they work and how to interface with them is enough to get started.

Learn Programming Languages

If you like computers, you’ve probably heard that C is the mother of all computer languages. So start with C then you can learn other programming languages like C++, Javascript, and Python. Mastering these most common programming languages is essential for interfacing with different systems and understanding how they work.

Another language you should get to know is English. English is the primary language used in the computer world, and it’s what most computer terms and programming languages are based on, so get to know English, and you’ll have a much easier time learning to code.

Understand the Tools of the Trade

Vulnerability scanners, anonymous web browsers, and encryption procedures are all valuable tools in the ethical hacker’s toolbox. Understanding how and when to use these tools is a hallmark of a successful ethical hacker.

Explore and Practice Hacking and Computer Concepts

Once you understand how to use the tools, programming languages, and your knowledge, you can start practicing. Testing and exploring what you can do with what you have at your disposal is vital to gaining experience and confidence in using those tools.

You can find places online to hone your skills and practical courses you can test yourself with, so don’t be afraid to try new things and learn what ethical hacking is all about.



The Career Path of an Ethical Hacker

You can take many different paths to reach this career, but you’ll generally want to follow this flow.

What degree do you need to become an Ethical Hacker?

A bachelor’s or master’s in cybersecurity is ideal for this career, but it, not the only option available to you. You can also get a computer science degree, information technology, software engineering, and any other degrees that deal directly with computers and software.

As cybersecurity becomes more standardized, employers are looking for people with these degrees to fill essential roles, so you shouldn’t expect just to get a job with the certification and skills. You’ll need some hacking experience in addition to your degree.

Working in Information Security

To get the certification from the EC-Council, you’ll need two years of experience in information security or pay to take the weeklong Ethical Hacking course plus the exam. Even if you opt for the system, you should still get some experience in the information technology field before taking the exam.

The exam cost is typically $1755, but it’s on sale right now with a 20% markdown.

You should start by taking an entry-level information technology job and get some experience with computers for your resume. Then get an information security job, and after two years there, you can apply to take the exam for your certification.

Earning Your Certification

The next step on your journey to becoming an ethical hacker is to earn your Ethical Hacking certification for the EC-Council. It’s not an easy test, and those who make their certification have to follow a strict code of ethics to keep them from using their skills for evil.

You’ll have to study a lot to pass the exam, and an online course specific to the certification can be very helpful.

Moving Up the Ladder

Once you get your Ethical Hacking certification, it’s not over. You can use that certification for bigger and better jobs and even the Practical Ethical Hacking certification to get a Master’s certificate. This career is perfect for outside-the-box thinkers and creative problem solvers.