(**Updated in April, 2023)
It's becoming increasingly evident that the internet is playing an ever-growing role in our lives, from grocery purchases to healthcare advice. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this transition. At the same time, the volume and sophistication of cyber-attacks have also increased, with cybercriminals taking advantage of increased vulnerabilities due to most of us working from home on less-than-ideally-secured networks. So, as an IT professional, what can you do to positively impact an increasingly insecure world while improving your financial standing?
What Do Certified Ethical Hackers Do?
One positive way to further your IT career, develop your skills, and increase your salary, is to train and certify as a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).
If you don't know what an ethical hacker does, they help organizations identify vulnerabilities in their computer networks and infrastructure so they can be resolved. Ethical hackers sometimes referred to as "white hat hackers," are responsible for discovering weaknesses that could be exploited by criminal hackers. One of the most exciting aspects of becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is that you learn the same methods and techniques used by cybercriminals to illegally penetrate networks and systems. Certified Ethical Hackers (CEHs) need to have this knowledge to better protect their organizations from becoming victims of this type of cybercrime.
What is the Earning Potential for Certified Ethical Hackers?
Your potential salary as an ethical hacker can vary greatly depending on your experience, the organization you work for, your location, and the exact job description. According to payscale.com, the average annual salary in 2021 for certified ethical hackers is $84,763, with a range of $49,000 to over $125,000.
One area of compensation that you’ll also find in many CEH roles is the opportunity to earn bonus payouts. As a CEH, bonus payouts can reach nearly the same as an annual salary, ranging from $2,000-$113,000.
The amount that you will earn in a CEH position is, of course, dependent upon your experience. It’s reasonable to expect to earn around $79-91,000 in an entry-level position with 1-4 years of experience in the IT industry. With ten to nineteen years of experience, that goes up to $95,000. CEH positions filled by an experienced professional who is nearing mid-career can expect to earn close to a six-figure salary.
Certified ethical hackers often work in other types of information security jobs as well. Here are some of the salary ranges for different job titles that a CEH may have:
- Security Analyst: $49,000 - $100,000
- Penetration Tester: $58,000 - $139,000
- Information Security Analyst: $52,000 - $111,000
- Security Engineer: $63,000 - $136,000
Certified ethical hackers may work for an organization as regular salaried employees or work as an independent consultant. CEHs who are self-employed may earn far more than those who an organization employs.
There is a lot of room for advancement for CEHs in the IT industry, which means there are many opportunities to earn higher salaries.
The average salary of a Certified Ethical Hacker around Washington DC in 2021
If you’re looking for ethical hacking roles in the DMV, salaries can be a little higher than in the US as a whole. According to payscale.com
In Washington DC, you can expect to earn an average salary of $118,586, with a typical wage ranging between $94,136 and $150,491
In Baltimore, Maryland, that drops to an average of $109,510, with a range between $86,931 and $138,976
Next Steps - How to Qualify as a Certified Ethical Hacker
Gaining certification as an Ethical Hacker requires one to show proof of their IT experience for a duration of two years, followed by the successful completion of the EC-Council CEH exam.
If you are just starting out in the IT field, you should look into obtaining your CompTIA A+ and Network+ certifications or getting a Cisco CCNA to gain some fundamental knowledge and get started on the right foot.
To get the experience required, you may need to work in the IT field. Placements such as Help Desk, IT Support, computer network, or even IT infrastructure roles are great starting points. This will give you invaluable skills and knowledge that employers look for when hiring. Having a job working in IT support is not to be underestimated when it comes to ethical hacking. A big part of hacking involves identifying and taking advantage of any vulnerabilities in computer systems that result from user behavior. As such, having job experience dealing with people's computer issues on a daily basis could be an invaluable asset in learning this skill.
If you already have the knowledge and are looking to develop further, then finding a dependable training resource is key. There are plenty of options to choose from which can range from free courses to live, instructor-led ones, and your decision should depend on your own learning style and budget.
It is often true that you get what you pay for when it comes to courses. Unfortunately, low-budget or free online courses provide little to no support and are usually outdated or lack comprehensive material. Having said that, there are some great resources out there, and if you are on a tight budget and have a lot of self-discipline, these can work well for you.
At the other end of the learning spectrum is instructor-led classes. These cost more but provide all the support and the latest materials to ensure you are more likely to pass the exam. You are also more likely to find that an instructor-led class will keep you on track and get you qualified a lot faster.
Getting Your CEH Certification with TrainACE
TrainACE offers both self-guided and instructor-led training for CEH. We are particularly proud of our instructor-led CEH classes, which have been uniquely styled with plenty of hands-on learning. Our CEH classes are backed by our Pass Guarantee, which says that if you have 100% attendance in the class and fail the first exam, we will allow you to re-enroll in another CEH class within 90 days and give you a second exam voucher, both for free.
If you interested in checking out our CEH class offering and prices, go here: