How Much Do Ethical Hackers Make in 2024?

How Much Do Ethical Hackers Make

If you’re considering ethical hacking as a profession, you’ll also want to know how much ethical hackers earn. What qualifications affect the salary of ethical hackers? How about the experience? To what extent do certifications help people enter the field of ethical hacking?

In this article, we answer the question “How much do ethical hackers make?” and address related questions, including the future of ethical hacking, so that you can prepare for what’s ahead in this exciting field of cyber security. No matter how old or what field you’re in, you’ll soon see that ethical hacking is a career choice worth paying attention to.

Given the limited space, we’ll cover as much ground as possible, so if you’re ready to learn whether ethical hacking will be worth your efforts in mastering it, let’s dive in and get started.

What Ethical Hackers Do

Organizations employ ethical hackers to lawfully break into their computer systems. Ethical hackers work to discover vulnerabilities and patch them before criminal hackers can exploit them. You can learn more about ethical hacking in our sister articles on what ethical hackers are and ethical hacking as a career.

Salary Ranges for Ethical Hackers

Because of the crucial role ethical hackers play in organizations, great and small, the compensation for their labor is handsome—you can fetch up to a six-figure salary in USD. This section will give you a general idea of what to expect when looking at ethical hacking job positions.

Average Salary in Different Countries

The following table presents the average salary of ethical hackers in various countries according to Glassdoor as of October 29, 2023. In the countries marked with an asterisk (*), we used “penetration tester” as the query string instead because “ethical hacker” returned limited or low-confidence results. All monthly amounts are multiplied by 12 to give the annual figure.

CountryThe annual average salary of ethical hackers in USD25th - 75th percentile in USDThe average yearly salary in 2023 across all jobs and industries in USD
United States of America$134K$100K-$184K$59K
Canada$71K (CAD $96K)$56K-$92K (CAD $76K-$125K)$48K (CA$65K)
United Kingdom$68K (£54K)$49K-$94K (£39K-£75K)$37K (£30K)
Australia*$74K (AUD $113K)$52K-$128K (AUD 79K-195K)$60K (AUD 90.8K)
Singapore*$134K ($15K SGD/month)$71K-$223K (SGD 8K-25K/month)$68K (SGD 7.65K/month)

As you can see from the table above, ethical hacking pays more than other professions within the confines of a nation, so it’s becoming more and more of an appealing career choice. We’ll break down the salary of an ethical hacker according to experience level in the next section.

Salary by Experience Level

How long you’ve worked in the technology industry, especially in the information security sector, can impact your salary significantly. Here, we’re breaking down the wages of ethical hackers according to their years of experience in the tech world in general, and we’re using the local currencies in the countries listed above.

United States of America

This table of salaries applies to ethical hacking jobs in the US:

Years of experience (USA)The average base pay in USD (Glassdoor)
0-3$115K
4-6$135K
7-9$145K
10-14$158K
15+$175K
Ethical Hacker Salary by Years of Experience

Canada

Here are the varying salaries of ethical hackers in Canada according to experience level:

Years of experience (Canada)The average base pay in CAD (Glassdoor)
0-1CA$91K
1-3CA$96K
4-6CA$96K
7-9CA$104K
10-14CA$113K
15+CA$121K

United Kingdom

In the UK, the breakdown follows a similar upward progression as the countries above:

Years of experience (UK)Annual gross mean salary in GBP (Salary Explorer)
0-2£37K
2-5£47.5K
5-10£65.6K
10-15£81.2K
15-20£87K
20+£92.8K

Australia

The following table enumerates ethical hacker salaries according to experience level in Australia:

Years of experience (Australia)Mean annual wage
0-2AUD 51.6K 
2-5AUD 63.4K
5-10AUD 89.8K
10-15AUD 105K
15-20AUD 115K
20+AUD 122K

Singapore

Ethical hacker job salaries in the emerging international job market of Singapore by experience level are as follows:

Years of experience (Singapore)Mean annual wage in 2023
0-2SGD 45,580
2-5SGD 60,160
5-10SGD 85,760
10-15SGD 104,140
15-20SGD 112,420
20+SGD 119,900

Comparison With Other Stage 4 Cyber Security Jobs

Stage 4 cyber security jobs refer to advanced generalist and specialist cyber security careers. Here, we use Glassdoor inquiries to compare the annual average salaries across a selection of these Stage 4 careers across all years of experience in the countries above:

Country →
Stage 4 Cyber Security Job ↓
USACanadaUKAustraliaSingapore
Ethical hacker$134K USDCA$96K£54K AUD 113KSGD 180K
Stage 4 Generalist 
Cyber security specialist$150K USDCA$102K£66KAUD 108KSGD 192K
Cyber security architect$187K USDCA$134K£94KAUD 211KSGD 144K
Cyber security consultant$141K USDCA$98K£55KAUD 105KSGD 132K
Stage 4 Specialist
Cyber security researcher$145K USDCA$99K£47KAUD 81KSGD 72K
Cloud security engineer$144K USDCA$111K£70KAUD 137KSGD 72K
Malware analyst$107K USDCA$73K£46KAUD 130KSGD 828K
Cyber crime analyst/investigator$86K USDCA$81K£39K**
Data protection officer$125K USDCA$56K£59K*SGD 480K
Privacy analyst$87K USDCA$71K£45KAUD 67K*
Incident and intrusion analyst$76K USDCA$76K£36KAUD 79K*
Security software developer$181K USDCA$90K£50KAUD 83K*

*Insufficient data in Glassdoor as of December 2023.

As you can see from above, ethical hackers enjoy a salary comparable to that of other Stage 4 cyber security professions, even though these careers all require the same degree of advanced knowledge in cyber security.

Ethical Hacker Salary Comparison (USA)

What Affects Ethical Hacker Salary? 

You may have noticed that the ethical hacker salary range can be broad. In this section, we’ll talk about the factors determining an ethical hacker’s wages and what you can do now as an aspiring ethical hacker to gain a salary advantage.

Education and Certifications

Nowadays, degrees are becoming less relevant compared to certifications which prove specific skills. Online-based training programs enable people from all backgrounds to prepare for a career in ethical hacking by gaining industry-recognized ethical hacking, pentesting, and security management certifications:

Work Experience

Depending on the hiring organization, “years of experience” may refer to the combined total of your years at technical jobs from entry-level upwards or only the years you’ve worked in cyber security-related roles. The Salary by Experience Level tables show that the longer you’ve worked in ethical hacking, the higher your pay becomes.

Specializations

We’re referring to areas of specialization such as focusing on hacking cloud, hacking supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, web/mobile app hacking, API hacking, and red teaming.

Geographic Location

Where you live affects how much you earn as an ethical hacker. The table in Average Salary in Different Countries shows clearly how remuneration for ethical hackers differs among the listed countries.

We could have included the salaries for ethical hackers in Brazil and India above but refrained from doing so, because Brazil-based ethical hackers don’t earn more than their working peers, and the salaries of ethical hackers differ starkly in various regions across India, making the national average of this profession less representative than it should be:

Country Average ethical
hacker salary
25th - 75th percentile Average salary across all industries
Brazil$19K USD
(R$8K/month)
$5K-$41K
(R$2K-R$17K/month)
$18K USD
(R$7450/month)
India$46K USD
(318K INR/month)
$29K-103K
(199K-714K INR/month)
$12K USD
(965K INR)

If you don’t live in any of the places above, it would be instructive to search on Glassdoor for local salaries of ethical hackers quickly. Let us know your findings in the comments.

Ability to Negotiate Salary

Even with well-honed hard skills, ethical hackers at any stage of their career should also be able to get their desired pay. Once you get a job offer, instead of accepting it straightaway, consider what’s important to you and what you can provide to your potential employer, and be skillful in asking for what you want. Who knows how much more you could gain as a result?

What Is the Future for Ethical Hackers?

There is no shortage in demand for ethical hackers as more and more organizations, especially small- and medium-sized businesses, strive to stay ahead of cyber criminals and government regulations related to cyber security. As other paid positions get phased out, it becomes increasingly likely that you get to keep your job if ethical hacking becomes your profession.

According to a recent (ISC)2 survey, cloud computing security, artificial intelligence, and zero trust implementation are the topmost specializations hiring managers seek. If you master these subjects as an ethical hacker, you’ll inevitably become a hot catch for employers.

Conclusion: How Much Do Ethical Hackers Make?

If you’re serious about a career out of ethical hacking, gain the necessary certifications, and be strategic in other factors such as your field of specialization and your work location, we’ve just shown you that you can earn a salary higher than those of other working professionals in your country and look forward to raises with increasing years of experience.

If the idea of becoming an ethical hacker appeals to you, we’re here to help you get started on this journey. Check out our StationX Membership, where you’ll gain access to dozens of ethical hacking courses and interact with our community of like-minded folks in cyber security.

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  • Cassandra Lee

    Cassandra is a writer, artist, musician, and technologist who makes connections across disciplines: cyber security, writing/journalism, art/design, music, mathematics, technology, education, psychology, and more. She's been a vocal advocate for girls and women in STEM since the 2010s, having written for Huffington Post, International Mathematical Olympiad 2016, and Ada Lovelace Day, and she's honored to join StationX. You can find Cassandra on LinkedIn and Linktree.

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