Do you want to know whether ethical hacking is a good job option in 2023? You've come to the right place. You will learn in this article everything you need to know about a future career in ethical hacking.
This article will provide detailed information about job responsibilities, demand for ethical hackers, salaries, and benefits of being an ethical hacker. This information will guide you in making an informed decision if you should choose an ethical hacking career as your profession.
So, without further ado, let's try to answer the key question: "Is ethical hacking a good career in 2023?"
- What Does an Ethical Hacker Do?
- How Do Ethical Hackers Help Organizations?
- Are Ethical Hackers in Demand?
- Cyber Security Trends and Statistics
- Does Ethical Hacking Pay Well?
- Is Ethical Hacking Enjoyable?
- Is Ethical Hacking Expensive to Learn?
- Are There Perks to Being an Ethical Hacker?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Does an Ethical Hacker Do?
As an ethical hacker, you attempt to hack into client systems or networks to test their security to assess system security by finding weaknesses and exploiting vulnerabilities. This is called a penetration test.
Clients usually apply predefined testing scope to set system access, permissions, approved hours, and goals. It will depend on your agreement with the client whether they want you to attempt to access a particular database or take over the client's domain controller.
Upon settling legal requirements, typically handled by other departments, you'll undertake active testing for potential vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. The steps of a penetration test are discussed here.
How Do Ethical Hackers Help Organizations?
Following are some of the key objectives of ethical hackers:
- Keeping private information safe from malicious attackers
- Finding vulnerabilities in the systems and networks of their employers
- Assisting in securing or hardening vulnerable areas
- Making sure that secure networks are in place to prevent breaches of security
- Keeping confidential information and assets safe and secure to earn the trust of customers and investors
Are Ethical Hackers in Demand?
The realm of cyber security is in constant flux due to evolving cyber threats and as a result, ethical hacking offers promising job security - you will always be in demand as an ethical hacker for the foreseeable future.
As technology continues to advance, new avenues for cyber attacks emerge. This necessitates a workforce equipped with the skills to combat these threats effectively. As an ethical hacker, you will always be at the forefront of this defense, resulting in substantial growth potential in the field.
Cyber Security Trends and Statistics
Here are some cyber security trends that illustrate the demand:
- According to IBM's Cost of Data Breach Report 2023, the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million USD, a 15% increase over 3 years.
- As per the recent Forbes article “Cybersecurity Trends & Statistics For 2023; What You Need To Know,” the global annual cost of cyber crime is predicted to reach $8 trillion USD in 2023. Compounding this is the rising cost of damages resulting from cyber crime, which is expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025.
- In March 2023, US President Biden’s administration announced National Cybersecurity Strategy 2023 to boost the public and private sector’s cyber security resilience and fight cyber criminals.
- According to the World Economic Forum, expected demand for skilled cyber security professionals will continue to grow for the foreseeable future as the cyber security market becomes worth more than $370 billion USD by 2029.
Specialization Options in Ethical Hacking
There are countless specializations within ethical hacking, including API and web app hacking, red teaming, exploit development, Azure or AWS pentesting, and wireless hacking. Each specialization holds its own demand and salary range. New specializations are being demanded constantly as new technologies and threats continue to evolve.
Opportunities in Demand
Some terms to look out for when seeking an ethical hacker position include:
- Ethical Hacker
- Pentester/Penetration Tester
- White Hat Hacker
- Red Teamer
- Vulnerability Tester
- Security Tester
- Junior Penetration Tester
- Penetration Tester Trainee
- Vulnerability Assessor/Vulnerability Assessment Professional
- Application/Network Security Consultant
- Application Security Analyst
As organizations strive to stay ahead of cyber criminals and governments pushing for cyber resilience, the demand for ethical hackers remains robust. By choosing ethical hacking as a profession, you can benefit from job security as businesses understand ethical hackers' critical role in unveiling system and network vulnerabilities and fortifying their security defenses.
Does Ethical Hacking Pay Well?
Yes. In 2023, you can expect competitive salaries for ethical hackers based on your experience level.
Beginners, intermediates, advanced, and expert professionals are all in demand. Salaries increase as expertise grows, underscoring the potential for significant financial rewards.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for an Ethical Hacker in the United States is $135,269 per year, which works out to be approximately $65.03 an hour.
According to Glassdoor, the estimated total pay for an Ethical Hacker is $112,759 per year in the United States, with an average salary of $97,406 per year.
Certifications (like Certified Ethical Hacker and OffSec Certified Professional) and experience can boost your salary as an ethical hacker in just a short time. For example, based on Glassdoor data, the following is the median base salary by years of experience in the US:
- Beginner (0–1 year experience): $89,058
- Intermediate (1-3 years experience): $96,814
- Advanced (4-6 years experience): $109,005
- Expert (7-9 years experience): $121,620
Even at a beginner level, you can earn a substantial income. As a beginner, you can expect to earn a competitive salary due to the high demand and scarcity of skilled professionals in this field. Moreover, the earning potential of ethical hackers doesn't stop there.
As you gain knowledge and experience, you can ascend the career ladder. Advancement opportunities include roles such as senior penetration testers, cyber security consultants, and even managerial positions. The prospect of upward mobility makes ethical hacking an appealing long-term career option for many.
Is Ethical Hacking Enjoyable?
If you are interested in puzzle-solving and enjoy intellectual challenges, you should consider ethical hacking as a career.
The ever-changing landscape in cyber security constantly presents new challenges and tasks. This dynamic nature of the industry keeps ethical hackers engaged and motivated. With each passing day, ethical hackers face a multitude of evolving threats and vulnerabilities that require their continuous attention and expertise.
Furthermore, ethical hackers are constantly challenged and stimulated. They thrive in an environment that demands intellectual challenges, continuous learning, problem-solving, and critical thinking. The fast-paced nature of the industry keeps them on their toes, you will be required to adapt quickly and think creatively to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals.
In addition, ethical hackers have the privilege of using cutting-edge cyber security tools and technologies. This exposure not only enhances their skill sets but also adds an element of excitement to their work.
Is Ethical Hacking Expensive to Learn?
Unlike many professions, ethical hacking does not require a traditional computer science degree. The field values skills, certifications, and practical experience.
- To become a successful ethical hacker, one must possess a diverse set of technical skills, including proficiency in programming languages, understanding of operating systems, networking protocols, and familiarity with various hacking tools and techniques. These skills can be acquired through self-study, online courses, or specialized training programs.
- Certifications also play a crucial role in the ethical hacking field. Some of the most recognized certifications in ethical hacking include Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), and CompTIA PenTest+. These certifications not only enhance your credibility but demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning and development.
- Practical experience is also the most valued aspect of the ethical hacking profession. Hands-on experience provides the necessary expertise and skills to identify critical security vulnerabilities in real-time. Practical experience can be gained through participation in capture-the-flag (CTF) competitions, bug bounty programs, internships, or working on real-world/open-source projects.
Training and certification programs for ethical hacking are reasonably priced compared to the investment one may consider for a formal degree. These programs offer hands-on experience and practical skills that align with industry demands.
Obtaining ethical hacking certifications requires less time and money than pursuing a degree. The focused nature of certifications allows individuals to enter the field faster and with relevant skills.
Aspiring ethical hackers can access platforms and resources to practice their skills without breaking the bank. These practice environments enable individuals to hone their abilities before entering the workforce.
Our recent article, “10 Top Places to Practice Ethical Hacking on Your Own,” can help you identify some of the best places to practice.
Are There Perks to Being an Ethical Hacker?
As an ethical hacker, you can explore diverse work settings, from in-house corporate roles to freelance opportunities, agency collaborations, and even positions within government and law enforcement. This versatility allows professionals to tailor their careers to their preferences.
These days, organizations often offer remote opportunities to work from home, allowing efficient work-life balance while contributing to the security of the digital ecosystem.
In addition, certain ethical hacking roles offer flexible working hours, enabling professionals to tailor their schedules to their preferences. This flexibility is particularly appealing to those seeking non-traditional work arrangements.
The dynamic nature of the cyber security field ensures that ethical hackers are constantly learning, and most employers typically pay for additional training and certifications.
In addition to flexible work arrangements and continuous learning, ethical hackers may enjoy opportunities for creativity, collaboration, and innovation. These factors contribute to a fulfilling career.
Ethical hacking offers a rewarding and impactful career path. The demand for cyber security professionals is soaring, with ethical hackers playing a crucial role in fortifying digital defenses and building a resilient digital ecosystem. With competitive salaries, diverse job opportunities, and constant challenges, ethical hacking stands as a formidable path for those passionate about cyber security and ethical hacking careers.