Choose the Right Career, Cyber Security vs Ethical Hacking

Choose the Right Career, Cyber Security vs Ethical Hacking

Deciding between cyber security vs ethical hacking? Read on as I describe the similarities and differences between them to get your career headed in the right direction!

What Is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking is not just a bunch of people who hack into websites to steal information.

It’s a form of computer security testing that involves professionals (aka “white hat hackers”) who have been trained to test a system or network to find vulnerabilities.

The goal of ethical hacking is to find and fix flaws before they can be exploited, rather than after the fact.

Ethical hackers have a set of ethics they adhere to while they’re working on a project—they only hack systems or networks with permission from their owners, and they always supposed to follow organizational guidelines for reporting the who/what/when/where/how of any discovered vulnerabilities.

Those companies can then fix any issues before they’re exploited.

Is Ethical Hacking and Cyber Security Same?

Both ethical hacking and cyber security are focused on protecting computers and networks from malicious attacks.

Ethical hackers use their knowledge to find vulnerabilities in systems and networks so that they can be patched up before real attackers take advantage of them.

In doing so, ethical hackers are helping companies avoid having their data stolen or their reputation ruined by hackers.

Cyber security professionals also have this same goal—they just go about it in slightly different ways.

The biggest similarity between these two fields is that both require a deep understanding of computer science as well as a strong grasp of network administration principles (e.g. routing protocols, encryption methods, etc.).

What’s the Difference Between Cyber Security and Ethical Hacking?

Cyber security vs ethical hacking, let’s look at the real difference:

Ethical hacking is the practice of testing a network or an information system for vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

Cyber security is a more holistic approach to ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the organization’s information systems and data which involves many aspects, including ethical hacking. If you’re interested, you can read about all 11 cyber security domains here.

Ethical hacking is a preventative approach to protecting information systems against intentional threats; on the other hand, cyber security is a preventative and responsive (i.e. once a security breach has occurred) approach that protects against both intentional and unintentional security breaches (ex. user clicks a button causing system to crash).

This means knowing how to protect an organization against physical threats like fires or floods, internal vulnerabilities like poor employee practices, external threats like hacking attempts or network intrusions into your system.

Ethical hacking doesn’t require knowledge of programming languages to start hacking; however, if you want to become an advanced ethical hacker, it does require solid knowledge of several programming languages.

Cyber security is such a vast field, that programming is not required to succeed.

If you’re interested in cyber security but don’t want to learning programming languages, consider a career as a cyber security analyst.

As an ethical hacker, unless you decide to work in teams, you’re pretty much on your own; however, cyber security requires you to work in teams to ensure compliance with all areas of security.

Which Is Better Ethical Hacking or Cyber Security?

It’s a tough decision to make. On the one hand, cyber security is a field that’s growing rapidly, with plenty of opportunities for people with the right skills to get their start.

On the other hand, ethical hacking is portrayed as the “cool” and specialized field that requires a lot of training and experience.

If you’re not sure which path to take, here are some things to think about:

Teamwork. If you’re interested in working with people, cyber security might be the better choice for you. If you’re interested in working autonomously (not alone), ethical hacking is better way to go.

Technical Skills. You need a lot of technical skills to be an ethical hacker! You’ll want to be familiar with programming languages such as Python, C++, Java, SQL, etc., as well as operating systems such as Linux or Windows. But, if you choose to work in cyber security, you still need a heavy amount of technical knowledge, just in different areas. For example, if you choose a career in GRC (governance, risk, and compliance) you’d be required to understand the risk management framework along with applicable security control, policies, and procedures.

Job Growth. Ethical hacking is a very specialized field within the cyber security industry. You’ll need to understand that the only growth in this field would be your breadth of knowledge and the speed of your skills. Beyond that, I wouldn’t expect much growth beyond the job title “Senior Ethical Hacker”. Growth after that may require you to become red team/blue team lead or switch into an engineering-type role (if you’re looking to stay technical). If we look at cyber security, growth has a much more natural progression. On the technical side, you can advance from cyber analyst to engineer to architect if you maintain your security certifications and learn to stay relevant.

Job Availability. One of the biggest downsides to a career in ethical hacking is the severe lack of need. Most companies hire only one ethical hacker (or none). So, if you’re prepared to be the best of the best, then go for it; otherwise, there are plenty of jobs available right now for cyber security professionals who want to bring their knowledge and skills into the workforce quickly.

Job Stability. Even if you do get hired, it may not be on a permanent position. You may be hired on a contractual basis where the scope of your position is to test a new software application or feature for vulnerabilities. As more security patches are implemented, fewer and fewer vulnerabilities become apparent. It may not be surprising to have your job eventually outsourced to a bug bounty program. By contrast, cyber security has very good job longevity. Once, you enter the field, there’s a very good chance, you’ll be here to stay for quite some time, assuming you don’t burn out!

Cyber Security and Ethical Hacking Salary Differences

The following shows the average and base salary of an ethical hacker from four separate sources.

Depending on the source, the range may represent base salaries between the 25th – 75th percentile.

Ethical Hacker:

  • PayScale: Base salary $49k – $112k and averages $80k
  • Base salary $83k – $132k and averages $104k
  • Glassdoor: Base salary $80k – $196k and averages $119k
  • ZipRecruiter: Base salary $127 – $142k and averages $135k

Cyber Security:

  • PayScale: Average salary $92k (salary range not given)
  • (salary range not given and dependent upon exact job title)
  • Glassdoor: Base salary $62k – $180k and averages $98k
  • ZipRecruiter: Base salary $60k – $146k and averages $113k

Unfortunately, the salary ranges and averages don’t align very well together, so a real determination can’t be made just from income alone.

Just as a reminder, salary ranges and average are dependent on the sources input and method of calculation.

As a reader, you’re cautioned to use additional sources to educate yourself on the total compensation.

Is Ethical Hacking a Good Career?

Hacking is fun and exciting. You get to learn about all kinds of new things, and it’s easy to feel like you’ve made the right choice if you’re just starting out.

However, it’s not all fun and games—it’s actually hard work! You’ll spend hours researching different vulnerabilities and figuring out how they work, as well as actually finding them in real-world systems.

This can be extremely tedious and boring at times, so make sure that this is something you’re willing to put up with before pursuing this career path.

It’s a great career if you manage to get your foot in the door, but the lack of job opportunities should make you think twice before you decide to step into ethical hacking! While it’s ultimately dependent on your skills and interest, you might have a better chance of success looking at other career paths in cyber security.

Create a Roadmap for Your Cyber Security Career!


Cyber security vs ethical hacking, which career is right for you?…Click below to read more!

What Is Ethical Hacking?
Is Ethical Hacking and Cyber Security Same?
What’s the Difference Between Cyber Security and Ethical Hacking?
Which Is Better Ethical Hacking or Cyber Security?
Cyber Security and Ethical Hacking Salary Differences
Is Ethical Hacking a Good Career?

by Amit Doshi

Ready to Find the Cyber Career That Works for You?

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Becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker

Becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker

Here’s everything you need to know about how to become a certified ethical hacker and earn your CEH certification.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification is one of the industry’s most well-known security certifications, but there’s a lot more to it than just earning the CEH certification itself. To become an ethical hacker and earn your CEH certification, you need to complete several CEH certification courses and practice on your own in addition to passing the CEH exam.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Certification

CEH is an internationally recognized certification that was developed by EC-Council. The purpose of this certification is to provide information security professionals with essential skills needed for immediate employment in ethical hacking and countermeasures.

You may have heard of CEH certification training before, but what exactly is it? A CEH certification is your proof that you’ve been formally trained, rigorously tested and certified in your capabilities to protect and defend IT infrastructures against malicious hackers.

The purpose of Certified Ethical Hacker certification is to offer individuals an independent way to prove their ability to apply hacking techniques in a legal and ethical manner. This certification not only validates knowledge and skills, but also proves that ethical hackers have long-term technical security experience.

In a CEH certification, you will learn how to write up security policies, perform audits, manage risks, protect assets and prevent cyber attacks.

Why choose CEH Certification?

CEH certification gives you an edge over others because it ensures that you are qualified and have adequate knowledge in ethical hacking. It is a globally recognized credential and comes with several benefits which can help boost your career as well as pay scale.

Most of all, CEH certification tests your ethical hacking skills which means that it proves you have enough technical knowledge and practical experience in real-life security scenarios.

Are Certified Ethical Hackers in Demand?

The global demand for cybersecurity professionals is continuing to surge as the occurrence in cyber attacks becomes common and organizations everywhere struggle to cope with the rising cybersecurity talent shortage. Cybersecurity experts anticipate that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally by 2025.

The CEH certification training course can prove invaluable to anyone who wants to work as a penetration tester or security auditor for their organization. If you’re interested in becoming a certified ethical hacker, there are many courses that offer CEH certification training and preparation materials on related topics.

Such topics include: networking and operating systems, penetration testing methodologies, intrusion detection and prevention systems, cryptography concepts, scripting tools for conducting attacks, incident response practices and so on.

Upon completion of such courses, successful students will be eligible to take up various positions in many organizations as penetration testers and security auditors which are vital roles in today’s modern business organizations.

CEH Certification Costs

CEH training is one of those certifications that typically falls into the category of it’s worth what you pay for it. The more you invest in your CEH certification, the more you will get out of it.

One thing you want to be careful about though is overpaying for CEH certification training, as there are countless options available on the internet.

With that being said, the average cost of CEH certification with EC-Council-approved training is about $4,298. The breakdown of this cost is as following:

  • CEH training: $850 to $2,999
  • CEH exam fee: $1,199
  • CEH remote proctoring: $100

CEH Certification Exam

The CEH certification exam is developed by EC-Council and is designed for both entry-level computer security professionals as well as experienced security auditors and investigators. The CEH certification exam tests your abilities in five main areas: Communication and Network Security, Application, Data and Host Security, Threats and Vulnerabilities, and finally general knowledge.

The exam consists of 125 multiple choice questions, which must be completed within four hours. In order to pass, candidates must score at least 72 percent.

As part of EC-Council’s continuing education requirement, all candidates are required to earn 20 credits every year in order to maintain their CEH certifications. Those who want to boost their credentials can enroll in any one of several advanced training courses that are provided free of charge through EC-Council’s Entry-level Training Programs.

Exam Preparation Tips

The CEH certification exam is one of the most challenging exams available and one that is recognized globally in many countries such as the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and China. Passing it will take more than just studying from your books.

To be successful you will need expert guidance along with complete resources including real exam questions and answers for training purposes so you can actually learn what you’ll need for passing first time around. Here are our recommended steps to pass your first time:

  • Tip 1: Before getting started with the CEH certification, explore the potential career paths.
  • Tip 2: Learn about hacking attacks and penetration testing techniques.
  • Tip 3: Learn about information security regulations.
  • Tip 4: Understand Linux/Unix history and programming basics.
  • Tip 5: Take a full-time course on ethical hacking with hands-on training courses.
  • Tip 6: Hire an experienced mentor or tutor and study from reputable textbooks/online materials.
  • Tip 7: Practice on vulnerable test networks and be able to prepare incident reports.
  • Tip 8: Stay updated with the latest research papers and join relevant social networking groups.
  • Tip 9: Connect and network with peers & experts.
  • Tip 10: Taking a dedicated CEH certification exam preparation course.

When learning how to become a Certified Ethical Hacker, planning ahead is essential. The first step towards becoming certified is deciding where you want to take your career, whether it be at a large corporate firm or launching into entrepreneurship and self-employment. While CEH certification certainly takes work, the benefits and opportunities that come with it makes this certification worth your efforts.

Choosing the right CEH training provider

There are many CEH certification training providers, but choosing one isn’t always easy. It’s important that you find an ethical hacking class that will suit your learning style and allow you to ask questions throughout your training.

We highly recommend that you do research on several CEH classes before deciding which is right for you.

While cost may seem like a factor in determining which course you should take, make sure it fits with your current schedule so that you can fully immerse yourself in all of its content. Also be sure to choose a quality provider with qualified instructors who have experience working in information security; make sure you understand how much classroom time is included in their courses as well as how often they hold webinars or provide extra resources such as access to books and videos outside of classroom hours.


If you’re still unsure about becoming a certified ethical hacker, take a look at one of these other options. But, if you’re looking for a great career in computer security, it’s hard to beat CEH certification. CEH certification training is one of those things that every cyber security professional ought to invest in.

It can be costly and it’s not something you can just sign up for on a whim; nonetheless, if you know that it’s what you want to do then getting your CEH certification is probably something you need to consider.

by Editorial Staff

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