Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Job Outlook [updated 2022]
With a rise in the number of data breaches and other forms of malicious activities cybercriminals use to gain unauthorized access and control over sensitive information, organizations are often turning to qualified, certified ethical hackers (CEHs) for help. These professionals break into the clients’ systems, much like a malicious hacker would, to identify issues and vulnerabilities that can expose or compromise systems and assess the organization’s overall security posture.
“To beat a hacker, you need to think like one” is the tagline used by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) to introduce its ethical hacker vendor-neutral certification.
In this article, you will see just how the CEH certification offers diverse employment opportunities, benefits, and a high salary ($94,000/year on average, as per PayScale) too.
Is this the right time to choose a CEH career?
Although this profession is very different from the glamourous, excitement-filled one portrayed in many movies if you have the required skills and abilities (and mindset), this is the right time to choose such a career, as research shows an ongoing shortage of CEH talent. Ethical hacking is a viable profession. The demand is only going to rise in the future.
According to CISOMAG, in fact, “the need for skilled cybersecurity specialists to combat cybercrime has paved the way for numerous ethical hacking jobs.” And with so many unfilled positions currently available, it is evident why many IT-related security or cybersecurity professionals are looking to transition into the ethical hacking sector.
One of the ways to join the ranks of ethical hackers is to study for and earn a relevant certification. The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential by EC-Council is considered a cornerstone of ethical hacking and has set new benchmarks in the industry. The CEH certification will introduce you to vulnerability assessments and hacking methodology. This program is designed to teach you the skills you will need to detect, validate, contain and eradicate security incidents. Thanks to a recent update, the all-new learning track by the CEH Exam Blueprint v4.0 and CEH v11 covers more than 500 new threats and vulnerability scenarios; those pursuing the certification will expand their knowledge in diverse areas such as footprinting, enumeration, network scanning, system hacking, sniffing, social engineering, SQL injection, session hijacking, vulnerability analysis etc.
In general, when CEH holders are surveyed, it is found that getting certified contributes to elevated job status and satisfaction, as well as helping to have an edge when competing for a lucrative role.
What kind of jobs can you get with the CEH certification?
Professionals who hold a CEH hold many job titles beyond ethical hackers, including security officers, auditors, security professionals, site administrators and any other roles concerned with the integrity of the network infrastructure.
Below are some of the “hottest” job titles for a CEH and their respective salaries:
- Info Security Manager (pay range: $77k – $154k/avg. $117,528)
- Cyber Security Engineer (pay range: $73k – $146k/avg. $109,706)
- Penetration Tester (pay range: $61k – $149k/avg. $94,405)
- Security Analyst (pay range: $53k – $101k/avg. $72,118)
- Security Consultant (Computing/Networking/Information Technology) pay range: $67k – $155k/avg. $101,939)
The most lucrative job titles for a CEH appear to be titles such as “manager” or “engineer.” Below are also the most popular skills and their effect on salary.
- Network Security Management ▲8% (avg. $89,300/year)
- IT Security & Infrastructure ▲2% (avg. $85,000/year)
The best geographic locations for CEH jobs
Below are some the “hot” cities in the United States for ethical hacker jobs and their respective wages, per Salary.com as of October 29, 2021:
- Washington, DC: $101,219 – $129,445
- Boston, MA: $102,447 – $131,015
- New York, NY: $109,384 – $139,887
- Chicago, IL: $96,463 – $123,362
- Dallas, TX: $90,335 – $115,526
- San Francisco, CA: $113,658 – $145,352
- Miami, FL: $88,518 – $113,202
With an average Ethical Hacker salary in the United States of $101,934 and a salary range typically falling between $90,926 and $116,282, no matter what big city a CEH chooses to work in, they will likely command a very respectable pay.
What are the best companies to work for as a CEH?
Nowadays, more organizations understand the importance of employing highly-skilled ethical hackers who test systems (computers, networks or devices) to develop preventive, corrective and protective countermeasures against potential threats before an actual compromise or cyberattack occurs.
The 18-year-old Certified Ethical Hacker program (established in 2003) by EC-Council has gained the respect and acceptance of various government organizations — including the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. military. These are very strong employers for professionals possessing the CEH certification. However, many private organizations and government contractors are also among the best employers.
Below are some of the top companies to work for as a CEH and their respective average wages:
- Linquest Corporation: $151,425
- EY (Ernst & Young): $122,500
- Capital One Financial Corp: $115,039
- The Boeing Company: $113,000
- General Dynamics Information Technology Inc.: $104,694
- Booz Allen Hamilton: $90,227
- US DoD: $82,500
- US Air Force: $75,848
- US Navy: $71,000
- US Army: $67,343
The highest-paying jobs for a CEH appear to be in the private industry.
Years of experience for CEH professionals
Although being a CEH is a huge benefit, another variable affecting job demand and income level is the total number of years of work experience that an individual has. According to PayScale, an entry-level CEH with less than one year of experience can expect to earn about an average total compensation of $80,433; whereas, an early career CEH with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $82,937. A mid-career CEH with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $86,476; while an experienced CEH with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $95,000.
The field of ethical hacking is heavily dominated by males, with PayScale reporting the gender breakdown of professionals surveyed as 85.7% male and 14.3% female.
What are some interview tips for CEH certification holders?
After receiving your cert, you are probably thinking about your next career move or next lucrative opportunity in this line of work.
Having a certification like the CEH will make you stand out from the other applicants, so you will want to determine the best strategies for presenting your certificate and showcase how it will best tie into the role for which you are interviewing and in the company in general.
It is always a good idea to well research the organization, its mission, and key management, but it is also important that you prepare to show how you are planning to add value thanks to your certified skills. Some key hiring questions to ask an interviewer might include the following:
- QUESTION #1: what do the day-to-day responsibilities of the ethical hacker’s role look like?
- QUESTION #2: what kind of hacking projects will I be working on to improve the security of the systems?
- QUESTION #3: what analysis tools will be available to me to conduct these activities?
- QUESTION #4: who are some of the initial clients I will be engaging?
- QUESTION #5: what are the development opportunities or the possibilities to earn CPE credits while on the job?
- QUESTION #6: what are the possibilities for future opportunities with my certification?
For some common questions you might be asked during a job interview for ethical hacking related positions, be sure to see the “Top 10 ethical hacking interview questions.”
Is the EC-Council CEH worth it?
EC-Council’s CEH is among the hot security certifications for IT workers in 2020, compiled by the editors at Cybercrime Magazine. So, those keen on making their mark in this line of work might consider it a great way to validate their skills and abilities in assessing the security posture of a target system(s) and perform impact risk assessments.
The CEH offers opportunities for career development and is a great addition to the resume of any IT security professionals. It is definitely worth your time and money. As for the costs: exam voucher ($1,199), training ($850), application fee ($100), and expected cost of study materials ($200).
For IT professionals who are seeking a change and wondering what’s next, find out more from the following EC-Council links:
- Ethical Hacking: Choosing the Right Pathway;
- 10 Benefits of Becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH);
- Ethical Hacking: Where do you see your career in five years?
- CEH, EC-Council
- FAQs, EC-Council
- CEH v11, EC-Council
- CEH Exam Blueprint v4.0, EC-Council
- What is Ethical Hacking?, EC-Council
- Ethical Hacking as a Career: The Ultimate Guide, EC-Council
- Certified Ethical Hacker: CEH Certification guide, Cybersecurity Guide
- Salary for Certification: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), PayScale
- Ethical Hacker Salary in the United States, Salary.com
- How to Build a Career in Ethical Hacking in 2021 and Beyond, CISOMAG
- How to Learn Ethical Hacking from Scratch and Start Your Career, CISOMAG
- 10 Hot Cybersecurity Certifications For IT Professionals To Pursue In 2021, Cybercrime Magazine