How to Make a Career in Ethical Hacking: CEH Certification, Exam, Cost, Prep, Salary, and More

  • EC-Council
  • CEH
  • Ethical Hacking
  • Published by: MARIA FORSBERG on May 20, 2022

Cybercrimes are going gung-ho by the day. The global cyber security marketplace, currently valued at USD 132.94 billion is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 14.1% between the years 2022-2027.

No doubt, many organizations will be in dire need of ethical hackers to shield their applications and systems from cybercrimes and to evaluate their cybersecurity preparedness. Ethical hackers, popularly known as White Hat Hackers, mimic the same means to break into a system or network as any malicious hacker would do to expose its vulnerabilities. While lawfully hacking into the systems, Ethical Hackers seek out weak points, to prevent cyberattacks and security breaches. This enables them to highlight the security, vulnerabilities, and susceptibility of their company’s systems to prospective cybersecurity threats such as hacking, data breach, cyberwarfare, identity theft, and other crimes.


This legitimate and institutionalized form of hacking is only going to gain more popularity as a career choice, especially now more than ever. There should be no surprise that the rampant cases of computer hacking have now forced recognised companies and financial institutions to recruit ethical hackers. Thus, it is a very lucrative opportunity for ethical hackers all over the globe. The demand is likely to grow further as countless government establishments are being targeted with severe cyber attacks.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification is one such qualification that attests your knowledge and professional skills as an ethical hacker. EC-Council (International Council of E-Commerce Consultants), the world’s largest body for certifying Information Security professionals, provides a globally recognized CEH certification to those looking to make a career in ethical hacking. Due to its worldwide acceptance, the CEH certification has become a reliable way for employers to identify professionals with the required cybersecurity skills. In this article, we will talk about the necessary skills of an ethical hacker, how you can become one, your career prospects after you become a certified ethical hacker, and finally more about the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker certification. If you’re someone who is committed to making the internet a safer place to be and work in, this article is for you.


What does a typical Ethical Hacking job entail?

An Ethical Hacker gathers information about the company’s security systems and then uses it to perform an assessment to uncover vulnerabilities. Some common vulnerabilities discovered by them usually include potential injection attacks, penetrable authentication, security misconfigurations, and exposure of sensitive data. They use exploits against the vulnerabilities to test how a black hat hacker or malicious hacker could exploit it. After the testing phase, ethical hackers prepare a detailed report, enumerating steps to stitch holes in the system.


What are the skills needed to become an Ethical Hacker?

Apart from having a strong passion to keep oneself updated with all the latest upgrades in computing, an ethical hacker should possess extensive programming skills. Some of the must-have computer skills include:

  • Expertise in scripting languages or cryptography
  • Proficiency in IT operating systems
  • Proficiency in computer networking
  • Fundamental knowledge of principles of Information security
  • Proficiency in programming languages such as Python, Javascript, C++, C, SQL, PHP, Java, Ruby, and Perl

Some soft skills that are needed to become a successful professional ethical hacker are:

  • Creativity and patience
  • Analytical and logical thinking
  • Keen observational skills and articulation
  • Ability to be resilient against challenges
  • Good problem-solving abilities


Where can one find career opportunities as an Ethical Hacker?

Career opportunities for ethical hackers are not just limited to multinational IT companies such as Dell, Google, Accenture, IBM, Intuit, and Infosys. Retail chains, Airline companies, BFSI industries, Hospitality groups, and many other industries also constitute a significant demand for cyber security experts and promise good remunerations. Some of the popular job roles offered to ethical hackers include:

  • Security Executive
  • Web Security Manager/Administrator
  • Network Security Administrator
  • Network Security Systems Manager

Besides a regular 9 to 5, a certified ethical hacker may also choose to start their own consulting company, providing ethical hacking consulting and other services.


How is the CEH certification exam conducted by EC-Council?

In order to maintain its reputation and credibility, the EC-Council conducts exams in multiple forms to ensure that each certification course involves academic rigor as well as practical applicability. You will become a fully certified ethical hacker only after you get through both the MCQ-based exam as well as a practical-skills test on simulated systems within a virtual lab environment.

The first CEH exam is an academic one with the code 312-50. It is an open-book exam that displays a bunch of 125 questions in multiple-choice formats. The exam is to be completed within a 4-hour time limit. The second phase comprises CEH Practical certification exam, which is a rigorous 6-hour long exam with 20 questions. This phase requires the application of ethical hacking techniques such as Port scanning skills; Vulnerability detection techniques; Web application security tools; SQL injection- detection, methodology, and evasion techniques & Communication protocols.

The duration for exam prep depends on every individual and cannot be defined in one number.

Finally, to ensure equality of assessment standards between exams, passing scores vary for every exam. Depending on the difficulty level, the candidate might be required to score anywhere between 60% to 85% to pass the exam.


Who is eligible for the CEH certification?

The age requirement for the exam as well as the EC training is restricted as per the permitted legal age of your country of origin/residency. For instance, in India, anyone below 18 years of age would not be allowed to appear for the exam or attend the EC training. It is also mandatory for an ethical hacker to have a bachelor’s degree in IT or computer science, so it is only rational to have one before you pursue any CEH certification.

As per the EC-Council, the CEH (ANSI) program expects you to have at least two years of work experience in the field of Information Security with valid proof of the same. However, if you have completed an official EC-Council training either at one of their centers, online or at an approved academic institution, you’ll be eligible for this first exam. You can take the CEH certification without any experience. If you do not have the prerequisite knowledge you can go for an official EC-Council training program, to help you prepare.


How much does the CEH certification course cost?

In order to earn a CEH certification, the EC-Council has set up 3 milestones:

  1. First, you either need to take an approved CEH training or have at least two years of security experience.
  2. Next, you must apply for a CEH exam voucher.
  3. Thirdly, you need to enroll for the exam and take it.

Now, there’s a cost involved at every step.

The CEH exam voucher fee is $1199 and the non-refundable exam application fee is $100. If you want to choose the option of giving the exam from the comfort of your living room, you will have to pay $100 as CEH remote proctoring fee. These two base costs are common for all applicants.

But, if you’re going for a training course, to get an eligibility waiver or otherwise, the entire CEH certification can cost you anywhere between $2100 to $4200. The price of a training course can range from $850 to $3000 depending on the institution, the mode of training, and the country of origin. If you already have the work experience needed to be eligible for the certification and are planning to go for a self-paced mode of prep (with or without a training program), the entire CEH certification may cost you anywhere between $1,699 to $2,049.

If you fail the exam, it will cost you $499 to retake it. Hence, it is all the wiser to take a training course for your exam prep and set yourself up for success from the start.

Your CEH credential is valid for 3 years only. To maintain your certification you must earn 120 credits within 3 years of the ECE cycle period (or 40 credits for each year). The annual membership fee for CEH certification is $80 for members holding the certification that is to be maintained.


Who is this certification actually meant for?

As you might notice the CEH certification is not an inexpensive one to earn, but IT professionals can massively benefit from it, as CEH opens the doors for them to apply for high-paying roles such as:

  • Information Security Analyst/Administrator
  • Information Assurance (IA) Security Officer
  • Information Security Manager/Specialist
  • Information Systems Security Engineer/Manager
  • Information Security Professionals/Officers
  • Information Security/IT Auditors
  • Risk/Threat/Vulnerability Analyst
  • System Administrators
  • Network Administrators and Engineers

CEH is now one of the key credentials mandated by many companies while hiring for cyber security roles.


How to build a career pathway for becoming a successful Ethical Hacker?

If you’re still young and fresh out of school, you can meticulously plan each step in this direction.

The conventional pathway would look something like the following:

  • Choose a science stream with computer science as one of your subjects in Senior Secondary or +2 as some would call it. After high school, go for a college degree in B. Tech, BE, B.Sc., BCA, in Computer Science or IT engineering. You can also enroll yourself in professional courses on cybersecurity and ethical hacking.
  • After graduation, you can either pursue a postgraduate degree in M.Tech or M.Sc in Computer Science or simply master the latest programming language (C, C++, Python, Java, Ruby).

At Readynez, we have a specialized training course for every aspirant. If you want to pursue ethical hacking as a profession, this instructor-led training can help you get going during your prep weeks and will ultimately sail you through the exam on the D-day.

With cybersecurity threats evolving in new ways every now and then, the job prospects for ethical hackers are only bound to grow. All you need is the right qualification, the right training program, and the mindset to clear that certification exam. Having done that, there’s nothing to stop you from bagging a lucrative role in ethical hacking with a respected organization.


Need help clearing the CEH certification exam?

The preparation for the CEH certification requires you to learn about countermeasures against different attacks, with a detailed explanation of how to implement these countermeasures in real life. Hence, you stand a better chance to earn the certification if you’re trained by seasoned industry professionals from whom you can learn from the latest curriculum and be assured that all real-life scenarios are covered for you - especially the ones you might see in your CEH certification exam. That’s why Readynez hires the most experienced, certified ethical hackers from around the world to be your instructors and help you prepare for the exam. Our 5-days preparatory course consists of 20 modules engaging the most interesting and resourceful subjects like Footprinting and Reconnaissance, Network- scanning, Vulnerability-analysis, System hacking, Web Server hacking, Wireless Network hacking, Mobile platform hacking, Internet-of-things hacking, Cloud Computing, and Cryptography.

Doesn’t matter if you take this course virtually or in the classroom - this interactive course will help you learn, test, hack and secure your own systems. The well-curated modules will give you in-depth knowledge and practical experience with the current essential security systems. The curriculum begins with an understanding of how perimeter defenses work, and then moves into scanning and attacking your own networks. You will also learn about Intrusion Detection, Policy Creation, Social Engineering, DDoS Attacks, Buffer Overflows and Virus Creation.

Have any doubts? Get in touch with Readynez and begin your Ethical Hacking journey with industry experts on your side.

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