So you’ve taken steps to become a certified ethical hacker – congratulations! With over 700,000 cybersecurity job openings in the United States alone, and with certified ethical hackers commanding an average salary of $116,653 per year, according to Glassdoor, it’s safe to say that you’re in a great position to find a well-paying and stable job.
But even with such high demand for certified ethical hackers, it can still be tricky to find the right job opportunity. Where do you even start looking? What kind of companies are hiring certified ethical hackers to expose vulnerabilities in their computer system infrastructure?
Here is what you need to know to find the right job opportunity as an ethical hacker with the CEH certification.
Is it easy to find a job as an ethical hacker?
The short answer is yes; it is relatively easy to find a job as an ethical hacker. As mentioned above, there is a high demand for certified ethical hackers, and this demand is only expected to increase in the coming years.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should just apply to any old job listing that you come across just to start your ethical hacking career. It’s important to take the time to find a job that is the right fit for you and your skillset—more on that below.
Where do certified ethical hackers work?
In terms of industries, certified ethical hackers can work in a variety of different industries, including (but not limited to):
- Banking and financial institutions
- Government agencies
- Healthcare organizations
- Retail companies
- IT and cyber security firms
Any organization that relies heavily on computer systems and data could potentially benefit from the services of a certified ethical hacker.
In terms of job titles, ethical hackers typically work as offensive security analysts or consultants. However, they may also hold positions such as that of a penetration tester, information security analyst, security engineer, security architect, information security manager, computer network security specialist, and similar.
The work environment you find yourself in may also vary depending on the size of the organization you work for. For example, ethical hackers working for large organizations may find themselves working in a corporate office setting, while those working for smaller firms may have a more relaxed or informal work environment. Remote work is also a possibility, especially in the current climate.
What companies hire ethical hackers?
There are a number of different types of companies that are looking for certified ethical hackers. These include:
- Large corporations: Many large corporations, such as banks and other financial institutions, have their own in-house teams of ethical hackers. They may also contract out to ethical hacking firms when they need additional support.
- Small businesses: Small businesses are increasingly recognizing the importance of cybersecurity, and as such, many are starting to hire ethical hackers to help them safeguard their data and systems.
- Security firms: There are a number of security firms that specialize in providing ethical hacking services to clients. If you’re looking for a job in ethical hacking, these firms are a good place to start your search.
Ethical hackers can also choose to become self-employed and work freelance as security consultants. This can be a great option if you’re looking for flexibility and the ability to choose your own clients.
The job search
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s take a look at the actual job search process.
1. Know what you want
As a beginner white hat hacker, you may not have a clear idea of what you want in a job. That’s okay. The important thing is to start thinking about it.
You also may not think that you should be picky about your first job, but it’s important to find a role and a work environment that is the right fit for you. If you’re not happy with your job, it will make it that much harder to stick with it and progress in your career. Do you want to do penetration testing? Or are you more into data science and data protection? What about machine learning, artificial intelligence, or cloud computing?
Some things to consider include:
- The size of the organization you want to work for
- The type of industry you’re interested in
- The work environment you’re looking for
- The geographical location you want to work in
- The salary you’re hoping to earn
Also, don’t forget about the non-tangible things, such as company culture and the opportunity to learn and grow in your role.
2. Do your research
Once you have a clear idea of what type of job and organization you’re looking for, it’s time to start your research and find the actual job openings that match your criteria. Here are some options to consider:
- Online job boards: Job boards can be a great place to start your search. Some popular options include Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor. Be sure to use keywords such as “ethical hacker” or “cyber security analyst” to find relevant results.
- Company websites: Many organizations post their open positions on their own website. If there’s a particular company you’re interested in working for, be sure to check their website for job openings.
- Professional networking: Networking can be a great way to find a job, especially in the tech industry. Attend meetups and conferences, or join online communities such as Reddit’s /r/netsec. You never know who you’ll meet and what opportunities might come your way.
Actually, we cannot stress enough the importance of networking. Meeting, talking to, and possibly even becoming friends with people in the same field as you will give you a better chance of hearing about job openings before they’re publicly posted.
3. Prepare your application
Now that you’ve found some ethical hacking job openings that look promising, it’s time to start working on your application. This will usually include:
- A resume: Your resume should be a clear and concise summary of your experience and skills. Be sure to tailor it to each position you apply for and include relevant keywords. It should not go over two pages at the most. (But one page is ideal.)
- A cover letter: A cover letter is your opportunity to introduce yourself and explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job. Again, be sure to customize each one for the specific position you’re applying for.
- Additional materials: Some organizations may ask for additional materials such as any ethical hacking certification you may have (if you’ve passed the CEH exam, for example) or references for your work.
4. Ace the interview
Once you’ve submitted your application, the next step is usually an interview. This is your chance to show the employer that you’re not just a piece of paper and that you have what it takes to do the job.
Prepare for the interview by researching the company, the position, and common interview questions. Practice answering questions out loud so you don’t freeze up when it comes time for the real thing.
An important thing to keep in mind is that, especially in large information technology companies, the interview process includes multiple rounds. One of the most significant (and the most nerve-wracking) rounds is a tech interview, where you’ll be asked questions about your technical skills and knowledge. Be sure to brush up on your ethical hacking concepts before this type of interview.
And finally, don’t forget to be yourself. The employer is not only looking for someone with the right skills but also someone who will fit in with the company culture.
5. Negotiate your salary and benefits
If you’ve made it through the interview process and have been offered a job, congratulations! The next step is to negotiate your salary and benefits.
Before you start negotiations, do some research to find out what the average salary is for the position you’re being offered in the geographical area you’re looking for. This will give you a good starting point for negotiations.
It’s also important to keep in mind that salary is not the only thing you can negotiate. Other benefits such as vacation days, healthcare, and 401k matching are also up for discussion.
When it comes to negotiating, the most important thing is to be confident. Remember that you have just as much power in the negotiation as the employer does. Be prepared to walk away from the offer if it’s not what you’re looking for. Alternatively, you may settle for less if the company is offering other things that are important to you, such as flexible hours or the ability to work from home.
No matter what, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no.
Certified ethical hackers are in an enviable position when it comes to finding a job. With the right skills and experience, you can choose from a wide variety of job openings in both the public and private sectors.
The most important thing is to take your time, do your research, and prepare your application materials carefully. And don’t forget to practice for your interviews! If you do all of this, you’re sure to find the perfect job opportunity as a cybersecurity professional in the ethical hacking branch.
Are you interested in becoming an IT security professional? Does the Certified Ethical Hacker certification appeal to you? Start your journey now and see where it takes you! Check out our CEH training to get started, or contact us if you have any questions. We’re here to help you every step of the way.