Currently, there are nearly 600,000 job openings in the cybersecurity industry. At the same time, the supply/demand ratio for cyber security professionals is at 68%, meaning there are only enough cybersecurity workers to fill 68% of the job openings. It’s obvious that the need for security professionals is incredible, and it will continue to be in demand going forward.
Some of the areas within information technology security that professionals are finding the most exciting are ethical hacking and penetration testing. Ethical hacking represents the breaking of a cyber system (such as web servers, social networking sites, and similar) in a controlled and legitimate manner to determine what vulnerabilities exist.
The CEH certification happens to be one of the most popular certifications for ethical hackers in the world.
In this comprehensive blog post, we will discuss the Certified Ethical Hacker certification, how to obtain it, and much more.
CEH certification, a breakdown
The CEH Certified Ethical Hacker certification is developed by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council). The EC-Council is one of the largest and most well-respected authorities in information security.
This ethical hacker certification has become a globally recognized credential. It demonstrates proof of hands-on experience in computer hacking techniques and methodologies. It also explains how to use hacker tools and find weaknesses within networks.
The CEH certification is ideal for the following job roles:
- Cybersecurity auditor
- Network security administrator
- Security analyst
- Network engineer
- Manual ethical hacker
- Information security manager
- Junior penetration tester
- Solution architect
- Cyber defense analysts, and more
The only way to obtain the CEH certification is to pass the CEH exam provided by the EC-Council.
About the CEH exam
The Certified Ethical Hacker exam is a 4-hour long exam that consists of 125 multiple-choice questions. Each exam comes in several different forms, and each of those forms has a different passing score (between 65% and 80%), depending on its difficulty. The ECC is incredibly diligent in its work as they pull from a large pool of security experts to set and evaluate the exam questions.
The CEH v11, meaning the 11th version of the exam, is currently the most recent version.
The CEH exam covers a total of 20 cybersecurity modules, including, but not limited to:
- Vulnerability assessment
- Malware threats
- System hacking
- Social engineering
- Cloud security
- IoT hacking
- Hacking wireless networks
- Hacking mobile platforms
- Hacking web applications, and more
CEH exam requirements
There are two crucial prerequisites to take the CEH certification exam:
- The candidate must have at least two years of experience in a computer security-related field.
- The candidate must be of legal age in their country of origin or residency.
However, not meeting these two requirements doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate will be rejected. There are special circumstances in which a candidate may be allowed to take the CEH exam, even if they don’t fulfill those two requirements.
Can I take CEH without experience?
The answer is yes; you can take the CEH exam even if you don’t have any prior work experience.
Here’s how it works:
- If you can provide proof of at least two years of experience in the information security field, you can prepare for the CEH in any way you choose (through official training, self-study, or any other method).
- On the other hand, if you cannot provide proof of at least two years of experience, you must attend official EC-Council training. Without going through this training channel, you won’t be allowed to take the CEH exam with no work experience.
Keep in mind that, with or without the required work experience, you still need to understand and follow the CEH exam syllabus to take the actual exam. This means that you should have at least the basic knowledge of ethical hacking concepts and methodologies to complete this exam successfully.
Can I take CEH without a college degree?
In short, yes, you can take the CEH exam without a college degree if you are of legal age in your country of origin or residency.
If you are a minor, you will need to provide written consent from your legal guardian and a supporting letter from a nationally accredited institution of higher learning, such as a college.
CEH exam application process
Based on your situation and the type of training you go through, you have a couple of different options to apply for this ethical hacking certification exam.
- If you went through official ECC training through the online ECC platform, an approved academic institution, or an accredited training center, you are automatically eligible to take the CEH exam.
- If you did not go through official training but instead gained your knowledge through self-study or research on ethical hacking methodologies and processes (or any other way), you need to submit an exam eligibility application to the ECC. This eligibility application verifies that you do meet their CEH certification requirements. The application fee is $100 and is non-refundable.
Once you are sure you are eligible to take the CEH exam, you can purchase an exam voucher from the official ECC store website. You cannot attempt the CEH exam without a voucher.
There are two voucher types to choose from:
- VUE exam voucher – If you wish to take the exam at a testing center (Pearson VUE testing center), you must purchase a VUE exam voucher. You will have to find the right testing center near your residence, and the exam proctor will be physically present during your CEH exam.
- ECC exam center voucher – If you wish to take the exam online (the ECC testing proctor is live, but the proctor is not physically present during your CEH exam), you need to purchase an ECC exam center voucher. Taking the CEH online may be a better option if you live in a remote place with no Pearson VUE testing centers.
In either case, once you have your voucher, you can schedule the CEH exam with the ECC official website.
How much does the CEH exam cost?
Without the application fee or training costs, the exam voucher prices are as follows:
- VUE voucher – $1,199
- ECC voucher – $950
On top of this, you should factor in the eligibility application fee of $100 if you need to submit it, as well as any training costs or materials you may need to prepare for the exam itself.
However, before you make any purchases, we highly recommend talking to an ECC sales representative. They will be able to provide you with the best prices on the market and give you more information about specific requirements, training packages, or discounts.
What happens if you fail the CEH exam?
If you fail the CEH exam the first time you attempt it, you can take it a second time without waiting.
If you fail the exam the second, third, and fourth times, you must wait at least 14 days before retaking the exam.
If you fail the CEH for a fifth time, you will have to wait 12 months before taking it for the sixth time. A person cannot attempt the CEH exam more than five times in 12 months.
Remember that when you pass one version of the CEH exam (say, CEHv11), you cannot retake the same version again.
Does the CEH certification have to be renewed?
Yes, the CEH cert has to be renewed every three years. You can do this by gathering enough ECE credits; you will need 120 ECE credits in a three-year period to successfully renew this EC Council certification.
Some ways to obtain ECE credits include:
- Reading IT security books, magazines, blogs
- Attending relevant events
- Attending approved cyber security training courses
- Giving back to the CEH community (in the form of a presentation for other CEH professionals, or similar)
Is CEH worth it?
Given how much money, time, and effort you have to invest in obtaining a CEH credential, asking yourself whether or not the investment is worth it is only natural. Let’s attempt to answer this question by highlighting the most important benefits of CEH certification for cybersecurity experts:
- Professional development – With the CEH certification under your belt, you will be much more appealing to potential employers and can expect a salary increase. Getting a promotion and reaching high-level managerial positions is also much easier when you have this certification.
- Being proactive – When faced with cybercriminals and threats, it’s easy to fall into the habit of being reactive. After all, one can usually respond to an attack only after it has already occurred. The CEH certification helps you turn this around and become more proactive – it gives you the tools and knowledge to prevent attacks and issues from happening in the first place.
- Bigger assortment of hacker tools – During CEH training, you will learn about a tremendous variety of tools and methods that any malicious hacker uses. You will also learn about the tools you can use to fight off attacks, as well as the different methods that can be used to defend your network from these attacks.
- Practical experience – CEH certification training is not just about studying from a textbook or a PowerPoint presentation. It allows you to participate in simulated hacking attempts and will teach you how to recognize when such attacks occur in real life. During these practical simulations, you will learn how to deal with such events and respond adequately.
- DoD and GCHQ approved – One of the biggest benefits of the CEH cert is that it is approved by both the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). This means that, by having this credential, you can look for employment even in government agencies and gain access to top-secret information.
As you can see, the CEH certification isn’t just about proving your cyber expertise by passing an exam. It is a valuable tool that cybersecurity experts can use to improve their careers and become more valuable employees. While it does require substantial work and time investment on your part, the rewards are worth it.
How to study for the CEH exam
Studying for this exam can be a real challenge, depending on your previous experience and expertise.
There are a few study options you can take, each with its own set of pros and cons.
- One-on-one training
The first option we will explore is one-on-one training, allowing you to get CEH certified without studying yourself. Having a private tutor helping you along the way can make the whole experience much more effective and efficient.
However, this option does come with a significant drawback. One-on-one training is extremely expensive – usually several times more than the course fee itself! This means that you will have to invest a lot of money to study this way.
Learning on your own is a viable option if you have proof of the required work experience for taking the CEH exam. The benefits of self-study are clear: you can study at your own pace and in the comfort of your home. This way of learning is typically also less expensive than any other option.
The drawback, however, is that you will be alone on this journey. If you run into a problem or question while studying, you will not have anyone to turn to for help.
- Learning in a group
Attending a group training course can be an effective way to work towards achieving this credential. If you’re the type of person who thrives in an academic environment, this type of study can be highly rewarding.
The main benefit is that you will have access to your instructor throughout the whole process. They will be readily available to answer any questions and help you through challenging problems. Such a dynamic makes group training very effective, especially for people who learn faster when surrounded by their peers.
The drawback of learning in a group is that you will have to find and schedule time for the course – and also practice the skills you cover together. This can be difficult for those who work full-time since they will need evenings and weekends to dedicate to this training.
Online or in-person
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there used to be almost an equal balance between the two learning options.
However, as this pandemic continues to spread, more and more students favor online CEH certification training over attending in-person courses.
Aside from lowering the risk of getting infected with the coronavirus, online training has other benefits as well:
- Online courses can be taken from literally anywhere with access to an Internet connection
- Attendees don’t need to worry about whether or not a course will be offered in their area
- Online courses tend to be less expensive
However, if you are the type of learner who works best in a classroom setting, you can still find in-person courses to attend.
How to choose the right training provider
Now that you know the ins and outs of CEH certification, you may be interested in getting started with your studies. If so, we need to answer one last question: where to get a CEH certificate?
Here are some important factors that you need to consider when choosing a CEH course training provider:
- Course curriculum – Not every provider focuses on the same skills to help candidates prepare for the CEH exam. Some may prefer an in-depth knowledge of network hacking techniques, while others might focus on building students’ awareness of common security best practices. Find a course that is tailored to your preferences and goals.
- Price – Each provider is different when it comes to pricing. Some offer group rates if you are enrolling with a few friends for the same course, while others give discounts to students who sign up for their courses early on.
- Bonus services – Does the training provider offer any career service advice or additional training modules? These can be very helpful to students who want to keep their skills up to date. Make sure to do your research about what the provider has to offer.
- Location – If you’re not looking for online courses, you’ll have to find a provider in your area. This is one of the most important factors to consider since you will need to attend a training session in person. Make sure that there are suitable classes available for you.
- Reviews – Finally, don’t forget to check out some reviews from students who have taken CEH certification courses from the training provider you’re considering. This can help you understand their teaching style and the quality of course materials.
Congratulations on learning everything there is to know about CEH ethical hacking certification!
As you can see, there are many benefits of this course. Not only will it help expand your knowledge of security threats and vulnerabilities, but it will also help elevate your career opportunities. But, now that you’re sure you want to take the plunge, it’s time to find out where you can take your course.