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How to Become an Ethical Hacker in 2024?

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29th Sep, 2023
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How to Become an Ethical Hacker in 2024?

Cybersecurity has never been more critical than now. With the ever-present threat of cyberattacks, there’s a growing demand for skilled professionals who can protect systems and data from malicious hackers.

The term ‘hacker’ originally referred to a skilled programmer proficient in computer operating systems and machine code. However, the term has now evolved to refer to someone active in hacking operations. To counter the attacks of black hat hackers came into existence ethical hackers. Ethical hackers are positioned at the front line of defence owing to their knowledge to improve the system’s vulnerability of business organisations. 

This blog presents the nitty-gritty of ethical hacker requirements, answering the pertinent question, ‘How to become a certified ethical hacker?’

Understanding Ethical Hacking

Before learning how to learn ethical hacking step by step, it is important to understand the basic concept of ethical hacking. Computer systems employ a range of security measures to protect stored data. Ethical hacking is a process of testing the strength of these security implementations. Ethical hackers simulate real-world hacking scenarios to detect underlying security flaws and fix those vulnerabilities in time. If not fixed, these vulnerabilities remain exposed to malicious hackers exposing confidential data, thus putting the company’s resources and reputation at stake. 

A few alternative ethical hacking names are security and white hat hacking. Ethical hacking is integral to keeping security intact in computer systems or networks. Business organisations persistently check for vulnerabilities to protect their systems and networks by seeking ethical hackers’ services.

Definition of an Ethical Hacker

Ethical hackers are cybersecurity professionals who use hacking skills to protect computer systems and networks against cyberattacks. Ethical hackers differ from criminal hackers as they are authorised to test the vulnerabilities of computer systems by simulating an actual attack. Ethical hackers follow similar methods and use the same tools as criminal hackers to carry out hacking.

Ethical hackers have greater insight into computer networking, cryptography, and programming. The skills required for an ethical hacker are typically approved by CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) certification.

Role of Ethical Hacker

Before diving into “How to become an ethical hacker from scratch?”, learning what the role entails is essential. Ethical hacking is an authorised process of discovering potential cybersecurity threats and data breaches. Business organisations hire ethical hackers for their expertise in strengthening security systems. Their primary role is to look for ways criminal hackers can exploit security flaws to exploit confidential data maliciously. 

Ethical hackers must be well acquainted with the working model of the system to which they provide protection. To fix security vulnerabilities, they need to look for different attacking methods that will possibly expose the data to malicious hackers.

Additionally, ethical hackers must have a knack for continuous learning to keep themselves updated with the rapidly evolving hacking techniques.

How To Become an Ethical Hacker Step-by-Step in 2024?

Below are the steps prospective candidates must follow to become a hacker ethically:

Step 1: Gain hands-on experience in LINUX/UNIX

LINUX/UNIX is an open-source operating system that ascertains superior security for computer systems. It is one of the classic, widely used operating systems. Hence, being familiar with LINUX is important to become an ethical hacker. 

Step 2: Master the mother programming language along with others

C is referred to as the mother of all programming languages due to its primitive origin. C is used to write LINUX/UNIX completely. Hence, as an ethical hacker, it is important to be well-versed in a programming language that gives them the power to use the open-source LINUX operating system according to their wish. 

Learning multiple programming languages eases operating a piece of code. Python, JavaScript, PHP, C++, and SQL are a few programming languages that are best for hackers to learn.  

Step 3: Become adept at being anonymous

The most significant step to follow in ethical hacking is to hide one’s identity. Ethical hackers must learn to master the skill of being anonymous to eliminate their traces online. They can use Anonsurf, MacChanger, and Proxychains to camouflage their identities. 

Step 4: Learn about networking concepts in detail

A good grasp of knowledge in networks and protocols aids in vulnerability exploitation. Gaining insights into various networking tools like Wireshark, Nmap, etc., helps execute smooth operations. 

Step 5: Travel across the dark web

The dark web refers to the hidden part of the web that remains invisible to search engines. Special software access and authorisation are required to penetrate it. Knowing the technology of the dark web is imperative for ethical hackers. 

Step 6: Learn cryptography

The encryption and decryption involved in cryptography are used in various aspects of information security, like data integrity, authentication, confidentiality, etc. An ethical hacker must learn to identify and break the encryption when required. 

Step 7: Dig deeper into hacking

Covering hacking topics like penetration testing, SQL injections, vulnerability assessments, and others is rewarding. An ethical hacker should know the latest security changes and system security tools. 

Step 8: Always look for vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities in a system are loopholes leading to security breaches. An ethical hacker must identify and use these loopholes to exploit the system. A few vulnerability identification tools are OpenVAS Vulnerability Scanner, Nmap Vulnerability Scanner, Nessus Vulnerability Scanner, and Wapiti Vulnerability Scanner. 

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How to Become an Ethical Hacker? – Skills Required

Students often wonder how to become an ethical hacker after 12th. Anyone with the below-listed skills can become an ethical hacker: 

  • A good command of programming languages 
  • In-depth knowledge of networking 
  • Proficiency in scripting 
  • Ability to operate multiple operating systems
  • Expertise in the backend database
  • Exposure to servers and search engines
  • Proficient in using the available tools in the market

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Career Stages in Ethical Hacking

Patience is the key to establishing a career in ethical hacking. The field provides high-ranking job profiles to the aspirants in due course of time. Nevertheless, a great career start is also achievable within a short time. 

1. Kick-starting 

Aspirants who wonder how to become a certified ethical hacker can kick-start their careers by acquiring a degree in computer science. Alternatively, candidates can take up the CompTIA certification, comprising a two-part exam. 

2. Network Supporting 

The various activities involved in this stage are installing security programs, monitoring and updating, testing vulnerabilities, etc. This stage allows hackers to gain practical experience that will help to upscale their skills for future reference. 

3. Network Engineering 

Once the hackers gain experience in network support, they can escalate into network engineering. It offers a well-paid job profile with the authority of designing networks. This stage marks the beginning of becoming a security expert. Hence, obtaining certain security certifications, such as CISSP, Security+, etc., is mandatory. 

4. Working as an expert in Information Security

In this crucial stage as an ethical hacker, you will be introduced to information security for the first time. As an information analyst, the hackers will examine the system and strengthen the network’s security through firewalls and other relevant software. Ethical hackers must be well-versed in penetration testing and know tools like Tufin, AlgoSec, RedSeal, etc. 

In this stage, ethical hackers can opt for CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) certification as the course will help them to evolve into efficient ethical hackers. 

Check Out upGrad’s Software Development Courses to upskill yourself.

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Why Becoming an Ethical Hacker Is Beneficial?

A few benefits of becoming an ethical hacker are: 

  • Introduces the hidden aspects 

Ethical hackers implement new techniques and discover new security breaches that remain unknown to the organisation. Ethical hacking introduces concepts like web application security that help establish an excellent career. 

  • Makes the hackers’ mindset easy to understand

Sound knowledge of ethical hacking enables white hat hackers to comprehend how black hat hackers think. This is of utmost importance when searching for security vulnerabilities.

  • Offers high-paying jobs 

A certified ethical hacker is better suited to land a high-paying job at a reputable corporation. With the demand for certified cybersecurity experts rising daily, the supply is still lagging. Hence, this is a lucrative career opportunity with a great future outlook.

  • Gives liberty in picking out your field of work

Once you become an ethical hacker, you can choose the field you want to work in based on your goals and passion. You can work in a multinational company or own a small start-up. 

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Salary Details for Certified Ethical Hackers: Top 5 Countries

With the rapid growth of cyber threats, the need for proficient ethical hackers has risen multifold, and demand will likely rise in the coming years. This, combined with the development of AI and ML, positions ethical hackers attractively in the market. The tables below show the salary ranges for a few job roles, including India, in ethical hacking based in different countries: 

  • Canada 

Average annual salary- C$88,000

Job TitleAverage annual salary range
Security AnalystC$50,000 – C$1.01 lakh
Information Security AnalystC$57,000 – C$1.05 lakh
Cyber Security ManagerC$1.04 lakh – C$1.57 lakh
Senior Security ConsultantC$87,000 – C$1.16 lakh
Security EngineerC$86,000 – C$1.33 lakh


  • Australia 

Average annual salary- AU$1 lakh

Job TitleAverage annual salary range
Cyber Security AnalystAU$60,000 – AU$1.29 lakh
Security EngineerAU$77,000 – AU$1.11 lakh
Penetration TesterAU$58,000 – AU$1.38 lakh 
Security Architect, ITAU$1.35 lakh – AU$1.76 lakh
Chief Information Security OfficerAU$1.42 lakh – AU$2.41 lakh


  • Singapore

Average annual salary- S$69,000 

Job TitleAverage annual salary range
Cyber Security EngineerS$6000 – S$1.47 lakh
Security EngineerS$33,000 – S$1.05 lakh
Penetration TesterS$5000 – S$1.13 lakh
Information Security AnalystS$54,000 – S$1.03 lakh
Information Security ManagerS$78,000 – S$1.5 lakh


  • UAE

Average annual salary- AED 1.58 lakh

Job TitleAverage annual salary range
Cyber Security EngineerAED 14,000 – AED 5.49 lakh
Security EngineerAED 49,000 – AED 2.36 lakh
Penetration TesterAED 15,000 – AED 1.71 lakh
Security AnalystAED 1.02 lakh – AED 2.92 lakh
Chief Information Security OfficerAED 2.95 lakh – AED5.60 lakh


  • India

Average annual salary- INR 7.26 lakh   

Job TitleAverage annual salary range
Security Engineer INR 2.96 lakh – INR 2m
Penetration TesterINR 1.98 lakh – INR 2m
Security AnalystINR 2.65 lakh – INR 9.95 lakh
Information Security AnalystINR 2.43 lakh – INR 1m
Certified Ethical HackerINR 1.99 lakh – INR 5m


Given the job opportunities, ethical hacking is an excellent career choice in the current market. The field holds immense opportunities for cybersecurity aspirants. The certified courses shape the students to fit their job roles with industry-relevant skills. Explore this lucrative career by enrolling in a cybersecurity course online and enhancing marketability.


Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Can I become a hacker in 2 years?

Depending on your expertise and certifications, it can take 1 to 6 years to become an ethical hacker.

2What is the qualification of an ethical hacker?

An ethical hacker should generally have a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology or Computer Engineering before pursuing a career. Having relevant certifications in network security, information security, etc., can also help.

3What is the salary of an ethical hacker?

The average annual salary of an ethical hacker in India is INR 7.26 lakh.

4How to become ethical hacker after 12th?

Candidates must complete a bachelor’s degree in BSc, BTech, BE, or BCA to become an ethical hacker after the 12th.

5How to become an ethical hacker with no experience or degree?

If there is no degree, one can simply opt for online resources to learn ethical hacking.

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