How To Become An Ethical Hacker: 5 Easy Steps
The world around us is evolving and doing so quickly. Advances in technology have, to many traditional workers’ misfortune, rendered millions of jobs obsolete in modern-day. So why not adapt to meet demands?
The internet has connected us globally in the last two decades and has provided a plethora of opportunities for people in many industries and business relations. Among the many flourishing industries is the world of cybersecurity and every niche that it entails.
By the end of 2021, there will be an estimated 3.5 million job openings in the cybersecurity industry alone. Cybersecurity is, by no means, a new concept or industry; however, with more and more companies choosing to take their business online, there yields a high demand for protection against cybercriminals and competing companies alike. For this reason, every company–whether choosing to outsource their cybersecurity personnel or not–inevitably needs a means of security.
Motivated and skilled cybersecurity and tech professionals are a prized possession for both small and large companies alike. A company’s access to any amount of client and business data is susceptible to cybercrime, and without a front line of defense against potential cyberattacks, businesses risk huge losses.
Ethical hacking, which is otherwise known as penetration testing or pen testing, is a great option for those considering getting into a career in cybersecurity.
Whether you are already an IT professional, brand new in the tech field, or simply making a career switch, there are many benefits to delving into the world of ethical hacking. Some may include:
- Securing a career that is both challenging and fast-paced
- Consistent exposure to evolving IT systems and procedures
- Validation and a sense of purpose in the work you do
- High demand and availability for a multitude of local and international jobs
- Great financial compensation, as well as potential schedule flexibility
- Room for growth and advancements
There is no doubt that beginning to work in cybersecurity will prove beneficial, not only in the long run but also right away. The hardest part is taking the first step. Once you have made your decision and begin to move forward, the rest follows suit.
We have compiled a comprehensive list and guide to the five simple steps needed to become an ethical hacker.
Step 1: Self-Assessment
Becoming an ethical hacker begins with determining whether it is the right decision to move forward with in the first place. You must first consider: do you fit the profile of a typical ethical hacker? Do you possess the prerequisite knowledge and experience? Do you generally have the ideal temperament for the exhilarating pace that ethical hacking requires?
Holding jobs in other IT positions can potentially pave the way to breaking the barrier into an ethical hacking job. Working in coding, web development, and programming, therefore, allows one to lay the foundation before advancing into what is considered a more complex branch of cybersecurity. While you may not necessarily be required to be an expert in tech, it does help to have a background in it if you’re considering ethical hacking as a next step. On the other hand, some ethical hackers begin their careers having studied liberal arts, literature, or even law. There is no right or wrong way to enter this field.
While evaluating whether you make a good fit, there are aspects independent of technical proficiency. As an ethical hacker, you should have a number of qualities that, when put to the test, are made useful to you and your team or clients. For example, one should be analytical in nature. If you see yourself as an ethical hacker, it must mean that you consider yourself a problem solver or that you think outside of the box when coming up with solutions. If you tend towards curiosity and are investigative, then ethical hacking may be the perfect job for you. You must thrive in hectic environments, as well as possess the ability to maintain composure in the event that something goes wrong.
If the above description seems to be written about you, then you’ve gotten past step 1. You’re well underway to becoming an ethical hacker!
Step 2: Learn About Learning
So, you’ve decided you’re a good fit for an ethical hacker. What’s next?
Now it’s time to learn a thing or two about what options are available to you regarding education and certifications.
Did you know that a four-year track is not necessary to make a career out of ethical hacking? A variety of cybersecurity programs exist that allow for learners to excel by gaining plenty of experiential learning in a timely manner.
There are many options available with regards to courses and which is potentially the best for you, but they are also influenced by a number of factors. Each program provides certain resources, for example. How much time you plan on investing and which resources you decide to take advantage of while advancing in your studies and practice will determine which program is the best fit for you.
Step 3: It’s Credential Time
In the last decade or two, the demand for cybersecurity professionals has skyrocketed. As a result, the number of people who have landed pen testing jobs, despite a lack of accreditation, is high. Their primary source of learning, therefore, is hands-on at the onset of their career.
Since this boom, the industry has tightened its reins and has become more strict. There are now education standards and prerequisite certifications that narrow down candidates to ensure that only those who truly qualify and can be considered trained cybersecurity professionals can enter the field of ethical hacking.
Today, the proper training and credentials are pivotal if you’d like to transition into an ethical hacking career. With programs that focus on experiential learning and testing prep, the course work will be sure to prepare you for industry exams such as the CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) exam and the OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional).
When coming down to your final decision, select a program that will provide simulation learning; in other words, a program that will allow you to learn from realistic problems as though you are already working as an ethical hacker in real-time.
This will serve to better prepare you, especially if the program’s staff is made up of active cybersecurity professionals.
Step 4: All About Networking
You can obtain the skill set and experience, but you will not be successful without becoming a part of your local cyber ecosystem. Networking is of the utmost importance in the cybersecurity industry. These networks grow and evolve in the same way the technology does. For this reason, programs make it easy for learners to get in contact with each other.
By reaching out to fellow classmates and professionals, you are able to forge connections with educators, potential employers and mentors, future colleagues, and beyond. Staying updated and within the loop even out of the program will assist you with breaking out into your career and help with new developments.
Building a cyber network in your local area, for example, is easy if you choose to study in a college or institute near home, or where you choose to live in the future. Connecting face-to-face with professors, other like-minded individuals, and professionals in the local industry will only serve to propel you forward and provide a support system.
You also have the option to join a penetration testing course that offers networking opportunities like monthly social events or job fairs. Similarly, a program whose teaching staff derives from within the local cyber ecosystem is also a great stepping stool and an easy way into that web.
All in all, when narrowing down programs, it is important to note that it is not only about the credentials you will receive, but also the connections you will make along the way. A career in ethical hacking will always prove to be easier when you are a part of a network.
Step 5: Let The Job Hunt Begin
Imagine that you finally complete your courses. You’ve aced the certification exams and have developed a network of fellow classmates and mentors. So now the job search begins. Where do you start?
You already know that cybersecurity job openings are widely available, not only locally and in the United States, but also internationally. So, your options are essentially unlimited. Now it’s just a matter of narrowing them down and preparing yourself accordingly with the proper guidance and support!
Some cybersecurity programs offer job placement services. These resources oftentimes include general career counseling, assistance with resume building, guidance in managing LinkedIn, as well as specialized internship placement.
Remember, in the course of your search for your ideal ethical hacking program, to keep these potential bonus perks in mind. They can be the make or break the outcomes and will undoubtedly prove to be a huge advantage in allowing you to kickstart your career!
By the time you have reached the end of your education journey, you will feel more than ready to move forward into the cyber workforce.
Have you decided to make the switch?
The ever-evolving and expanding cybersecurity field is waiting for you. In less than one year, you can put your certifications to the test and join the big league of cyber professionals.
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