How to Become an Ethical Hacker – Complete Guide with Steps

As technology advances, so do the techniques and methods used by cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. This is where ethical hacking comes into play. Ethical hacking involves using the same techniques as a malicious hacker to identify and expose vulnerabilities in a system, but with the permission and knowledge of the system owner.

Ethical hacking is important because it helps organizations identify weaknesses in their systems before cybercriminals can exploit them. Ethical hackers help protect against potential cyber-attacks by finding and patching these vulnerabilities, which can cause significant financial and reputational damage. 

How to Become an Ethical Hacker

Becoming an ethical hacker can offer a range of benefits. Firstly, it is a challenging and rewarding career path that can offer exciting opportunities for growth and development. Additionally, ethical hacking is a high-demand field, with many organizations seeking qualified professionals to help secure their systems. 

With the rise of cyber threats and the increasing importance of cybersecurity, ethical hacking has become an essential skill set in many industries. Those who choose to pursue this career path can make a significant impact by helping to safeguard our digital world.

Role and Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker

The role of ethical hackers is to use their skills and knowledge of hacking techniques to identify vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. An ethical hacker’s primary responsibility is to assess a system’s security by identifying weaknesses that malicious attackers could exploit. 

They conduct vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities and work with system owners to patch or remediate these issues. Ethical hackers must also stay up-to-date with the latest hacking techniques and technologies, as well as industry standards and regulations related to cybersecurity.

Role and Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker

In addition to technical skills, ethical hackers must have strong communication and collaboration skills to become good ethical hackers. They work closely with system owners and other stakeholders to understand the system’s goals, limitations, and potential vulnerabilities. They must be able to communicate technical information in a clear and understandable way to non-technical stakeholders, and they must be able to work collaboratively with others to develop and implement solutions.

6 Essential Steps for Becoming an Ethical Hacker

In this guide, we will outline some of the key steps to becoming an ethical hacker and provide tips on succeeding in this field.

Essential Steps for Becoming an Ethical Hacker
  1. Learn Essential Skills and Knowledge
  2. Getting Started with Ethical Hacking
  3. Tools and Techniques for Ethical Hacking
  4. Gain Experience
  5. Develop a Portfolio
  6. Endless Learning

1. Learn Essential Skills and Knowledge

Regarding skills, there are two main types: technical and non-technical. Technical skills are the ones you need to perform specific tasks related to your field, like coding or analyzing data. Non-technical skills, on the other hand, are more general and include things like communication and leadership abilities.

Speaking of coding, plenty of programming languages exist, like Python, Java, C++, and JavaScript. Python is the most widely used coding language for ethical hacking, so ensure you’re adept at it. Check out these Best Python courses and become proficient in them. 

If you work in a particular field, you will likely need some tools and software to complete the job. While Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator may not be the most commonly used tools in ethical hacking, you can use Nmap, Metasploit, and Wireshark. 

Lastly, it’s important to keep learning and growing in your career. Attending workshops, taking online ethical hacking courses, and reading industry-related books and articles are great ways to stay current and improve your skills. After all, you never know when a new technique or software might come along that could change the game in your industry.

2. Getting Started with Ethical Hacking

When it comes to education and certification, having a strong foundation in computer science and networking is essential. While formal academic qualifications can be helpful, many ethical hacking courses and bootcamps for ethical hacking can provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to become an ethical hacker.

Certification courses like Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) cover topics like network penetration testing, vulnerability assessment, and information security management. 

These best ethical hacking bootcamps can help you gain the practical skills and knowledge needed to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks, all while maintaining ethical and responsible behavior.

Building a strong foundation for ethical hacking also involves having a solid understanding of cryptography and security protocols. Cryptography is the science of secure communication, and understanding it is essential for protecting data and systems. 

Security protocols like SSL/TLS and IPSec are used to secure data transmission over the internet, and understanding how they work is crucial for ethical hackers.

To get started on your journey to becoming an ethical hacker, many online resources are available for learning about ethical hacking and cybersecurity. 

Joining online communities or forums can help you connect with other hackers and get tips and advice. But always remember, ethical hacking is about using your skills and knowledge for good, and maintaining ethical and responsible behavior is key.

3. Tools and Techniques for Ethical Hacking

If you’re interested in learning how to become an ethical hacker from scratch, it’s important to become familiar with the tools and techniques used in the field. Here are a few key tools and techniques to get you started:

Ethical hackers use various techniques to gather information about their target before launching an attack. This includes conducting reconnaissance using tools like Nmap and social engineering attacks to extract information from people. The goal is to gather as much information as possible to identify potential vulnerabilities in the system.

Once a vulnerability has been identified, the next step is to develop an exploit to take advantage of it. Exploit development tools like Metasploit and Immunity Debugger can help develop and test exploits. These tools provide a way to test the exploit before using it on the target system.

Password cracking is another important technique ethical hackers use to access computer systems. Password cracking tools like John the Ripper and Hashcat are commonly used to crack passwords and gain access to systems. These tools are particularly useful when the passwords are weak or easily guessable.

Once access has been gained, the ethical hacker may want to establish persistence by creating a backdoor. This allows them to maintain access to the system even after discovering the initial breach. Tools such as Netcat and Meterpreter can be used to create backdoors and establish persistence. The goal is to maintain access without being detected for as long as possible.

4. Gain Experience

You can gain experience by participating in bug bounty programs. Many organizations offer bug bounty programs, which reward ethical hackers for identifying and reporting vulnerabilities in their systems. Participating in these programs can help you gain experience and build your reputation in the field. Additionally, you could conduct penetration testing, which involves simulating an attack on a system or network to identify vulnerabilities. You can gain experience by practicing your skills on your own systems or by participating in penetration testing exercises.

Joining a cybersecurity community can help you connect with other ethical hackers and gain access to resources and opportunities. Look for local meetups, online forums, or social media groups to get started. Lastly, seek out internships or apprenticeships. Some companies offer internships or apprenticeships for aspiring ethical hackers. These opportunities can provide valuable hands-on experience and help you build your network in the field.

5. 5 Ways to Develop a Portfolio as an Ethical Hacker

Here are a few tips on how to develop a portfolio as an ethical hacker for beginners:

Start with documenting your work. Keep a detailed log of your ethical hacking activities, including the systems you’ve tested, the vulnerabilities you’ve identified, and the tools you’ve used. Take screenshots and record your actions to demonstrate your process. You should also create a demo reel, a short video demonstrating your skills and experience as an ethical hacker. Use your log and screenshots to create a compelling demo reel that showcases your best work.

Additionally, you should publish write-ups of your findings clearly and concisely to demonstrate your communication skills and attention to detail. Publish your write-ups on a blog or on platforms like GitHub to show potential employers what you’re capable of. Participating in competitions is also helpful. Competitions like Capture the Flag (CTF) events can provide a valuable opportunity to practice your skills and build your portfolio. Take screenshots and document your progress to show potential employers what you’ve achieved.

6. Endless Learning

The field of ethical hacking is constantly evolving, which means that continuous learning is essential for success. Here are a few tips for endless learning in ethical hacking:

Stay up-to-date with the latest trends. You can do this by following industry blogs, attending conferences, and joining online communities to stay informed about the latest developments in ethical hacking. Keeping up with the latest trends can help you identify emerging threats and stay ahead of the curve.

Training and certification programs can provide structured learning opportunities and help you stay current with the latest techniques and tools. Look for reputable programs like Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) or Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP). Moreover, Regular practice is essential for maintaining your skills and staying sharp. Set aside time each week to practice your skills on your own systems or participate in online challenges and competitions.

Lastly, connecting with experienced, ethical hackers can provide valuable insights and learning opportunities. Look for mentors and peers through local meetups, online forums, or social media groups.

How to Become an Ethical Hacker Without a Degree

Becoming an ethical hacker without a degree is definitely possible, but it does require a certain level of dedication and hard work. It’s important to note that while a degree may not be required, it can benefit career advancement and opportunities. However, other paths to becoming an ethical hacker don’t involve obtaining a degree.

To get started, learning the basics of computer science and cybersecurity is important. This can involve reading books, watching online courses, or participating in online communities. You can start with basic programming languages like Python and then move on to more advanced topics like networking, operating systems, and databases. To become proficient in Python, check out the best Python courses available. 

Once you have a solid foundation, you can build your skills by practicing on your own systems or participating in online challenges and competitions. Setting up a virtual lab environment can be a great way to practice your skills in a safe and controlled environment. It’s also important to continuously learn and improve your skills, as the field of ethical hacking is constantly evolving.

Certification can also be helpful in demonstrating your skills and knowledge to potential employers. To get started, look for reputable certification programs like Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) or Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP). These certifications can help you stand out in a crowded job market and provide validation of your skills.

 Become an Ethical Hacker – FAQs

Where to Start to Become an Ethical Hacker?

To become an ethical hacker, start by learning the basics of computer science and cybersecurity, then build your skills through practice and participation in online challenges. Consider obtaining certifications and networking with peers and mentors in the field.

How Much Does an Ethical Hacker Make a Year?

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for an ethical hacker in the United States is around $93,000 annually, with salaries ranging from $70,000 to over $130,000, depending on experience, location, and industry.

How Much Does an Ethical Hacker Make a Year?

Becoming an ethical hacker is not hard. Becoming an ethical hacker requires a strong foundation in computer science and cybersecurity and dedication to continuous learning and improvement. 


Learning how to become an ethical hacker requires a combination of education, experience, and continuous learning. While a degree may not be necessary, it’s important to build a strong foundation of knowledge and continuously improve your skills through practice and participation in online challenges and competitions. 

Obtaining certifications and building a portfolio of experience can help demonstrate your skills to potential employers and clients. With hard work, dedication, and a passion for cybersecurity, you can succeed in the field of ethical hacking and make a meaningful impact in protecting against cyber threats.