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Complete GuideTo Become a Certified Ethical Hacker in 2023

guide to become a certified ethical hacker

While the term “ethical hacker” may seem to be an oxymoron for the first time, the concept lies in “to think like a hacker, you have to beat them at their own game.”

In fact, The International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) uses that phrase to promote its ethical hacker certification.

The phrase “Certified Ethical Hacker” was coined to represent someone who has the required hacking abilities but whose moral code forbade them from engaging in illegal activities.

Over time, the term ethical hacker has grown to encompass all security experts that provide offensive services, whether they are part of a red team, a pentester, or a freelance attacker.

We’ll walk you through becoming a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), which is the focus of this guide.

It contains in-depth information about the function of a certified ethical hacker, some of the skills and experience required to become one, and techniques for getting a righteous hacker job.

Historically, whitehat and blackhat have been used to characterize defensive and offensive cybersecurity endeavors, respectively.

The good guys were given these nicknames to distinguish themselves from the wrong people.

While both of these phrases are still widely used, one of them may not sufficiently describe the numerous responsibilities that exist in today’s contemporary cybersecurity environment.

Although a black hat hacker is still referred to as the wrong person, the good people are now referred to as red teams, blue teams, purple teams, ethical hackers, and penetration testers.

Red teams are in charge of offensive security, while blue teams are in order of defensive protection. Purple, a mix of red and blue, denotes groups that give a little bit of each type of security service.

Job names such as security analysts or engineers may also contain inflammatory aspects. These offensive security services are frequently grouped together within a company’s threat and vulnerability management organization.

While there are significant technical distinctions between the services offered by an outside offensive cybersecurity consultant and those supplied by an in-house pentester, these different titles for ethical hackers are used interchangeably in this book.

The fundamental goal of a certified ethical hacker is to look at security from the perspective of the adversary in order to discover weaknesses that bad actors might exploit.

This allows defensive teams to prepare for an assault by creating a patch before an actual one occurs. Simulated cyberattacks in a controlled environment are the key transit that is used to achieve this goal.

While evaluating security controls and devices for perimeter penetration vulnerabilities is a big part of what an ethical hacker does, they also search for holes that may be exploited deep within a network or application, such as data exfiltration vulnerabilities.

What is Ethical Hacking Certification All About?

CEH stands for Certified Ethical Hacker, and it is the most well-known of the EC-Council credentials. It was created to show that the holder knows how to hunt for flaws and vulnerabilities in computer systems and is familiar with harmful hacking tools.

Any security team would benefit greatly from hiring cybersecurity specialists who understand how to use hostile hackers’ tools and tactics.

Building an appropriate defense requires an intimate understanding of the offensive methods likely to be employed against their systems.

The security sector has expressed its need for a dependable means to recognize persons with these abilities by overwhelmingly supporting and accepting the CEH certification.

The CEH’s adoption by the industry has bolstered the notion that ethical hacking is a valuable skill and a legitimate career.

Acceptance has given respectability to a subset of computer and network abilities that were previously solely pursued by criminals.

A Certified Ethical Hacker’s Role & Responsibilities

Certified Ethical hackers can operate as independent consultants for a corporation specialized in simulated offensive cybersecurity services or as in-house workers for a company’s website or apps.

While in-house red teams are still relatively new in the security sector, one benefit they may give is that they will have a better grasp of how their systems and applications are built than an outside consultant.

This hidden information offers the red side an advantage, as long as they can maintain their vision from becoming myopic.

On the other hand, an external ethical hacker may give a new pair of eyes to uncover vulnerabilities that the inside team may have missed.

On occasion, businesses with an inside red team could rent associate degree external ethical hackers to allow a recent perspective on their defense

Before commencing any offensive security operations, any external awful security service provider should get written authorization from the customer.

The systems, networks, apps, and websites included in the simulated assault should be specified in this permission. Do not broaden the scope of the service until you have received further explicit approval.

There are white-box, black-box, and gray-box ethical hacker engagements, which follow the industry’s use of colors to distinguish between distinct cybersecurity responsibilities and tasks.

When a security expert is provided as much knowledge about the target system and application as feasible, it is referred to as a white-box engagement.

This enables the simulated assault to search widely and deeply for vulnerabilities that would take a genuinely bad actor a long time to find.

On the other hand, a black-box engagement is one in which the ethical hacker is not provided any insider knowledge.

This more closely resembles the circumstances of a simple assault and might give useful insight into how an actual attack vector could appear.

As the name indicates, a gray-box engagement simulates an attack in which the attacker has already breached the perimeter and may have spent time inside the system or application.

Many companies employ a combination of all three interaction methods and in-house and outsourced ethical hackers. This type of applied knowledge can provide you with the best picture of what safeguards you need, but it’s also a lot more expensive.

These skills are required by network security analysts and network engineers. Purple teams desperately need offensive players.

Application security developers benefit from understanding attack strategies and tools.

Security researchers, sometimes referred to as bug hunters, rely largely on their knowledge of attack techniques. Many competent bug hunters have a thorough grasp of the application, network, and other areas that might be abused.

Requirements for CEH Certification

Applications for CEH certification are reviewed in one of three categories. To be eligible to take the test, an applicant must fulfill one of the following criteria:

  • Let’s pretend the applicant is under the age of eighteen. In that situation, the applicant will not be able to attend an official training session or take the certification exam unless they have written authorization from their parent or legal guardian and a letter of support from their nationally authorized institution of higher learning.
  • Many other prominent cybersecurity professional certifications have more stringent criteria than CEH.
  • As a result, the CEH is sometimes seen as an entry-level certification, although it is unquestionably a must-have for anybody looking for a job that involves offensive qualities.

On-Demand Skills Of a Certified Ethical Hacker

While there are several anecdotal instances of blackhat hackers being converted to whitehats in the past, the most crucial criterion for being a successful certified ethical hacker today is to have high ethical standards, as the term implies.

The difference between the good folks and the wrong people is ethics. Many black hat hackers have the technical abilities to be ethical hackers but lack the character discipline to do the right thing regardless of the apparent rewards.

A background in cybercrime is an enormous risk for a representative of a cybersecurity team. This sort of risk would be inappropriate for a major corporation with an experienced legal staff.

When applying for work as an ethical hacker, a résumé that includes any activity that even smells like unlawful labor or unethical behavior is a surefire way to get dismissed.

While people can change over time, most employers recognize that creating a set of ethical life-guiding values entails far more than wanting to change careers.

An individual must be knowledgeable about both wired and wireless networks in order to be an ethical hacker.

They must be familiar with a variety of operating systems, mainly Windows and Linux. They must be knowledgeable about firewalls and file systems.

They must be familiar with file permissions as well as servers, workstations, and computer science in general.

Strong coding abilities are required, as are clear understanding and demonstration of direct, physical, and hands-on assault tactics.

In summary, an ethical hacker should have guarded so many assets throughout their career that mimicking and then thinking a few steps ahead of the enemy is second nature.

A unique blend of creative and analytical thinking, in addition to high ethics and strong technical abilities, is required. Ethical hackers must be able to think like their adversaries.

They must comprehend the bad actors’ motivations and predict how much time and effort the blackhat is ready to devote to any given target. To do so, the pentester must first comprehend the importance of guarding data and systems.

Certification & Examinations: Ethical Hacking

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and Offensive Security Certified Professional are two credentials specific to ethical hacking (OSCP).

A Certified Ethical Hacker is “a trained professional who recognizes and knows how to take a peek for security holes in target systems and uses the same skills and tools as a malicious hacker, but lawfully and credibly to assess the defense capabilities of a target system,” according to EC-Council (s)

EC-Council offers a variety of additional cybersecurity professional credentials that can help you become more employable as a certified ethical hacker.

“The OSCP assessment comprises of a virtual network including targets of different configurations and operating systems,” says Offensive Security of their OSCP certification.

The student receives the test and connects instructions for an isolated exam network they have no prior knowledge or experience at the start of the exam.

The successful individual will be able to do network research (information gathering), identify vulnerabilities, and successfully carry out attacks. Modifying exploit code to compromise systems and gain administrative access is common.

The candidate must present a thorough penetration test report, including extensive notes and screenshots of their results. Each compromised host is given points based on the complexity and level of access gained.”

Starting your career with a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related profession is a smart idea. A background in computer science or network engineering is recommended for a job in the security area.

When looking for a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, look for programs with a strong multidisciplinary focus.

Computer engineering, computer science, and business management abilities will all be emphasized in good curricula. Look for programs that incorporate technical writing classes as well as legal concerns related to technology and ethics.

The greatest cybersecurity experts are well-rounded individuals who have a broad perspective on their industry.

Self-study is required to stay up with current assault techniques and offensive strategies, even if you have a degree and a professional certification or two. A home laboratory can be quite beneficial.

To retain their edge against blackhat hackers, successful ethical hackers use YouTube tutorials, online organizations and forums, and social media postings and exchanges.

CEH Certification Cost

The final cost of any professional certification will vary based on the candidate’s degree of expertise and previous training.

In addition to the application price, exam fee, and training course fees, independent study resources will almost certainly be acquired as the cost of maintaining the certification.

All test applicants must pay a $100 non-refundable application fee. After the EC-Council receives the needed information, the application approval procedure usually takes five to 10 working days.

A candidate must purchase an exam voucher from the EC-Council Online Store or an authorized training partner once their application has been accepted.

Although EC-Council does not establish a minimum exam voucher price for its approved partners, a voucher from the EC-Council Store costs $1,199.00.

Finally, EC-Council or training partner training should be scheduled. The cost of the test voucher is frequently included in the CEH course fee.

Please assume that the individual applied for the test based on their job experience and declined to attend an approved EC-Council training program. In that scenario, individuals can arrange their exams right away after receiving clearance.

Both defensive and offensive techniques and strategies are covered in the EC-Council CEH training course. Candidates are taught how to circumvent and defeat defenses while learning about controls and countermeasures.

The price for a CEH online instructor hire for a training course is somewhat around $1,899.00. It comes stacked with an annual subscription to training modules, courseware blueprints, and iLabs, as well as an exam voucher.

$2,999 is the price for the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker Live Course online. Check with EC-Council to see whether the Live Course will be available during the Coronavirus epidemic.

Earning 120 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits in three years is required to retain CEH certification.

Attending conferences, producing research papers, delivering training sessions in a connected domain, reading literature on relevant subject topics, and participating in webinars are all methods to get the credits.

The cost of obtaining CPE credits is often several hundred dollars each year.

When selecting any professional certification course career, candidates must ask themselves, “Will it be worth it?” The answer is almost always a resounding “yes” for the CEH.

This is especially true for individuals who want to work in positions that need a grasp of offensive methods in order to enhance their company’s defensive stance.

Salary for CEH Certified Professionals

The typical pay will vary because the CEH certification applies to several security jobs in several organizations but according to Payscale, the median annual salary is $80,513.

Obtaining this qualification will, without a doubt, qualify a candidate for progression to higher-paying positions or more excellent compensation in their existing employment.

With the current market’s increasing need for skilled cybersecurity experts, a CEH will open doors to entry and mid-level employment.

Additional professional qualifications should be explored as a security expert’s career progresses. More information on how to select the most exemplary cybersecurity certifications may be found here.

The typical income for cybersecurity experts in positions that frequently need or compensate for CEH certification is as follows, according to the employment portal Indeed:

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for Information Security Analysts are anticipated to rise by 31% from 2019 to 2029. This expected rise is significantly higher than the average pace of job growth.


The CEH is arguably the best alternative for professional certification for security professionals who want to show their current or prospective employer that they have the knowledge and abilities needed to think like an enemy.

For many, it is just one step on the way to their “top of the industry” ambition, but it is an important one that should not be overlooked.

A cybersecurity expert with a CEH will stand out from the crowd as someone who can do more than just follow procedures. Instead, they are someone who can conceive of new ways to keep one step ahead of a competitor.


Is CEH Certification Tough?

To begin with, nothing is easy, but nothing is impossibly difficult. As a result, all you need to prepare for the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) test is the proper materials and a practice guide.
You can pass this test if you use the proper study materials and put in the necessary effort. This examination is expected to be challenging, according to rumors and other estimates.
The reason for this is that individuals are frightened of putting forth effort and hard labor.

Is Certified Ethical Hacker Worth it?

The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification can be valuable in certain contexts within the field of information technology (IT), but its worth ultimately depends on your specific goals like Job requirements, Skill enhancement, and Industry recognition.

Kevin James

Kevin James

I'm Kevin James, and I'm passionate about writing on Security and cybersecurity topics. Here, I'd like to share a bit more about myself. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity from Utica College, New York, which has been the foundation of my career in cybersecurity. As a writer, I have the privilege of sharing my insights and knowledge on a wide range of cybersecurity topics. You'll find my articles here at, covering the latest trends, threats, and solutions in the field.