How much can you earn as a white hat hacker in the US?
As work from home and online shopping rise in popularity, so does the threat of cybersecurity. A white hat hacker, or an ethical hacker, helps safeguard businesses from hackers.
White hat hackers are among one the most exciting IT jobs any person can be involved in. Choosing this career path entails keeping up with the latest technologies and enjoying the thrill of breaking into computers legally.
The job involves identifying vulnerabilities in systems before hackers do; they use their expertise to test an organisation’s defences by legally breaking into its computers and devices.
How much can a white hat hacker earn?
Salaries of a white hat hacker in the US vary greatly and can depend on numerous factors, including your education, location and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
Glassdoor reports that the national average salary for an ethical hacker is 99,223 US dollars per year. PayScale, however, notes that the average base salary in the US is US$79,327 per year.
Salary.com reports that as of July 28, 2021, the average ethical hacker salary in the US is US$101,387, but the salary range typically falls between US$90,442 and US$115,661.
Conversely, ZipRecruiter notes that as of August 24, 2021, the average annual pay for an ethical hacker in the US is US$119,289 a year.
“While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as US$187,500 and as low as US$22,500, the majority of ethical hacker salaries currently range between US$90,500 (25th percentile) to US$149,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making US$173,000 annually across the US,” they said.
“The average pay range for an ethical hacker varies greatly (by as much as US$58,500), which suggests there may be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on skill level, location and years of experience.”
These figures suggest that white hat hackers typically earn well above the US median household income. The US Census Bureau notes that the median household income was US$68,703 in 2019, an increase of 6.8% from the 2018 median of US$64,324.
What education do I need to become a white hat hacker?
Apart from lucrative salaries, the job of a white hat hacker is also in demand. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that information security analysts, which includes ethical hackers, can expect to see jobs increase by 31% from 2019 to 2029.
The right qualifications are essential for a career in this booming industry. These professionals usually have a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science or an advanced diploma in network security.
An ideal programme will emphasise both computing and business management skills. Future white hat hackers should look for programmes that include courses in technical writing and possibly even the legal issues surrounding technology and ethics.
White hat hackers should have extensive programming experience and familiarity with a range of different programming languages. Additionally, it’s common for employers to require candidates to have Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification and other recognised certifications, such as CompTIA – both of which were designed to prepare them to work as experts in cybersecurity.
When it comes to skills, aspirants need to be strongly analytical and equipped to review data. Their roles will revolve around consulting with their clients, identifying their problems, explaining their findings, and collaborating with other professionals involved with information security – these translate to excellent customer service skills and strong interpersonal skills.
Exceptional problem-solving skills and attention to detail are also fundamental. Ethical hackers need to be thorough in their attempts to breach security systems. They must also develop fresh, innovative strategies that enable them to pinpoint the problems within the security systems they have been entrusted to protect.