Ethical Hacker Salary: What You'll Make and Why

Written by Coursera • Updated on

The typical ethical hacker salary is based on your knowledge and understanding of cybersecurity, computer programming, computer networks, and more. Certifications and experience can boost your salary as an ethical hacker in just a short time.

[Featured Image] Ethical hacker searches for holes in a computer system using three monitors

The median or average salary for an ethical hacker in the United States is between $67,209 and $103,583, according to various salary aggregate websites. How much you earn will depend on several factors, including your level of experience, education, industry, company, location, and whether you have relevant certifications.

Average base salaries for ethical hackers in the United States, as of June 2022, are as follows:

PayscaleZipRecruiterSalary.comGlassdoor
$79,618$67,209$103,583 (median)$94,783 (median)

Salary aggregate websites often rely on data submitted by individuals using the site. Some websites may have received larger amounts of higher- or lower-than-average salaries, affecting the site’s calculated average.

Read more: What Is Ethical Hacking?

Common factors that impact earning potential

The wide pay range for an ethical hacker suggests there may be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on certifications, skill level, education, location, experience, and expertise.

Experience

One of the most impactful factors in determining your salary potential seems to be experience. Ethical hackers may receive a bump in pay every year they’re employed. For example, consider the annual median base pay by years of experience, according to Glassdoor [1]: 

  • 0–1 year experience: $78,998

  • 1-3 years experience: $89,754

  • 4-6 years experience: $101,333

  • 7-9 years experience: $105,776

Education

Generally speaking, more education tends to correlate with higher salaries. In penetration and vulnerability testing, 66 percent of job listings request at least a bachelor's degree and 25 percent require a master's degree or higher [2]. While this ultimately depends on the company and your unique circumstances, having a graduate degree could lead to higher-paying roles as an ethical hacker.

Certifications

Earning a certification in ethical hacking or cybersecurity can validate your skills to potential employers, which could translate to an increase in pay. According to Payscale, those with a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential earn a median base pay of $82,966—more than $3,000 more than the average for all ethical hackers [3].

Read more: 4 Ethical Hacking Certifications to Boost Your Career

Salaries for other cybersecurity professionals

Pursuing a career in cybersecurity could lead to a range of career paths and roles. Here are a few different job titles to consider, along with their median base salaries in the United States, according to Glassdoor (June 2022):

Next Steps

If you're interested in a career as an ethical hacker, build your cybersecurity skills with the IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera. Build your knowledge of data protection, endpoint protection, SIEM, and network fundamentals while getting hands-on experience through virtual labs using industry tools. Get started for free.

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Related articles

Article sources 

1. Glassdoor. “How Much Does an Ethical Hacker Make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-ethical-hacker-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,17.htm.”  Accessed June 9, 2022.

2. CyberSeek. “Cybersecurity Career Pathway, “https://www.cyberseek.org/pathway.html.” Accessed June 9, 2022.

3. Payscale.com. “Average Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Salary,  https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Certified_Ethical_Hacker_(CEH)/Salary.” Accessed June 9, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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