5 Most Wanted Ethical Hacking Certifications

The world of Information Technology is expanding just like the universe. There are new gigs, new jobs, and newer technologies being introduced every other day. But, inevitably, as the technology improves so do the challenges in the workplace.

One of the biggest concerns for organizations, nowadays, revolves around privacy and Internet security. Spam, hacks and brute force attacks are common and the protection of important sensitive data remains a top priority for all companies and IT firms.

Since Internet security and privacy is such an important issue, firms make sure they develop protocols and procedures which foolproof their product or service from such attacks and vulnerabilities. One of these protocols involves professional penetration testing, which essentially is a sort of legalized hacking. And hence this procedure gives the birth to one of the most exciting jobs in the realm of IT, called Ethical Hacking.

What is Ethical Hacking?

The word “hacking” is hardly associated with anything good or constructive for that matter. However, ethical hacking, no matter how oxymoronic it may sound, is one of the higher paying jobs in IT and always remains in high demand.

Ethical Hackers are basically hired to test out a company’s products and services and to expose any faults, loopholes, or bugs which an actual hacker may exploit to harm the company. The designation is a little peculiar in the sense that you are actually being paid to ‘break’ into systems without feeling anxious about getting into any legal trouble or, worse, getting arrested.

Companies hire such people so that they try their best at breaking into their systems. If you are successful in going through, then it is of major benefit to the organization as, now, they can take aggressive steps to change their code in a manner which does not allow such an event to happen in real time.

In cases, where you fail to hack the computer, product or service; the company ends up even happier because they can now feel comfortable that they can deploy their resource in the real world without having to worry about hack attacks or other privacy concerns.

How can I become an Ethical Hacker?

There is no doubt in the fact that an Ethical Hacker is an attractive job title but just like any other profession, it requires a specific set of special skills. A person without those skills is no good to anybody hence if you aspire to become an ethical hacker or pen tester in the future then you will have to learn the tricks of the trade first before hunting for a job.

There have been significant developments in IT pertaining to hacking education. There are a number of courses and certifications that a person can enroll into in order to learn the art of ethical hacking. However, people will argue that self-learning the art is probably a better option, and we do not deny that it isn’t at least a good one, but it is also a fact that organizations tend to favor people who have certifications and courses to show on their resume.

In the following paragraphs, we will discuss some of the well-known and well-recognized certifications that can help you get your dream job as a professional penetration tester, and that too at a salary that you deem adequate.

Top 5 Ethical Hacking Credentials


SANS Institute, an acronym for the SysAdmin, Networking and Security Institute, is one of the most prestigious training organizations. It offers a host of different certifications related to pen testing however its most popular certificate is the GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN). The Institute provides not only certification opportunities, but also courses on the subjects for the avid learner.

The certification is not easy to earn, it requires a thorough preparation on the candidate’s part. Attempting the exam relying only on your past experience and current knowledge is not a good idea especially when you weigh the risks that are involved. First of all, the examination costs money and is certainly not cheap. A single attempt for the GPEN costs around $1699, hence it is advisable that you make sure that you have a firm grip on your concepts before you even think about sitting in the test.

All is not gloomy; SANS Institute offers a corresponding course for this examination as well. The course is called the SEC560: Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking. The course covers all the topics that essentially form the final exam and serves as an excellent preparation source, which greatly increases your chances of passing the certification test. On the downside, the course costs $5910 if you take it online and $6260 if you take it live-in person.

The examination has a time limit of exactly three hours; you will have to answer 115 questions and at least score 74 percent to pass it.

2. EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker

This is considered as the most popular and, probably, the oldest ethical hacking certification in the market. It is well recognized by employers and is known to give IT professionals an extra edge when it comes to negotiating their salaries and other remuneration.

The certificate is a must-have for any aspiring individuals who see themselves as future ethical hackers. To sit for the examination, you need to provide an adequate proof that you have at least 2 years of experience working in the field or similar years of relevant education. However, you can evade this requirement if you enroll in the corresponding official course, which you can either attend online or in-person; as per your convenience.

The course covers about eighteen full subjects pertaining to hacking and even provides them six months of access to Cyber Range iLab where they can learn more than a hundred hacking tricks. The total cost of this course is priced at $1850.

However, to earn the CEH certification, you have to pass a vigorous four-hour examination, which consists of 125 multiple-choice questions. You need to pay a $950 fee and an additional $100 application fee in order to sit for this certification test.

3. CREST Registered Tester

If you are looking for some beginner level certifications and just want to test the waters before jumping in it, you should take maximum benefit from the CREST certifications and courses. The most basic certificate that they offer is called the CREST Registered Tester (CRT).

The cost of the exam varies depending on your country and test takers must agree to the CREST Code of Conduct. It must be noted that CREST is a non-profit organization but it is very famous when it comes to IT certifications. Its courses and certifications are accepted in many countries such as Australia, Asia, and Europe.

4. Ultimate Hacking

Foundstone, a McAfee Business Unit, rolled out some of the earliest courses around the topics of ethical hacking and penetration testing on the Internet. Its arsenal of Ultimate Hacking books and courses was once the only way to get hands-on knowledge about the subject.

Now, Foundstone offers a number of different trainings and courses which cover even more technologies and ideas than before. Initially, their course outline included Windows, SQL, Solaris, Linux etc. but now it has revamped its training to include the hacking of Internet of Things, Bluetooth, RFID, and Industrial Control Security Systems.

You will not find courses with such platforms anywhere on the Internet. Another big plus for Foundstone is that most of the instructors that are involved in teaching here are either security consultants or pen testers themselves. This greatly improves the overall learning experience during the course.

5. Offensive Security Certified Professional

This is the toughest certification on our list. The exam is known to really test out students and push them to their limits. The difficulty of the exam is what makes it famous and in high-demand among employers.

The exam is very different from other certificate examinations in that it is hardly theoretical. The candidates are instructed to connect to a virtual environment where they are provided different devices and systems which they need to hack in about 24 hours. Not only this, the students are required to properly document their efforts as to how they did it.

The c andidates who aim to appear in the exam are advised to make full use of the Metasploit tool course which is easily available for free. The official online training course is called Penetration Testing with Kali Linux and is priced at $800.

Some Final Thoughts

If you are just stepping into the world of Information Technology and want to build a career around pen testing and ethical hacking, then it is highly recommended that you at least complete a few certifications from the list. It will not only help you in getting better jobs, but also aid you in asking your employers for a raise or promotion. Therefore, if you are starting out your career or already at a certain stage, you should always be on the lookout for courses and certifications that can bring that extra value to your skill set and career prospects.

Leave a Reply