Ethical Hacker Salary: How Much Can You Earn as an Ethical Hacker?

What’s the average salary of an ethical hacker?

Ethical hackers are highly skilled and in demand so they are highly compensated, with the average salary for an ethical hacker sitting at $105,300. A salary that high works out to $50.63 an hour.

Ethical hacking is increasing in demand. Several outlets claim huge numbers like $700,000 per year. Those numbers are possible but perhaps unrealistic. While it is possible to make a decent chunk of change, it’s important to remember the actual statistics of average salary, starting salary, and compensation by experience level.

Entry-level positions pay much less than $75,000, and the 75-percentile sees wages in the $175,000 range.

National Starting Annual Salary for Ethical Hackers

Just like many professions, starting as an ethical hacker will see the lower end of the pay scale. While some ethical hacking jobs start as low as $35,500 per year, you are likely to find a much higher starting annual salary for being an ethical hacker. The national starting yearly salary for ethical hackers is $65,000 or $31.25 an hour.

Various factors determine the starting salary of an ethical hacker. Many ethical hacker positions will demand a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. Often ethical hackers are expected to have some experience in the industry as well. Hence, internships are the way to go. These salaries will reflect the absolute minimum pay, which could be as low as $35,500 per year.

Earnings by Experience Level of Ethical Hackers

Entry-level jobs pay an average of $65,000 per year. Within the first four years, an entry-level position transitions into an early-career position. The salary typically jumps to an average of $81,000. Entry-level positions will always demand a lower wage, and for ethical hackers, the trend continues.

As you approach mid-career, ethical hackers can expect to see salary jump to around the national average of $103,0308. The salary rate is dependent upon location, organization, and performance. As an ethical hacker approaches the 15-year mark or late-career stage, an ethical hacker can expect to make $112,000 or more.

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Highest Paying Cities for Ethical Hackers

Some cities pay better for ethical hackers than others. New York City, for example, is the highest paying city for ethical hackers, with an average salary of $140,000 per year. Most ethical hackers will see the highest rates on the east coast, with these cities paying the highest for ethical hackers:

  1. New York City – $140,000
  2. Washington D.C. – $138,000
  3. Chicago – $131,000
  4. Alexandria, VA – $135,000
  5. Sterling, VA- $128,000

Highest Paying States for Ethical Hackers

Washington state ranks top of the highest paying states for ethical hackers. The Home of Amazon and Microsoft, both huge tech companies, pays handsomely for all technical jobs. Still, the average for ethical hackers in Washington averages out to $134,500 per year in salary. These are the highest paying states for ethical hackers:

  1. Washington – $134,500
  2. New York – $125,600
  3. New Hampshire – $121,600
  4. California – $119,500
  5. Vermont – $114,800

How Does Ethical Hacking Salary Compare to Other Cybersecurity Jobs?

Ethical hacking is really a blanket term for various information security roles. Ethical hackers, or white hat hackers, focus primarily on hacking systems with the intention of solving data breaches. Ethical hacking can take the form of Information Security Analysts, IT Security specialists, and even Penetration Tester.

Other cybersecurity jobs may focus on different aspects of security, such as monitoring databases. Plus, some roles set up the layers of protection a corporation or firm may use to prevent attacks in the first place, then an ethical hacker can be brought in to test the system.

How Do I Advance My Ethical Hacking Career and Make More Money?

Making more money is on everyone’s mind. For ethical hacking, your career has the opportunity to advance through various methods. First, you can obtain a certification in ethical hacking. These certifications, like the one through EC Council, add structure, testing, and certifications that advance your ethical hacking career.

Many other great programs exist for ethical hacking. Finding a job in the field is much easier with a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree is the refinement you need to make more money.

A few universities offer graduate programs in ethical hacking, such as Dakota State University, Rutgers, and North Eastern University. Return to your university to see if a graduate program is possible.

Final Thoughts on Ethical Hacking Salary

Ethical hacking is a growing field. Many companies like Google, Target, and Facebook employ ethical hackers to prevent massive data leaks or malicious attacks. These highly skilled individuals help organizations by hacking systems in a pre-planned and approved fashion. As a result of their work, cybersecurity has improved dramatically.

The job prospects for those looking to start a career in ethical hacking are strong. Compared to programmers, starting salaries are low, but average wages and long-term salaries are pretty aggressive.

Plus, ethical hackers can earn more money by adding certifications or even master’s degrees to their resumes. It’s essential to keep in mind that salary will depend on location, years of experience, and, of course, performance.