Top Ethical Hacking Certifications to Boost Your Career

Is it your goal to become an ethical hacker and use your skills for the common good? Searching for the best certification to maximize job prospects?

We’ve got you covered. This article will take you through some of the best ethical hacking certifications to prime you for those hard-core cybercrime-fighting opportunities.

Option 1: Certified Ethical Hacker (CEHv11)

The EC Council offers this certification. You must provide proof of a minimum of 2 years of work experience in cybersecurity or related fields. If you don’t have work experience, you must attend the EC Council training, which consists of video lectures, instructor training, and practical lab sessions.


  • You can do the training through self-study online, which gives you the freedom and flexibility to study at your own pace.

  • It is internationally recognized, well-known, and highly popular among employers.

  • It is widely trusted amongst recruiters since it maintains minimum quality criteria and adherence.

  • The comprehensive training covers more than 340 cyberattack tactics and tools, which are constantly refreshed. Some areas covered include IDS testing, vulnerability analysis, detection and countermeasures, reconnaissance, malware analysis, and hacking challenges through commercial-grade tools.


  • The course does not have enough hands-on training compared to the theoretical portions. This may be a disadvantage when you enter the workspace. But the course does have practice sessions to apply learnings on business or cyberattack case studies at the end of every module.

Once the training is complete, you can attempt the multiple-choice examination with 125 scenario-based questions to be completed in 4 hours.

Option 2: Offensive Security Certified Professional

The OSCP is a specialized, rigorous qualification. You need a good foundation in Python, Perl, or bash scripting, Linux administration, and TCP/IP networking. You must also clear the Offensive Security’s Kali Linux (PEN-200) foundation course.

The training includes 30 days of laboratory access to the practice, followed by a 24-hour examination. During these 24 hours, you must research the virtual network, find vulnerabilities, alter and apply code, and exploit hosts to hack into a compromised system. It is a real-life, offensive hacking scenario that encourages you to think on your feet and find creative solutions. The examination committee generates a report of how well you applied penetration testing on the large and complicated network system, and a positive result grants certification. There are similar courses from Offensive Security that are advanced or superspecialized, e.g. (OSEP) and (OSWP)


  • This is a hands-on, real-time test of your skills. It tests your critical analysis, problemsolving, lateral thinking, and time-management skills. Passing validates your onground performance and grasp.


  • It is quite expensive at $1000, and additional charges if you want extra lab time or resources.

  • You need to have the technical aptitude to be able to attempt this certification, which some aspirants may not possess.

Option 3: GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)

The GPEN certification is very precise and particular within the cybersecurity domain. You can earn this qualification through online vendor-neutral GIAC courses. You can also get additional specialization by doing courses through the SANS Institute (SysAdmin, Networking, and Security). Use the SANS Institute for SEC560 course on Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking which is the complete study material, to prepare. The exam attests to your capability in pen testing for web applications, attacking password hashes, initial target, and vulnerability scanning, and creating legal verification reports.


  • The instruction focuses on the latest, up-to-date applications. Being up-to-speed on current trends improves job prospects.


  • The training can be very costly and is necessary if you don’t have a technical background.

  • While there is no mandated background requirement, it is a tough exam. Ideally, you should have 2+ years of professional experience and/or mastery over Linux or Windows, basic cryptography, and command-line tools.

Option 4: CompTIA PenTest+

This intermediate-level course covers basic and extended security applications. Before taking this exam, you should have completed the CompTIA Network+ and Security+ courses and a few years of experience in information security.

This exam validates your expertise in pen-testing on traditional on-site, cloud, hybrid, and IoT environments, whether on OS, web servers, firewall software, or wireless systems. You can conduct vulnerability audits and communicate risks to the management.


  • You get a workshop on threat management, risk identification, remediation, and network access management. You will be well-prepared and ready to jump into any role immediately.

  • This certification has high acceptance and is very marketable on job sites. You will have a broad knowledge base since the exam tests practical performance in a simulated real-world environment and theory.


  • It has only a three-year validity, after which it needs to be renewed, compared to the OCSP, which has lifetime validity.

  • You need a few years’ work experience and two certifications to be eligible, which many people may not be able to afford at the beginning of their careers.

Option 5: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

This option offers a broader range. It is an advanced qualification, especially for corporate information security requirements. It is meant for working professionals with a minimum of 5+ years of experience in any two of the eight domains authorized by ICS2, which conducts the exam. You can further specialize in 3 areas – management, engineering, or architecture. Clearing the test vouches for your ability to perform ethical hacking in enterprises.


  • It is a highly-respected credential. It can boost your recruitment, salary, and promotion opportunities because it shows your skillfulness in managing and controlling security methods and systems.


  • It is not cyber-security specific, as required by some job descriptions. You may need to learn extra skills that aren’t immediately necessary.


These are some of the most popular certifications with the best return to get you your desired job profile. Many others are tailored to other specializations, such as CHFI, CISM, CSTA, and Foundstone Ultimate Hacking. Check out their site to see if these credentials can help you advance your career

Updated on: 07-Dec-2022


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