How to Become A Professional Hacker: A Complete Cybersecurity Career Guide to Pentesting in 2024

By Ryan Toeing | Virtual Contributor | Last Upload on Feb 2nd, 2023 | HomeCybersecurity Research

What it means to be a “hacker” has changed a lot over the years. A hacker used to be someone who was part of the computer programming subculture and knew how to navigate the new and complex landscape of computer technology. It is important to note the difference between a hacker and a Cybercriminal

Cybercriminals hack computer systems with bad intentions, while hackers use computer systems to find new and innovative ways to help or warn people. Cybercriminals are also different from other threat actors in many ways. The primary way is their intent.

No matter what their motivation, all hackers share one common goal: to find and exploit vulnerabilities in systems.

Nowadays, the term “hacker” is often used in a negative light to refer to someone who illegally gains access to computer systems or networks. However, there are different types of hackers, and not all of them are criminals.

However, there are different types of hackers, and not all of them are criminals. By the 1990s, the term “hacker” had taken on a new meaning. It was used to describe criminals who hacked into computer systems for financial gain.

In recent years, the term “hacker” has been reclaimed by the computer programming community and is now used to describe someone who is skilled in programming and problem-solving. There are different types of hackers, but all of them share a common skill set.

Today, the hacker label has cult following. There are many non-cybesecurity industries that apply the term freely e.g. “grow hacker” “google hacker”. These are not real hackers by our definitions, but it’s important to rememeber about famous entraprenuuse known as hackers due to their pioneering and disruptive approach to the tech industry.

Modern hackers, in their purest form, are generally divided into two groups: black hat hackers who utilize their skills for profit and malice, and white hat hackers who fight them. They all have a strong foundation in cybersecurity and are gaining increasing power over modern society.

Differences Between Cybercriminals, Ethical Hackers, Blackhats and Greyhats

As we stated before, not all hackers are created equal. In fact, there are many different types of hackers, each with their own agenda and skill set.

The most well-known and feared type of hacker is the cybercriminal. Cybercriminals are individuals who illegal gain access to computer systems or networks with bad intentions. They often do this for financial gain, but they may also do it to cause damage or steal information.

Cybercriminals typically use their skills to commit cybercrime, which is any crime that is committed using a computer or network. This can include things like identity theft, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

Similiarly, a blackhat hacker is a type of cybercriminal who specializes in illegal activities such as data theft, copyright infringement, and fraud. Blackhat hackers often work alone or in small groups, and they typically target large organizations with deep pockets.

In contrast, white hat hackers are ethical hackers who use their skills to help organizations improve their security posture.

A grey hat hacker is a type of hacker who falls somewhere in between a black hat and a white hat. Grey hat hackers may engage in illegal activities, but they do so with good intentions. For example, a grey hat hacker might hack into a company’s network to test its security defenses.

There are many different careers that can be called “hacking.” If you’re interested in a career in cybersecurity, here’s what you need to know about how to become a hacker.

The job outlook and salary for ethical hackers is great. Jobs for ethical hackers are expected to grow by 28% from now until 2024. The average salary for an ethical hacker is $92,000.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021), At a current salary of $95,000 per year, the average cybersecurity professional makes more than the national median household income. Cybersecurity professionals are some of the fastest-growing professions in America.

There is a global shortage of cybersecurity professionals, and the demand for ethical hackers is expected to continue to grow.

Between 2020 and 2030, information security analysts are expected to grow by 33 percent. This is considerably higher than the normal for other occupations. The pay is also far superior than average. Cybersecurity specialists earn a median annual salary of over $103,590, which is 10 percent greater than the national computer-related employment average.

Typical Responsibilities of Ethical Hackers

In today’s world, where every firm is a tech company, cybersecurity experts and ethical hackers may work virtually everywhere—even coffee shops must have strong cybersecurity measures.

There are different types of hackers. Some work for businesses to help protect their data. Others work for the government to help keep our country safe online.

Ethical hackers may be hired as whitehat hackers for a price, working as consultants who test a client’s cybersecurity from the outside and assist them implement improvements from the inside. Some typical duties of whitehat hackers include:

  • Hardware, software, or network security testing, monitoring, and upgrading
  • Simulating cyber assaults on outdated hardware, software, or networks
  • Creating and following new IT security practices, policies, and technical controls
  • Monitoring a network for security breaches or malicious traffic
  • Investigating past security breaches and making sure the company meets privacy laws.

If you want to learn how to be a hacker, the first think you will need is patience. Hackers are the most patient people in the world. They spend months, if not years, gathering information about their targets before executing an assault. It takes a lot of dedication to become a hacker.

A good knowledge of the English language helps a lot, since, unfortunately, little hacking documentation has been translated into Spanish.

You may use the skills you learn to accomplish your primary goals in the given time and resources. As a hacker, you’ll need to acquire abilities that will aid you in completing your tasks. These talents include learning how to program, using the internet effectively, solving difficulties, and taking use of existing security technologies. We’ll show you through this post what

The second thing you need is a solid foundation in computer science. You don’t need to be a genius, but you should have at least a basic understanding of how computers work. If you’re completely new to the subject, we recommend taking an introductory course or two at your local community college or online. Once you have a grasp of the basics, you can begin learning how to program. This is an essential skill for any future hacker.

Begin by learning a few different programming languages. Python and C are two of the most popular hacker languages, but there are several others to select from. Don’t be scared to play around until you discover one that works for you and your skills. You’ll also want to get familiar with Linux while you learn how to code. Because it’s open source and highly configurable, Linux is typically the operating system of choice among hackers.

What is a programming language?

A programming language is a sort of computer language that’s used to write applications. The solutions produced using this software may cover a wide range of topics, including operating systems, data-driven apps, and everything in between.

Why should you learn how to program?

  • Hackers are problem solvers and tool builders, therefore learning how to code is essential. It distinguishes you from script kiddies as well.
  • As a hacker, you can use programming to automate many activities that would take a long time. Writing programs can also help you find coding errors in the applications you want to exploit.You’ll also need to be well-versed in how to use the internet.
  • There’s no need to keep reinventing the wheel all of the time, and there are several open source solutions that you may utilize without much effort. You can adapt current programs to your needs by changing them.

What Languages Should I learn?

It depends on what systems and platforms you want to target. Some programming languages are designed for specific systems.

For example, if you want to work on mainframes, COBOL is a good option. If you’re more interested in web-based applications, PHP or ASP might be better choices. Now, if you’re planning on learning how to hack into a Linux system, C and C++ are good languages to start with because they’re relatively easy to learn.

Set up an Ethical Hacking Lab w/ Kali Linux

In order to practice your hacking skills, you will need to set up a safe and secure environment in which to do so. This is known as an ethical hacking lab. An ethical hacking lab is simply a computer system or network that is specifically designed for practicing and testing hacking techniques.

Kali Linux is a popular choice for setting up an ethical hacking lab because it comes with a large number of tools pre-installed. Kali Linux is a Debian-based distribution that includes many of the most popular security and penetration testing tools available.

To set up your own Kali Linux ethical hacking lab, you will first need to install VirtualBox. VirtualBox is a free and open source virtualization platform that allows you to run multiple virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical computer.

Once VirtualBox is installed, you can then download the Kali Linux ISO from the Offensive Security website. Once the Kali Linux ISO has been downloaded, you will need to create a new VM in VirtualBox and select the Kali Linux ISO as the boot media.

Once Kali Linux is up and running in your VirtualBox VM, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with the tools that are available. Some of the most popular tools that come pre-installed with Kali Linux include:


-Metasploit Framework




These are just a few of the many tools that cybersecurity professionals, pentesters and ethical hackers use on a regular basis. By setting up your own Kali Linux ethical hacking lab, you will have a safe and secure environment in which to practice and test your skills.

It is convenient to have a LAN set up to be able to test, at least 2 computers connected with crossed cable. For Windows computers, the best way to become a hacker is to start using the Linux operating system. Many of the hacking tools available are designed for Linux and it’s easier to find documentation on how to use these tools in English.

Learn concepts about how a computer works, what is the CPU, number systems, Boolean algebra, operating system concepts. Hard disk, partitions, what is a partition? Operating system, what is it?

Learn about memory management and how files are saved on RAM and SWAP memory. Networking concepts like IP address, MAC address, types of networking cables and how to set up a small network.

You will also need to understand how to use the Command Prompt or Terminal. This is where you will type in commands to run programs or open files. In order to become a hacker, you must be proficient in using the Command Prompt or Terminal.

Start with some simple challenges like how to find a file in the Linux filesystem or how to change the permissions on a file. As you become more comfortable with the Command Prompt or Terminal, you can move on to more difficult challenges like how to write a script that will automate a task or how to compile and run. You’ll also want to learn basic programming like source code, object code, compile, linking, and executables.

Learning how to forward engineer a program will help you learn how to reverse engineer malicious proframs or viruses in the future.

How to Use the Internet Like a Hacker

The internet is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used for good or bad. As a hacker, you will need to know how to use the internet effectively in order to find the information you are looking for. One of the best ways to learn how to use the internet like a hacker is to start using resources like . Learning how research effectively is by far the most useful skill online. If you know how to use it effectively, you can find just about anything you are looking for.

One of the best ways to learn how to use the internet like a hacker is by reading The Art of Exploitation by Jon Erickson. This book covers a wide range of topics, including how to use Google for hacking, how to find vulnerabilities in websites, and how to write exploit code.

A lot of people think that in order to become a hacker, you need to have some sort of criminal background or be an expert in computer science. However, that’s not necessarily true. While it certainly helps to have a strong understanding of computers and how they work, you don’t need to be a genius to become a hacker.

In fact, many of the most famous hackers started out as regular people who were simply curious.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a Hacker or Cybersecurity Professional

Hackers – by nature, if not definition – are nonconformists. They don’t like being told what they can and can’t do. They want to discover things for themselves, even if that means breaking the rules. But if you want to become a hacker – or even just land a job in cybersecurity – there are some basic steps you need to take. Below, we’ve outlined a step-by-step guide to becoming a hacker or working in cybersecurity.

Even if you are just starting out, there are some basic steps you can take to become a successful whitehat hacker. Check out the step-by-step guide below, and follow along as you learn.

Step One: Cultivate A Curiousity for Technology & Being Different

Most successful hackers have a streak of non-conformity. They are curious about how things work and they want to find out for themselves, even if that means breaking the rules. If you want to become

They didn’t always fit in with the mainstream, and may have even been considered “outcasts” by their peers.They don’t always follow the rules, but they graduate from high school. High school students who want to become hackers should also learn about computer science in addition to the regular curriculum. Even if their high school doesn’t offer computer science classes, they can learn about it online.

Earn a Computer Science ’s Degree or Equivilant Work Experience

You can complete a degree in computer science at a traditional four-year university or online. Some schools also offer two-year associate’s degrees in computer science, which can be a good option if you’re interested in starting your career sooner. Alternatively, you can earn a certificate in computer science from a community college or trade school.

If you’re interested in working in cyber security, you may also want to consider earning a degree in information assurance or cyber security. These programs will teach you about the basics of cyber security and how to protect computer networks from attack.

Learn How to Code

Most hacking jobs will require you to know how to code. You don’t need to be an expert coder, but being able to write basic scripts and understand how coding works will give you a leg up in the job market. If you’re not sure where to start, Codecademy offers free online courses that can teach you the basics of coding.

Notably, the hacker’s undergraduate experience is not limited to the classroom, as many important lessons and skills are learned outside of it. In addition to taking on as many hacking-related extracurriculars as possible, students should also pursue internships and research opportunities to gain real-world experience.

An online ’s degree in Cybersecurity that includes a reknown and comprehensive program will prepare you for the many facets of the information technology industry. Through this degree, you Cybersecurity hands-on experiences they need to develop a security mindset.

The program achieves this through two approaches: a systems thinking approach, which examines how complex components interact with one another; and an adversarial thinking approach, which explores hacker tradecraft and incident response tactics.

Courses in these kinds of curriculum include interception of electronic communications; computer security; digital forensics in the criminal justice system; and cloud technologies. Students can further customize their degree by selecting from a long list of electives, which cover topics such as penetration testing and secure coding.

Obtain Early IT or Cybersecurity Internship Experience (Timeline Varies)

After graduating from school, or college an aspiring hacker ‘s next step is to find an entry-level position in IT or cybersecurity. Many organizations prefer to hire ethical hackers who have at least some experience in the field. One way to gain this experience is to complete an internship in IT or cybersecurity before applying for full-time jobs.

Internships can last anywhere from a few weeks to a full year, and they can be paid or unpaid. Some internships may even offer college credit. Paid internships are often more competitive, but they can provide valuable experience and training that can lead to a full-time job after graduation.

Unpaid internships can also be a good way to get your foot in the door and pay your dues to the field. Rememeber Information Security can be brutal

Work experience is valuable for a number of reasons: it allows you to develop your skills in the field, learn how to work with others on projects, and make connections that can help further your career. There are a number of entry-level positions in cybersecurity, such as security analyst or junior pentester.

Some hackers also choose to start their own cybersecurity consulting businesses. This can be a good option if you have experience in the field and you’re interested in setting your own hours and working independently.

Year Up is non-profit career development program that helps young adults transition into well-paying jobs in the tech industry. The organization offers a one-year program that includes training in technical and professional skills, as well as internships with top companies. Year Up has helped over 13,000 young adults launch their careers in the tech industry.

The United States Cyber Challenge (USCC) is an annual competition for high school students , college students, and recent graduates interested in careers in cybersecurity. You will want to look for similar resources, programs, and inernships locally, but rememeber you can apply to remote positions as well.

Another steobap you may want to consider, especially if you are having difficulty finding work experience, is to look for a mentor in the field. A mentor can provide guidance, support, and advice as you navigate your career. You can find mentors through formal programs, such as the SANS Institute’s Cyber Mentor Program, or informally, such as by reaching out to someone you admire in the field and asking for help.

Early work experience can also help aspiring hackers widen their professional network and gain exposure to a wide range of ideas that may come into play later on.

Become a Certified Ethical Hacker or Pentester

Certification as a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is a good way to show employers that you have the skillset necessary for a career in cybersecurity. It can also be helpful when applying for jobs in government organizations. There are similar certifications like CompTIA’s Pentest+ which may also help you down the line.

The CEH certification is offered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) and it covers a broad range of topics, including network security, penetration testing methodology, and social engineering. To become certified, you must pass an exam that tests your knowledge of these topics.

CompTIA offers a certification for penetration testing. To be certified, you must pass an exam that covers topics such as footprinting and reconnaissance, scanning and enumeration, system hacking, Trojans and backdoors, viruses and worms, sniffers, social engineering, denial-of-service attacks, session hijacking, web application vulnerabilities (including SQL injection flaws), buffer overflows,’ and cryptography.

Earning a certification can be expensive—exam fees can range from $200 to $1,000—but many employers are willing to reimburse employees for the cost of

If you have some computer science background but are not familiar with cybersecurity, there are training courses offered by the EC-Council that can help you prepare for the CEH certification exam.

To be eligible for the CEH, you must have two years of work experience in a related field. Once you are deemed eligible, you must pass a four-hour, 125-question multiple choice exam that covers nine different topics: information security and ethical hacking; reconnaissance techniques; system hacking phases and attack techniques; network and perimeter hacking; web application hacking; wireless network hacking; mobile platform, IoT, and OT hacking; cloud computing; and cryptography.

Some employers look for specific certifications that match the specific cybersecurity needs of an organization. Security professionals who want to get a job in the field may take several different types of security testing. While there are numerous vendor-specific certifications, more general professional certificates that focus on cybersecurity include:

  • CompTIA Security+ (CompTIA): An entry-level credential, the Security+ designation is a global credential that validates the baseline skills necessary to perform core cybersecurity functions.
  • Cybersecurity Practitioner Certification (CSX-P): For cybersecurity first-responders, the CSX-P credential validates cybersecurity skills across five security areas drawn from the NIST Cybersecurity Framework: Incident Response, Cyber Threat Intelligence, Cybersecurity Governance and Risk Management, Cyber Security Incident Management, and Cyber Resilience. GIAC Security Essentials Certification
  • Security Essentials Certification (GSEC): The GSEC credential is designed for cybersecurity practitioners who want to validate their skills in protecting and managing information security systems.
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): CISA certification is granted by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) to individuals who demonstrate their knowledge of auditing, control, and security of enterprise information systems.
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): This course is designed for people who have a lot of experience with cybersecurity and who are currently in leadership roles.

Research Global Cybersecurity Trends & Malware (Ongoing)

Once you’ve started your career in cybersecurity, it’s important to keep up with the latest global cybersecurity trends and malware. Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field, and new threats are emerging all the time. By staying up-to-date on the latest trends, you can help your organization stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

One way to stay informed is to follow popular cybersecurity blogs and news outlets, such as Krebs on Security, Dark Reading, and Threatpost. You can also subscribe to cybersecurity podcasts, such as the CISO/Security Vendor Relationship Podcast and the Cybersecurity Insights Podcast. In addition to following trends, it’s also important to keep an eye out for new malware. One way to do this is by using a tool like VirusTotal, which allows you to scan files and URLs for malware.

When new trends or malware is discovered, it’s important to share this information with your team so that they can be aware of the threat and take steps to protect your organization. You can use a tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams to easily share information with your colleagues.

While it is not a requirement to work as an ethical hat hacker, having a master’s degree in cybersecurity or computer science can be beneficial for individuals who want to advance in the field of cybersecurity.

An interdisciplinary Cybersecurity curriculum comprises classes such as ethical hacking and social engineering; cyber warfare; fundamentals of cloud security; and systems engineering processes, which are suitable for working professionals.

Hackers operate at the borders of what’s possible. To find out where the field of cybersecurity is today, and where it’s going, check out some of the resources below.

Additional Resources for Aspiring Hackers

  • Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA): Established by the US government, CISA leads the national effort to understand, manage, and reduce risk to cyber and physical infrastructure.
  • Over the Wire – War Games: Based on real-world scenarios, these free online cybersecurity games challenge players to solve realistic problems.
  • Hack the Box: Pen-testing labs simulating real-world network environments.Cybrary: Free online courses in a variety of cybersecurity.
  • DEFCON Conferences: One of the world’s largest hacker conferences, held annually in Las Vegas.

With the right skillset and credentials, you can put your hacking talents to good use and make a positive impact on society. Cybersecurity is a critical field that is only going to become more important in the years to come. By pursuing a career in cybersecurity, you can help make the world a safer place for everyone!

We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of how to get started in the field Information Security and ethical hacking!

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