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Top Ethical Hacking Certifications For Getting Hired

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By: Shimon Brathwaite

August 13, 2021

Ethical hacking is one of the most desired specialties in cybersecurity. Unfortunately, becoming a good hacker isn’t as simple as going to college or even enrolling in a cybersecurity Bootcamp. There isn’t too much valuable theory on being a good hacker; you need to get as much practical experience as you can. However, this leads to another problem, how do you prove that you have that experience. If you’re going to apply for a job, you can’t simply say that you are a good hacker. Employers want you to have an experience that they can verify as legitimate. One way to do this is through professional certifications, which give you a platform to get practical experience. Some of the best ethical hacking certifications for getting hired as a penetration tester:

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) practical

EC-Council certification provides entry-level Pentesters knowledge. It covers the penetration testing methodology, most popular software tools for hacking, and essential technology concepts that you need to understand to be an efficient hacker. The CEH is primarily theory, but you can choose to take the CEH practical, test your ability and the concepts you learn in a simulated environment.

CompTIA Pentest+

CompTIA is a well-known certification organization, and the Pentest+ is their specialized ethical hacking certification. It covers planning & scoping information gathering, vulnerability identification, attacks and exploits, penetration testing tools, and reporting.

Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

Offensive security is an organization that specializes in computer hacking and has the most comprehensive suite of ethical hacking certifications of any organization. The first in their series is the OSCP, which is a full-on practical hacking exam. When you purchase the package, you will get access to a practice lab of about 50 servers to practice hacking into the network. The exam itself will be very similar, where you will hack into multiple servers within a 2-hour timeframe. Following that, you will have 24 hours to achieve a complete professional write-up for your exam. The evaluation will teach you how to hack computers and create professional reports for clients. One thing that makes it so effective to indicate your skill is that you get minimal guidance. The motto for offensive security is “try harder” because many people get frustrated at how difficult it can be. However, this makes the certification so well respected because completing it shows that you can perform a professional penetration test while under pressure. They also offer two specializations within penetration testing for wireless security testing (OSWP) and evasion techniques for breaching defenses (OSEP). The OSWP focuses on teaching you how to hack into wireless networks via access points and how to protect your access points from eavesdropping, drive-by attacks, and other means of exploitation. The OSEP focuses on teaching you how to avoid security controls when you are hacking into a machine. The goal is to infiltrate and remain hidden for as long as possible. This course will teach you the techniques you need to know to be more stealthy and covert as you hack computers.

Offensive security web expert (OSWE)

OSWE is an offensive security web expert, and it’s a specialist penetration testing certification that focuses on exploiting and securing web applications through white box pen testing methods. White box testing is a software testing technique where you know the software’s internal structure, design, and coding. This certification emphasizes injection attacks such as XSS and SQL injections.

Offensive Security Exploit Development

Offensive Security offers two certifications focused on exploit development. The Offensive Security Exploitation developer (OSED) teaches you how to bypass standard security mitigations with exploits created from scratch. While the previous certifications will teach you industry-standard tools, these certifications focus on teaching you how to build your exploits.

The Offensive Security certification, the Offensive Security Exploitation Expert (OSEE), is the most challenging course and teaches advanced exploitation of windows operating systems. It demonstrates an extremely high level of competency in hacking.

Metasploit Pro Certified Specialist

Rapid7 is a leading cybersecurity solution provider. Metasploit is one of the most popular penetration testing tools used by ethical hackers. It allows you to scan networks/devices, create exploits and import pre-made exploits to use in target machines. This course teaches how to use all of the critical features of Metasploit Pro. If you buy the premium version of Metasploit, this course is a great way to get familiar with all of the tools and certification.

Certified Mobile and Web Application Penetration Tester (CMWAPT)

Information Assurance Certification Review Board (IACRB)hosts this certification. It teaches mobile and web application security. You will learn the common vulnerabilities and weaknesses that a pen tester would need to know. It will also explore the differences between android web app attacks and iOS web app attacks to be proficient with both platforms. Lastly, it teaches secure coding principles. Rather than just being able to test a fully or partially completed web application, you will be able to source code evaluations and correct security issues directly in the source code.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Overall, this is the most popular security certification, and it’s a great one to get if you’re interested in the management track. If you want to eventually become a team lead or manager of a hacking team, you should get this certification. It requires five years of working experience and tests you on eight different information security domains. Most questions on the exam will not be technical but will test your ability to assess the overall risk to the company.


Being a computer hacker is a long road. You need to be constantly studying and learning if you want to be good at it. Self-studying is a crucial component of learning, but it will not always be enough to convince an employer to hire you. You need to do some formal training that will give people confidence that you know what you are doing, and this is where certifications can be beneficial. These certifications will allow you to learn and get certified to convince employers of your skillset. Not only does it help you get the initial job, but studies show that having a certification can help you make more money. For example, people with a CISSP tend to have higher salaries than 20% higher in some regions. Overall these certifications are an investment worth considering if you want to get into the industry and progress quickly.

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