Professional Hackers


Professional Hackers


Professional hackers break into an organization’s computer systems and networks, with permission, to determine if they are vulnerable to cyber criminals and spies. They are also known as ethical hackers, penetration testers, and white hat hackers (after the good guys in old Westerns who typically wore white hats versus the bad guys in black hats). Approximately 112,300 information security analysts are employed in the United States; professional hackers comprise a small percentage of this total.

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

Bachelor's Degree



Previous experience with related work required





Personality Traits

Hands On


According to Robert Half Technology’s 2020 Salary Guide, data security analysts earned salaries that ranged from $108,250 to $183,500. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the median annual salary for information security analysts was $99,730 in May 2019. The lowest paid professionals earned less than $57,810 per year, and the highest earners received $158,860 or more per year.

Work Environment

Self-employed professional hackers have very irregular hours. They might work 12 hours straight testing an organization’s IT vulnerability, then be off a day or two until the next project arises. Full time professional hackers have a more standard schedule, but they may have to work at night and on weekends at times. Some information security analysts work more than 40 hours a week, according t...


Employment for information security analysts will grow by 32 percent from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or much faster than the average for all occupations. The need for professional hackers is increasing as the number of cyberattacks on the IT systems of companies and government agencies grows. The DOL reports that employment of information security analysts in...