Professional Computer Hacker – Best IT Jobs of 2011 Series


Hacking represents an interesting conflict of interest in the technological world today; on the one hand it is the bane of life that is a major threat to important data while on the other it is used extensively to maintain security and position by numerous firms. In the light of the latter, hacking has its advantages to the world of technology and is thus becoming a popular career choice. Sadly, the image of a hacker is greatly exaggerated and many look to it as a glamorous career choice that gives them power over the world: the reality is far from it. A hacker needs to be familiar with numerous computer languages and codes to be able to prove his worth and this takes a great deal of dedication and effort.

Reality 101

First, you need to understand the difference between a ‘hacker’ and a ‘cracker’. Crackers conform to the traditional image of hacking as they steal information from computers by breaking the security barriers. Crackers gain unauthorized access to computers and use the information they receive for their own selfish intentions. Cracking is illegal and an unjust means of earning money.

Second, professional hacking is a legitimate career choice that involves checking computer systems for security vulnerabilities. Good hackers are well-versed in numerous computer languages and are able to detect the weak elements of operating systems, thus providing an indication of potential security gaffes that could be used by awaiting crackers to invade the system. Hackers thus have a crucial role to play in modern society as they cut down the risk of malicious attacks on computers by using the same techniques that are used by crackers.

Professional hackers believe hacking to be an art form that is an expression of complete curiosity regarding computer systems. Hackers are usually technology buffs who attempt to learn more about how computers work by breaking apart the foundations that hold computer systems together.

You may have heard of famous professional hackers like Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson who went on to create Linux, the free operating system that is used by many people around the world. This shows that hacking is not about destroying a computer and stealing information, it’s about taking apart a system to understand how it ultimately functions and using this information to improve the quality of systems in use.

Finally, hacking is the ability to change the way a system runs so that it performs better than originally intended. In this way, hacking helps better the technological world and helps it to develop. All the technology you make use of today has been reworked and improved by professional hackers, so it is better suited to meet your requirements; if hacking did not exist, every day software and computer systems would be extremely vulnerable and susceptible to crackers!

The term professional hacker is merely a glorified version of a computer programmer which is well-versed in computer languages and has excessive knowledge about computers and how they function. The same people who create operating systems can hack into them and check for security breaks. Professional hackers have to get into the mindset of potential crackers and identify areas of weakness to avoid invasion and the resulting theft of information which can be deadly to any firm.

Professional hackers are also known as ‘ethical’ hackers as they enter systems with the prior permission of the firms involved, unlike crackers who enter without authorization.

The Inside Scoop

Though the word hacker conventionally brings to mind images of shady criminals working in dingy rooms, ex-crackers are gaining prominence in the field of professional hacking as well! Take the case of Joe Magee, a twenty-three year old ex-cracker who was recently hired as the Chief Security Officer of Top Layer Networks, a security products company!

This company is among many who are realizing that hackers have immense skills that, when used positively, can improve the way we look at computing and make it more efficient.

Magee’s life story is heavily entwined with computing; his parents bought him a Mac after watching him analyze the family VCR. Soon enough, Magee became a computer whizz, curious to learn everything about computing. Magee started his first computer-oriented job at fourteen with Philadelphia’s Globe Times and from then on continued to provide his immense technical acumen to numerous firms.

Magee’s story is an inspiring one that describes exactly what you need to become a successful professional hacker: dedication and an immense interest in all aspects of computing. Evidently, hackers are of great use in a world where technology is quickly becoming intricate part in all aspects of life; it is thus a promising career choice for those interested.

Sweet Sensations

A career as a professional hacker definitely has its perks: imagine being able to walk into any room and floor people with your multifaceted computer knowledge! Plus, hacking still holds conventional notions of mystery and drama and you’ll easily be the most popular person in the room, surrounded by people dying to know what you really do! A hacker also comes with serious bragging rights as you can publicize your ability to break past strong security barriers and easily be the life and soul of any gathering.

Hacking is a great career choice if you’re intensely interested in the computer world as it allows you to delve deep into the intricate elements of computing. It’s a job that allows you to work from anywhere including the comforts of your home, in your favorite chair, which is a good choice if you’re the type who does not like the daily commute to and from the office.

You can also relish the fact that you are doing the world a great service: computers are used in nearly every field of life and they are easy targets for malicious crackers. By becoming a professional hacker, you prevent the proliferation of these spiteful people and thus ensure a smooth functioning system which entails a numerous of crucial processes around the world. This is definitely something to be proud of!

Professional hacking is no regular IT-oriented job; hackers are hired by several government agencies and often get to hack into top secret systems that no one else has access to; this side of the job is not only rewarding but extremely fascinating as you will get to be involved in the foundations of numerous actions that take place in the world and delight in the knowledge that you helped things proceed in a safe manner.

Hurdles and Challenges

This career incorporates a great deal of manual work and time spent in front of a computer. You’ll have to spend months trying to work through complex security codes and this involves a great deal of mathematical and technical know-how.

Like many IT-oriented jobs, professional hacking is extremely demanding and given time constraints may be a severe strain on employees. There will be days when you will be unable to open your eyes due to weariness but you’ll still be expected to solve a complicated computer problem in the given time.

This career demands a great deal of patience as the workload is complicated and in many cases you will have to spend much time trying to get through it. Moreover, the job comes with numerous negative stereotypes which can be irritating if you’re an ethical hacker just trying to do your job can be a obstacle within itself. Hacking has not been completely accepted yet and some still view hackers as criminal and will treat you as such.

Fruits of Labor


You can expect your salary to be anywhere between $53,000 and $70,000 in the early years. Currently, professional hackers are paid an average of $60,000 but this depends heavily on experience and the firm. Generally, the longer you work in the industry, the more competent you become to handle complicated computer security issues and hence the more you earn. This may not be exorbitant for the amount of work you’ll be expected to put in but it certainly will cover many of your pressing needs!

Perhaps they key advantage of this career is the style of work: it is less formal and you can work based heavily on your personal requirements. You can also work from home and this is a great benefit!


Obviously, being a hacker is a great career choice if you’re brimming with technical know-how and don’t know what to do with it. You’ll get a great sense of superiority when you finally break through an exceedingly strong security barrier and this is definitely an unmatched high! You’ll also broaden your knowledge with more hands-on experience which will help you create systems for yourself that are highly efficient and suit your needs.

The best advantage, however, is that you will never be a victim of cracking if you’re a good hacker! By hacking your own system, you’ll be able to spot weaknesses early on and you can be smug about the fact that you’ve outsmarted those malicious thieves!

Essential Tools

From Home

Practice obviously makes perfect and all good hackers start from what they have at home! Try hacking your own system to learn how it works and this will give you a general idea of the hacking process. There are numerous websites and blogs that give you first-hand experience of what it is like to be a hacker and what you can do to get started and these should be used extensively to get a feel of the career.

Learn computer languages and codes thoroughly by taking apart the software you have, including games and operating systems. Experience is the determining factor for wages and makes you more aware of the hacking process; it’s thus a crucial element of your training.

From School

You could take the Certified Ethical Hacker course and receive a certification in how to find weaknesses in systems and solve them. This course is gaining popularity and presents a systematic means of learning the ropes.

A degree in computer science will obviously be helpful for a focused appreciation of the subject but most hackers learn from home due to their intense curiosity. A degree will only give you a fixed amount of information; that ‘something extra’ which differentiates between a highly-paid hacker and a low-paid hacker often has a lot to do with hands-on experience and so you should definitely be working on hacking at home, while also doing a certified course.

Certification adds credibility and this is what some firms look for. This is why you shouldn’t negate a computer science degree; it should certainly be undertaken alongside first-hand experience.

At the Job

As with many occupations in the IT industry, perseverance and dedication are cardinal principles. Hacking is no easy job and it will certainly take you a while before you solve the problems set before you. However, if you maintain your composure and work steadily throughout, you should be able to prosper in the industry and make enough to buy yourself something special!

Talk to professional hackers if you find them, they’re usually labeled as security analysts and are often helpful in giving valuable advice.

To Conclude

Hacking is like any other career, it will demand a lot out of you. And though the financial rewards may not be as high as some of the other IT careers, it is definitely a field that holds great importance and interest. Hacking is a great alternative to cracking as you get paid for your services and you can still claim to be smarter than the creators of the program you test! It is thus a good career choice for those with an avid interest in computing.

Scroll Up
Contact Us