How to Become a Hacker: Technology Careers in 2014
Twenty years ago, hackers were part of a small, inward-focused group that was little known outside of computing circles. Today, hardly a day goes by without a global headline detailing the exploits of hackers. Many of these stories focus on a few errant hackers with anti-social or criminal tendencies. In tech lingo, these are known black-hat hackers. Popular media stereotypes aside, the average hacker is reliable, law-abiding and a good team player. Today, white-hat hackers have virtually taken over the world as they program and perfect the technology society craves.
Here are four of the best paying IT and technology careers for aspiring “hackers” with ambition:
01. Software Developer
Software development is one of the most common career paths for anyone learning how to be a hacker. Developers write and alter code to meet the public’s seemingly insatiable need for specialized software applications. With an $89,000 median income, software developers are extremely well compensated. Like most technology workers, software developers can access the best salaries if they possess four-year degrees from accredited institutions. Ten percent of software developers earn an average of $136,000 per year. The best paid in this profession develop software for industrial facilities like animal slaughterhouses.
02. Database Administrator
From retail data to manufacturing and energy distribution metrics, modern data is plentiful and requires careful management. Database administrators often deal with impatient co-workers seeking data for time-sensitive projects. Fortunately, average salaries are high enough to keep harried administrators motivated. The median salary in this field hovers around $75,000, though top earners can take home $116,000.
03. Computer Programmer
Computer programmers do work that is critical for virtually every part of modern life. Industry, government and education all rely deeply on skilled programmers. Beyond writing new programs, programmers debug and test software on an ongoing basis. This ensures that applications and systems remain stable through evolutionary changes. This is such a critical field that four-year degrees are often enough to earn programmers large salaries. Currently, programmer salaries range from $41,000 to $115,000.
04. Cyber Security Professionals
Of all modern IT professionals, cyber security specialists are uniquely close to the intrigue and excitement of world-famous hacker exploits. With knowledge of programming, networking and even psychology, cyber security workers do whatever it takes to keep their employers safe from cyberattacks. Often called “hacker hunters,” these people may assist law enforcement agencies in their efforts to create safer, more secure networks. Master’s degrees and Ph.D’s are highly valued in this field. A very diverse field, cyber security pays anywhere from $50,000 to $120,000 per year.
It is worth noting that programming and IT education is freely accessible to all computer owners. To get started, it pays to become familar with Linux, the essential operating system for hackers. Next, learn basic programming languages like Python and C. HTML programming skills are also useful for understanding the nuts and bolts of the Web. After learning these basics, people may find themselves surprisingly advanced along paths of unrealized potential. Lacking college degrees, many self-taught programmers have used little more than tenacity and skill to find high-paying jobs in programming and IT.