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Erica Ciko – Best Bug Bounty Hunting Certifications in 2023

You’re a tech-savvy individual with a thirst for adventure. You want to use your ethical hacking skills to hunt down the vulnerabilities of big-shot tech companies and rake in some serious cash while you’re at it. Then it’s no surprise you feel a draw to the weird, wild world of bug bounty hunting, where the stakes are high, the adrenaline is pumping, and the competition is enough to scare most ethical hackers away. Bug bounty hunting isn’t for the faint of heart and requires a high level of technical knowledge—but for those who dare to take on the challenge, the rewards can be life-changing.

What skills set bug bounty hunters apart from other security pros?

All truly great bug bounty hunters should be able to think outside the box and hunt for vulnerabilities with a creative and unconventional mindset, says Erica Ciko. This bleeding-edge niche at the intersection of penetration testing and threat hunting is not for everyone. In fact, you could say that bug bounty hunters are like the “black sheep” of the ethical hacking world: Not only because of their peerless ability to find holes in code that everyone else missed, but because of the rare expertise and technical prowess that led them to their niche to begin with.

A background in penetration testing is invaluable for all bug bounty hunters, providing a solid foundation for understanding how to identify and exploit vulnerabilities. Your knowledge of security principles and coding languages must be razor-sharp, allowing you to assess web applications and networks for weaknesses before threat actors find them first.

And let’s not underestimate the value of soft skills: Great communication is a must, because you’ll need to clearly report your findings to clients or security teams. For the pros to take you seriously, you’re going to need to brush up on your report-writing skills. And the hunt for vulnerabilities is never-ending, so a passion for lifelong learning and the drive to stay up to date on the latest security trends and techniques is also a must-have quality. And last but not least, a fearless attitude and the willingness to take calculated risks are traits that set top bounty hunters apart from the rest.

How Can I Gain the Essential Skills to Outsmart and Outlast My Fellow Bug Bounty Hunters?

Now let’s be real: Most of us don’t have 10 years of experience as a penetration tester at a Fortune 500 company, or coding skills that rival top-tier web devs. But entering—let alone succeeding—in the world of bug bounty hunting isn’t easy, even though standing out from the crowd is crucial.

A college degree in Cybersecurity or Computer Science will give you some of the hard skills you need, such as the ability to dissect and analyze code, and a knowledge of network infrastructure. But to truly make a mark and build a lucrative career in bug bounty hunting, you need to take matters into your own hands and get far more specific. 

Independent study on sites like Udemy, Coursera, and TryHackMe can give you a leg up against other bug bounty hunting newbies. CodeRed , EC-Council’s learning platform, offers some excellent basic skills that introduce prospective bug bounty hunters to the field. If you’re new to the cybersecurity field and want to get your toes wet before you commit to the long and arduous journey ahead of you, their Bug Bounty Hunting Essentials skill path is a great place to start. You can also brush up on your coding skills through courses such as Colt Steele’s Web Developer Bootcamp on Udemy.

Challenge Yourself with the Top Bug Bounty Hunting Certifications

When it comes to certifications for bug bounty hunting, you’ll need to get a bit creative. Since there aren’t any official bug bounty hunting certifications on the market today, your best bet is to study these other top industry certs, and creatively splice together all the knowledge you gain. Plus, if you’re looking to apply for corporate jobs as a penetration tester or offensive security pro, these well-known names listed by writer, Erica Ciko will stand out on your resume:

  • CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker): The most helpful certification of all for an aspiring bug bounty hunter is Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) from EC-Council. This highly-coveted and well-respected certification will give you the foundation you need to learn the tools, strategies, mindset of a successful ethical hacker—which is your first step on your bug bounty hunting journey. A major advantage of this particular cert is that it’s in high demand—so if you’re looking to spiff up your resume, it’s sure to impress employers.


  • Pentest+: This industry-standard certification is a great follow-up to Security+ and Network+ if you want to head in the direction of Ethical Hacking. Your Pentest+ studies will provide you with the necessary skills to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in a variety of systems, from network devices to web applications. The Pentest+ exam covers everything from reconnaissance to reporting, and studying for it will teach you how to use the latest tools and techniques to identify and exploit security weaknesses. With this certification in your arsenal, you’ll be able to demonstrate your expertise to clients and employers alike, and position yourself as a top contender in the competitive world of bug bounty hunting.


  • OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional): The OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional) certification is the ultimate challenge for those seeking to prove their worth as a bug bounty hunter. This certification is not for the faint of heart, as it requires a serious investment of time and effort and requires mastery of the Kali Linux OS. The OSCP certification is highly respected in the industry and demonstrates that you have the skills to tackle complex real-world challenges and think outside the box to find vulnerabilities. If you’re looking to make a name for yourself in the bug bounty hunting world, then the OSCP certification is a badge of honor that will set you apart from the pack.


  • EJPT Certification (eLearn Security Junior Penetration Tester): If you’re ready to dive into the gritty underworld of bug bounty hunting, the eJPT certification is a killer choice. This hardcore certification will give you the foundational skills you need to launch your career as a junior penetration tester, while also beefing up your bug bounty hunting game with hands-on experience. With the eJPT under your belt, you’ll be ready to break through any security barrier with the kind of reckless abandon that makes your competition tremble. Plus, the practical skills you’ll gain are worth their weight in gold when it comes to landing a traditional security job as well.

These certifications will show potential employers that you have the skills and expertise to crush any threat actor who crosses your path, while also sharpening the expertise you need to need to tear through the high-pressure world of bug bounty hunting.

Join the Elite Ranks of Bug Bounty Hunters by Mastering Security Certs

At the end of the day, hands-on experience and trial and are the keys to the kingdom of bug bounty hunting. Knowing your tools, understanding pentesting and different coding languages, and being able to write detailed reports are all crucial skills to have when playing the bug bounty hunting game. So, focus on getting hands-on experience through sites like TryHackMe, creating and mastering your bounty hunting toolkit, and learning how to write detailed reports that reveal your findings to security teams with undeniable evidence.

In the world of bug bounty hunting, only the strongest survive. If you’re up for the challenge, study for these top-notch security certs and kill two birds with one stone. Then maybe one day you too will have a chance at joining the elite ranks of bug bounty hunters. With ruthless dedication and an indomitable drive to succeed, that day may be closer than you think, concludes author, Erica Ciko.