Take a look at IT security certifications that involve ethical hacking. You will likely notice that CompTIA’s PenTest+ and the EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certifications are similar to each other. That can make it difficult to decide which one is the best option for you and your chosen career path. The obvious solution is to attain both, as nearly all IT certifications boost careers in the industry. Though there is some overlap, there are some key differences that make both credentials beneficial. However, if you’re only looking for one certification with penetration testing content, you need to know the similarities and differences between these two popular credentials.

How Are CEH and PenTest+ Similar?

The CEH and PenTest+ certifications cover similar topics. The areas that are tested on the CEH certification exam are:

  • Background
  • Analysis and assessment
  • Security
  • Tools, systems, and programs
  • Procedures and methodology
  • Regulations and policies
  • Ethics

The domains that are tested on the PenTest+ exam are:

  • Planning and Scoping
  • Information Gathering and Vulnerability Identification
  • Attacks and Exploits
  • Penetration Testing Tools
  • Reporting and Communication

Additionally, both certifications are vendor-neutral, ANSI accredited, globally recognized, and highly regarded. CEH and PenTest+ are also similar in how they renew. Both are valid for three years and require continuing education during that time frame. However, the PenTest+ certification requires 60 continuing education units, and the CEH requires 120.

How Are CEH and PenTest+ Different?

Despite the similarities above, the CEH and PenTest+ certifications are different in multiple ways. The certified ethical hacker certification is considered entry-level, while the PenTest+ is an intermediate-level certification. They also differ in the job roles for which they qualify an individual. PenTest+ job roles include penetration testers, security analysts, vulnerability testers, network security operations, application security analysts, and vulnerability assessment analysts. CEH job roles include ethical hackers, penetration testers, IT auditors, security consultants, security analysts, site administrators, and network security specialists.

There is a difference in the eligibility requirements for the two certifications. CompTIA requires that candidates for the PenTest+ certification have three to four years of work experience in information security and the Security+ and Network+ credentials or equivalent knowledge. EC-Council’s requirements for CEH certification are a little more complicated. Candidates for CEH must do one of the following two to take the CEH exam:

  1. Attend Official CEH Training course. The course can be any type (instructor-led, online, etc.), as long as EC-Council approves it.

  2. Take the certification exam without official training. Without attending official training, candidates for the CEH exam must have two or more years of information security experience and submit an eligibility form with verification from their employers.

Benefits of the PenTest+ and CEH Certifications

Unlike some other penetration testing certifications, the PenTest+ designation covers everything from project scoping and planning to communication and reporting. Pentesting analysis and management aspects are all part of this certification. PenTest+ certified individuals are encouraged to approach penetration testing projects offensively to prevent the exploitation of vulnerabilities. And individuals with this credential are vital parts of organizations’ IT security teams.

The CEH certification also encourages professionals to work offensively to identify and mitigate system and network weaknesses. Ethical hackers use the same tools and techniques that malicious hackers use to combat these cybercriminals. Also, an essential role for IT security teams, certified ethical hackers are very much in demand in the industry.

Which Certification is the Right Choice for You?

Ultimately, the choice of which certification to pursue is up to you and your employer. It’s important to consider all the similarities and differences of the CEH and PenTest+ certifications. If you are leaning toward having a broad view of ethical hacking and are closer to entry-level, then CEH may be the best option. Alternatively, suppose you have a longer period of work experience in information security and focus on penetration testing within IT environments (including management aspects). In that case, the PenTest+ certification is ideal.
Whichever you choose, Cybrary is ready to help you advance your IT career. We are dedicated to preparing students for certification exams, and our online courses are self-paced and available to access whenever your schedule allows.

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