Become a Penetration Tester

Penetration testers improve an organizations’ security by locating and exploiting security vulnerabilities before an attack occurs. Learn how to footprint and ethically break into a company to expose critical issues in computer systems or software.

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Last year, penetration testers ranked as one of the three most in-demand jobs in the growing cybersecurity job market. To become a penetration tester, a college degree is not necessary since it’s a skills-based profession. Employers want professionals who can demonstrate the required skills, regardless of education. Cybrary offers realistic, virtual lab environments where you will gain real-world, hands-on skills you will use as a penetration tester.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a PenTester, you are responsible for identifying potential weaknesses in existing systems and collaborating with other departments and professionals to determine the most effective and efficient way to resolve them. This may require adding new or additional security measures and rewriting program code. Your role will include running tests on applications, networks, and software, or attempting to hack in, gaining access to access data that should not be accessible to unauthorized individuals. Additional duties for a PenTester include reviewing any security system incidents, documenting threats, and completing reports concerning your findings. You may also be asked to design improved security protocols and policies.

You will need to have some level of proficiency with the following skills and tools: Vulnerability Scanning, Password Cracking, Cryptography, Social Engineering, Network Security, Web App Security, Kali Linux, OWASP, NMAP, Wireshark, Metaspoit, SQL Injection, Mobile Hacking.

To be a truly successful PenTester, you need to have more than technical skills. You will need a desire to learn: New technologies come with new vulnerabilities (many discovered by PenTesters) and cybercriminals constantly change their strategies and tactics as technology continually evolves. You will need collaboration skills: PenTesters often work in teams, with junior members undertaking duties with lower levels of responsibility while reporting to senior members. You will need strong communication skills: A critical part of PenTesting is communicating findings and results, whether in a presentation to stakeholders and engineers, or in a report delivered to executives or other leaders. Being able to write and speak confidently is a very important PenTesting skill.

What a typical day as a PenTester looks like will depend on your employer. Some may travel between different sites or be required to work evenings and weekends to not disrupt the company’s workflow, or they may be able to perform some duties remotely. A typical day may include the following tasks: Plan a specific penetration test; Create or select the appropriate testing tools; Perform a test on networks, applications, or systems (automated or manual); Document methodologies; Identify vulnerabilities using the data gathered; Review and evaluate findings; Establish possible solutions for the weaknesses; Provide feedback and recommendations to management or clients.

Most organizations look for someone with 2 years experience in Information Security, System Administration, or Network Engineering, and a Network+ and/or Security+ certification. For professionals with less than 2 years of experience, we recommend the Network Engineer or System Administrator career paths.

How Long Will It Take To Be Job Ready?

I can dedicate

hours per week

7 months to complete this career path

What Our Learners Are saying

"I was able to earn both my Security+ and CySA+ in two months. I give all the credit to Cybrary."

"The knowledge and skills I gained with Cybrary helped me to land my first IT role as a Digital Field Support Administrator. Knowing that I have the Cybrary community behind me has been helpful as I continue to learn and advance my career goals."

"Becoming part of the Cybrary community was a total game changer. Cybrary was instrumental in helping me break into cybersecurity, despite having no prior IT experience or security-related degree."

Career Prospects

Salary Range in the U.S. (Yearly)

Average salary via

What Will I Learn?

Offensive Security

Focused on validating security controls by trying to break them (i.e. penetration testing or ethical hacking). Topics such as Kali Linux, metasploit, scanning, and privilege escalation. Offensive security seeks out the problem or vulnerability through ethical hacking and finds a solution to disable the operation.