How to Become a Penetration Tester

Penetration testers, or pen testers, play a vital role in the success of computer systems. They help identify the risks and protect the system from attacks.

So, how to become a pentester? What skills and knowledge do you need to perform this task? Is it hard to become a penetration tester? You will find the in-depth explanations and guide in this post. Keep reading to find out!

Who Is A Penetration Tester?

Penetration testers hold an important role in the IT field. Their job is to perform attacks on the existing digital assets. They can use many tools and programs to perform this attack.

Yet, the ultimate purpose of pen testers is far different from black-hat hackers. The testers help companies find out the potential weaknesses of their systems. The attack they carry out will help identify weaknesses and report back.

After the attack, penetration testers will develop a report on the process. This report will then help the companies improve the system. They can also develop solutions to tackle future attacks.

Besides the technical part, they also communicate with the executive and staff. They also join meetings and give advice on important decisions.

Pen testers perform white-hat hacking to secure systems

How To Become A Penetration Tester?

It takes a lot of time and preparation to follow this career path. Besides the technical skills, you need to build solid experience.

1. Build The Educational Background

Most pen testers start their career with entry-level positions. A bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement, so you should attend a college or university and join a four-year course to acquire it.

What if you want to switch your profession to a penetration tester? In this case, you can join an IT boot camp that offers a course in pen testing. Remember to research the course extensively before signing up for it.

You should choose institutions with a strong reputation in pen testing courses. Ensure that their curriculum perfectly matches your schedule and preferences.

You can also join a boot camp after graduating. It will help you stay up to date with the latest tools used for pen testing.

2. Gain More Experience

Most organizations prefer hiring pen testers with experience. Thus, you must accumulate experience during your college years and after your graduation.

The best way to expand your experience is by doing real-world projects. You should join small teams or seek an internship to gain more experience.

Some ideal positions to consider are IT auditors or security analysts. You can familiarize yourself with the working environment of many tech companies. Also, it will help deepen your practical skills and knowledge.

3. Expand Your Skills

The college course only provides you with fundamental knowledge of pen testing. You will learn the basic concepts and tools used for this task.

You should spend your free time honing your pen-testing skills. There are numerous online courses that teach practical skills. You can also seek virtual projects on the Internet and try your capacity with them.

Coding is a vital part of a pen tester’s duties, so you should master at least one programming language. Start with beginner-friendly ones like Ruby or Python.

Also, focus on soft skills like leadership or communication. As a pen tester, you will have to interact with many teams and departments. You also need to join meetings and present your reports to the executives.

You can make new friends in the same major and build a rich social life. It will give you more confidence and assist your job in the future.

Coding is an essential skill for pen testers

4. Get A Certificate

Consider owning extra certificates to verify your knowledge and capacity. They serve as excellent additions to your portfolio. With an impressive set of certificates, you can easily seek the attention of big companies.

You can consider CEH to learn about popular hacking techniques. The CPTE certificate is another excellent choice. It covers both technical skills and knowledge relating to pen testing.

5. Job Hunt

You should start building your portfolio at the end of the college course. Remember to list all the achievements and projects you have built in the past. They will help demonstrate your pen testing knowledge and capacity.

Also, ensure that you provide each project with detailed descriptions. What are the projects used for? Which specific pen testing tools did you use? The goal is to showcase your experience to the recruiters.

All experienced pen testers don’t get their current position right after graduating. Thus, don’t be surprised if you have to start from a low position. Spend this time improving your skills and gradually advance to higher roles.

Build an impressive educational background

Is Becoming a Penetration Tester Worth It?

Glassdoor indicates that penetration testers earn an average salary of 97,678 per year. The number ranges from $75,000 to $128,000. The salary will vary based on your current position and competency.

Besides the high income, pen testers also earn high respect within the IT industry. It’s one of the most sought-after IT professions at the moment. The demand for pen testers is also forecasted to keep increasing.

For these reasons, pen testing can bring you high incomes and a sense of accomplishment. It also offers many chances for personal development.


Is Penetration Testing Easy?

In general, penetration testing is one of the most difficult IT tasks. You have to constantly update your knowledge and learn to use the latest tools. Also, you must possess deep technical ability and experience in the field.

How Fast Can I Become A Penetration Tester?

The minimum requirement for most positions in this field is a bachelor’s degree. Thus, you need to join a college and spend at least four years there. After graduating, you should join extra training courses to expand your capacity.

Are Pen Testers In High Demand?

The technologies for attacking systems and hacking are constantly evolving. Meanwhile, businesses are recognizing the need for skilled experts to protect their systems. Therefore, the demand for penetration testers is rising very fast.

Final Thoughts

Pen testers are among the most sought-after professionals in recent years. With competency, you can seek a rewarding position with a competitive salary. Also, it will give you many opportunities for development.

Yet, the duties of a pen tester are very challenging. It’s essential that you build your technical skills and knowledge from the early years.

Thank you for reading!