is CompTIA PenTest+ Worth it?

Is CompTIA PenTest+ PT0-002 Right for Your Career?

Selecting the right certification can significantly boost your earning potential and career trajectory. However, the abundance of options, especially in the cybersecurity field, can be overwhelming. To simplify your decision-making process, this guide will explore the specifics of the CompTIA PenTest+ PT0-002 certification. We’ll cover who it’s best suited for, the prerequisites, potential job roles, salary expectations, market demand, and alternative certifications. Let’s get started.

What Is CompTIA PenTest+ Certification?

The CompTIA PenTest+ certification, a mid-level credential from the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), is designed for cybersecurity practitioners who want to excel as penetration testers. These specialists fortify network security by identifying and addressing vulnerabilities through controlled and ethical means. This certification emphasizes offensive tactics like penetration testing and vulnerability assessment, empowering professionals to uncover weaknesses and strategically plan and manage them, providing a well-rounded approach to cybersecurity.

Who Should Consider CompTIA Pentest+ Certification?

If you’re already working in cybersecurity and want to become a penetration tester, the PenTest+ certification is a great next step. It’s perfect if you have a good understanding of basic security stuff, like CompTIA’s Security+ cert or on-the-job experience.

If you’re aiming for advanced certifications like OSCP, PenTest+ is still a good way to show off your skills, but it might not be necessary for super-specialized roles. However, it can help you prove your mid-level skills and make your resume more attractive to a wider range of employers, especially those who like CompTIA certs.

If you’re new to IT or cybersecurity, PenTest+ might not land you a specialist penetration testing job immediately, but it can provide a solid foundation and a pathway towards becoming a pentester in the future.

The bottom line is that penTest+ is helpful for those already in cybersecurity who want to enhance their resume and solidify foundational skills. It’s not essential for advanced roles if you plan to pursue certifications like OSCP.

What Does the CompTIA PenTest+ Exam Cover?

A clear understanding of the exam domains helps determine if this certification aligns with your career goals. If you’ve decided to pursue CompTIA PenTest+, the topics covered in each domain can guide your exam preparation and identify knowledge gaps.

Here are the five domains along with their corresponding percentage of the examination:

Number Domain Percentage of Examination
1 Planning and Scoping 14%
2 Information Gathering and Vulnerability Scanning 22%
3 Attacks and Exploits 30%
4 Reporting and Communication 18%
5 Tools and Code Analysis 16%
  • Planning and Scoping (14%): This domain focuses on understanding the legal and compliance requirements of a penetration test, defining the scope of the test, and setting rules of engagement. It also covers risk management and governance concepts.

  • Information Gathering and Vulnerability Scanning (22%): This domain involves techniques for gathering information about the target system, both passively and actively. It also covers vulnerability scanning to identify potential weaknesses.

  • Attacks and Exploits (30%): This is the largest domain and covers various types of attacks, including network attacks, wireless attacks, application-based attacks, and attacks on cloud technologies. It also includes post-exploitation techniques and social engineering attacks.

  • Reporting and Communication (18%): This domain focuses on the creation of comprehensive reports detailing the findings of the penetration test, including recommendations for remediation. It also emphasizes the importance of communication throughout the testing process.

  • Tools and Code Analysis (16%): This domain covers the use of various tools for penetration testing, as well as the analysis of scripts and code samples. It also touches on the basics of scripting and software development.

How Much Does CompTIA PenTest+ Exam Cost?

The CompTIA PenTest+ exam cost varies depending on the country or region where you take it. The table shows the prices in different currencies:

Country Currency Price
USA USD 404
Emerging Market USD 226
Great Britain GBP 240
EURO EURO 364
Japan JPY 47447
Australia AUD 545
South Africa ZAR 3108

The current price for the PenTest+ exam is $404 USD in the USA and $226 USD in emerging markets as of June 2024.

Exam Details:

CompTIA PenTest+ exam validates your ability to plan and execute penetration testing engagements, including vulnerability scanning, legal and compliance considerations, result analysis, and the creation of comprehensive reports with remediation strategies. This certification demonstrates your expertise in identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities. Here is the Exam Details:

Exam Code PT0-002
Launch Date 28-Oct
Number of Questions Maximum of 85 questions
Type of Questions Performance-based and multiple choice
Length of Test 165 minutes
Passing Score 750 (on a scale of 100-900)
Languages English, Japanese, Portuguese and Thai
Retirement Usually three years after launch
DoD 8140 Approved Work Roles Exploitation Analyst, Cyber Defense Forensics Analyst

Does CompTIA PenTest+ Require Prior Experience?

There is no required prerequisite for the CompTIA PenTest+ certification, but CompTIA recommends: Ideally, having 3-4 years of hands-on security experience or holding a CompTIA Security+ certification provides a solid foundation. The key is to be honest with yourself. Assess your existing knowledge – are you comfortable with offensive security tactics? If not, don’t worry, it just means you might need to dedicate more time to studying. This self-awareness will help you focus your efforts and ultimately succeed on exam day.

Should I Pursue CompTIA Security+ Before PenTest+?

CompTIA PenTest+ certification path

Pursuing the CompTIA Security+ (Sec+) certification before PenTest+ is advisable, especially if you’re new to cybersecurity and want to build a solid foundation for a successful career in penetration testing. Here’s why:

  • Foundational Knowledge: Sec+ covers a broad spectrum of essential security concepts, providing a comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity principles. This strong baseline knowledge is crucial before delving into the more specialized and advanced techniques of PenTest+.
  • Prerequisites and Recommendations: While not a strict requirement, Sec+ is strongly recommended for those aiming for PenTest+. It ensures you possess the necessary security knowledge to grasp and effectively perform penetration testing.
  • Industry Recognition: Sec+ is a widely recognized certification and often a prerequisite for entry-level security positions. Achieving this certification can open doors to immediate job opportunities and provide a solid starting point in your cybersecurity career.
  • Logical Progression: Starting with Sec+ and then progressing to PenTest+ offers a more structured and efficient learning path. This approach ensures you have the background knowledge and skills needed to tackle the complexities of penetration testing with confidence.

But, if you already have a solid foundation or substantial working experience in cybersecurity, you might consider skipping Sec+.

In summary, while it’s technically possible to jump straight into PenTest+, starting with Sec+ is generally a more strategic and beneficial approach for most individuals. It allows you to build a robust foundation in cybersecurity, which is essential for long-term success in penetration testing.

What Jobs Can I Get with CompTIA PenTest+ Certification?

CompTIA PenTest+ is tailored for IT cybersecurity professionals who possess a solid foundation of three to four years of hands-on experience in information security or related fields. This could include practical work, relevant training, or a combination of both. CompTIA PenTest+ equips candidates for a variety of in-demand job roles, including:

  1. Penetration Tester: In this role, you will actively identify and exploit vulnerabilities to strengthen an organization’s security posture.
  2. Vulnerability Tester: A specialized role focused on finding and assessing weaknesses in systems and applications.
  3. Security Analyst (II): This is a broader role in which you analyze security threats and incidents, often utilizing pentesting skills for deeper investigations.
  4. Vulnerability Assessment Analyst: Similar to a vulnerability tester, but with a greater emphasis on analyzing and reporting on vulnerabilities.
  5. Network Security Operations: A role where you’ll monitor and protect networks from threats, often requiring pentesting skills to identify and address weaknesses.
  6. Application Security Vulnerability: A focused role where you’ll be specifically responsible for securing applications from vulnerabilities.

CompTIA PenTest+ Salaries: What to Expect?

As of May 29, 2024, salary information collected from ZipRecruiter shows that, on average, a Pen Tester in the United States earns around $79,791 per year. That translates to about $38 per hour, $1,534 per week, or $6,649 monthly. The salary range for Pen Testers varies considerably, from $22,500 on the lower end to $130,500 on the higher end. And if you’re among the top earners, you could rake in as much as $130,500 annually. That’s a pretty wide range, but it’s great news for ambitious job seekers! It means there’s plenty of room for growth as you gain experience and expertise.

Remember, these are just averages, and your salary will ultimately depend on several factors, including your experience, skills, and the specific company you work for. Location also plays a significant role, with some areas offering higher salaries than others. But with a PenTest+ certification in your toolkit, you’ll be well-positioned to negotiate a competitive salary and enjoy a promising future in Cybersecurity.

Alternatives to CompTIA PenTest+ Certification

There are some alternatives to PenTest+ that you can consider. Here’s a list of highly valued penetration testing certifications ranked by industry recognition, depth of knowledge, and real-world applicability:

Entry-Level:

  • eLearnSecurity Junior Penetration Tester (eJPT): A great introductory certification, providing a good stepping stone into pentesting.

Foundational:

  • EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): Well-recognized and provides a comprehensive foundation in ethical hacking techniques and methodologies.

Intermediate to Advanced:

  • OffSec Certified Professional (OSCP): Globally recognized, with a hands-on, real-world approach to pen-testing, highly valued for its rigor.
  • GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN): Focuses on methodologies and best practices, offering a strong theoretical and practical background.
  • Certified Red Team Professional (CRTP): Focused on Active Directory security, essential for understanding enterprise environments.

Advanced:

  • OffSec Certified Expert 3 (OSCE3): Builds on OSCP, requiring three additional OffSec exams, making it suitable for very experienced professionals.
  • EC-Council Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT) Master: Advanced certification demonstrating deep knowledge and skills in conducting comprehensive security assessments.

Remember, the best certification for you depends on your career stage and specialization. Each of these certifications plays a vital role in the field of penetration testing.

The Market Demand for CompTIA PenTest+ Certification

Based on job listing data in the USA from LinkedIn, Indeed, SimplyHired, and Glassdoor, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification shows the highest demand across these platforms, significantly outpacing both PenTest+ and OSCP. While CEH appears to be the most sought-after, OSCP is also well-regarded, especially for its practical, hands-on approach to penetration testing. PenTest+ has the fewest listings and might be considered if you are just starting in cybersecurity.

Ultimately, your decision should align with your career objectives and specific interests within the field of cybersecurity. Here is a table showing job postings for PenTest+, CEH, and OSCP on different platforms.

 PenTest+ CEH OSCP
LinkedIn 135 9724 958
Indeed 50 900 500
SimplyHired 50 723 409
Glassdoor 48 701 394

Please note that this data can change depending on time and location

Is PenTest+ Worth It?

It’s difficult to answer with a simple yes or no. While Pentest+ offers a solid introduction to penetration testing, many in the cybersecurity field find it less practical than other certifications, especially the OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional).

Here’s the deal: PenTest+ might not fully equip you with the hands-on skills that many cybersecurity jobs demand. It’s often seen as a stepping stone before diving into tougher certifications like OSCP, which is famous for its challenging, real-world exam that truly tests your penetration testing abilities.

So, here’s my advice: If you’re new to cybersecurity and your company is willing to cover the cost, PenTest+ can be a good starting point to build a basic understanding. However, if your goal is to become a skilled penetration tester and you already have some networking and security knowledge, you might want to consider going straight for the OSCP or other more comprehensive certifications. Ultimately, it depends on your career goals and where you are in your cybersecurity journey.

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