If you are looking for a new and exciting career, consider becoming a penetration tester. Penetration testers are cybersecurity professionals who test networks and systems for vulnerabilities, working tirelessly to identify security holes that hackers could exploit.
If you have strong technical skills and want to help keep businesses safe, this may be the perfect career for you. In this blog post, we will discuss the steps to follow to become a penetration tester.
First Things First, What is a Penetration Tester?
Penetration testers, also called ethical hackers, test networks and systems for vulnerabilities. Companies hire them to identify security weaknesses that could allow hackers to infiltrate their network or system.
They use the same methods as hackers but do so with the organization’s permission that owns the network. After finding vulnerabilities, they explain how to fix them and provide security recommendations.
Penetration testers often work for information technology consulting firms or IT departments within companies, although some may be self-employed. Therefore, they usually work regular business hours. However, since many organizations operate 24/365, penetration testers may also have to perform testing outside of these hours and on weekends.
Responsibilities of a Penetration Tester
In general, ethical hackers perform security assessments, threat modeling, and ethical hacking of web-based applications, systems, and networks. The role may also involve some or all of the following tasks:
- Gathering and analyzing Open Source Intelligence to identify vulnerabilities on systems and networks
- Designing, developing and performing manual penetration tests to verify that security vulnerabilities have been fixed
- Documenting test results following client requirements
- Reporting the findings of each test to clients or senior management members at their firm to help mitigate the risk of a cyber attack.
- Working with software developers and other functional teams to develop and test secure code
- Performing regular scans of their network using vulnerability scanning software to ensure that the systems are up-to-date.
- Developing scripts, tools, and methodologies to aid in the testing process
Your responsibilities as a penetration tester will vary depending on the size of the company you work for, the type of industry it is in, and your skillset. However, the above are some general things that you can expect to do daily.
Steps to Becoming a Penetration Tester
So, you want to become a penetration tester? It’s not an easy job, but it is gratifying. Here are the steps you need to take to make it happen:
Ethical hacking is not for everyone. Before you begin, you should ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have the patience to do this job? Penetration testing is a long process. You need to be able to face frustration and keep going until the task is complete.
- Can I handle the pressure? When things go wrong, which they often do as part of penetration testing, can you handle it?
- Do I have the motivation to keep going no matter what? This is a tough job. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to complete your goal, even if that means working long nights and weekends with little sleep or food?
If the answer to those questions was yes, you are ready for step two.
Get Formal Training
Employers would hire real-life hackers and train them to be security experts in the past.
Today, most employers require a degree in information technology or computer science. However, some will accept other degrees as long as you have proof of your ability to do the job, like certifications and experience working in IT Security.
Choose Your Desired Career Path
You can take numerous career paths to break into the cyber security industry. From systems administration to web-based application programming, you can find a position in almost any area of the field.
Figure out which career path suits you best and focus on the security aspect of that job in your training.
Get Professional Certifications
Most employers want to see at least one security certification on your resume, especially if you’re applying for a senior position. Therefore, make sure to get certified in at least one area of information security.
One of the best, and up and coming, cyber security penetration tester certifications is TCM Security’s Practical Network Penetration Tester Certification and Course. This course is perfect for those wanting to get started from the beginning. It is cost effective so won’t break the bank. Also, consider checking them out on Twitter and YouTube as they often share discount coupons for the course.
Earn Industry Experience
Employers also want to see experience working in the industry. If you don’t have any security-related work experience, start by volunteering or interning with a cyber security organization. This will allow you to learn about the latest threats and defences as you build up your resume.
Stay Updated on the Latest Trends
The cybersecurity industry is constantly changing, so it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Read security blogs and attend information security conferences to learn about new threats and how to defend against them.
Network with Industry Professionals
Networking is vital in the cybersecurity industry. Attend local information security meetups, connect via social media platforms like LinkedIn and attend events to meet other professionals in the industry. This will allow you to build relationships with people who can help you find a job, give you advice, and provide mentorship.
Ethical Hacking Job Outlook
Cybersecurity professionals will be in high demand for a long time to come. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for information security analysts is projected to grow 33% from 2020 to 2030. That’s much faster than the average for all occupations.
Besides, as networks, applications, and information needs become more complicated, the need for skilled cybersecurity professionals will continue to grow.
Therefore, if you’re looking for a lucrative and in-demand career, you’re on the right track with ethical hacking.
How Much Do Penetration Testers Make?
As of May 2021, Payscale reported that the median annual salary of a penetration tester is approximately $86,000. However, wages in this profession vary based on various factors, including experience, skills, and location.
Get to it!
Now that you have a good understanding of ethical hacking and the step-by-step guide on becoming an ethical hacker, it’s time to get started. So go out there and begin your journey to a career as a penetration tester.