World cybercrime will cause over $600 billion in damages each year. The cost of cybercrime continues climbing as our world becomes more interconnected. The demand for cybersecurity professionals is as a fever pitch.
Central to cybersecurity is the role of the penetration tester.
There is no such thing as perfect system security. Yet, it's worth attempting and a pen tester can help close the gaps. In their doing so, they're rewarded well -- here is what you want to know about the field.
What Does a Penetration Tester Do?
Pen testing is about gathering and analyzing system information. The individual looks for vulnerabilities and threats as requested by a company. This could include whole systems to specific areas they deem vulnerable.
A pen tester is like a digital detective doing:
- Info gathering
- Risk assessment
- Error handling
Testers use their intuition and tools when analyzing their target. Preventing intrusions and exploits is the goal of penetration testing. A company usually sets goals to confirm their speculations or discover underlying problems.
A company pays testers well not so much for their services but how much they save the business. A pen tester may discover an exploit attackers could use to wreak havoc. Or, steal important business or client data.
The Career Outlook for Pen Testing
Penetration testing lumps into the information security analysts field.
Here are quick stats:
- Pay: $95,510/yr (median)
- Outlook: 28% (2016-26)
Pen testing scrapes the surface of the IT industry. Many opportunities arise as you refine skills, experience, and connections.
Potential career paths in tandem to pen testing include:
- Security admin
- Network admin
- System admin
You can specialize, too, in areas like security architect or consulting. A career in pen testing could turn gig-related, too. You aren't restricted to working with a single company -- your skills are in demand globally.
Cracking into the Pen Tester Industry
Your main areas of study for pen testing include:
- Computer science
- Computer programming
A bachelor's degree is the accepted median education level for those in the field.
Certifications are common, too, like:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Certified Information Assurance Certification (GIAC)
Yet, many companies no longer seek degree-carrying candidates. Pen testing is one such industry one can gain entry through personal study. That's not to devalue a degree but it does offer an opportunity to those using online courses.
Put effort where it matters:
- Refining pen testing skills and experience
- Learning how to sell yourself to employers
- Networking to create business relationships
- Passing industry-preferred certifications
Most employers look for a couple years experience in the security field. Yet, they aren't opposed to hiring if you display skill and value! So, get your name out there through networking and using a portfolio.
The Future is Scary but Full of Opportunity
On one hand, a skillful penetration tester is in-demand and gets pays well. On the other, aggressive cyber attacks is why the field is booming. It's like a catch 22 of fear and opportunity -- either way, this exciting field is sure to please IT enthusiasts.
Ready to start applying? Want to see who's hiring? Use our job board, today!