Top 10 Penetration Testing Certifications for Security Professionals in 2023

Penetration testing is the process of testing a system, network, or web app for vulnerabilities. It is also known as pen-testing. It can be done manually or automatically using certain tools.

Professionals who carry out pen testing are called Pen-testers. However, the job and responsibilities of pen-testers can vary from one organization to another. They may be responsible for assessing the security of a system, ensuring that a product meets safety standards, or carrying out a red team assessment.

Many organizations offer pen testing certifications (Penetration Testing Certificate); however, not all are good. Here are the top 10 penetration testing certification programs we recommend to you if you have decided to become certified.

1) CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker

CEH is the most well-known of all the EC-Council certifications. This certification was created to show that the holder can identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in computer systems and is familiar with malicious hackers’ tools.

Cybersecurity professionals will greatly help security teams with the ability to use malicious hackers’ tools and methods. It is crucial to understand the possible offensive strategies that could be used against their systems to build a solid defense. The acceptance and overwhelming support of CEH certification have shown that the security industry recognizes the importance of having a reliable method to acknowledge those with these skills.

A CEH certification means that the holder of the certificate has the necessary skills to perform the following jobs:

  • Security Analyst
  • Computer Forensics Analyst
  • Security Specialist
  • Penetration Tester
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Code Auditor
  • Malware Analyst
  • Security Consultant

The acceptance by the industry of the CEH has strengthened the notion that ethical hacking can be a valuable skill and a respected profession. The acceptance of the CEH has given legitimacy to a subset of computer and network skills that malicious actors once only used.

2) CEPT – Certified Expert Penetration Tester

The Certified Expert Penetration Tester certification (CEPT) assesses a candidate’s advanced knowledge in pen-testing. This certification can be considered the next step towards the IACRB CPT certificate. The CEPT certification exam covers these domains:

  • Exploit creation – Windows architecture & Linux/Unix architecture
  • Linux & Unix shellcode
  • Buffer overflow/Memory corruption vulnerabilities
  • Network attacks
  • Network Reconciliation  
  • Methodologies for penetration testing
  • Reverse engineering
  • Web app vulnerabilities
  • Windows shellcode

The certification exam for CEPT consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. It takes approximately 2 hours to complete. To pass the exam, candidates must score at least 70%. Individuals’ exam fees are $499, and vouchers for proctored on-site exams are $399. This option is only available to groups of 10 people or more.

3) GXPN – GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester

Candidates who have the skills, knowledge, and ability to perform advanced penetration tests will be able to take this valuable test. To be successful in this pen test, you need to be a professional and have the skills of an advanced attacker. They must also spot critical system security mistakes and categorize risks that may affect a business.

To be awarded this certification, you must have the following skills:

  1. Exploitation of clients
  2. Network exploitation
  3. Advanced stack smashing
  4. Advanced fuzzing techniques
  5. Access to the Network
  6. Crypto Pen-Testing

4) CMWAPT – Certified Mobile and Web Application Penetration Tester

CMWAPT is for penetration testers who are interested in web and mobile apps. CMWAPT evaluates a candidate’s ability to pen-test on mobile and web platforms.

The CMWAPT certification exam, like other offerings from IACRB, is two hours long with 50 multiple-choice questions. The minimum passing score is 70%. The fee for the CMWAPT certification exam is $499 or $399. The CMWAPT exam covers the following 8 domains:

  • Android application attacks
  • Android application components
  • iOS app attacks
  • iOS application components
  • Methodology and process for mobile and web application penetration testing
  • Secure coding principles
  • Web application attacks
  • Web application vulnerabilities

5) LPT – Licensed Penetration Tester Masters

Official Penetration Master is a specialist level EC-Council confirm. LPT Master does not have pre-determined qualification criteria. Recertification is required after three years. This is the most advanced certificate offered by the Security Council of EC. This credential is awarded to candidates who complete a task set by the EC-Council. The task involves a complete black-box penetration test on a network, including enumeration, reconnaissance, scanning, managing accessibility, and obtaining access.

6) GPEN – GIAC Certified Penetration Tester

Another notable pen-testing certification is the GIAC Certified Penetration Tester. GPEN certification focuses on legal issues in pen testing and the best pen testing methods and best practices.

GPEN certification is only available to candidates who have passed the proctored exam. Candidates must score at least 75% to pass the exam. This certification exam consists of 82 to 115 questions that are based on real-life situations.

The GPEN certification exam covers these domains:

  • Comprehensive pen test planning, scoping, and recon
  • In-depth scanning, exploitation, post-exploitation and pivoting
  • Web app pen testing and in-depth password attacks

CyberLive is a platform that GIAC provides to help candidates get pen-testing-based certification. This platform allows candidates to test their knowledge and learn through hands-on, real-world scenarios.

The GPEN certification is not only for penetration testers. It also benefits red/blue team members and IT security professionals as well as forensic specialists.

7) CRTOP – Certified Red Team Operations Professional

The next step in your pen-testing career is to become a Red Team. Organizations use red teams to identify areas for improvement. While the task of a Red Team is very similar to pen-testing, it can have a broader scope if there are multiple members.

Candidates who want to prove their ability to conduct a thorough red team assessment will find the Certified Red Team Operations Professional (CRTOP), certification from IACRB a great choice. These are the 7 domains that make up the CRTOP certification exam:

  • Tools and techniques for digital reconnaissance
  • Techniques and tools for physical reconnaissance
  • Methodology for red team assessment
  • Reporting from the Red Team Assessment
  • Roles and responsibilities of the Red Team
  • Social engineering
  • Identification and mapping of vulnerability

The CRTOP certification exam is similar to other IACRB certifications. It costs $499 per person and $399 per voucher for proctored on-site exams for groups of 10 or more.

Candidates must score at least 70% to be awarded the IACRB CRTOP certificate. CRTOP certification exams include 50 multiple-choice questions.

8) CompTIA PenTest+

CompTIA is an internationally recognized provider of IT security certifications. PenTest+ is one of CompTIA’s most important certifications for penetration testing.

PenTest+ certification exam consists of 85 questions. These questions are a mixture of multiple-choice questions and performance-based questions. The CompTIA PenTest+ certification exam covers the following five domains:

  • Attacks and exploits
  • Information-gathering and vulnerability identification
  • Pentesting tools
  • Planning and scoping
  • Communication and reporting

CompTIA PenTest+ certification is not only for fundamental penetration testing skills. It also assesses basic management skills. It also demonstrates that you can perform pen-testing in both cloud-based and mobile environments, in addition to on a desktop or server environment.

The exam can be taken either in person at one of Pearson VUE testing centers or online by proctors. CompTIA PenTest+ certification exam takes 165 minutes. The minimum passing score is 750 out of 900.

9 & 10) PWK and Offensive Security Certified Professional

Offensive Security is known for its wide range of pen testing training and certification programs. PWK (Offensive Security Certified Professional) are two of the offerings.

To qualify for the OSCP certification exam, unlike other certifications, you must attend a course offered by Offensive Security. This course is called PWK and stands for Penetration testing With Kali Linux.

Both the OSCP and PWK certifications demonstrate professional-level pen-testing knowledge. The 120-day period following the completion of the PWK course is sufficient to schedule the certification exam at your convenience.

The certification exam is a real-world simulation that lasts 24 hours. It consists of a virtual network that includes many targets, each with different operating systems and configurations.

Candidates must conduct network analysis, identify vulnerabilities, perform attacks and then present a report on penetration testing. The exam syllabus contains:

  • Bash scripting
  • Buffer overflows under Linux and Windows
  • Attacks on the client-side and web applications
  • Command-line
  • The basics of penetration testing
  • Information gathering
  • Locating public exploits


This concludes our selection of the top 10 penetration testing certifications. Combining experience with certifications can enhance the impression of a resume.

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