Software Testing

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn commission from any sales made or actions taken as a result from users clicking the links on this page.

9 Best Penetration Testing Certification Programs

Posted in Software Testing

Penetration testing involves testing a computer system, network, or web app for potential vulnerabilities. Popularly known as pen testing, penetration testing can be performed manually or automated using some tool(s), such as Selenium, or a combination of the two.

Professionals involved with pen testing are often called pen-testers. The job and responsibility, however, of a pentester vary from organization to organization. They can be responsible for assessing the overall security of a system and/or ensuring that a product has robust safety levels, or carry out a red team assessment, etc.

Best Penetration Testing Certification

There are numerous organizations that offer pen testing certifications (Penetration Testing Certification); not all of them are great. If you’ve made up your mind to get certified for penetration testing, here is our pick of the nine best penetration testing certification programs that you can choose from:

1. Certified Expert Penetration Tester (CEPT)

Certified Expert Penetration Tester (CEPT)Level: Expert
Offered by: IACRB
Valid for: 4 years
Cost: $399/$499

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

  • Exploit creation - Windows architecture & Linux/Unix architecture
  • Linux & Unix shellcode
  • Memory corruption/Buffer overflow vulnerabilities
  • Network attacks
  • Network recon
  • Penetration testing methodologies
  • Reverse engineering
  • Web app vulnerabilities
  • Windows shellcode

The certification exam for CEPT involves 50 multiple-choice questions and time duration of 2 hours. Candidates are required to score 70% or more to pass the same. The examination fee for the exam is $499 for individuals and $399 per voucher for on-site proctored exams. The latter fees option is available only to groups of 10 or more people.

You can signup here.

2. Certified Mobile and Web Application Penetration Tester (CMWAPT)

Certified Mobile and Web App Penetration Tester (CMWAPT) CertificationLevel: Intermediate/Expert
Offered by: IACRB
Valid for: 4 years

The Certified Mobile and Web Application Penetration Tester certification is meant for penetration testers interested in mobile and web apps. CMWAPT assesses a candidate’s ability to perform pen-testing on mobile and web platforms.

Like other offerings from IACRB, CMWAPT certification exam is 2 hours long and contains 50 multiple-choice questions. The minimum passing score is 70%, and the fee is $499 (or $399). CMWAPT exam covers the following 8 domains:

  • Android application attacks
  • Android application components
  • iOS application attacks
  • iOS application components
  • Mobile and web application penetration testing process and methodology
  • Secure coding principles
  • Web application attacks
  • Web application vulnerabilities

You can signup here.

3. Certified Penetration Tester (CPT)

Certified Penetration Tester (CPT)Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Offered by: IACRB (Information Assurance Certification Review Board)
Valid for: 4 years
Cost: $399/$499

The Certified Penetration Tester (CPT) is a globally-recognized certification program from IACRB that ensures a candidate’s working knowledge and skills in penetration testing. It helps candidates to start or advance their career in penetration testing.

The CPT certification is awarded to candidates scoring 70% or more in the 2-hour exam with 50 MCQs. The current fees for taking the CPT certification examination is $499. The CPT examination covers the following 9 domains:

  • Covert channels & rootkits
  • Network protocol attacks
  • Network reconnaissance
  • Penetration testing methodologies
  • Unix and Linux exploits
  • Vulnerability identification
  • Web app vulnerabilities
  • Windows exploits
  • Wireless security flaws

Although no formal working experience is required for taking the CPT certification, it is designed to target those with, at least, some professional experience of penetration testing. There are three ways to enrol for the CPT examination:

  • Offline from any of the IACRB’s training partners across the globe.
  • Over the internet for employees of the member organizations of IACRB.
  • Proctored on-site at candidates’ locations for groups of 10 people or more.

You can signup here.

4. Certified Red Team Operations Professional (CRTOP)

Certified Red Team Operations Professional (CRTOP)Level: Expert
Offered by: IACRB
Valid for: 4 years
Cost: $399/$499

Making to a Red team is, kind of, the next step in the pen-testing career. Organizations leverage red teams to find out the areas in which they can improve. Although the task of a red team is similar to pen-testing, it has a much wider scope with the involvement of several members.

The Certified Red Team Operations Professional (CRTOP) certification from IACRB is ideal for candidates looking to demonstrate their ability to carry out a comprehensive red team assessment. The CRTOP certification exam is based on the following 7 domains:

  • Digital reconnaissance tools and techniques
  • Physical reconnaissance tools and techniques
  • Red team assessment methodology
  • Red team assessment reporting
  • Red team roles and responsibilities
  • Social engineering
  • Vulnerability identification and mapping

Like other certification programs from IACRB, the CRTOP certification exam costs $499 for individuals and $399 per voucher for on-site proctored exams available for groups of at least 10 members.

To successfully bag the IACRB CRTOP certification, candidates must score at least 70% in the exam. The CRTOP certification exam includes 50 multiple-choice questions.

You can signup here.

5. CompTIA PenTest+

CompTIA PenTest+Level: Intermediate
Offered by: CompTIA
Valid for: 3 years
Cost: $359

CompTIA is a renowned IT security certification provider. One of its important certifications for penetration testing is the PenTest+ certification.

The examination for PenTest+ certification involves 85 questions that are a mix of multiple-choice and hands-on, performance-based questions. CompTIA PenTest+ exam covers the following 5 domains:

  • Attacks and exploits
  • Info-gathering and vulnerabilities identification
  • Pentesting tools
  • Planning and scoping
  • Reporting and communication

Other than the fundamental penetration testing skills, CompTIA PenTest+ certification assesses a candidate for basic management skills. Also, it demonstrates the knowledge of performing pen testing in cloud-based and mobile-based environments in addition to the desktop and server environments.

Candidates can opt for the examination either offline at one of the Pearson VUE testing centers or proctor online. The total duration given for taking the CompTIA PenTest+ certification exam is 165 minutes, and the minimum passing score is 750 (out of 900).

You can signup here.

6. GIAC Certified Penetration Tester (GPEN)

GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN)Level: Intermediate
Offered by: GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification)
Valid for: 4 years

Another noteworthy pen-testing certification is GIAC’s Certified Penetration Tester (GPEN). GPEN certification also focuses on legal issues of pen testing in addition to the fundamental pentesting methodologies and best practices.

Candidates interested in gaining the GPEN certification must take the GPEN proctored exam and score at least 75% to pass it. The certification exam includes 82 to 115 questions based on real-life scenarios. GPEN certification exam covers these domains:

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

To help candidates champion the pen testing-based certification, GIAC offers CyberLive. It is a platform that allows candidates to assess their knowledge and learning with hands-on, practical testing scenarios.

Aside from penetration testers, ethical hackers, red/blue team members, IT security professionals (networks and systems), and forensic specialists can also benefit from the GPEN certification.

You can signup here.

7. GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester (GXPN)

Cyber Security Certification: GXPNLevel: Expert
Offered by: GIAC
Valid for: 4 years
Cost: $1,999

GXPN is an expert-level penetration testing certification offered by GIAC. This pen-testing certification assures that the holder is well-equipped with advanced pen-testing measures and the ability to model advanced attacks for making security flaws apparent.

GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester (GXPN)-certified individuals are also adept in translating security flaws into business risks. This presents a better insight for the employers to see how potential security exploits can risk their business(es).

The online proctored exam for GXPN is 3-hour long and pitches candidates against 55 to 75 performance-based, real-world questions. The minimum passing score is 67%. The GXPN certification exam covers these domains:

  • Accessing the network
  • Advanced fuzzing techniques
  • Advanced stack smashing
  • Client exploitation and escape
  • Crypto for pen-testers
  • Exploiting the network
  • Fuzzing introduction and operation
  • Introduction to memory and dynamic Linux memory
  • Introduction to Windows exploitation
  • Manipulating the network
  • Python, Python scripts, and Scapy for pen-testers
  • Shellcode
  • Smashing the stack
  • Windows overflows

GXPN is a suitable pen-testing certification for network penetration testers, systems penetration testers, and professionals across a range of job profiles, including:

  • Application developers.
  • IDS engineers.
  • Security professionals are specializing in targeted network assessment.

You can signup here.

8. Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT) Master

Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT) MasterLevel: Expert
Offered by: EC-Council
Valid for: 3 years
Cost: $250[per annum]

LPT or Licensed Penetration Tester is an expert-level penetration testing certification from EC-Council. The exam for LPT certification is 18 hours long. Divided into three parts, called levels, each contain a trio of challenges based on real-life scenarios.

Six hours are given to candidates for completing each level. Candidates are required to work in a multi-layered network architecture having defence-in-depth controls.

While maneuvering through the network and web apps for exfiltrating data, candidates need to decide fast as to choosing the approaches and exploits to use. The certification gauges a candidate’s ability in:

  • Multi-level pivoting
  • OS vulnerabilities exploits
  • SSH tunnelling
  • Web server and web app exploitation, including arbitrary local and remote file upload, parameter manipulation, and SQL injection.

You can signup here.

9. PWK and Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)

PWK and Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)Level: Expert
Offered by: Offensive Security
Valid for: Renewal not required


  • $999 (PWK course + 30-day lab access + OSCP exam certification fee)
  • $1199 (PWK course + 60-day lab access + OSCP exam certification fee)
  • $1349 (PWK course + 90-day lab access +OSCP exam certification fee)

Offensive Security is popular for offering a diverse range of pen-testing training and certification programs. One of its offerings for penetration testing certification is PWK and OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional).

Unlike other certifications on this list, qualifying for taking the OSCP certification examination necessitates attending a course from Offensive Security. This course is PWK, which stands for Penetration Testing With Kali Linux.

The PWK and OSCP certification successfully demonstrate a professional-level understanding of pen-testing. Candidates can schedule the certification exam as per their liking anytime within the 120 days of the PWK course completion.

The certification exam is a 24-hour long real-world simulation. It contains a virtual network with many targets with varying operating systems and configurations.

Candidates need to research the network, find out vulnerabilities, execute attacks, and, finally, present a penetration testing report. The exam syllabus includes:

  • Bash scripting
  • Buffer overflows in Linux and Windows.
  • Client-side and web application attacks
  • Command-line
  • Fundamentals of penetration testing
  • Information gathering
  • Locating public exploits

You can signup here.


So that completes our pick of the best 9 penetration testing certifications to go for. Certifications combined with experience can verily uplift the impression given out by a resume. Which certification from the list would you like to go for? Let us know in the comments.

Interested in learning software testing? Try these best software testing tutorials curated by the community.

People are also reading:

Akhil Bhadwal

Akhil Bhadwal

A Computer Science graduate interested in mixing up imagination and knowledge into enticing words. Been in the big bad world of content writing since 2014. In his free time, Akhil likes to play cards, do guitar jam, and write weird fiction. View all posts by the Author

Leave a comment

Your email will not be published