PenTest Plus Certification TrainingCompTIA PenTest+ validates hands-on skills in penetration testing and vulnerability management.

Undoubtedly, cybersecurity remains a top concern for businesses across all industries. Two of the hottest specializations in cybersecurity are vulnerability assessment (detecting and prioritizing weaknesses in IT systems) and penetration testing (simulating attacks on computer systems to pinpoint potential vulnerabilities). CompTIA’s PenTest+ certificate proves your expertise in both of these complementary fields. PenTest+ certified pros have the skills and qualifications to pursue roles such as network penetration tester, IT security specialist, vulnerability analyst, cloud security specialist, and cyber threat analyst.

This page will serve as your guide to the CompTIA PenTest+ certification, including which skills it covers, exams, costs, prerequisites, career paths, salaries, and more. We’ll also highlight some of the best PenTest+ training programs available today.

Skills Measured by PenTest+ Certification

CompTIA PenTest+ certification focuses on both theoretical knowledge and practical skills, making it a comprehensive assessment of your pentesting capabilities. Here are the key knowledge domains and skill sets covered in the PenTest+ exam, along with the exam weight for each domain.

Planning and Scoping - 14% of Exam

This PenTest+ domain involves understanding the parameters of a penetration testing engagement, including defining goals, setting expectations, and following legal and compliance guidelines. It also covers understanding the target environment and deciding what tools and techniques are appropriate.

Info Gathering & Vulnerability Identification - 22%

This skill area includes the ability to perform reconnaissance, collect useful data about a target, and identify potential vulnerabilities. This part of the PenTest+ certificate also encompasses running vulnerability scanning tools and interpreting the results.

Attacks and Exploits - 30%

A core component of CompTIA PenTest+ certification is the ability to exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to a system. Exam candidates must understand a variety of common attack techniques and how to use them, including network-based attacks, wireless and RF-based attacks, and application-based attacks.

Reporting and Communication - 18%

Once a pentest is completed, it’s crucial to effectively report the findings. This includes writing a detailed report of vulnerabilities found, tests performed, and the results. The report should provide a risk assessment for each vulnerability and recommend mitigation strategies. Furthermore, good pentesters need the ability to communicate their findings to both technical and non-technical stakeholders.

Tools and Code Analysis - 16%

A successful pentester needs to be proficient in the use of a wide range of pentesting tools and platforms. The PenTest+ certification exam covers network scanning tools, packet crafting tools, vulnerability scanning tools, debuggers, exploitation frameworks, wireless testing tools and more.

View the CompTIA Pentest+ Exam Objectives for a more detailed breakdown.

CompTIA PenTest+ Certification Exam

Exam Format: Multiple choice and Performance-based questions.
Exam Duration: 165 minutes
Exam Length: Maximum of 85 questions
PenTest+ Cost: $392 USD (exam voucher only)
Passing Score: 750 out of 900

CompTIA PenTest+ Prerequisites

  • Required: There are no mandatory requirements for the PenTest+ exam.
  • Recommended: CompTIA Security+ or equivalent experience.
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CompTIA PenTest+ Salary

Average salary for PenTest+ certified professionals and related cybersecurity certification holders:

  • CRISC: Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control: $167,145
  • CISM: Certified Information Security Manager: $158,590
  • CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional: $154,186
  • AWS Certified Security – Specialty: $146,300
  • CISA: Certified Information Systems Auditor: $140,654
  • CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker: $139,539
  • CompTIA PenTest+ Certification: $109,500

Along with these averages, it's important to note that salaries for PenTest+ certified professionals will vary widely depending on factors like experience, location, company, job role, and other IT certifications held.

Sources: Skillsoft 2022 Salary Survey and analysis of online job boards.

PenTest+ Certification Cost

The cost to take the CompTIA PenTest+ certification exam is $392. If you already have the skills to pass the test, a standalone exam voucher can be purchased directly from CompTIA.

If you need additional exam prep, attending PenTest+ certification training will add to the cost of earning this credential. The cost of PenTest+ training can range from less-expensive programs like this ethical hacking bootcamp, to pricier information security degrees with a more in-depth curriculum.

CompTIA PenTest+ FAQs

Here we answer some frequently asked questions from PenTest+ certification candidates.

What is the CompTIA PenTest+ certification?

The CompTIA PenTest+ Certification is an intermediate-level credential that covers the necessary skills to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. It emphasizes hands-on skills and ensures that a certified pro can identify, exploit, report, and manage network vulnerabilities.

What are the prerequisites for taking the PenTest+ exam?

While there are no mandatory prerequisites, CompTIA suggests that candidates have at least three years of hands-on experience in information security or a related field. It's also recommended that candidates have CompTIA Security+ certification or equivalent knowledge.

What is the difference between CompTIA’s PenTest+ and Security+?

While both certifications are part of CompTIA's core cybersecurity certification path, Security+ focuses more on the beginner knowledge required for any cybersecurity career, while PenTest+ is more focused on intermediate skills, particularly in the discipline of penetration testing.

What’s the format of the PenTest+ exam?

The PenTest+ certification exam includes multiple-choice questions and performance-based exercises that simulate real-world cybersecurity scenarios.

How can I prepare for the CompTIA PenTest+?

There are numerous ways to prepare, including study guides and learning resources from CompTIA, 3rd party PenTest+ courses and online bootcamps, and practice exams. Any method you can use to gain hands-on pentesting experience will also be beneficial.

What’s the length and duration of the PenTest+ exam?

The PenTest+ certification exam contains up to 85 questions, and candidates have 165 minutes to complete it.

What score do I need to pass the PenTest+ exam?

The passing score for the CompTIA PenTest+ certification exam is 750 on a scale of 100-900.

How often must I renew my PenTest+ certification?

CompTIA PenTest+ certification is valid for three years from the date of passing your exam. You can renew it by earning continuing education units (CEUs), which you can get through activities like attending relevant training programs, teaching others, publishing articles and more.

What jobs can I get with a PenTest+ Certification?

With a CompTIA PenTest+ certification, you could pursue career paths such as network / cloud / application penetration tester, vulnerability analyst, IT security specialist, or security operations analyst.

About the Author

IT Subject Matter ExpertDaniel Greenspan is the founder and Editor-in-chief of ITCareerFinder. Working closely with IT professionals, world-class trainers, and hiring managers since 2005 has given him unique insight into the information technology job market and the skills and credentials IT pros need to succeed.