Skills in demand: Pen Tester

Recent breaches have highlighted the need for talented pen-tester technologists with the ability to assess vulnerabilities long before they are under attack.

What it takes

Hands-on experience with reverse engineering, packet-level programming and knowledge of digital forensics. Expertise in identifying vulnerabilities and understanding what it takes to “break” a system is critical. The ability to approach a system creatively and solve complex problems, paired with stellar documentation and communication skills.


Junior level roles start around $90K, with senior levels often earning $130K to $150K – sometimes higher.

Available Postings

Pen Tester Jobs available on one search – all related jobs.
Internationally Recognized Pen Tester Certifications:
Certified Penetration Testing Engineer, this course trains students on the 5 key elements of penetration testing: information gathering, scanning, enumeration, exploitation and reporting.
Certified Penetration Testing Consultant, the C)PTC is designed for cyber security professionals ant IT network administrators who are interested in conducting Penetration tests against large network infrastructures, such as large corporate networks.
Key Skills of Pen Tester:
This framework shows that Pen Tester Experts will have a variety of the following Knowledge, Skills, and Ability:
  • Ability to identify systemic security issues based on the analysis of vulnerability and configuration data
  • Knowledge of application vulnerabilities
  • Knowledge of content development
  • Knowledge of data backup, types of backups (e.g., full, incremental), and recovery concepts and tools
  • Knowledge of different classes of attacks (e.g., passive, active, insider, close-in, distribution, etc.)
  • Knowledge of different operational threat environments (e.g., first generation [script kiddies], second generation [non- nation state sponsored], and third generation [nation state sponsored])
  • Knowledge of general attack stages (e.g., footprinting and scanning, enumeration, gaining access, escalation of privileges, maintaining access, network exploitation, covering tracks, etc.)
  • Knowledge of how traffic flows across the network (e.g., Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), Open System Interconnection Model (OSI), Information Technology Infrastructure Library, v3 (ITIL))
  • Knowledge of IA principles and organizational requirements (relevant to confidentiality, integrity, availability, authentication, non-repudiation)
  • Knowledge of interpreted and compiled computer languages
  • Knowledge of local specialized system requirements (e.g., critical infrastructure systems that may not be used standard IT) for safety, performance, and reliability
  • Knowledge of network access, identity and access management (e.g., public key infrastructure, PKI)
  • Knowledge of network protocols such as TCP/IP, Dynamic Host Configuration, Domain Name System (DNS), and directory services
  • Knowledge of network security architecture concepts including topology, protocols, components, and principles (e.g., application of Defense-in-Depth)
  • Knowledge of penetration testing principles, tools, and techniques (e.g., metasploit, neosploit, etc.)
  • Knowledge of programming language structures and logic
  • Knowledge of relevant laws, policies, procedures, or governance as they relate to work that may impact critical infrastructure
  • Knowledge of system and application security threats and vulnerabilities
  • Knowledge of system and application security threats and vulnerabilities (e.g., buffer overflow, mobile code, cross-site scripting, PL/SQL and injections, race conditions, covert channel, replay, return-oriented attacks, and malicious code)
  • Knowledge of systems diagnostic tools and fault identification techniques
  • Knowledge of what constitutes a network attack and the relationship to both threats and vulnerabilities
  • Skill in applying host/network access controls (e.g., access control list)
  • Skill in assessing the robustness of security systems and designs
  • Skill in conducting vulnerability scans and recognizing vulnerabilities in security systems
  • Skill in detecting host and network-based intrusions via intrusion detection technologies (e.g., Snort)
  • Skill in evaluating the trustworthiness of the supplier and/or product
  • Skill in mimicking threat behaviors
  • Skill in performing damage assessments
  • Skill in performing packet-level analysis (e.g., Wireshark, tcpdump, etc.)
  • Skill in the use of penetration testing tools and techniques
  • Skill in the use of social engineering techniques
  • Skill in using network analysis tools to identify vulnerabilities


Source: Domini Clark, principal, executive and technical recruitment, Blackmere

This was originally published in the March 2015 Issue of SCMagazine