What Is the GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) Certification?by@turbulence
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3,670 reads

What Is the GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) Certification?

by Amy Pravin ShahMarch 15th, 2023
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You need to ensure your resources are put to the best use. With that in mind, it is important to know more about what the GIAC Penetration Tester Certification is. 
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There are many certification exams to prepare you for a career in cybersecurity. There are also many accrediting organizations that offer certification testing as well.  With each certification perhaps costing hundreds of dollars, it makes sense to understand the details, risks, and benefits of each test.

Which test will lead to the best career? Which test will show your skills as an applicant the best? Not only will the test cost a lot of money, but it will also cost you time in preparation and taking the exam. You need to ensure your resources are put to the best use. With that in mind, it is important to know more about what the GIAC Penetration Tester Certification is. 

What Is the GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) Certification?

The Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) entity was founded in 1999 and is a company that offers certification testing for various cybersecurity skills. There are over 40 certification tests from which to choose within GIAC. The GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) is a certification exam “that validates a practitioner's ability to properly conduct a penetration test, using best practice techniques and methodologies.” The content covered is comprehensive penetration test planning, scoping and reconnaissance, in-depth scanning and exploitation, post-exploitation and pivoting, and in-depth password attacks.

People who have passed the GPEN are those who have agreed to the stringent GIAC code of ethics. 

They may have acquired their skills from experiential learning or from a training course. The GPEN is a proctored exam administered through Pearson Vue or a computerized testing service.  This is an advanced certification that has required a $1,699 payment in order to take the test in the past. GIAC reserves the right to change the testing structure and fees at any time per their website.  

Those who have passed the GPEN have demonstrated their ability to perform penetration testing methods as well as the ability to find security vulnerabilities in target networks and systems.

Other skills demonstrated by those that pass the GPEN are awareness of network security, penetration testing, web application security, vulnerability assessment, and social engineering. Additionally, GPEN certifiers are able to audit passwords, perform reconnaissance and information security, and are knowledgeable of wireless security.  

Exam Details

The exam format, as written on the GIAC website, is a single proctored exam with 82 questions. It is at most 3 hours long, and the minimum passing score is 75%. The test’s difficulty is advanced and not entry-level. 

Job Opportunities

Those who pass the test may receive jobs with these titles: 

  • Security penetration testing engineer 
  • Operational technology cybersecurity technologist career 
  • Senior penetration tester 
  • Senior technologist 
  • Technologist, mid -evel 

Also, those who earn the certification might be able to work remotely. Some people who have earned the certification have high-level roles in companies, like vice president.  

In the United States, there are 817 job openings for GPEN-certified applicants, according to According to, in February 2023, there were 289 open GPEN jobs.  Salaries are over 100K on the job listings. Many of the jobs requiring this certification are in locations such as Washington, DC; Arlington, VA; Chantilly, VA; Fort Belvoir, VA; and Chicago, IL.  

Those who pass the certification have earnings of more than $100k USD.  The majority of people with the job certification have 6 figure incomes.  Other earners have a range from $50k to $99k USD in salaries. 

In the past, the top employers for those who earned the certification have been companies such as Jacobs, CITI, Blackbaud, VMWare, and Guidehouse.  


All things considered, this certification is worth it because it helps job applicants demonstrate a high level of skill in penetration testing techniques. This certification leads to high-paying careers over 100K USD. It may be able to help you define your skill set and ensure a better outcome for your career prospects.