Penetration Testers in the United States are largely men, earning an average of $80K per year. Overall cash earnings of Penetration Testers stretch from $44K near the bottom to $129K at the top, and the heftiest packages can encompass around $15K each from bonuses and profit sharing. Career duration and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. A large number enjoy medical while a fair number get dental coverage. Vision coverage is also available to a majority. Most Penetration Testers report high levels of job satisfaction. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$49,602 - $125,666
(Median)
$50K
$80K
$130K
MEDIAN: $80,238
10%
50%
90%

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$10.26 - $60.61
(Median)
$10
$26
$61
MEDIAN: $26.00
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$50K$100K$150K
Salary
$49,602 - $125,666  
   
Bonus
$1,018 - $14,899  
Profit Sharing
$0.30 - $14,544  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$43,822 - $129,184  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 28 Oct 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 349
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$25$50$75
Hourly Rate
$10.26 - $60.61  
   
Overtime
$28.59  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$50K$100K$150K
Bonus
$1,018 - $14,899  
   
Profit Sharing
$0.30 - $14,544  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$43,822 - $129,184  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 28 Oct 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 31
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Job Description for Penetration Tester

The integrity of internal systems connected with the wider Internet is crucial to the operations of many organizations, from financial institutions to health care companies to government agencies. Organizations often employ cybersecurity experts to help protect their vital systems from malicious attacks. One of the basic tasks that must be accomplished to secure a system is to find where vulnerabilities exist. The penetration tester uses a wide variety of tools (some of which may be self-constructed) to probe the organization's network, attempting to find any areas which are vulnerable to attack and identifying methods by which attackers could exploit security flaws. Penetration testers also seek out and ameliorate passive threats to network integrity, such as poor password policies and user security practices.

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Penetration Tester Tasks

  • Follow industry best practice methodologies for penetration testing, and be able to use tools for a basis level assessment.
  • Search for security vulnerabilities in web applications, fat/thin client applications, and standard applications, and assess the secure configuration of operating systems and network devices.
  • Document findings for management and technical staff and recommend mitigating actions.
  • Conduct IT/Cyber Security assessments / penetration tests (hands-on work), as an individual, self-managed tester, or in small project teams.
  • Work with customers to determine their need for security assessments, present and explain the employed methodology, and support them with feedback and verification during mitigation.

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Popular Skills for Penetration Tester


Penetration Testers report using a pretty varied skill set on the job. Most notably, facility with Black Box Testing, Web Security & Encryption, and Security Testing and Auditing are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 43 percent, 12 percent, and 7 percent, respectively. Skills that are correlated to lower pay, on the other hand, include IT Security & Infrastructure, Security Risk Management, and Computer Security. Those proficient in Security Testing and Auditing are, more often than not, also skilled in Network Security Management.

Pay by Experience Level for Penetration Tester

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.


The average worker who claims fewer than five years of experience earns around $73K. In contrast, however, individuals who report five to 10 years in this occupation see a much larger median of $101K. After working for 10 to 20 years, Penetration Testers make a median salary of $118K. Penetration Testers who claim more than two decades of experience actually make somewhat smaller average paychecks of $99K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $81,276

Larger city markers indicate a job is popular in that location.

For Penetration Testers, working in the bustling city of Phoenix has its advantages, including an above-average pay rate. Penetration Testers will also find cushy salaries in Atlanta (+22 percent), Washington (+17 percent), Dallas (+15 percent), and Chicago (+13 percent). Those in the field find the lowest salaries in San Antonio, 12 percent below the national average. Below-median salaries also turn up in Seattle and Denver (11 percent lower and 5 percent lower, respectively).

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Experience Affects Penetration Tester Salaries



Late-Career
up arrow 22%

National Average
$81,000


Skills That Affect Penetration Tester Salaries

Black Box Testing
up arrow 43%



Network Security Management
up arrow 4%

National Average
$81,000

Computer Security
up arrow 5%

IT Security & Infrastructure
up arrow 6%

Security Risk Management
up arrow 6%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 38 votes.

Gender

Female
7 %
Male
93 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
10%
1-4 years
45%
5-9 years
23%
10-19 years
18%
20 years or more
3%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 88%
dental benefits
Dental: 78%
medical benefits
Vision: 68%
dental benefits
None: 9%
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