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Penetration Tester Salary

Very much a male-dominated career in the United States, Penetration Testers earn an average of $74K per year. Career length and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. A large number report receiving medical coverage from their employers and most collect dental insurance. Most Penetration Testers like their work and job satisfaction is high. Participants in PayScale's salary questionnaire provided the particulars of this report.
$45,192 - $114,618
(Median)
$45K
$74K
$110K
MEDIAN: $74,150
10%
50%
90%

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$11.92 - $50.34
(Median)
$12
$31
$50
MEDIAN: $30
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$50K$100K$150K
Salary
$45,192 - $114,618  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $10,346  
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).
)
$45,030 - $119,448  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 212
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$25$50$75
Hourly Rate
$11.92 - $50.34  
   
Overtime
$20.72 - $41.12  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$50K$100K$150K
Bonus
$0.00 - $10,346  
   
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).
)
$45,030 - $119,448  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 18
United States (change)

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.

Penetration Tester Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Penetration Tester


Survey takers who work as Penetration Testers report a focused set of job skills. Most notably, facility with Web Security & Encryption, Network Security Management, and Security Testing and Auditing are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 23 percent, 11 percent, and 9 percent, respectively. The majority of those who know Security Testing and Auditing also know Network Security Management.

Pay by Experience Level for Penetration Tester

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


For many Penetration Testers, experience and pay levels seem to be correlated; more years in the business generally lead to more money. Respondents with less than five years' experience take home $68K on average. In contrast, those who have been around for five to 10 years earn a noticeably higher average of $96K. Between one and two decades on the job, average salaries pass the six-figure mark at around $108K. Individuals who report more than two decades of experience seem to make only slightly more than folks in the 10-to-20 year range; the more senior group sees median earnings in the comparatively modest ballpark of $120K.

Pay Difference by Location


Dallas is home to an above-average pay rate for Penetration Testers, 58 percent higher than the national average. Penetration Testers will also find cushy salaries in Washington (+25 percent) and Chicago (+19 percent). Seattle is the lowest-paying area, 1 percent south of the national average.

Related Job Salaries

Experience Affects Penetration Tester Salaries

Late-Career
up arrow 58%



National Average
$76,000


Skills That Affect Penetration Tester Salaries

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 33 votes.

Gender

Female
10 %
Male
90 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
6%
1-4 years
47%
5-9 years
27%
10-19 years
17%
20 years or more
3%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 89% dental benefits Dental: 84%
vision benefits Vision: 66% employee benefits None: 8%