This article is part of an IT Career News series called Your Next Move. These articles take an inside look at the roles related to CompTIA certifications. Each article will include the responsibilities, qualifications, related job titles and salary range for the role. As you consider the next move in your IT career, check back with CompTIA to learn more about your job prospects and how to get there.
Today, nearly every organization has a website, and more resources are being spent on developing web apps to support our increasingly digital lifestyle. Of course, that means hackers have yet another avenue to exploit. Organizations worldwide need people who can think like the bad guys with the expertise and foresight to uphold cybersecurity best practices. If this sounds like you, web app penetration tester may be a good next step for you.
What Is a Web App Penetration Tester?
A web app penetration tester is tasked with securing organizations through penetration testing and their understanding of web application security issues in the following ways:
- Performs passive reconnaissance by gathering information that is available on the internet
- Performs active reconnaissance by probing the target system
- Provides expertise on offensive security testing operations
- Tests defensive security mechanisms
- Narrows attack vectors via web app penetration testing tools
- Communicates exploit results to non-technical audiences
- Prioritizes vulnerabilities for ongoing remediation and support
A web app penetration tester is a specific type of penetration tester who focuses on internet-facing web applications. Many of these apps handle personally identifiable information (PII) like credit card data or health records. It’s in a company’s best interest to hire a web app penetration tester to perform pen testing and vulnerability assessments that meet regulatory compliance. These jobs vary based on employer and seniority level.
How to Become a Web App Penetration Tester
In general, the role of penetration tester is not an entry-level job – you must gain IT and cybersecurity experience first. This is especially true for a web app penetration tester. Employers will expect candidates to understand how to identify scripts in various software deployments and explain how they used various tools during the phases of a penetration test.
To gain that experience you could work as a systems administrator or programmer to become knowledgeable about how systems work – and when they don’t. Having a solid understanding of scripting languages, like Python, will also help. But hands-on experience is what you’ll really need. Certifications like CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA PenTest+ can help you validate the skills and experience you need as you work toward a web app penetration testing role.
CompTIA Security+ validates the baseline skills necessary to perform core security functions and pursue an IT security career. This certification is a great place to start if you don’t have any cybersecurity training or experience.
CompTIA PenTest+ is intended to follow CompTIA Security+, or equivalent experience, and has a technical, hands-on focus. This certification is for IT pros tasked with penetration testing and vulnerability management and requires candidates to demonstrate the hands-on ability to test devices in new environments such as the cloud and mobile, in addition to traditional desktops and servers.
The new CompTIA PenTest+ (PT0-002) will launch later this month and will certify successful candidates have the knowledge and skills required to:
- Plan and scope a penetration testing engagement including vulnerability scanning
- Understand legal and compliance requirements
- Analyze results
- Produce a written report with remediation techniques
In addition to the certification, CompTIA will release a full suite of training products to help you learn and practice penetration testing and vulnerability management skills and prepare for your certification exam.
Web App Penetration Tester Salary Range
The average salary for web app penetration testers is $103,000 a year (Cyberseek.org).
Web App Penetration Tester Job Outlook
From 2020 to 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an increase of 33% for penetration testing positions, with 47,100 net new jobs expected during that 10-year period.
Job Titles Related to Web App Penetration Tester
- Penetration tester
- Vulnerability analyst
- Application security analyst
- Threat intelligence analyst
- Security operations center analyst
- Cybersecurity analyst
Read about more IT jobs featured in Your Next Move.
Will your next move be web app penetration tester? If so, download the exam objectives for CompTIA PenTest+ to learn more.