Last week I put out a short video that a coworker alerted me to a $50 beta exam for the CompTIA PenTest+ certification. If you watched my YouTube channel for a while, you may be wondering what happened to the Windows 10 certification that I made several videos about. That certification fell through for various reasons. I’m pursuing the PenTest+ certification because it’s a great deal, relevant to my government IT job, and my employer is paying for it.
When I started my government IT job at a three-letter agency seven years ago, everyone hired was a level 2 desktop support tech. That was a mistake. We were all supposed to be level 2 system administrators. I don’t know if the main contractor misread the requirements and/or low balled the contract. An intense 90-day boot camp brought us up to speed as system administrators.
The certifications that got me hired were taken several years after the dot com bust.
- CompTIA A+
- CompTIA Network+
- Microsoft Windows 2000
The CompTIA certifications were still lifetime certifications. I dropped the year 2000 for the Microsoft certification on my resume. No recruiter had ever asked me what version of Windows I certified for. These three certifications became the foundation for any future certifications I may get.
Except every job that I had in help desk, desktop support, PC refresh, and system admin didn’t require a higher certification. You shouldn’t get a new certification unless your current or future job requires it.
My employer has a $500 USD per year reimbursement program for certifications. But we could never agree on what certification I should take for the last three years. We had different ideas about which certification were relevant to my job.
My employer wanted me to study for the CompTIA Security+ certification. I’ve never found Security+ to be that relevant to my system admin job. It’s more theoretical and less hands on. I wasn’t comfortable spending $330 USD on an exam when I haven’t taken an exam in years.
A lower cost certification would have built up my confidence towards taking higher cost certifications. I wanted to the take the Microsoft Windows 10 certification during the two-year transition away from Windows 7. Or the Microsoft Azure Cloud certification during the current transition away from Active Directory. But HR didn’t consider those either of those certifications to be relevant.
The CompTIA PenTest+ certification beta exam bridged the gap between us. I had no trouble spending $100 USD for the beta exam and a study guide. My employer had no trouble offering in writing reimbursement for passing the exam.
But why this certification and not the other certifications?
COMPTIA PENTEST+ CERTIFICATION
The CompTIA PenTest+ certification is a relatively new certification that came out in 2018. CompTIA recommends taking the Network+ or Security+ first, but neither certifications are required to take PenTest+. Relevant work experience can fill in any missing gaps. It’s less theoretical and more hands on.
PenTest+ has Department of Defense approval. That’s a big deal for government IT employers. DoD approval determines what job categories the certification qualifies for. Making it easier for HR to pigeonhole people and check off the right boxes.
For the PenTest+ certification, these job categories would include:
- Penetration Tester
- Vulnerability Tester
- Security Analyst II
- Vulnerability Assessment Analyst
- Network Security Operations
- Application Security Vulnerability
I could see myself moving into any of those job categories in the future.
The PenTest+ certification aligns perfectly with my past and current work experiences. My initial impression of the study guide after a week of studying is that the Network+ certification should be a requirement. Five weeks until I take the online exam on Memorial Day.