How to become a penetration tester in 2024

Interested in becoming a penetration tester but unsure where to begin? This step-by-step guide is designed just for you!



Welcome to the thrilling world of penetration testing, where the digital landscape becomes your playground, and every security challenge is a puzzle waiting to be solved. If you're drawn to a career that combines technical prowess with a dash of cyber sleuthing, then becoming a penetration tester might just be your calling. In this detailed guide, we'll navigate through the essential steps and strategies to kickstart your journey into the realm of ethical hacking.


What does a Pentester do?  

The primary objective of a penetration tester is to identify and suggest solutions for concealed vulnerabilities in digital or physical networks before they can be exploited by malicious attackers. To achieve this, a penetration tester's daily responsibilities involve utilizing technical and penetration testing tools to scan for security weaknesses, recording processes and activities, and composing reports on findings for senior colleagues and clients.


More specific examples of a penetration tester’s daily activities include:

  • Conducting vulnerability assessments
  • Enumerating and attacking Active Directory environments 
  • Enumerating and attacking applications such as Web Applications, APIs, Mobile Applications, and Thick Clients. 
  • Hunting for a foothold in a network, performing local privilege escalation, lateral movement, pivoting, and post-exploitation.
  • Communicating with clients and assisting senior managers and account holders with security debriefs and answering client questions; this could include sales calls or project kick-offs. 


As a penetration tester or ethical hacker, much of your time will be dedicated to documenting your actions, interacting with clients, and communicating your activities and findings to both internal and external stakeholders. In essence, inputting commands into a terminal constitutes only about 75 percent of the role.

Therefore, to succeed as a penetration tester, merely having technical offensive security skills is not sufficient. You should also possess, or aim to develop, strong professional communication and soft skills. These include writing professional emails, punctuality, and timely project delivery.

For instance, in some of the organizations I have worked with, there was a 24-hour policy for responding to client inquiries. During live engagements, the policy at one company even required us to respond to clients immediately or as soon as possible.


Assess Your Fit for the Role

Before diving into the technicalities, it's crucial to understand if penetration testing is the right career path for you. This field is not just about possessing technical skills; it requires a unique blend of creativity, perseverance, and problem-solving abilities. Passion for technology and a keen sense of curiosity are indispensable traits that define successful penetration testers. Assess your own interests and strengths. Do you enjoy challenges? Are you intrigued by cybersecurity? Your answers will determine your suitability for this dynamic field.

Build a Solid Foundation

The best way to sharpen your skills is by applying them. Participate in hacking labs, such as those offered by Parrot CTFs, or engage in Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions. These platforms provide a safe and legal environment to practice your hacking skills on various challenges and network configurations.

Continual learning is crucial in a field as dynamic as cybersecurity. Stay updated with the latest security trends, vulnerabilities, and tools. Subscribe to security blogs, attend workshops, and engage with the community through forums and social media.


Gaining Practical Exposure and Networking

Start small—look for internships or entry-level positions in cybersecurity. These roles provide invaluable experience and help you understand the daily responsibilities of a penetration tester. Networking with professionals in the field can also lead to opportunities. Attend industry conferences, seminars, and local meetups to connect with like-minded individuals and potential employers.



Embarking on a career in penetration testing is both challenging and rewarding. It requires a blend of technical acumen, creative problem-solving, and continuous learning. This guide has equipped you with a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to become a penetration tester. Whether you are just starting out or looking to specialize further, remember that perseverance, curiosity, and a commitment to ethical standards are your most valuable assets. Ready to dive in? Your journey into the fascinating world of cybersecurity begins now at Parrot CTFs


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