GIAC Penetration Tester Certification (GPEN): A Complete Pathway

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The GIAC Penetration Tester certification tests the ability of a candidate to conduct a penetration test in the most efficient manner. The candidate must know how to use the best and most advanced practice techniques and methodologies. GPEN-certified professionals have the knowledge and expertise to conduct exploits and engage in detailed reconnaissance, as well as make use of a process-oriented approach to penetration testing projects.

This blog will reveal a complete overview of the GPEN certification. After learning about this certification, it would get more vivid that it will be useful for you to earn or not. This blog covers every detail of the GPEN certification you might be searching for.

About The Course

Number of exams 1 proctored exam
Number of questions 82 questions
Exam duration 3 hours
Minimum passing score 75% scores

Who Is Recommended Audience Of GPEN?

You are fit to take the GPEN exam if you are interested in the following work roles:

  • Security personnel responsible for assessing networks and systems to find and remediate vulnerabilities
  • Penetration testers
  • Ethical hackers
  • Red Team members
  • Blue Team members
  • Defenders, auditors, and forensic specialists who want to better understand offensive tactics

Read more: Market Demand of SANS GSEC Certification

What Skills Are Acquired Through GPEN Certification?

You will be able to learn the following skills through GPEN certification:

  • Comprehensive Pen Test Planning, Scoping, and Recon
  • In-Depth Scanning and Exploitation, Post-Exploitation, and Pivoting
  • Azure Overview, Integration, and Attacks, and In-Depth Password Attacks

Learning Topics of GPEN Exam

Following is the detailed course outline of the GPEN exam. 

  • Advanced Password Attacks

The candidate will be able to use additional methods to attack password hashes and authenticate.

  • Attacking Password Hashes

The candidate will be able to obtain and attack password hashes and other password representations.

  • Azure Applications and Attack Strategies

The candidate will demonstrate an understanding of Azure applications and the attacks against them including federated and single sign-on environments and Azure AD authentication protocols

  • Azure Overview, Attacks, and AD Integration

The candidate will demonstrate an understanding of Azure Active Directory implementation fundamentals, common Azure AD attacks, and Azure authentication techniques

  • Domain Escalation and Persistence Attacks

The candidate will demonstrate an understanding of common Windows privilege escalation attacks and Kerberos attack techniques that are used to consolidate and persist administrative access to Active Directory.

  • Escalation and Exploitation

The candidate will be able to demonstrate the fundamental concepts of exploitation, data exfiltration from compromised hosts and pivoting to exploit other hosts within a target network.

  • Exploitation Fundamentals

The candidate will be able to demonstrate the fundamental concepts associated with the exploitation phase of a pentest.

  • Kerberos Attacks

The candidate will demonstrate an understanding of attacks against Active Directory including Kerberos attacks.

  • Metasploit

The candidate will be able to use and configure the Metasploit Framework at an intermediate level.

  • Moving Files with Exploits

The candidate will be able to use exploits to move files between remote systems.

  • Password Attacks

The candidate will understand types of password attacks, formats, defenses, and the circumstances under which to use each password attack variation. The candidate will be able to conduct password guessing attacks.

  • Password Formats and Hashes

The candidate will demonstrate an understanding of common password hashes and formats for storing password data.

  • Penetration Test Planning

The candidate will be able to demonstrate the fundamental concepts associated with pen-testing, and utilize a process-oriented approach to penetration testing and reporting.

  • Penetration Testing with PowerShell and the Windows Command Line

The candidate will demonstrate an understanding of the use of advanced Windows command line skills during a penetration test, and demonstrate an understanding of the use of advanced Windows Power Shell skills during a penetration test.

  • Reconnaissance

The candidate will understand the fundamental concepts of reconnaissance and will understand how to obtain basic, high level information about the target organization and network, often considered information leakage, including but not limited to technical and non technical public contacts, IP address ranges, document formats, and supported systems.

  • Scanning and Host Discovery

The candidate will be able to use the appropriate technique to scan a network for potential targets, and to conduct port, operating system and service version scans and analyze the results.

  • Vulnerability Scanning

The candidate will be able to conduct vulnerability scans and analyze the results.

Read more: GCIH Certification Exam Guide 

Why Do You Need To Recertify GPEN Certification? Explore Ways To Keep It Active!

You made the commitment and put in the time and effort to get GIAC certified. But don’t just stop there — keep your certification active to stay relevant in the cybersecurity workforce! Keeping your certification active means you are having the most updated and recent cybersecurity skills. GPEN is valid for four years. Before the certification expires, you need to recertify the exam.

Ways to Recertify the GPEN Certification:

  • Collect 36 CPES 


  • Retake the recent version of the exam

Steps to Recertify the GPEN Exam

  1. Collect 36 CPES or retake the exam. 
  2. Go to GIAC portal and verify the CPES that you have exrned. 
  3. Pay exam renewal fee GPEN certification.

What Is The Worth Of Obtaining GPEN Certification?

The worth of GPEN certification is immense as discussed below: 

  • 86% of the candidates have seen amazing improvement in their penetration testing skills after they have attained the GPEN certification. 
  • You can earn upto $127,936 per annum. Your salary depends largely on how much experience you have related to tesing skills. 
  • GIAC offers the candidates to learn advanced learning objectives that have great demand in the market. 
  • Only a few vendors provide the credential in penetration testing and GIAC is one of those few. 
  • Your chances to land on a job will elevate 79% more by gaining the GPEN credential. 

Why Do People Find It Hard To Earn GPEN Certification?

There are various reasons why people find it hard to gain the GPEN certification. Let usu discuss these predicaments:

  • It is hard to find the appropriate study material. You need a reliable study resource that will help you gain the credential in just a single attempt. 
  • People find it hard to maintain their credentials. The easiest way to maintain the GPEN certification is to earn 36 CPES over a period of 4 years.
  • The ambiguity in career assurance is another big hurdle. However, it has been seen that candidates have learned advanced skills that helped them in the career progression.

Read more: GIAC Certification Worth

What Is The Best Study Material For Guaranteed Success In The GPEN Exam?

Worried about finding the right study material for GPEN certification? The biggest taboo is to invest in unreliable study material and waste days and weeks preparing for it. You may either use the self-paced course or an instructor-led course. The self-paced course will have organized lectures. In the instructor-led course, you will have the guidance of an instructor to help you learn the topics and provide answers to your exam-related questions. Dumpsgate provides best practice questions for the GPEN exam. Practice questions help to strengthen your concepts and help yo learn their application.

How Long Does It Usually Take To Prepare For GPEN Certification?

Usually it would usually take 6-8 days to prepare for the exam. Candidates who have the prior experience or knowledge about penetration and testing may take less than usual to prepare for the exam. Others may take longer than expected.

How To Register for the GPEN Exam?

There are two ways of taking the exam:

  1. Onsite through Pearson VUE
  2. Remote through ProctorU

You can choose any one of these methods. You need to make your GIAC account to apply for the Pearson or ProctorU method. In both the methods, the exam are conducted in proctored environment. 

For detailed information On Exam Schedule visit the link.



Yes, the GPEN exam, like any other GIAC exam, is open-book. You can use notes, study material, and reference books for the exam. Any electronic study source is strictly prohibited to use during the exam.

The exam extensions for the GPEN exam mean you are allotted extra time to prepare for the GPEN exam. You can apply for an exam extension through your GIAC login.

A 30-day waiting period is required after failing any GIAC exam before you can retake it. You have an additional 30 days, which you should spend to fully understand the certification course topics. Your final exam date is extended by 60 days if you purchase a retake following an exam failure, which includes the 30-day waiting period. The GIAC Certification Portal will show your new deadline.



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