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Penetration Testing

Projected Income Around $3,000/month
Costs to Start $1,000-$2,000
Time to Start 1-2 months

Our Side Hustles Breakdown

If you are skilled with cybersecurity and are looking to add additional income to your pocket, we recommend penetration testing. As cybersecurity becomes more crucial, the demand for penetration testing grows, making it a lucrative and essential field. Key concern: Extensive technical knowledge and ethical guidelines are vital in this specialized field.

cons-icon Cons

  • Technical Expertise Required: This field requires substantial knowledge and continuous learning.
  • Ethical Considerations: Striking a balance between legal and ethical practices is paramount.
  • Tools and Licensing Costs: Acquiring the necessary tools and certifications may require significant investment.

pros-icon Pros

  • High Demand: With increasing cybersecurity threats, the need for penetration testers is growing.
  • Good Pay: Penetration testing is a specialized skill that often comes with higher pay rates.
  • Remote Opportunities: Many penetration testing roles can be performed remotely, adding to flexibility.

Living in a world where digitalization encompasses almost every aspect of life, we shouldn’t forget that our data and those of organizations are constantly under risk of malicious hacking attacks. 

If you’re passionate about cybersecurity and have knowledge of computer networking, you might be interested in doing penetration testing as a side hustle. It’s quite profitable, and you can contribute to making digital assets more safe.   

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about penetration testing, from what it’s all about and how much you can earn to reasons for considering it as a side hustle. 

An Overview of Penetration Testing: A Primer

Penetration testing, also referred to as pen testing, is the process of simulating a cyberattack on a digital asset to evaluate its level of security. This way, you can identify security vulnerabilities that malicious hackers can exploit and address them in time. 

The goal is to reduce the risk of data breaches and improve the cybersecurity of computer systems, networks, and applications. 

How Much Can Penetration Testing Earn You?

Penetration testing is an in-demand field that offers higher-than-average salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that information security analysts, who perform similar duties to penetration testers, earned a median annual salary of $102,600 in 2021. 

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Pen Testing Side Hustle?

The cost of starting a pen testing side hustle depends on a range of factors, including:

  • Certification and Training: While many pen-testing jobs don’t require certification, getting certified can increase your chances of landing quality gigs and attracting more clients. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), a popular certification among ethical hackers, costs $1,199.
  • Tools and Equipment: From vulnerability scanners and exploitation tools to virtual machines and cloud-based pen-testing platforms, penetration testing tools and equipment can cost thousands of dollars per year. 
  • Insurance: To work as a pen tester, you should have professional liability insurance ($61 per month) and cyber liability insurance ($145 per month). 
  • Jobs Platform Expenses: If you’re going to do most of your work on freelance platforms such as Upwork, you should account for the platform’s service fee, which is often around 10%.

All things considered, you’re going to spend a few hundred dollars each month, which would be compensated by the high pay, anyways.

Where Can You Find Penetration Testing Gigs?

Finding penetration testing gigs is fairly simple if you know where to look. Doing it independently can require more effort and be more time-consuming, while using dedicated online platforms also means higher competition. 

Either way, here are some ideas and places to help you get started with your next gig. 

Where to Independently Find Penetration Testing Work

There are many ways to go about finding penetration testing work on your own. You can start by reaching out to security consulting firms in your area and asking about job openings. 

You can also try networking with industry professionals and potential employers at cybersecurity conferences and events

Further, you can follow cybersecurity professionals and organizations on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in case they share a job opening. 

If you’re a recent graduate or a college student, try referring to your university’s career center for job listings and connections in the field of cybersecurity. 

Another thing you can do is contact recruitment agencies that specialize in cybersecurity and IT roles. Online forums and communities are also worth checking out. 

Gig Economy Platforms That Offer Penetration Testing Work

Trying to independently find work as a pen tester can take a lot of time and effort. Luckily, there are several freelance platforms that can offer you a quick start. 

Some of the best options include:

  • Bugcrowd: This is one of the best platforms that connects experienced pen testers with organizations looking to eliminate security flaws. Their inclusive team and company culture make it a good place to start. Their community is also great for those looking to learn about the process of becoming a hacker—an ethical one, that is!
  • Upwork: No matter your specialty, you’re guaranteed to find quality gigs on Upwork. You ask for a fixed price per penetration test, or you can work on an hourly basis. 
  • HackerOne: Like Bugcrowd, HackerOne is a popular online platform that specializes in cybersecurity. It offers bug bounty programs in which ethical hackers can participate for monetary rewards. 
  • CyberSecJobs: This is a cybersecurity-specific job board where you can find plenty of contractual and freelance positions, including pen testing gigs. 
  • Gigster: This is a freelance platform that specializes in software development. Though it’s not focused on cybersecurity, you can find projects that require pen testing. 

Why You Should Consider Penetration Testing as a Side Hustle

Here are a few compelling reasons to consider penetration testing as a side hustle job:

  • Security Contribution: Penetration testers help contribute to the overall security of the digital world, preventing cybercriminals from taking advantage of others. 
  • High-Paying Gig: Pen testing is one of the most rewarding side hustles you can do in terms of pay. You can make hundreds or even thousands of dollars per pen test!
  • Networking Opportunities: As a penetration tester, you get to network with clients and professionals of different industries, which can lead to referrals and collaborations. 

Problems With Penetration Testing for Money

Some downsides of becoming a penetration tester include:

  • Continuous Learning: The cybersecurity landscape evolves at a rapid rate. You must be up to date with new attack vectors, security protocols, and pen-testing tools to stay competitive. 
  • Technical Challenges: As a pen tester, you’ll constantly face complex challenges that will put your understanding of cybersecurity to the test, and you’ll have to come up with ways to overcome these challenges. 
  • Privacy and Data Concerns: Handling sensitive client data and personally identifiable information requires a great deal of care and caution, which can be quite taxing. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Skills Does a Penetration Tester Need?

Some of the most notable penetration testing skills include a solid understanding of web communications, experience with security technologies, and knowledge of computer networks and network security. The ability to script and write code is also a plus. 

Is It Hard to Become a Penetration Tester?

Becoming a penetration tester is fairly hard because it requires a strong combination of knowledge, dedication, and technical skills. However, it can be more or less challenging also depending on your background and level of experience. 

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