If you’re interested in going after jobs in cyber security, a penetration testing apprenticeship might be a great option for you. It offers you a chance to get hands-on experience in ethical hacking and testing the vulnerabilities of an IT infrastructure while earning a salary and receiving mentorship from experienced professionals.
We’ve prepared this article to introduce you to the requirements and benefits of penetration testing apprenticeships, as well as some common roles you can expect to fulfill in this type of program.
What Is a Penetration Testing Apprenticeship?
A penetration testing apprenticeship is a subcategory of cyber security apprenticeship that’s designed to give you hands-on experience in resolving the security vulnerabilities that affect digital assets and computer networks, and in closing security breaches after they occur.
As an apprentice, you’ll typically join the internal cyber security or the information technology team and will deal with personal, sensitive, classified, or propriety information. Most employers prefer applicants with a degree in computer science, cyber security, or a related field.
What Does a Penetration Testing Apprentice Do?
As a penetration testing apprentice, you’ll be allowed to test computer systems through ethical hacking to expose weaknesses that could be targeted during cyber attacks. You’ll be working under the supervision of professional cyber security experts and learn about the best security testing practices in this field. You will also be expected to come up with potential solutions to reinforce your organization’s security.
Penetration Testing Apprenticeship Salary
According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a cyber security apprentice is $90,854 per year. Your salary as an apprentice will vary according to your skills, location, and the company you work for, but this level of compensation is consistent with the market value for this skillset. PayScale estimates that the average salary for someone with pentesting skills is about $89,000.
Penetration Testing Apprenticeship Requirements
A passion for cyber security is the main requirement for this type of apprenticeship. You’ll also need to be familiar with cyber security tools, software, and best practices. You are also expected to have the right mindset, be open to mentoring, and go the extra mile to solve problems.
Types of Penetration Testing Apprenticeships
To help you pick the best penetration testing apprenticeship, we’ve compiled a list of the most common positions you can apply to. Any of these will provide you with hands-on experience to build a successful career as a penetration tester or cyber security specialist.
External Network Penetration Tester
This type of penetration testing examines your publicly available information as well as your external assets. This apprentice’s job is to assist the team in securing vulnerabilities discovered when scanning an organization’s public data. In addition, they aim to gain access to data through assets that are visible to the outside world, such as cloud-based applications, company emails, and websites.
An external penetration may, for example, attempt to remotely break a firewall or crack a password using public and personal data acquired via revealed data breaches, open source intelligence (OSINT), internally built tools, credit bureaus, and other sources. These are the types of openings a hostile hacker may attempt to exploit.
Internal Network Penetration Tester
Internal network penetration testers examine the consequences of confidential data being unwittingly shared, altered, misused, or destroyed. This can happen when a rogue employee, contractor, or cyber criminal impersonates an employee of the organization.
These testers examine the consequences of confidential data being unwittingly shared, altered, misused, or destroyed, and use their findings to recommend better security controls, such as rights of access enhancements, improper patch management, and protocol misuse mitigation.
Social Engineering Tester
Social engineering aims to acquire an employee’s confidence by fooling them into providing confidential information or completing an activity that exposes data to a potential hacker. This sort of penetration testing determines how vulnerable your employees are to leaking sensitive data in this type of attack.
Physical Penetration Tester
Not all cyber attacks are the same. Physical penetration testing mimics an intruder physically breaching your security safeguards. For example, assessors may impersonate delivery employees to obtain entry to your premises, or they may physically breach your business to demonstrate real-world risks.
Penetration Testing Apprenticeship Jobs
If you’re looking for the right penetration testing apprenticeship opportunity, we’ve compiled this list to help you break into the cyber security industry.
Coast Community College District Apprenticeship Program
This apprenticeship program offers 2,000 hours of paid training and the chance to receive a certificate of completion. Your responsibilities will include writing programs, building security plans, installing network security tools, creating and maintaining secure networks, analyzing data on a compromised computer, and defending networks from unwanted attacks. All of these skills will become useful as you advance your career in penetration testing.
IBSS Cyber Apprenticeship Program
The goal of this apprenticeship is to provide a hands-on and content-based learning experience for those who don’t have experience in the cyber security field. In this apprenticeship, you’ll be learning about not just penetration testing, but also IT infrastructure, basic security concepts, risk management, and vulnerability assessments. It is a great option if you’re just getting started in the field and want to hit the ground running.
Caterpillar Secure Software Apprenticeship Program
In this apprenticeship program, you’ll be working with other security professionals under the Information Security and Risk Management Team. You’ll gain experience by collaborating in infrastructure protection, threat detection, data protection, application risk management, information security governance, and threat and vulnerability management.
Your responsibilities will include handling incident tickets and responding to customer needs, all while you learn about security attack and penetration testing, application code scanning, and risk assessment.
Citi Cybersecurity Apprentice Program
If you join the Citi apprenticeship program, you’ll be introduced to several teams and have a chance to understand their roles and responsibilities within Citi’s cyber security ecosystem. To apply, you should have one to three years of expertise in cyber security, IT, information security, or a similar field, and have prior experience working in a high-stress setting. You’ll also need to be adaptable, possess good analytical abilities, and be detail-oriented.
Tetra Defense Apprenticeship Program
In this apprenticeship program, you’ll be able to give clients long-term endpoint monitoring and phishing detection solutions, and will gain experience in responding to and halting attacks before they escalate into more significant and critical issues. You’ll also learn to evaluate and respond to security alerts from other sources and use static and dynamic analysis and threat intelligence data to discover, assess, and remediate warnings.
Day-to-day tasks in this job role include assisting in the safe restoration of system functions, helping clients update their passwords, keeping track of the process of data decryption and recovery, and acting as a helpdesk for clients who are attempting to resume normal operations. You’ll also assist in identifying and investigating security events for clients utilizing a variety of relevant tools and procedures.
How to Get a Penetration Testing Apprenticeship
Building a career in cyber security might feel intimidating if you don’t know where to start. To help you, we’ve listed some of the ways you can prepare for a penetration testing apprenticeship. Make sure to pick the option that is best suited to your needs and career goals.
Bootcamps are rigorous study programs that allow students to obtain in-demand digital skills in a short period of time. Bootcamps offer programs that run between a few weeks and a few months, and they allow for flexible learning so students can learn at their own pace and according to their specific needs.
A cyber security bootcamp is a great way to quickly pick up skills in ethical hacking, secure web development, system administration, advanced coding languages, threat mitigation, and vulnerability identification.
A penetration tester internship is a type of security training designed to expose students and graduates to the working world in their field of study. Internships can last anywhere from one week to a year. They can be paid or unpaid, so make sure you understand your rights to compensation before beginning an internship.
A trade school, also called a technical school, vocational college, or vocational school, teaches students technical skills to prepare them for a particular career. You’ll learn more about cyber security at trade school and have the opportunity to perform hands-on training.
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Vocational training is a type of education that focuses on helping people get the skills they need to get a job. General job skills training may be included in vocational training, although it generally focuses on gaining the abilities required for a specific profession or vocation. Unlike regular academic education, vocational training focuses on teaching the procedures and information needed to do the job.
Is a Penetration Testing Apprenticeship Worth It?
Yes, a penetration testing apprenticeship is worth it, especially if you are passionate about keeping people’s data safe and secure. Cyber security professionals play a key role in every company because they protect IT infrastructure, edge devices, networks, and data. So if this is something that you want to do, then it is definitely worth it to do an apprenticeship.
Penetration Testing Apprenticeship FAQ
Employers usually look for professionals who have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Information Technology, Security Engineering, or other related fields. If you have this degree or proven experience in the field, this gives you a higher chance to land an apprenticeship.
Yes, as an apprentice you are entitled to compensation. This is one of the great advantages of apprenticeships, as you can gain practical skills and receive mentoring while earning a salary.
In this field, many companies tend to opt for candidates with at least some valid experience in the field. However, there are apprenticeship programs designed for beginners, so make sure you research your options and find a program that suits your needs and level of skill.
It is not easy, but if you put in the effort and have a passion for the work, it is possible to land a penetration testing apprenticeship. Attending a bootcamp can provide you with the technical skills to land an apprenticeship. Whether you want to be an ethical hacker or a cyber security consultant, make sure to research your options and find a program that matches your skills and goals.
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