CEH vs Pentest+: Which Certification Should You Choose?

Are you considering a career in cybersecurity but feeling overwhelmed by the number of certifications available? Two popular certifications that often come up in discussions are CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and Pentest+ (CompTIA Penetration Testing+). While both certifications are focused on ethical hacking, there are some key differences between the two. In this article, IT […]

April 3, 2023

Are you considering a career in cybersecurity but feeling overwhelmed by the number of certifications available? Two popular certifications that often come up in discussions are CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and Pentest+ (CompTIA Penetration Testing+). While both certifications are focused on ethical hacking, there are some key differences between the two. In this article, IT Exams will compare CEH vs Pentest+ and help you decide which one is right for you.

Before we dive into the details, let briefly define what Pentest+ vs CEH certifications are. CEH is a certification offered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) that validates the skills of an ethical hacker in various domains such as network security, reconnaissance, scanning, and vulnerability analysis. Pentest+ is a certification offered by CompTIA that focuses on penetration testing, ethical hacking, and vulnerability management.

The Similarities Between CEH vs Pentest+

The material of PenTest+ vs CEH is quite comparable. Both are valid for three years from the exam date. PenTest+, on the other hand, requires 60 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) to renew, whereas CEH requires 120 credits.

Both examinations’ material is created by highly qualified subject matter experts (SMEs) that specialize in penetration testing and ethical hacking. Furthermore, the PenTest+ test is based in part on industry-wide survey data.

Both certificates are part of DoD Directive 8570 and are valuable tools for workers looking to advance in the field of pentesting or ethical hacking in the government’s information assurance workforce. Furthermore, each certificate is ANSI/IEC/ISO 17024 approved and aligned with NICE’s Specialty Areas.

PenTest+ and CEH certifications are vendor-independent, globally recognized, and accessible in a variety of countries.

CEH vs Pentest+: Prerequisites


The EC-Council’s CEH is distinguished by the CEH Certification Requirements that a candidate attends formal network security training conducted by the EC-Council’s Authorized Training Center (ATC) or completes additional prerequisites. The following are some acknowledged training solutions:

  • Web-based training (WBT)
  • Computer-based training (CBT)
  • Instructor-led training (ILT)
  • Academic learning

If a candidate does not obtain official training, the following standards must be met:

  • Have two years of professional experience in the field of information security
  • Pay a $100 non-refundable application fee
  • Submit a completed application for exam eligibility

CompTIA recommends that PenTest+ test applicants have CompTIA Security+, Network+, or comparable expertise, as well as three to four years of hands-on experience in information security or a related domain. The PenTest+ test is designed to complement the CompTIA Security+ certification by adding a technical, hands-on focus.

CEH vs Pentest+: Exam Content

The PenTest+ and CEH examinations are described here, along with the weightage of each domain followed by its objectives.

CEH exam

Information Security and Ethical Hacking Overview (6%):

  • Information Security Overview
  • Cyber Kill Chain Concepts
  • Hacking Concepts
  • Ethical Hacking Concepts
  • Information Security Controls
  • Information Security Laws and Standards

Reconnaissance Techniques (21%):

  • Footprinting and Reconnaissance: Footprinting Concepts, Footprinting Methodology, Footprinting through Search Engines, Footprinting through Web Services, Footprinting through Social Networking Sites, Website Footprinting, Email Footprinting, Whois Footprinting, DNS Footprinting, Network Footprinting, Footprinting through Social Engineering, Footprinting Tools, Footprinting Countermeasures
  • Scanning Networks: Network Scanning Concepts, Scanning Tool, Host Discovery, Port and Service Discovery, OS Discovery (Banner Grabbing/OS Fingerprinting), Scanning Beyond IDS and Firewall, Draw Network Diagrams
  • Enumeration: Enumeration Concepts, NetBIOS Enumeration, SNMP Enumeration, LDAP Enumeration, NTP and NFS Enumeration, SMTP and DNS Enumeration, Other Enumeration Techniques (IPsec, VoIP, RPC, Unix/Linux, Telnet, FTP, TFTP, SMB, IPv6, and BGP enumeration), Enumeration Countermeasures

System Hacking Phases and Attack Techniques (17%):

  • Vulnerability Analysis: Vulnerability Assessment Concepts, Vulnerability Classification and Assessment Types, Vulnerability Assessment Solutions and Tools, Vulnerability Assessment Reports
  • System Hacking: System Hacking Concepts, Gaining Access, Cracking Passwords, Vulnerability Exploitation, Escalating Privileges, Maintaining Access, Executing Applications, Hiding Files, Clearing Logs
  • Malware Threats: Malware Concepts, APT Concepts, Trojan Concepts, Virus and Worm Concepts, File-less Malware Concepts, Malware Analysis, Malware Countermeasures, Anti-Malware Software

Network and Perimeter Hacking (14%):

  • Sniffing: Sniffing Concepts, Sniffing Countermeasures, Sniffing Tools, Sniffing Detection Techniques
  • Sniffing Technique: MAC Attacks, DHCP Attacks, ARP Poisoning, Spoofing Attacks, DNS Poisoning
  • Social Engineering: Social Engineering Concepts, Social Engineering Techniques, Insider Threats, Impersonation on Social, Networking Sites, Identity Theft, Social Engineering Countermeasures
  • Denial-of-Service: DoS/DDoS Concepts, DoS/DDoS Attack Techniques, BotnetsD, DoS, Case Study, DoS/DDoS Attack Tools, DoS/DDoS Countermeasures, DoS/DDoS Protection Tools
  • Session Hijacking: Session Hijacking Concepts, Application Level Session Hijacking, Network Level Session Hijacking, Session Hijacking Tools, Session Hijacking Countermeasures
  • Evading IDS, Firewalls and Honeypots: IDS, IPS, Firewall, and Honeypot ConceptsIDS, IPS, Firewall, and Honeypot Solutions, Evading IDS, Evading Firewalls, IDS/Firewall Evading Tools, Detecting Honeypots, IDS/Firewall Evasion Countermeasures

Web Application Hacking (16%):

  • Hacking Web Servers: Web Server ConceptsWeb Server AttacksWeb Server Attack MethodologyWeb Server Attack ToolsWeb Server CountermeasuresPatch ManagementWeb Server Security Tools
  • Hacking Web Application: Web App Concepts, Web App Threats, Web App Hacking Methodology, Footprint Web Infrastructure, Analyze Web Applications, Bypass Client-Side Controls, Attack Authentication Mechanism, Attack Authorization Schemes, Attack Access Controls, Attack Session Management Mechanism, Perform Injection Attacks, Attack Application Logic Flaws, Attack Shared Environments, Attack Database Connectivity, Attack Web App Client, Attack Web Services, Web API, Webhooks and Web Shell, Web App Security
  • SQL Injection: SQL Injection Concepts, Types of SQL Injection, SQL Injection Methodology, SQL Injection Tools, Evasion Techniques, SQL Injection Countermeasures

Wireless Network Hacking (6%):

  • Wireless Concepts
  • Wireless Encryption
  • Wireless Threats
  • Wireless Hacking Methodology
  • Wireless Hacking Tools
  • Bluetooth Hacking
  • Wireless Countermeasures
  • Wireless Security Tools

Mobile Platform, IoT and OT Hacking (8%):

  • Hacking Mobile Platforms: Mobile Platform Attack Vectors, Hacking Android OS, Hacking iOS, Mobile Device Management, Mobile Security Guidelines and Tools
  • IoT Hacking: IoT Concepts, IoT Attacks, IoT Hacking Methodology, IoT Hacking Tools, IoT Countermeasures
  • OT Hacking: OT Concepts, OT Attacks, OT Hacking Methodology, OT Hacking Tools, OT Countermeasures

Cloud Computing (6%):

  • Cloud Computing Concepts
  • Container Technology
  • Serverless Computing
  • Cloud Computing Threats
  • Cloud Hacking
  • Cloud Security

Cryptography (6%):

  • Cryptography Concepts
  • Encryption Algorithms
  • Cryptography Tools
  • Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)
  • Email Encryption
  • Disk Encryption
  • Cryptanalysis
  • Countermeasures

CompTIA PenTest+

Planning and Scoping (14%):

  • Governance, risk and compliance concepts
  • Scoping and organizational/customer requirements
  • Professionalism and integrity

Information Gathering and Vulnerability Scanning (22%):

  • Perform passive reconnaissance
  • Perform active reconnaissance
  • Analyze the results of a reconnaissance
  • Perform vulnerability scanning

Attacks and Exploits (30%):

  • Research attack vectors and perform: network attacks, wireless attacks, application-based attacks, attacks on cloud technologies
  • Common attacks and vulnerabilities against specialized systems
  • Social engineering or physical attack
  • Post-exploitation techniques

Reporting and Communication (18%):

  • Important components of written reports
  • Analyze the findings and recommend the appropriate remediation
  • Importance of communication during penetration testing
  • Post-report delivery activities

Tools and Code Analysis (16%):

  • Scripting and software development
  • Analyze a script or code sample for use in a penetration test
  • Use of specific tools during penetration testing


CEH vs Pentest+: Exam Format

Candidates must pass an exam accessible at Pearson VUE (in-person or remotely proctored) or EC-Council (ECC) test centers to acquire EC-Council’s CEH certification. The exam solely contains multiple-choice questions. The CEH exam is a 4-hour multiple-choice exam with 125 questions. The questions are given in random order, and the test is graded on a 0-1000 point scale. The CEH test has a passing score of 60-85%. The test is computer-based, and you may mark questions for subsequent review and return to them. The CEH exam has a registration fee of $950 for self-study and $1,199 for instructor-led training

Candidates must pass an exam offered at Pearson VUE testing locations and online to obtain CompTIA PenTest+, which includes hands-on, performance-based simulations as well as multiple-choice questions. The Pentest+ exam is a 2-hour multiple-choice test with 65 questions. The questions are presented in sequential order, and the test is graded on a range of 100 to 900 points. The Pentest+ exam has a passing score of 750 points. The test is computer-based, and you cannot return to prior questions after answering them. The Pentest+ exam has a registration fee of $349

In terms of exam preparation, it is important to review the exam content and ensure that you have a good understanding of the topics covered. Pentest+ and CEH Practice tests and exam simulations are also helpful in preparing for both exams. Additionally, it is crucial to have hands-on experience in ethical hacking and penetration testing to reinforce the theoretical concepts covered in the exam.

CEH vs Pentest+: Level of Exam Difficulty

The CEH test covers a wide range of cybersecurity issues, including as network scanning, system hacking, and social engineering; however, applicants are not required to have a thorough technical grasp of each topic. Furthermore, CEH has created basic questions that are based on experience rather than theory. As a result, despite the higher cost, many candidates prefer CEH.

PenTest+, on the other hand, focuses on what a candidate should know about penetration testing rather than how it is used in practice. This may make the exam more challenging for people who already operate in the industry but lack a great deal of theoretical knowledge.

CEH vs Pentest+: Renewal Requirements


Both the CompTIA CEH and Pentest+ are valid for three years after passing the exam. To keep their certification from expiring, certification holders must fulfill specified continuing education requirements during the three-year period.

There are three primary ECE program criteria for CEH certification renewal. They are as follows:

  1. 120 ECE Credits Every Three Years: You must get 120 ECE credits every three years to maintain your CEH certification. CEH ECE credits can be obtained in a variety of ways. We’ll go through all of your alternatives, as well as how to fulfill the ECE criteria for renewing your CEH certification.
  2. Submit 40 ECE credits for each of the three years: EC-Council requires you to submit your CEH ECE credits each year. This is critical in the CEH renewal process. You will almost surely fail to renew your CEH certification if you wait until the end of the three years and attempt to get 120 ECE credits in the last year of the CEH renewal cycle. You must gain ECE credits year after year to complete your 120 ECE credits and renew your CEH certification.
  3. Annual Membership in EC-Council: Since 2016, qualified professionals have been obliged to join the organization on a yearly basis. This is also necessary in order to keep your CEH accreditation. The yearly membership fee is $80 and is required to submit ECE credits earned through the CEH renewal process.

Whereas, PenTest+ certification renewal requirements have been issued by CompTIA. To renew your certificate, you must complete continuing professional education units (CPE). You must additionally pay a continuing education (CE) fee of $50 each year or $150 for the three years of the PenTest+ certification, depending on your option.

CEH vs Pentest+: Job Opportunities and Salaries

Both the CEH and Pentest+ certifications are highly regarded in the cybersecurity industry, and obtaining either certification can lead to numerous job opportunities. However, the job opportunities may differ slightly based on the focus of each certification.

The following are some of the “hottest” job titles for a CEH. For a CEH, job titles such as “manager” and “engineer” tend to be the most profitable.

  • Info Security Manager
  • Cyber Security Engineer
  • Penetration Tester
  • Security Analyst
  • Security Consultant

For CEH-certified professionals with the right perspective, the certification may lead to an interesting, engaging, and financially rewarding career path. Payscale reported a Certified Ethical Hacker earns an average annual CEH Salary of $83,591 ($45,000 – 129,000), with incentives ranging up to $17,500. As a consequence, the total remuneration varies between $43,000 and $143,000.

The PenTest+ certification is also crucial because of its technical and practical reach, particularly for the positions listed below:

  • Security Analyst (II)
  • Vulnerability Assessment Analyst
  • Penetration Tester
  • Vulnerability Tester
  • Network/Cloud/Application Security Specialist

Working as a pen tester may be financially rewarding because well-trained and talented individuals can expect to make a lot of money. Employers are prepared to spend large sums of money to acquire and retain top-tier talent. Most pentesters may earn a good living, depending on where they reside and their degree of expertise and training. The average yearly income is roughly $78,000, according to a Payscale compensation study, with higher-end earnings ranging from $44,000 to $124,000.


Benefits of CEH

According to the EC-Council, “To beat a hacker, you need to think like one!” The CEH test and certification are designed to prepare professionals to use the same knowledge and tools as harmful hackers but in a legal and authorized manner. Moreover, the CEH curriculum focuses on ethical hacking, which is characterized as a broad word that encompasses a variety of activities such as penetration testing.

The CEH certification enables ethical hackers to take an aggressive security posture. This is in addition to the more defensive reactive security strategy. Ethical hackers employ advanced tools and techniques to do penetration testing on their systems as part of a proactive security defense. They operate like genuine hackers, although ethical ones, in order to find holes and vulnerabilities in targeted systems; in this way, they assist their customers in keeping their networks and data safe from ever-changing dangers.

Benefits of CompTIA PenTest+

According to CompTIA, a PenTest+ certification increases a professional’s employability by three times. According to the NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework, CompTIA PenTest+ includes two more job responsibilities in addition to penetration testing: vulnerability management and vulnerability assessment. According to Indeed.com, there are nearly three times as many vulnerability management and assessment positions in the United States as there are penetration testing jobs.

PenTest+, in contrast to other pentesting certificates, gives a more thorough review of what a penetration tester should know, from project planning and scoping through project reporting and communication.

CompTIA PenTest+ enables cybersecurity professionals to think offensively and investigative in order to analyze a contemporary network’s robustness against cyberattacks, uncover vulnerabilities, and eliminate risks before something terrible happens. Thinking like a penetration tester can assist businesses in identifying security flaws.

CompTIA PenTest+ certification certifies technical and soft skills in business processes, best practices, and penetration testing expertise. These abilities match the demand and expectations of businesses, allowing IT security professionals to earn a fair wage and have several career alternatives.

CEH vs Pentest+: Which One Should You Choose?


CompTIA PenTest+ certification is appropriate for highly competent security professionals who do penetration testing and vulnerability assessments on targeted systems. This test also covers management abilities like planning, scope, management, and exploiting weaknesses. PenTest+-certified specialists may do penetration testing in a variety of IT settings, including mobile, cloud, desktop, and server systems. They detect potential entry points for breaches, flaws in systems and organizational structures, and gaps in rules and training, all while defending the corporate security infrastructure from malevolent hackers.

Assume you already have three or four years of expertise in information security and want to pursue a career in penetration testing. In such a scenario, earning this certificate may be a good choice for you.

The CEH certification from EC-Council is appropriate for highly competent security experts who are well-versed in studying and knowing the flaws and vulnerabilities of targeted systems. As “white-hat hackers,” professionals protect company networks and data against the Internet’s ever-changing risks by employing the same tools and tactics as attackers but in a legitimate manner.

If you already have at least two years of work experience in the field of information security, this certificate may be perfect for you.

Read more >  > CEH vs Security+: The Ultimate Comparison


Which is harder CEH or PenTest+?

Along with multiple-choice questions, the PenTest+ requires you to perform a few built-in scenarios. Because the CEH is completely made up of multiple-choice questions, it is the simpler of the two tests for the vast majority of test-takers.

Can I take the CEH or Pentest+ exam online?

Yes, both the CEH and Pentest+ exams can be taken online. The EC-Council, which administers the CEH exam, offers an online proctoring option for the exam. Candidates can take the exam from their home or office and are monitored by a proctor via webcam and microphone.

Similarly, the CompTIA Pentest+ exam can also be taken online through Pearson VUE’s OnVUE remote proctoring platform. Candidates can take the exam from their home or office and are monitored by a proctor via webcam and microphone.

How much do CEH and Pentest+ exams cost?

The cost of the CEH exam varies depending on the location, but it typically ranges from $950 to $1,199. The cost of the Pentest+ exam is typically around $359.

Does PenTest+ Renew CySA+?

Once you pass the CySA+ test, your prior PenTest+ credentials are completely renewed.

What happens if you fail the CEH exam?

If a candidate fails an EC-Council test, they can obtain an ECC test center voucher to retake the exam at a lower cost.

Candidates who fail the test for the third time (2nd attempt) are strongly advised to participate in formal hands-on training addressing the certification goals. This does not apply to the LPT (Master) Exam.

Candidates who attempt the test but do not follow the EC-Council retake policy risk having their certification status revoked.


In conclusion, both CEH and Pentest+ certifications are valuable options for individuals looking to enter or advance in the field of cybersecurity. While they have some similarities, they also have distinct differences in terms of their exam content, format, difficulty, prerequisites, and job opportunities. It is important to carefully consider your goals and interests before choosing which certification to pursue.

If you are interested in a more comprehensive certification that covers a wide range of topics related to ethical hacking and cybersecurity, then CEH may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you are specifically interested in penetration testing and vulnerability management, then Pentest+ may be the better option.

Ultimately, the decision of which certification to pursue will depend on your specific career goals and interests. Regardless of which certification you choose, both CEH vs Pentest+ can help you stand out in the competitive field of cybersecurity and advance your career.