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Every aspiring pentester is wondering what’s the best certification to advance their career. Due to the lack of formal training, you either become a self-learner or go with independent institutions.

The Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) and the Certified Penetration tester Certification are the first to pop up when you’re searching for ethical hacking certification. At this point, you might be wondering how they compare:

OSCP and GPEN are intermediate-level certifications. Still, OSCP is deeper than GPEN. It’s a long-term course that takes up to three months to finish, while GPEN is a 6-day course. It’s also cheaper compared to GPEN. GPEN covers the business side, and OSCP covers the technical side.

There’s more to the OSCP and GPEN debate, even within the information security community itself. Keep reading if you want to discover an in-depth perspective. Consider it part of your infosec education.

GPEN vs. OSCP: Side By Side

Every person has their reasons, whether you’re applying for the GPEN or OSCP. And so, this comparison will put both certifications side by side to help you determine which one is best for you.

The comparison will take into considerations various factors such as:

  • Creator (The institute or organization behind the certification)
  • Pricing (The prices of the course, exam, and additional training material)
  • Syllabus (The content of the curriculum)
  • Exam (Information about the exam)
  • Requirements (The experience you need to have to be eligible)
  • What’s next? (What to do after obtaining the certification)

Are you ready to compare GPEN and OSCP? Keep scrolling for more!

Course Creator

The powers behind the course and exam.


The SysAdmin, Networking, and Security Institute (SANS) is the supreme cybersecurity training provider in the world. They developed the SEC560 course material to prepare you to get the certification through the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC).


The developers of Kali Linux are the creators of the Penetration Testing with Kali Linux course, which prepares you for earning the OSCP certification.

You also take the course through the Offensive Security Academy.


You don’t buy a pentest certification, but you work hard to earn it.


The price of the course material at SANS is $7,270, which gives you four months of access to OnDemand material to learn at your own pace. The cost of the “GIAC Certification Exam Attempt in Conjunction with SANS Training” is $849.

The Live Training course also costs $7,270 with an $849 fee for OnDemand Access. As for the exam fee at GIAC, it’s $2,499. A practice test is $179.


The course package at OffSec is $999, including the PEN-200 course material, 30 days lab access, and OSCP exam certification fee.

If you want more days to access the lab, the price gets higher. Some packages give you more days to access the lab, but the price is higher. But you can pay for lab access separately.

If you didn’t pass the certification exam the first time, the retake fee is $150. Furthermore, you also pay for course material upgrades if you want the latest version at $199 and upwards of $500.


Both GPEN and OSCP can teach you all about pentesting tools, techniques, and methodologies.


The SEC560 course strikes the perfect balance between theory and practice. Each lesson has a hands-on exercise, so you’ll learn by practicing.

You begin with learning proper planning, scoping, and reconnaissance, then move on to the meat of the course with Azure AD (Active Directory), Windows Domain attacks, and target exploitation.

The course is covering topics and exercises such as:

  • In-depth scanning
  • Getting the Most Out of Nmap
  • Penetration test and capture-the-flag workshop
  • Password attacks and merciless pivoting
  • Metasploit Psexec, Hash Dumping, and Mimikatz Kiwi Credential Harvesting


The PEN-200 course also provides a balance between theory and practice with an emphasis on Kali Linux. It teaches you how to master Kali Linux, the ultimate pentesting operating system, for ethical hacking. You also get access to a virtual lab environment to learn through practice. The topics covered include:

  • Penetration Testing: What You Should Know
  • Passive Information Gathering
  • Antivirus Evasion
  • Vulnerability Scanning
  • The Metasploit Framework

Most notably, the PEN-200 course teaches you the Try Harder mindset to think like a hacker.


How long does it take to study and pass the exam? Hint: Both are proctored exams.


To pass the GPEN exam, you’ll need to answer 82-115 questions within 30 hours and a minimum 75% score.


The OSCP exam is 23 hours and 45 minutes long. During the exam, you get access to a simulated live network in a private VPN with several vulnerable machines.


Knowledge of TCP/IP is a must for GPEN and OSCP.


There are a few requirements for the SEC560 course. Notably, knowledge of TCP/IP and minimal experience with Windows and Linux command lines.

You don’t need programming experience either.


The course requirements of OSCP also include knowledge of TCP/IP together with some experience with Windows and Linux command lines.

Some knowledge of Python scripting and Bash will help as well.

What’s Next?

Upon successful completion of these intermediate pentesting certifications, you can follow up.


When you want to move from an intermediate ethical hacker to the expert level, consider taking these courses:

  • Advanced Penetration Testing, Exploit Writing, and Ethical Hacking
  • Mobile Device Security and Ethical Hacking
  • Web App Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking
  • Cloud Penetration Testing


The natural next level to the OSCP was the Cracking The Perimeter course. But OffSec replaced it with the new OSCE3 certification. They broke it up into three expanded programs. You may want to consider one of them depending on your career goals:

  • Advanced Web Attacks and Exploitation
  • Evasion Techniques and Breaching Defenses
  • Windows User Mode Exploit Development


Learning ethical hacking isn’t just for pentesters. Anyone working in IT and networking will benefit from obtaining a pentest certificate. At least, these certificates will help you think like the enemy and anticipate cyberattacks to deal with them effectively.

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