A Day in the Life of an IT Pro: Penetration Tester

by Gavin Dennis | Jul 09, 2018

A headshot of Gavin DennisIT security is needed everywhere, especially by businesses. Gavin Dennis is a senior IT security consultant working in Germany on security projects supporting companies around the world. We asked him to share his experience in the industry and any advice he has for people considering the field.

What do you do?

I currently work in a consulting firm in Germany, and my department provides IT security services, such as penetration testing, to corporate clients around the world. Penetration testing helps identify gaps that may cause systems to become unavailable, disclose confidential information or corrupt the integrity of their data.

I've been in the security field for approximately four years and have worked with companies in industries such as telecommunications, banking and finance, education and technology. Clients have varied in size, from small to large, some with a customer base exceeding 50 million. Before my roles in security consulting, I worked for several top consulting firms in the fields of audit and assurance in the Caribbean.

Sign up to receive a discount on CertMaster or an exam voucher

How did you get into cybersecurity?

My current career path in cybersecurity started from me deciding to follow my passion for IT seriously. About five years into audit and assurance, I realized I was far more passionate about IT while moving closer to feeling unhappy in audit and assurance.

I decided I was going to follow my passion, and I started studying immediately while hunting job opportunities in IT and security. I could have been anywhere in the IT field, but security interested me the most. So far it has been gratifying, as I now travel the world helping companies to protect their digital assets.

What does a typical day look like as a security consultant and penetration tester?

On a typical day, I would be a part of a team interrogating a company's network from the perspective of an internal or external attacker to identify security issues and vulnerabilities.

Also, I may be blogging about security, developing educational security content or remotely mentoring people around the world who are trying to transition into security or improve their career. 

How does penetration testing and IT consulting compare to other jobs?

Penetration testing gives me the opportunity to add value to a business by finding ways malicious parties may misuse a system, its users and data. It also allows me the freedom to be creative and appreciate the value of being proactive, determined, diligent and wise.

Many traditional business roles confine you to a routine set of tasks that should be followed like a script. Working with multiple companies and their different technologies and implementations blesses me with continuous education, fights away boredom and gives me an edge when I share my knowledge to help others wherever I go.

Gavin Dennis at his desk working on a laptop

What do you love most about being an IT security consultant?

I love that my job allows me to travel the world, work with amazing clients, and experience the wonders of different cultures. My work travel allows me to naturally see the beauty of the world; learn about multiple languages, cultural practices, religious beliefs and false stereotypes; and develop relationships with people in incredible places.

Do you have any advice for people who are new to or considering a career in penetration testing?

Most certainly! Penetration testing requires determination, focus and a strong desire to learn and defy limitations continuously. Embrace and develop the skills people often neglect or underappreciate, such as being curious, taking initiative, being determined, understanding the psychology behind social interactions, continuously learning, tackling challenges, having integrity and avoiding distractions. Always align your studies and practice to maximize your professional growth while being consistent.

Anything else you would like to share about your experience in cybersecurity?

Don't accept the limitations people set for you. Always stay focused on your goal and work toward it, despite the criticisms of others. Maintain a good work–life balance and take care of your health, family and well-being. Also, be positive, practice good habits and try to help others where you can.

Ready to start your penetration testing career? See if CompTIA PenTest+ is right for you

16 Comments

  • Bob Smith

    Friday, July 13, 2018

    You truly are an inspiration. Keep living life and enjoying what you do!

  • Darren

    Friday, July 13, 2018

    I have always been interested in doing cyber security but I have no money to get started.

  • Derich Simpson

    Friday, July 20, 2018

    I enjoyed reading this article and your responses about your career. Having set goals and always wanting to learn to evolve is what I want to do with my life also.

  • Ronnie

    Saturday, July 21, 2018

    Thanks for the advice and insights into you IT security life.

  • Gavin Dennis

    Sunday, August 5, 2018

    Thank you to everyone who read this feature on me, I appreciate it! I wish you success in all your goals and dreams.

  • Tapiwa

    Wednesday, August 15, 2018

    Truly inspiring and interesting read.

  • Rick Moore

    Wednesday, August 15, 2018

    Thank you for the insight.

  • NARDO KOCK

    Thursday, August 16, 2018

    Very valuable....appreciate it !!!

  • anuj sharma

    Friday, August 17, 2018

    Great article ! I agree to every bit of it. Penetration testing is a great job for those who don't want to do repeatable(boring) tasks. I always wanted a job in which there is so much to learn whether technical or other aspects like you mentioned cultures,lifestyle etc. Now when i am working as a penetration tester, i am enjoying it to the core.

  • Trevor Chandler

    Friday, August 17, 2018

    Thanks Gavin for sharing your comments about your duties as a Pen Tester. Nothing more credible than hearing this from someone who is in the trenches. When I begin teaching CompTIA's PenTest+ course, this is definitely something I will use to motivate my students.

  • Andy M

    Saturday, August 18, 2018

    I’m just starting out in the world of Cyber Security after many years in sales, so this is a complete change for me, I’m still in the training stages but it’s encouraging to read good articles like yours and to know that it’s a good path to go down, thank you

  • Duane G.

    Monday, August 20, 2018

    The article you submitted about Penetration Testing is an inspiring one. It should be construed by those who are just beginning or who remains on the fence, to seriously consider a career in IT. I use my CompTia training for a personal just wanting to know scenario but began gathering knowledge in several user materials such as everyday usage of Operating Systems and the ends and outs of PC's. That gave me more confidence in learning other aspects of the workings of a computer. No one should stop right there. There is a very large world of learning in the IT world. So they should follow their passion about the section or sections of IT. Good luck to all of you and to Mr. Chandler for choosing IT as a career choice.

  • Itumeleng

    Friday, August 24, 2018

    What an inspiration.I always had an interest in cyber security however I was limiting myself. Thank you for a giid advise in your aeticke it has helped me to realise my potential.

  • Steve G

    Sunday, August 26, 2018

    Great story Gavin. I’ve been in the Security Business for several years. I’ve always wanted to go IT. However, I’m in my 50s. Would you recommend A PenTest career for someone my age? Thank you for your story.

  • Winston Dale Eubanks

    Saturday, November 10, 2018

    Just reading this story about you has inspired me to pressure my IT career even more. I'm trying to break into the IT field Cyber security and pen testing is on the list after security +. Thank You for your help.

  • rootgatehacks@tutanota.com

    Wednesday, December 5, 2018

    Most companies will not tell you which PEN tester they are using to secure all their database and vital information. I got a secret and I was able to get a PEN tester, vulnurabilty analyst, network specialist. He also provided pther services like remote access to phones and laptops, access using IoT, online forensics, investigations and many more.

Leave a Comment

Boost your Career with a Certification

Find out more about our Certifications

How to get Certified

4 Steps to Certification

Already certified? Let us and others know!

Share Your Story