What Is OSCP Certification and Is It Worth It? 2024 Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

An OSCP overview and comparison guide for ethical hackers, pen testers, and tech professionals.

[Featured image] Three cybersecurity analyst colleagues review data on a monitor in a server room.

Certifications are credentials you can use to build expertise or certify skills in a specific industry. They can help demonstrate competency to potential employers and strengthen your understanding of key concepts. Whether you want to earn a certification to sharpen your skills or because you’ve heard skill-based hiring is trending among employers, researching certification programs is an excellent first step toward your goals. You can learn more about the OSCP certification and compare it to others in the field with the following article. 

What is OSCP?

OSCP stands for OffSec Certified Professional. It is an ethical hacking certification offered by Offensive Security (OffSec) and designed to validate practical penetration testing skills. The OSCP is based on Kali Linux tools and methodologies. If you’re unfamiliar with Kali Linux, it’s an open-source platform used for the following information security (InfoSec) tasks:

  • Computer forensics

  • Pen testing

  • Security research

  • Reverse engineering

  • Red team testing

  • Vulnerability management 

Read more: What is Ethical Hacking?

Does OSCP certification expire?

OffSec certifications, including the OSCP, do not expire. 


Is OSCP worth it?

The OSCP is a popular and recognizable credential in the IT community. Although it’s considered a lower-level pen testing certification, it is designed for established cybersecurity professionals rather than those pursuing an entry-level position. If you’re looking for a certification that you can use to break into the field, consider looking into the CompTIA Security+ certification

The OSCP can prepare you for more advanced certifications, hone white-hat hacking skills, and demonstrate your Kali Linux pen testing competency. Combined with other higher-level certifications, it can help you build a robust and comprehensive portfolio of proficiencies. Whether the OSCP is worth pursuing depends on your personal and professional goals. Consider the following outcomes to aid your decision-making process:

  • Job opportunities. Certifications are an excellent way to fill in the gaps in your resume, especially if you’re transitioning into ethical hacking from a related role. 

  • Demonstrated commitment to continued learning. In the tech field, continued education is required for success. Pursuing certifications ensures (and proves) that you’re current on the latest tools and methodologies. 

  • Proven proficiency with specific tools and procedures. Some employers ask for the OSCP certification by name or require experience with Kali Linux. 

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Careers that value OSCP certifications

OSCP salary

According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for an OffSec Certified Professional in the US is $119,895, as of February 2024. The salary range begins at $22,500 and ends at $168,500 [1]. 


How does the OSCP compare to other certifications?


CISSP, or Certified Information Systems Security Professional, is an ICS2 certification awarded to those who have completed CISSP training and passed the subsequent exam. The subject matter focuses more on designing and managing cybersecurity systems and components. You’ll strengthen your ability to assess, identify, and maintain systems to reduce vulnerabilities and manage risks. The content is well-suited for security managers, analysts, and engineers. In contrast, OSCP subject matter is geared toward those interested in information security, penetration testing, and ethical hacking.  


CEH stands for Certified Ethical Hacker. Unlike the OSCP, which focuses on Kali Linux-based tools and methods, CEH-certified individuals are vendor neutral. The CEH is a well-rounded exam covering cloud security, cryptography, and Internet of Things (IoT) testing. Like the above-mentioned CISSP, you’ll focus on system security, risk management, and incident handling. The CEH, however, is at a more accessible level for entry-level cybersecurity professionals without penetration testing experience. The CEH is more beginner friendly than the specialized OSCP. 


PNPT, or, Practical Network Penetration Tester, is newer and lesser known than the OSCP certification. Nonetheless, it’s considered an industry-standard certification, and you’ll find it requested by name in job postings for ethical hackers, cybersecurity engineers, penetration testers, and security analysts. Like the OSCP, penetration testing comprises the bulk of the curriculum. The PNPT includes more information about open-source intelligence and web application security. It also prioritizes non-technical subjects such as report writing, scoping, test etiquette, and cleanup. 

OSCP certification requirements

OSCP cost

The PEN-200 course and exam bundle is available for $1,649 as of February 2024. It includes one course, 90 days of lab access, and one exam attempt. You also have the option to enroll in a Learn One subscription for $2,599 or Learn Unlimited for $5,499, both billed annually. The subscription options include additional classes, exams, practice, and content. You can learn more about subscription options here

OSCP prerequisites

  • Understanding of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) networking

  • Familiarity with Python scripting and Bash on a fundamental level

  • Experience with Windows and Linux administration

OSCP administration

The PEN-200 course and online lab are designed to prepare students for the OSCP certification exam. It is proctored, and the exam duration is 24 hours. You will only receive feedback on your exam attempt if you earned insufficient points to pass. If you must retake the exam, there is a cooling off period (either four or six weeks, depending on your bundle) before you can attempt again.  

Prepare to earn a cybersecurity certificate with Coursera today 

If you already have some experience with networking and the Linux command line but are not yet ready to take an exam, the Metasploit for Beginners: Ethical Penetration Testing Guided Project may be an excellent fit for you. With the guidance of an instructor, you’ll practice authoring penetration testing reports, performing vulnerability scan analyses, and utilizing an exploit using Metasploit. 

You can strengthen your penetration testing expertise with an industry leader in technology by enrolling in the IBM Penetration Testing, Incident Response, and Forensics online course. The subject matter for this beginner-friendly, no-experience-required program includes incident management, scripting, penetration testing, and forensics. You’ll earn a shareable certificate for your LinkedIn profile or resume. 

Article sources

  1. ZipRecruiter. “OSCP Salary, https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/OSCP-Salary.” Accessed January 31, 2024.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.