Ok, well, I can't say that I entirely agree with the two above. But I don't disagree with everything stated either. Having taken all three of the mentioned courses (CEH, OSCP and GPEN) I can certainly offer comparisons between them.
That being said, the CEH was the first certification I obtained. It did give me some recognition with my employer at the time (quite possibly from just the name), and it definitely came into play shortly after once I started getting security-related tasks. Now, I had prior hobby
experience before earning the CEH, and I did further research/testing/etc. on my own during and after the course. What I'm getting at (and I've said this in the forums here before - as well as others) is that the CEH can be what you make of it. It's an introductory certification, not meant to make you an expert. If you take the concepts learned, the tools used and the resourcefulness you should have as an ethical hacker, you can quite easily turn the CEH into a lot more. And this isn't just for CEH, but for any security certification in general you're going to need to constantly stay updated.
For the cheapest route, you could do OffSec or CEH courseware. Then of course if you do the volunteer thing for SANS, you can get the GPEN for a great price. Knowing what each includes and that you're trying to get the most bang for your buck, my suggestion would be this: Do the OffSec course and buy one or two of the CEH prep books (not
the official review guide, but the ExamPrep
or the Prep Guide
. If you decide to take the exam, then purchase the Official Review Guide
for studying prior. Since you mentioned doing the volunteer thing with SANS, that's when you can do the GPEN. They will all certainly complement each other and you'll learn quite a lot.