Military Veterans: Why Cyber Security is The Ideal Career

June 29, 2017 | Views: 7384

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Recently, I read an article that described millennial’s lack of interest in pursuing cyber security careers. While the author suggested this was related to unawareness, he stated it posed a greater threat to the cyber security skills gap as older infosec workers retire. The skills gap is a topic we will never cease to talk about, and an issue Cybrary works hard to combat.

Doing more research on the skills gap, I came across a multitude of articles describing why transitioning military make excellent cyber security professionals. Many suggest that the cyber field allows for the transfer of passion for defending one’s country on the battlefield to the online battlefield.

If you are a veteran transitioning into civilian life and wondering where to take your career next, cyber security may be the answer.

You may not be aware, but cyberterrorism was named one of the top five global risks by the World Economic Forum, meaning the need for cyber security professionals will steadily increase. This need is not simply for those with hardcore technical skills, but rather individuals who exhibit leadership, discipline, and problem solving skills.

One article states:

Veterans are often ten steps ahead of their civilian counterparts when it comes to preparing for a career in cybersecurity. Individuals who have worked in intelligence positions during their years of service have often acquired cybersecurity training that is well suited for managing high-level IT security information. Military veterans are also known for their ability to be process and team-oriented. Cybersecurity professionals that can work together in a high-pressure environment give employers the sense that they can be trusted to tackle a major security breach in a timely and orderly fashion.

An added benefit for veterans is that they may already have a security clearance, which can help in the purist of a federal position, accelerating the hiring process in many cases. While many cyber positions call for formal education and certifications, many employers are making exceptions for veterans, weighing more heavily a general experience combating threats and attacks.

Veterans who have previously worked in a security operations center or have monitoring experience can be especially valuable to employers.

Mike O. Villegas shares his opinion saying,

The veterans respect for authority is motivating to others, but a wise manager will also solicit input that sometimes experience alone will teach. If you assign a task to a veteran, he/she is determined to complete it and grow from the experience. The focus on their job responsibilities can be uncanny if the employer is fortunate enough to hire the right veteran with these attributes.

Trained to approach obstacles as possible to overcome, those with military experience can often possess keen analytic skills that will allow them to solve complex problems, providing a unique insight. Those working in the dynamic cyber environment will likely flourish, as they are flexible and respond well to change.

Perhaps put best by Gary Hayslip, CISO for the City of San Diego,

To veterans transitioning, I like to say the cyber community is another opportunity to serve. It is a community of people driven to learn new skills, protect, and enable their organizations to be innovative and give back to new members mentoring them on how to deploy cybersecurity and reduce the risk exposure to their companies.

At the end of the day, veterans will want to seek out organizations who recognize that their experience and skills, rather than education and certifications as a means of gauging their fit for a role. Veterans on the other hand, must be willing to continuously learn once given an opportunity.

We recommend military vets do their research when applying to jobs and pay special attention to companies who have partnered with military organizations. Cybrary has partnered with the Military Cyber Professional Association (MCPA) to provide cyber security training through the Cybrary Teams learning and assessment platform. For more information, click here.

For those not fully convinced if cyber is right for them, or for those interested in making a transition from the military into a cyber security career, I highly recommend the resource ‘The Transitioning Military Cybersecurity Professional,’ the latest book in the GR8Transitions4U ‘Military Transition Series.’

This book, written in part by Ray Letteer, CISSP, CISO, will offer guidance on military transitional challenges and provide ‘good common sense’ as you deal with the uncertainties along your career journey.

Through the course of his 20-year military career Ray served first in the intelligence field as an analyst and linguist, with assignments world-wide, including an 8-year tour in Berlin from 1982-1990. He became involved in the budding cybersecurity field after being assigned as the comm-computer officer while in Berlin and receiving training in Operational INFOSEC from NSA. He was one of the first military instructors in cybersecurity, teaching  a variety of government and military students for the National Cryptologic School for which he received a Joint Meritorious Service medal.

Henry J. Sienkiewicz, former Chief Information Officer and Designated Approval Authority (DAA), Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), and author says,

An insightful and timely work that should be in every cyber security professional’s “kit bag.” In an approachable style that eliminates the hype that surrounds cyber security, Dr. Letteer provides the concrete and actionable advice that all military cyber professionals need to hear.

For more information on this book, click here. 

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  1. An issue with ATTRS. Since the military uses internally signed certifictes most browsers will deny the encryption, I cannot get to the ATTRS site. I do intend to order this book as I retired from the Army 18 months ago and still trying to get my foot in the door in Cyber Security.

  2. Full of motivation

  3. Great Article Olivia! This added to my level of motivation and ambition to get started in the Cyber security field. I will highlight some of the qualities you listed that veterans like myself have. Dedication to mission accomplishment. Improvising and adapting to situations and strong leadership in the face of uncertainty!

    • Glad you enjoyed the write-up! Definitely an exciting field. The Cybrary team will love hear what you accomplish 🙂

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