How to Start Your Security Specialist Career

July 18, 2016 | Views: 9414

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Struggles and challenges becomes more difficult if you don’t know where to start. If you graduated from a very promising school, but don’t have the required experience and skills need to land the job, the chances of your resume being viewed by prospective employers might be slim. Information from this article is based from my personal experience and from experiences shared by mentors.

TIME. Time is the most valuable asset you need to spend in order to acquire the necessary learning and skill-sets. Most people I know who got a job spent more than 3 years working in various cyber sectors, which lead them to have the expertise.

MONEY. Yes, money, money and money. Now that you have allotted enough time to learn what it takes, you need decent amount of money to attend a review class then buy your voucher to get certificated.

CERTIFICATION. Why do you need certifications? Your skills will be validated by an institution to accredit your knowledge, experience and expertise.

Below are areas you can start to study and work in/with:

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Network +
  • MCSA
  • MOUS
  • Python, Java, html, sql, C, C#
  • Linux


What jobs do we need to get involved with in order to acquire necessary skills? You don’t have to start working as System admin, Server admin or firewall admin or anything like that. You can begin your career as a Technical Support Rep for an ISP, Security software vendor, IT helpdesk Tech Support Rep, Salesforce Developer, Database admin, NOS or Network Support and then work your way up and learn as you work and get certified.


Good luck and please post your questions/comments below!

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  1. Hi Jason, your article is really good, thanks for sharing! I have a question for you, i’m a python programmer and i have medium knowledge about hardware ad networking. I would like to be an ethical hacker and my question is “have i to start from CompTIA A+ and the go through Network+ and Security+, or go for the penetration testing course on Cybrary?”. Thanks anyway!

    • I came from a law enforcement/MP – irregular warfare background and transferred over to cyber security within 1.5 yrs due to certifications and undergrad college courses.

      If you already know programming and want to get into Ethical Hacking, I would start with Security+ and then hit up Mile2 and see which cert you are interested in. Considering most hacking OS (Linux) is used to construct attacks and exploit vulnerabilities – you already have that. You just need to shore up your “hacking part” and you’ll be set. You might even skip Security+ and go right into CPEH or CPTE.

      I guess it depends on how comfortable you are with computer security and the knowledge that encompasses. I reviewed Prof Messer’s videos on Networking+ – but to make sure I had the odds and ends when transferring over to Cyber Security – I started with A+ and then moved into Security+…while taking college courses in C|HFI that matched up with my LE background & forensics, crime scene, arrests, courts, etc…but I landed a great 6 figure job and keep going higher…

      I suggest you use what you already have and add a few certs to it to make yourself more competitive. Cyber Security is growing and having a “programming background” is excellent, especially if you are going to be working alot with Linux. You’re 85% already there!

  2. This is just my opinion, and you don’t have to certify in everything you do, but if you are just starting out it wouldn’t hurt to get the A+. Then I would go on into Network+ and from there you could start down many paths none of which is wrong, it just rounds out your experience. I went on to get the Security+ before I chased the CCNA R&S.

    As others have said, networking is part of security so it’s good to know it.
    Linux would be something else you want to start learning if you have time.

  3. Am doing comptia A+,so what will be the job opportunities

    • @Lucas Laka – From your A+ce certification – and you want to head into cyber security — start looking for government positions that need certified PC Technicians that can travel and work abroad to service PC’s, flip office PC’s to newer ones, etc…That will give you an initial clearance with the govt client where you can then build from.

      Once you start working (or immediately after you get A+) start with either Net+ or Sec+ and obtain both or at least Security+. From there, you can grad a higher position that will come with a higher clearance – which translates to higher salary.

      Then you need to start looking at specialization: Ethical Hacking, Cloud Security, Linux Administration, Digital Forensics, etc….grab one or two of those certifications and start applying for the positions you really want in cyber security. Don’t be afraid to move and travel. That experience adds greatly to your resume. Plus, those jobs are always hiring and pay better.

      But what you are doing is the RIGHT THING – keep at – don’t give up or stop. You can do it – I know it takes time – but in 1 to 2 years you’ll be there and making $$$ and loving life!

      Just my thoughts from personal experience….

  4. I’m confused about certifications. Should I go for CCENT or Network+ or CCNA.?
    I’m an under grad, studied subjects like fundamentals of Cyber Security, Metasploit, SQLi n stuff. Have also studied Data communication and networks.(Maximum part of the book by Forouzan).
    Please help me.

    • start with Network + then CCENT, alot of security work is to do with networking and how traffic flow.

    • Thanks to what 9Tcrawler said. Thus knowledge retention would be the main factor here. I suggest If you are still young and currently has a job relating to a network support role, helpdesk representative, NOS, the everyday exposure will impact the topics that will be discussed with the course and certification you will take and helps you understand why things work why how it functions which gives justice to what you spend.

      Go with Comptia Network+ or CCNA then CCENT.

      I got 3 years military schooling then 10 years exposure and running which covers the physical aspect of security.

    • CCENT is the first half of the CCNA exam. The path is to take CCENT, or Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician and CCNA, Cisco Certified Network Associate is the next step. Beginning at the CCNA level, you are able to choose a discipline or focus.

      The traditional route is CCNA: Routing and Switching and I would recommend that for the foundation of a networking education. Then, while the information is fresh in your mind begin on the CCNA: Security discipline. This focuses primarily on securing a network rather than the broader routing and switching, meat and potatoes aspect.

      The CCNA course here is an excellent part of any Cisco study. I would recommend that if Cisco certifications are in your future, at least go through the Network+ material and then move directly to the CCENT/CCNA courseware.

      If you plan to take some time, like a year or more to study for the Cisco Exams, I would then recommend getting the Network+ certification to have on your CV while perusing the CCENT and subsequent CCNA:RS. If you have no immediate need for the Network + cert, take the money that would have been spent on the test and use that to purchase CCENT/CCNA study materials like some switches and a few routers for a home lab.

  5. Boa dica…

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