How an IT Professional Can Transition to a Cyber Security Career
From banking and healthcare to government contractors and intel agencies, you can’t look anywhere today without seeing something about cyber security. Whether it’s the challenges that are facing us from cyber security threats to the growing number of employment opportunities in the cyber security field, it’s clearly the buzz word of the moment.
There’s buzz for a good reason. In the metro DC area alone there are tens of thousands of cyber security job openings. A key challenge is the need for cleared professionals with both the skills and the required certifications to meet contract requirements.
We hear it from our cleared employers as well. A constant search for qualified cleared cyber security professionals. That’s why ClearedJobs.Net is the Cyber Job Fair partner for this year’s CyberMaryland conference in October.
If you’re an information technology (IT) professional the demand means opportunity. Opportunity that may not cost you anything more than time and perseverance.
Security University recently received a $2.75M training grant* to help information technology professionals train for cyber security certification / credentials. That means free or very low cost hands-on cyber security certification training is available to help you compete for a cyber security job if you’re unemployed or transitioning military, or to get a raise and improve your cyber security skills if you are currently employed.
Since October 2013, SU’s 5-day cyber security training classes in Herndon, VA, have helped transitioning military and those who are unemployed to get a job within 60-90 days post-certification at salaries ranging from $109k – $165k.
While certifications are often contract requirements, some in the cleared community have disparaged the drive for certifications. Do certifications demonstrate competency or simply an individual’s ability to pass a test? What sets SU’s Q/ISP (Qualified/Information Security Professional) training apart is that it requires students to qualify and validate practical cyber security skills and ability, not just test completion.
Who May Participate
Firstly all participants must have an active or current security clearance. If it’s been two or more years since you last held a clearance via working in a cleared position, or your periodic reinvestigation has come due during the two year period since you last held a cleared position, you are unfortunately not eligible to participate.
Secondly you must have some previous experience or education in information technology or cyber security. This is a broad definition so check with Security University before disqualifying yourself.
If you have a job, your employer must agree up front to give you an increase in pay once you complete the training. That’s surprisingly easier to sell than you may think.
Transitioning military are especially encouraged to participate as this grant does not impact your GI Bill benefits.
If you are unemployed you’ll need to contact your workforce agency to assess whether you’re eligible for a WIA (Workforce Investment Act) training grant. The WIA training grant varies by county.
Security University What’s Expected of You
You will be provided with reading materials to review and study several weeks prior to class. This pre-homework is so everyone enters class with a baseline knowledge. Investing time prior to the start of class is critical to your success.
After completing one or two week-long classes you will take a certification exam plus complete a practicum to demonstrate your competence by putting what you’ve learned into practice. You really have to do something more than just beat a test. That validates to employers that you are qualified and your certificate isn’t just a piece of paper, but a demonstration that you have mastered the required cyber security skills.
Is It Right for You
Employers are desperately trying to fill positions for qualified cleared cyber security professionals. If you’re underemployed or concerned about your future, out of work and struggling to find employment, or transitioning military, this may be the solution for you.