Changing Your Tune to Technology

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Name: Roy S. Gertig

Certs: SCSA – Solaris 8 OE, CISSP, A+, Network+, i-Net+, Security+, CIW Associate

Home: Bellevue, Neb.

Position: UNIX Systems Administrator/TSM Administrator, STRATCOM SETA Support Division, SAIC

Words To Learn By: “Study hard, work hard and play hard. In that order.”


Even though Roy S. Gertig is happy with his position as a UNIX systems administrator/TSM administrator, it took serious career assessment and compromise for him to decide to work in the computer industry.

Gertig isn’t your typical IT industry prototype. Unlike the technician whose career developed out of a love for playing with computers, Gertig’s IT career blossomed in spite of his passion for classical music and wanting to fly planes.

When Gertig finished high school in 1972, he was sure about his career options of becoming a pilot or taking up his classical music hobby, which had been his passion since the early age of five. He left his hometown outside of New York City and went to Kirksville, Mo., to study piano performance at Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University). But after three years as a music major, he came to the conclusion that there was a huge chance he would not be able to support a wife and a family if he were to continue to pursue a career in music. Even though he had been interested in classical music since he was a child, he said, “it seemed like being at the wrong place at the wrong time.“

After careful consideration, he changed his major to electronics and started courting the military. His attempts to join the Navy and Marines failed when one never got back to him and the other received his paperwork too late for the pilot program. In 1976 he joined the Air Force and worked as a radar repairman for almost a year. After working as a repairman, he became the enterprise-wide chief of radar systems, responsible for fabricating special-purpose cables and building control tower and radar approach control systems for sites in the northern United States, Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Turkey. He also worked in Berlin, Germany for seven years, working on radar systems and antennas.

Now, after almost 23 years in the military, 26 years of marriage and two children, Gertig says he’s happy with his career choices. “I love the career that I’m doing right now,” he said. “I had three things that I could have gone into. I really would have liked to be a pilot first. I knew that wasn’t going to work out. Then music, I still do that on the side.”

Gertig now works for SAIC (Science Applications International Corp.), the nation’s largest employee-owned research and engineering company, which has been instrumental in solving complex technical problems in national and homeland security for the U.S. government. The company’s engineers and scientists also work to solve problems in energy, the environment, space, telecommunications, health care, transportation and logistics.

Gertig currently manages strategic warfare planning and command and control systems for the STRATCOM SETA Support Division. He provides system administration functions for networked and stand-alone Strategic Warfare Planning Systems workstations to include system monitoring, device/peripheral management and control media allocation, storage management, backup, restoration, archiving, performance tuning, user support, account administration and resolution of system problems.

Like most IT professionals who are dedicated to their craft, Gertig decided to get certified. He had already gone back to school to get his bachelor’s degree in music and electronics engineering technology, thanks to his wife, and he obtained the pilot’s license he had been dreaming about since high school. It was only natural that in 1999, after eight months out of the military and on the new job at SAIC, Gertig decided to get his first IT certification, the A+.

According to Gertig, he’s not sure how much certification has helped his career. “Career-wise I can’t say if they (certifications) have actually helped me,” he said. He believes the certifications and exams have helped him sharpen what he already knows, but because of his military background and the fact that he is still working on military projects, he said, “my job is more of my professional reputation and network versus the certifications.”

Although Gertig’s philosophy on certifications differs from the average IT professional who’s looking for career advancement or a pay raise after getting certified, he understands the need to continue his education.

Since earning his first certification, he has obtained six additional certifications—Network+, i-Net+, Security+, Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) Associate, Sun Certified Systems Administrator (SCSA) and the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). He is currently working on obtaining the Tivoli Storage Manager 5.1, Sun Certified Network Administrator, Server+ and four other Sun certifications that relate to storage area networking (SAN) and data management.

Gertig’s other certifications and affiliations include an FAA License Private Pilot Single Engine Land & Sea with Instruments, FCC General Radiotelephone with RADAR Endorsements and FCC Amateur Radio Extra Class. He’s a member of several technical and military organizations, such as the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), Armed Forces Communications-Electronics Association (AFCEA), Air Force Association (AFA), Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Computer Society of the IEEE and the NebraskaCERT.

With 22-plus years of proven leadership and management in telecommunications, networks and intelligence systems and extensive firsthand knowledge of the United States Strategic Command Systems’ architecture, Gertig’s only complaint is with a supervisor or two. Gertig believes that his wife has “positively influenced” his life throughout the years, which has been a major factor in his success. Also, the forever-changing IT industry keeps him interested and motivated on the job.

In order to stay on top in the industry, Gertig believes you have to study. He said there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t learn something new. “You can either study and learn new stuff and be prepared for the next hop in IT culture, or you can come to work, do your job and go home,” he said. “If you’re not ready for the next step, you could end up doing something that you don’t want to do.” His advice to students aspiring to get into the IT field is the same advice he gives to his son: “Study hard, work hard and play hard. In that order.”

Tanisha Blakely is editor of electronic media for Certification Magazine. She can be reached at


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