Establishing a Career Path in Information Security

Question: I have completed my degree in IT. I want to pursue a career in information security. Which path should I follow? I have done Java. Should I go for the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or directly for a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) course? Is there any other better option?

Answer:
Information security is a specialized area of IT, and even within that there are different areas to concentrate on.

You’ve stated that you’ve done your degree in IT. I’m assuming that this is general IT and that you have no real-world IT experience. You mentioned Java, so you have some programming experience. But you also mentioned the CCNA (networking) and the CEH (one of the certs that “white hackers” would gain). Both of these certs and your degree can assist with the areas within the specialization, but these alone will not get you very far. Unless you are one of the lucky ones to either get straight in through a graduate training program or apprenticeship, you’re going to have to work your way in.

I’ll break it down into different points:

Expand your knowledge. Don’t just do your job to the letter of your contract, wishing to move on up to bigger and better things. Show initiative. Ask to shadow someone from the IT security department, ask if you can take on more responsibility, volunteer, etc. Practice, practice, practice. Set up a home lab and practice what you learned at work.

Certify and qualify. Certify…


Ken Wagner

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