By Bruce Sparks
Crossing an ocean without a boat, that is how I would describe my initial reaction to starting a career in Information Security. A vast wealth of information is out there, but what is best for me? I’m a 31-year-old who has left a General Manager position In a restaurant in search of a career that ignites my passion. I was faced with a difficult question; how do I redirect myself into the InfoSec industry in the most efficient way? I took to social media via twitter in the hopes that I could reach out to the leaders of InfoSec for advice.
Associates +certs or bachelors in cyber defense? I am 31 and changing careers and seeing how long I should stay in college.— Bruce Sparks (@The1BruceSparks) February 14, 2018
This is a question that is sure to be burning in the back of others’ minds. It remained unanswered until the following morning when a hero named Nick Tang (@nickthang) replied by asking others he knew to help. Shortly after that, the retweets and replies started to pour in. A few threads sprouted that illuminated my path to success. Founders, CTO’s, bloggers, magazines, teachers, and so many other wonderful people rolled out the welcome wagon in support of a newcomer.
Toward the bottom of this article, you'll find a few samples of the advice provided by some of the InfoSec community.
Here is what I learned so you can join myself and others on a path to InfoSec
InfoSec is much more than a 9-5 job; it is a culture, a community, a lifestyle. Industry leaders are going to be there to help you and show you where you can learn. They will help you navigate unknown territory as you discover new things. Just reach out and network with people who are in the field.
School is a great place to start. An Associate’s degree is great to see if this is something you desire, followed by either more education with a Bachelor’s degree or work experience coupled with certifications when you gain access to them. Through school, blogs, podcasts and various websites, you will gain knowledge of the different specializations in InfoSec. This is where you must follow your heart and do what calls out to you.
Renewed confidence in the path I am taking into the InfoSec industry
I am starting off by finishing my Associates degree in Cyber Defense at Columbia State Community College, followed by a Security + certification by CompTIA. From there, I will specialize more via certifications in what excites me.
I am extremely confident in this decision after I saw others mention that this is the path they would take if they had to enter the industry today. I am very thankful for everyone that interacted with me and ecstatic for a future in InfoSec.
I’m looking forward to seeing you start a career in the InfoSec industry. Follow your dreams in a career that serves a higher purpose. Carpe diem!
A few samples of advice...
Security is an interesting area, definitely an area hard to recruit for & practical experience is important, certs can be gained on the job if you find the right company - #AI & #ML are having a massive impact on security techniques actually making the people part more important!— Nige Willson (@nigewillson) February 15, 2018
Questions are good. That means you’re thinking and trying. In this industry, don’t be surprised if your question is answered with a question or assignment (as long as you’re working with quality people).— Joe Gray (@C_3PJoe) February 16, 2018
Hopefully the convo is helpful Bruce - in terms of your specific question, certs are good (I have a #CISSP, for example), but often require experience first. Degrees are good, but can't make up for experience either. I'd say Assoc+cert+hands-on if I had to choose now for myself.— Sean Martin (@sean_martin) February 16, 2018
Some of the people, organizations, associations mentioned in and/or contributing to the thread
About Bruce Sparks
Bruce Sparks recently stopped working to do some soul searching and dive into another career. An InfoSec enthusiast, dreamer, gamer, and former restaurant manager, Bruce hails from Franklin, TN and has chosen to pursue a career in InfoSec. Bruce is currently enrolled in Columbia State Community College.