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  1. Junior Member Registered Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
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    #1

    Default Beginner needs advice

    Hi,
    I am new to computer tech, and I've been told Comptia A+ is the best way to start. I have a few questions though through the research I've been doing on how to get up to ethical hacking.
    One I know people stress on experience which I'm not sure how to get. (Please advise).
    Also a lot of people suggest a degree in a related field is necessary like computer science BSc. I don't have one but is it likely to get a career in cyber security without one?
    I've currently been given 4 courses to go on with, CompTIA A+, network, security and then CEH. Would you think this is good? And will I be able to get experience with these in order to get a good career and would you suggest other Certs?
    Also I'm in a bit of a dilemma, as I'm currently set to go to university and get a BSc in Astrophysics (something I've always liked). I realise this isn't very related but I've really started getting keen on going into cyber security. Would the fact that it's a Bachelor's in Science help me get a good career in cyber sec if I want to in the future if a degree is necessary?
    Thanks for reading and this degree is something I'm not interested in turning down.
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  3. Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    224

    Certifications
    CSA+, CWTS, Storage+, Sec+, A+, N+, Mobility+, MCP, etc.
    #2
    Keep in mind there is no same path for everyone. We all seem to have gotten into our fields in different ways.

    For me I have a BA in English, was working a dead end job doing hospital equipment tech support for a small home medical company when I first got out of school. In the mid 90s IT was a bit newish, and I was doing some basic IT work around our small office because noone else knew much about PCs. My brother got a job doing phone support for a software company, and once I saw that would be a path I went back to school and got a couple AAS degrees in IT subjects. I took my first IT job in the late 90s doing desktop support, and had to be A+ certified in 60 days. Passed it, and when Net+ came out, I had gained so much knowledge when studying for A+, being still so "green" in IT I took it to learn more about networking. I earned a ton of Microsoft, Novell, and CompTIA certs, and others, over the years, which has helped keep me marketable. Still, I started a BS in IT degree program a couple years ago, which I should finish in about a year, to validate my skills after 17 years in the biz. That's my story.

    Many of the guys I work with as a Server Admin only have high school diplomas, and some have a few certs. Many are "techie" and over the years found work in the IT field, learned on the job, and have advanced. So, one can advance in the IT field without a lot of formal education. That being said I also work with guys with high school diplomas, few or no certs, and they are only "OK" in their field; their skills are limited, they don't stay ahead of new concepts, and they will be doing basic support jobs for their whole career. To me, the key to a career in IT that is rewarding and can provide a great return on investment, is KEEP LEARNING.

    Now, in the learning process, it is always best to have "paperwork" that shows you are willing to make the time and work sacrifices to keep learning. So having certs, degrees, etc., to me is best to have to show a prospective employer. If you are going to college, then definitely do so!! While in college or after you're done, try to get some certs. After college, keep learning, and I would recommend that you keep earning certs. IT is a wide field of subject matter, so you can never stop learning. I would emphasize the GO TO COLLEGE part. I've read a number of articles over recent years that job opportunities are shrinking for those just with a high school diploma; employers are looking for degrees.

    As for the type of degree, you have to decide what you really want to do. A degree in Astrophysics still shows some techie and math aptitude...but you will be missing out on learning about a lot of IT specifics. But a degree in Astrophysics and some IT certs could get your foot in the door doing some IT support. A degree in IT Security and some well known security certs could get your foot in the door doing IT Security analytics. You could always get the degree in IT, find an employer that offers decent tuition reimbursement, and pursue an Astrophysics degree later (some employers tuition reimbursement is geared toward "business" or "IT" degrees FYI, but many of the companies I've worked for simply to tuition reimbursement as long as the degree isn't something silly and useless. AND if you worked at company that has a lot of aerospace or engineering applications, honestly a knowledge from an Astrophysics degree in combination with an IT degree could be useful. We have divisions in our company where an engineer or two are fulfilling roles as technology consultants for their groups to recommend software and systems. I would think that type of knowledge would carry over. So if you're only choice is the physics degree for now, then go for it. Tweak with an Associates or certs later, but an IT degree may provide a more direct path.

    A note about learning for the IT security field.....Our IT Security folks are weak in the tech support area. Our security analysts are green. Because of this they can look at an intrusion detection log, and see something may be happening, but when it comes to looking into the event logs, or IIS logs, or application logs, these analysts have no experience really troubleshooting broken IT systems. So, they can see there might be an issue, but when you talk about how to find out if the "hack" is actually a false positive the analysts have no idea where to look or what is being discussed. One of our IT security managers is so out of touch with basic PC troubleshooting, that he read an article about Bluetooth vulnerabilities, and suggested to the IT Desktop support manager that we should "shut down all Bluetooth ASAP"....not thinking that we have a lot of users with Bluetooth keyboards and mice, so one has to plan for such. All that to say, that if you want to work in IT Security, if you have to do some other IT work for a while, there are lots of benefits to doing desktop, server, or network support as you work your way up, that you can then use as an IT security analyst.

    If you can find a basic IT job somewhere to work while in school - even if it's simply tech support at a phone store - so you can show you have some experience working on technical problems.

    Anyway, there are a lot of paths and choices. Only you can say what you want to do.
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  4. Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    2,027

    Certifications
    CISSP, CCSP, eJPT, ITIL,PA ACE,Qualys Certified Specialist, A+
    #3
    So you want to go to the university and study Astro Physics but someone or something perusaded you enough to consider a job in IT.
    Personally I think you need to decide now and make a choice. You want IT or Astro Physics, since you haven't started yet you still have time to decide.

    Personally I think Astro Physics will be bigger than IT. People fail to remember that IT at some point 50 years ago was not very popular and those who entered this new field came up with theoretical implementations and ways pf communicating and developed new tech. Astro Physics is the IT of the next 50 years. I'd stay with that and go for the Astro Physics if I was you. You will get the chance to work or some great experiments and do cool stuff. IT will be a job that not many people enjoy, especially for someone that isnt 100% on what they want to do.
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