Author: Aireal McCullough

Careers in the information technology (IT) field continue to grow, making them an excellent choice for both young people entering the workforce as well as those looking to make a career transition.

The umbrella of IT covers a vast array of career options that includes everything from entry level help desk roles to the sought after Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) position, with many offshoots in between. Each pathway is incredibly unique, but at every step of the way there is a certification that can help all types of professionals reach their goals.

Breaking Into The Industry

While educational requirements for a job will vary based on the role and organization, a high-school diploma is required to be considered for even entry level roles. While it is possible for individuals to land an entry level role with a high-school diploma and certifications, those holding at least an associate degree will have an easier time getting their foot in the door.

For those fresh out of high-school, or those who are simply new to the IT scene, the CompTIA A+® certification is an excellent starting point. The CompTIA A+ certification is an entry level cert that covers the basics of being a computer technician. This certification will assist those with a high-school diploma and an associate degree land an entry level position as either a help desk technician or even a systems administrator.

Starting in the IT field as a technician or administrator is a standard practice. These positions provide the necessary exposure and experiences needed to understand the industry at entry level. Once an individual has worked in these roles, the opportunities for advancement will be endless.

Going Beyond CompTIA and Entry-Level

Professionals with a strong pull towards helping end users and working with servers may find that they are best suited in a systems administrator or systems engineer role. CompTIA offers the Server + certification which is ideal for individuals looking to prove their knowledge of items such as server technologies, virtualization, storage, security, and troubleshooting.

Individuals interested in how systems communicate with each other may be better suited for following the pathway of computer networking. After obtaining their CompTIA A+ certification, these professionals should begin pursuing CompTIA’s Network+ certification. The CompTIA Network+ is a mid-level certification for those who are actively working within the IT field. This exam tests the ability to install, maintain, troubleshoot, and support a network.

A Strong Demand for Security Experts

As technology continues to advance at incredible speeds, so do the efforts of malicious actors and hackers on the web. Due to this, the need for IT security professionals has become even more prevalent in recent years. According to Cybint Solutions, approximately 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs worldwide will go unfilled by the year 2021. Those looking to help fill this deficit can start by pursuing the CompTIA Security+ certification.

It is highly recommended that individuals looking to pursue the CompTIA Security+ certification first take and pass the CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ certification exams. While obtaining these certifications are not prerequisites for sitting for the Security+ exam, having a deep understanding of the foundational IT and security practices found within those two certification areas will be critical in taking and passing the Security+ exam.

Diving Deeper Into Cybersecurity

The CompTIA Security+ is the first and foremost certification that security professionals should seek to obtain due to its vendor-neutral nature and its ability to validate the baseline skills needed in security professionals.

After obtaining this certification, professionals may choose to pursue more advanced security certifications such as the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) or the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). While the CASP is another certification offered by CompTIA, it is much more advanced than the Security+. It’s recommended that those taking the exam have a minimum of ten years of experience in IT administration, including at least five years of hands-on technical security experience.

The CISSP is a certification offered by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium which is more well known as (ISC)². The CISSP is made up of eight main domains as shown below. In order to be eligible to take the exam, professionals are required to have a minimum of five years cumulative paid work experience in two or more of these eight domains.

  • Domain 1. Security and Risk Management
  • Domain 2. Asset Security
  • Domain 3. Security Architecture and Engineering
  • Domain 4. Communication and Network Security
  • Domain 5. Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • Domain 6. Security Assessment and Testing
  • Domain 7. Security Operations
  • Domain 8. Software Development Security

Transitioning Into Management

Some people are born to be leaders, and there is certainly a need for more leaders in the IT field. The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification is a great certification for anyone looking to find themselves in more of a management role.

The CISM is offered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) requires that those wishing to sit for the exam must submit verified evidence of at least five years work experience in information security, as well as at least three years of information security management.

The Future of IT And Your Place In It

The IT industry isn’t going anywhere. With technology continuing to advance at extraordinary speeds, the need for IT professionals and experts will continue to grow in the 21st century. No matter which pathway speaks to you most, there is a certification to help you achieve your goals.

Getting started towards a career in IT begins at education. Signing up to take an exam can be a stressful and overwhelming feeling, and finding the right tools to help you succeed can be even more challenging. At Pocket Prep, we’re here to help you pass the first time. We provide practice exam questions for many of the leading IT certification and exams available. Our study features are built using the best practices in learning science to create an affordable, engaging and effective study tool for working professionals.

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Author Bio:
Aireal is a security engineer, technical writing freelancer, and owner of CozyCybersecurity.com. She has nine years of experience in the IT industry and holds numerous certifications including the CompTIA Security+. She has attended some of the largest cybersecurity conferences in the world including both Def Con and Black Hat in Las Vegas.