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How To Start A Profitable Career In Cyber Security

How To Start A Profitable Career In Cyber Security

The field of cyber security is growing every year by leaps and bounds as companies and other organizations realize how imperative it is to protect their networks and data. According to the Cybersecurity Ventures’ 2019 Cybersecurity Market Report, worldwide spending on cyber security is expected to exceed one trillion dollars by 2025. As companies struggle to keep up with the rising threat of cyber crime, they’re having one major problem: they can’t find enough qualified candidates.

That’s right, cyber security specialists are so in demand that the number of open positions has outstripped the number of qualified applicants by as much as 2 to 1 in some industries. So what’s holding applicants back? About one-third of information security jobs require a cyber security certification compared to 23 percent of all IT jobs. In the U.S. alone, some 50,000 vacant jobs require the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. But the number of certificate holders is only about 73,500, according to the Information Security System Certification Consortium, and most of them are already working.

Are you considering a career in cyber security, but not sure where to start? LeaderQuest offers multiple cyber security training programs that can prepare you to enter this exciting industry. Take a look at the four programs below, and you’ll be able to choose one that’s ideal for where you are now and what you’d like to do with your career.

Don’t have any experience in IT? Then the programs below won’t be a good fit. To get started in IT, we recommend that you take our Computer User Support Specialist or our Network Support Specialist program.

Information Security Analyst

Certifications: Comptia Security+, CND, and CEH
Base Training Period: 15 days
Skill Level: Intermediate
Recommended Experience: CompTIA Network+ and two years of experience in IT administration with a security focus
Ideal for: If you have Network+, some experience under your belt, and you’d like to massively expand your job opportunities and earning potential, Information Security Analyst could be the perfect program for you.
Roles you’ll be qualified for: Cyber Security Specialist, Information Security Analyst, Information Security Auditor, and Site Security Administrator

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If you’ve got some experience in entry-level IT and want to take your career to the next level, this program is for you. Security+ will teach you the basics of threat management, identity management, security systems, security risk identification and mitigation, and more. Building on this information, Certified Network Defender (CND) will teach you how to protect, detect, and respond to network attacks in real-world situations. With an in-depth understanding of how network traffic functions, you’ll be able to secure your network and identify the signs of an infiltrator. See below for more information on CND.

By obtaining your Certified Ethical Hacker designation, you’ll not only be prepared to secure networks and look for vulnerabilities; you’ll be an active part of the mitigation and remediation process. You’ll be able to strengthen your network through rigorous penetration testing and stop cyberattacks in their tracks.

Certified Network Defender

Certifications: CND
Base Training Period: 5 days
Skill Level: Intermediate
Prerequisites: CompTIA Security+
Ideal for: If you’ve completed Security+ and want to keep building your resume and knowledge base, Certified Network Defender can be completed in one week and is a HUGE step up from Security+.
Roles you’ll be qualified for: Network Administrator, Network Security Administrator, Network Security Engineer, Network Defense Technician, and Security Analyst

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Certified Network Defender (CND) is a vendor-neutral, hands-on, instructor-led comprehensive network security certification program created by EC-Council. This tactical network security training course prepares network administrators to defend their networks from intrusion. Through this course, you’ll gain a hands-on understanding of data transfer, network technologies, and network software needed to secure a network.

If you would enjoy taking a hands-on role in the defense and security of your network, this program could be perfect for you. CEH is the natural next step after attaining this certification, and if you’re interested in having a good depth of technical knowledge when it comes to network defense, you may want to sign up for our Information Security Analyst program (above).

CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner

Certifications: CASP
Base Training Period: 5 days
Skill Level: Advanced
Prerequisites: 5-10 years of IT experience or CEH/Security+ certifications
Ideal for: Getting CASP certified is ideal for individuals who have 5-10 years of IT experience and are interested in cyber security. Unlike the CISSP certification, another important cert in the cyber security world, CASP’s focus is hands-on and technical. This is ideal for people who AREN’T interested in management.
Roles you’ll be qualified for: Network Security Engineer, Information Security Specialist, Information Security Auditor, Security Analyst, Security Architect, and Site Security Administrator

Get More Info

If you’re interested in assessing and managing risk, securing networks, preventing cyber attacks, and even getting inside the mind of a hacker to make sure that a company’s data is safe as possible, CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) could be right for you. CASP is often compared to CISSP, but that’s like comparing apples to oranges. If you’re looking for a career in IT management, CISSP might be the better choice. If not, CASP can level up your career at a fraction of the cost.

For more on CASP, check out our blog, “What is the CASP Certification and is it Right For You?

Cyber Security Specialist

Certifications: Security+, CEH, CHFI
Base Training Period: 15 days
Skill Level: Advanced
Prerequisites: Knowledge of TCP/IP, Information systems and security background, and 12 months of experience in networking technologies
Ideal for: If you’ve completed A+ and Network+, or have similar job experience, you’re ready to take on this ambitious program.
Roles you’ll be qualified for: Cyber Security Specialist, Information Security Specialist, Information Security Auditor, Site Security Administrator, and Computer Forensics Investigator

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If you enjoy detective work and want to get inside the mind of a hacker, this is the perfect program for you. Security+ and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) will provide a thorough understanding of the attack vectors and methods of hackers, as detailed above. By adding the Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certification to this mix, you’ll be able to track the movements of intruders in your network and systems and report on their activities and methods.

Does the idea of doing penetration testing on corporate networks pique your interest? Corporations understand the need for strong security better than anybody, and they are looking to hire experienced cyber security specialists who can protect them from cyberattacks and identify what went wrong. The mix of certifications in this program will perfectly position you for these kinds of opportunities.


Are you ready for a career in cyber security?

If you’ve got some experience in IT and are ready to take a huge step forward in your career, we can help! Our advisors can aid you in choosing a program that will advance your career and increase your earning potential in just a few weeks.

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The 2018 Survey Results are In (and Students Love LeaderQuest!)

The 2018 Survey Results are In (and Students Love LeaderQuest!)

We love our customers, and there’s nothing more important to us than what they want! With in-class surveys, friendly support staff, and instructors that are accessible 24-7, we try to be as receptive as possible to our students’ needs.

This year, we wanted to gather even more information about our customers and those who are curious about IT training. That’s why we conducted a survey to find out what’s our students and the general public has to say about IT, certifications, and our training.

Who We Surveyed & Our Methods

Of the people who responded, 52% were alumni or current students while 48% had not taken classes at LeaderQuest. We wanted to get a mix of those who are interested in IT, our students, and our alumni. By emailing our survey and putting it on social media, we were able to get a good number of responses from the public as well as from LeaderQuest alumni and students. Of those responses, 39% had no IT experience at all, 24% had one or two years of experience, and 37% had three years or more experience.

Responses from Non-Alumni

Certifications with the Greatest Name-Recognition

We were curious about how well-acquainted our audience is with the certifications LeaderQuest offers. While> some certs have been around for years, others are pretty new. We found that about 77% of non-alumni respondents had heard of the Network+, Security+, and A+ certifications. Only 30% had heard of CASP. This shows that some of the newer certs have a long way to go in terms of name recognition. Check out the chart for the full list.

While not all certifications are widely known, most of our respondents felt that IT certifications offered a lot of value. A total of 90% of non-alumni respondents felt that IT certifications were useful in starting an IT career, and 87% would consider getting one or more IT certifications to start a career. These numbers speak to the incredible value certifications offer through objective verification of a candidate’s skills from a trustworthy third party. Employers look for certain certifications in the hiring process to make sure their employees have the needed skills for the role, and this is reflected in the popularity of IT certifications.

Popular Fields in IT

In the IT industry, non-alumni were most interested in positions related to cyber security (73%), IT support (45%), and project management (45%). Only 36% were interested in networking. This is great news for the industry, considering that there’s a huge demand for workers in cyber security. At the time of this writing, CyberSeek.org lists 285,681 cyber security job openings in the United States! LeaderQuest is proud to help train the next generation of cyber security experts and help to close the cyber skills gap.

Room for Growth in the IT Industry

Of course, many people surveyed were aware of this huge growth opportunity. The non-alumni we surveyed felt the most attractive thing about working in IT is the potential to command a high salary (80%) and the growth potential of the industry (72%). If you haven’t checked out our blog about IT salaries in 2018, take a look! IT salaries are no joke, and they are only getting better. As the industry grows, these positions will command higher and higher pay.

Responses from Alumni and Current Students

The Future of IT Certifications

Our alumni know the value of certification better than anybody. In fact, 87% of our alumni plan on getting more certifications in the future. When building an IT career, certifications can be a huge aid to help professionals take the next big step in their career, whether that’s a raise or a new position. In workplaces that don’t help their employees expand into new skills and positions, certifications are an important way to gain the knowledge needed to start a new role.

Geographic Area of Respondents

In terms of location, Alumni survey respondents studied at Denver (34%), Colorado Springs (27%), Dallas (24%) or Jacksonville (15%). With Denver and Colorado Springs as our first campuses, it’s not surprising that they garnered more responses than our newer campuses in Dallas and Jacksonville. But, with new, bigger facilities in Jacksonville and more happy students than ever in Dallas, next year’s numbers will be even better for these two campuses!

Why Our Students Chose LeaderQuest

Alumni survey respondents told us that the deciding factor(s) for them to attend LeaderQuest were helpful/friendly staff (55%), day or night classes (50%),LeaderQuest covering the cost of certification attempts (47%), IT industry/salary info (44%), and our career services team (44%). We added night classes to make it easier for employed professionals to get training, so it’s good to hear that this made the difference. LeaderQuest covers the cost of one certification attempt per course because we want our students to get certified with the fewest amount of roadblocks possible! And our career services team is hugely important to student success at LeaderQuest, so it’s good to know that it gave some students the final push to enroll. Most importantly, we couldn’t be more proud of our amazing staff, who make all the difference to our students in their day-to-day lives.

LeaderQuest Instructors

When it comes to training, no one is more important than our instructors. That may be why 92% of alumni survey respondents felt that LeaderQuest instructors were well-informed on the topics they covered and effective in helping them understand the material. There’s no replacement for experience, which is why we hire industry-expert instructors who’ve been there and done it before. They’re present at every class to answer questions and address tough subjects so that students gain a thorough understanding–not just of how to pass the exam, but to excel in the new roles they land with these certifications on their resumes.

The Overall Experience at LeaderQuest

The final word in customer service comes when it’s all said and done. When the courses are over, the exams have been taken, and the birds have flown the nest, how do LeaderQuest graduates feel about their experience in retrospect? Well, 87% of alumni said that overall they were very pleased with their experience at LeaderQuest and would recommend it to a friend. There’s no bigger compliment than this. In the end, we’re glad that we could be of service on the journeys of so many talented individuals and empower them to seek out the kind of employment they really want.

Survey Winners

We really appreciate everyone who took the time to fill out our survey and let us know your thoughts. After drawing names, we sent out $100 Amazon gift cards to Darin H., Alexandra M., and Brian T. Thank you all for participating in our 2018 survey! You’ll have another chance to win next year.

Get IT training at LeaderQuest

As you can see above, we have a lot of happy customers! If you’re curious about IT training, contact us today. We offer 5-10 day courses taught by expert instructors, available on campus or online. We also offer our training in an evening format for those who are working during the day. If you’re interested in getting certified, contact us today!

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The Ultimate Study Guide for CompTIA IT Exams: A+, Network+, Security+, CASP

The Ultimate Study Guide for CompTIA IT Exams: A+, Network+, Security+, CASP

Failing an exam can feel like a punch to the gut. You’ve worked hard, studied harder, and given up your free time only to fall short. If you find yourself in this difficult position, don’t worry! It’s more common than you think, even for seasoned IT professionals.

Each exam costs $200-$400 depending on the test so it’s an investment (even though it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what you could earn long-term.) You don’t want to get stuck taking the exam too many times.

That’s why we’re providing a comprehensive list of study guides, exam prep, and tools to help you succeed at certifications such as CompTIA’s A+, Network+, Security+, and CASP exams. The first time. Read on for the keys to success.

(Know which cert you’re looking for? Jump to A+, Network+Security+, or CASP.)

A+ Exam

When it comes to starting your career, A+ is one of the most recognized certifications in the world. Most major computer software and hardware manufacturers are actually members of CompTIA including Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Compaq, and others. The exam is an hour and a half with 90 multiple-choice and performance based questions.

CompTIA offers a number of resources, both free and paid, for test takers. You can get sample questions and exam objectives for free after signing up via email. They offer a number of alternate media for varying prices in their Self Study and Training including books, online courses, and even arranging training. There are also free flash cards and a low-cost A+ app for your phone or tablet.

While there’s an abundance of other free study materials out there, ensuring the consistency and currency of these sources can be difficult. If you’re concerned about passing the A+ exam, LeaderQuest offers a 15-day foundational training course which includes both A+ and ITIL. The average salary for A+ certified professionals is around $50,000.

If you’re new the IT world, certifications communicate to employers that you’ve got the skills to do the job. Many hiring managers actually require A+ to even be considered. By adding the ITIL certification, you’ll be broadening your skill set and setting a strong foundation to build on if your ambitions are for cyber security, network security, or others.

See our full list of A+ resources below:

Pass the A+ Exam!

Network+ Exam

Even though it’s an entry-level certification, there’s no shortage of threads around the internet about failing the Network+ exam.

We’ve already covered the value Network+ can have to your IT career and skillset, but as for the exam, Network+ covers the key skills needed to troubleshoot, configure and manage network systems.

Again, there are sample questions and exam details available on the CompTIA website. CompTIA has also published a basic list of what students should do ensure they pass the test. If you’re looking for a way to beef up your knowledge in your free time try out these free flash cards or the low-cost CompTIA app.

For IT professionals who are considering Network+, but may be open to broadening their qualifications and earning potential, LeaderQuest offers a 25-day Computer User Support Specialist courses which cover A+, Network+, and Security+. While we do have a five-day course solely dedicated to Network+, people in computer user support specialists roles can make an average of $60,000 a year. By adding more than one certification, your earning power increases.

See more studying resources below:

Pass the Network+ Exam!

Security+ Exam

The notoriously difficult Security+ exam recommends that you have at least two years of experience in IT administration. If you’re not sure if Security+ is really the right move for your career, we wrote a whole blog about it here. It’s extremely versatile with employers such as Apple, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The test includes the following subjects:

  1. Network Security (21% of exam)
  2. Compliance and Operational Security (18% of exam)
  3. Threats and Vulnerabilities (21% of exam)
  4. Application, Data and Host Security (16% of exam)
  5. Access Control and Identity Management (13% of exam)
  6. Cryptography (11% of exam)

CompTIA offers sample questions and an exam overview for free. There’s also an official online app and flash cards for quick studying on the go. Interested in investing some money in some official study guides? This complete list of the best Security+ books is a good place to start.

If you’re getting your Security+ because you’re interested in cyber security, LeaderQuest’s 15-day Information Security Analyst course pairs Security+ with hacking certifications like CND and CEH. From 2015-2017, our Security+ classes boasted a 77% pass rate. This is a great entry point into the cyber world for anyone with at least two years of IT experience.

While a Security+ certification can net you between $40,000 and $90,000, depending on the company and position, an Information Security Analyst’s median income with $90,000 and they can make upwards of $115,000.

See more resources below:

Pass the Security+ Exam!

CASP Exam

The CASP is the odd man out in this list because it’s a mastery-level certification. Often compared to the more well-known CISSP, the CASP is Ideal for IT professionals who’d rather stay in the hands-on technical aspect of their careers than go into management.

With around 90 performance-based and multiple-choice questions, this test clocks in at 165 minutes. CompTIA offers Sample Questions and Exam Objectives for free after users fill out a form. You can get free flash cards that cover acronyms or general test prep. CompTIA has also released an official “Certification Guide” which will provide you with the information you need to pass the CASP.

Since it is a newer certification, there are fewer resources available than for other tests. That’s why we offer a 15-day training course to help pros pass the test. The CASP is perfect for Department of Defense jobs because it fulfills DoD Directive 8570.1. This allows you to work for a number of positions some with salaries as high as $120,000 per year.

(Not sure if you want to take the CASP or the CISSP? See the pros and cons here.)

See more studying resources below:

Pass the CASP Exam!

What Happens if I Fail an Exam?

If you don’t nail your test on the first try, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Again, you’re not alone. CompTIA actually has an official retake policy for this very purpose.

No matter how good you are at studying alone, there are always going to be gaps. Even a small misstep on an IT certification exam can mean the difference between getting certified and failing. Not to mention the $10,000 a year in salary.

That’s where we come in. LeaderQuest classes are taught by trained professionals in their field of study. They know the exams inside and out and provide live simulations to help you practice your skills. With our flexible hours, night or day, and online or in person classes to suit your landing style, and we set you up for success. Once you graduate, we also offer resources to help you land a job.

If you need help passing a certification exam, or want to plan the next move in your IT career, contact LeaderQuest today!

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What is the CASP Certification and is it Right For You?

What is the CASP Certification and is it Right For You?

It’s no secret that cyber security is an ever-growing concern. In 2016 alone, the National Crime Agency reported over 2.46 million cyber attacks. As demand for cyber IT specialists skyrockets, ensuring professionals have the necessary skills has been a challenge.

That’s where the CASP exam and certification comes in. Designed to test enterprise cyber security skills, it can be a great investment for an IT pro looking to level up their career. But is it right for you? Read on to find out.


So… What is CASP, Anyway?

CASP, or CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner, is a mastery-level certification developed to provide verification of cyber security skills. It’s currently the only advanced, performance-based IT certification that focuses on practitioner skills at the five to ten-year level.

It was created at the request of the Department of Defense (DoD). During the process, CompTIA collaborated with government, military, and enterprise agencies like the U.S. Army, Department of the Navy, U.S. Air Force, Dell, Lockheed Martin, HP, IBM, and more.

CASP is a useful cert because it fulfills DoD Directive 8570.1. This rule states that all Information Assurance workers who work with selective data–which include a number of cyber security roles–must have a certification verified by ISO standard 17024.

This puts CASP in the category of other notable certifications like Security+, Network+, A+, CISSP, CISM, CND, andCEH. However, CASP helps you qualify for better paying, more dynamic jobs than some.

Though CASP’s history is military, it’s become increasingly more relevant in the enterprise world for companies with coexisting IT business needs and important security concerns.


Is CASP Right for You?

Getting CASP certified is ideal for individuals who have 5-10 years of IT experience and are interested in cyber security. Unlike the CISSP certification, another important cert in the cyber security world, CASP’s focus is hands-on and technical. This is ideal for people who AREN’T interested in transitioning into management.

(Considering CISSP? Click here to see our CASP vs. CISSP infographic!)

CASP could be a smart investment if you’re in one of the following situations:

  • You’ve got a CEH or Security+ certification and are looking to make more money or dive deeper into cyber security, OR
  • You’ve got 5-10 years of IT experience and want to move up, but aren’t interested in management, OR
  • You’ve obtained your CISSP, are looking for a pay bump, but don’t want to stop, “geeking out on the keyboard,” OR
  • You’re looking for a career in enterprise cyber security and need something that can land you jobs with DoD compliance requirements

Once obtained, CASP opens doors for various advanced-level cyber security jobs. If you’re interested in assessing and managing risk, securing networks, preventing cyber attacks, and even getting inside the mind of a hacker to make sure that a company’s network, computers, and information are as safe as possible, CASP could be right for you.

This includes opportunities such as:

  • Cyber Security/IS Professional
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Security Architect
  • IT Architect INFOSEC
  • IT Specialist Cybersecurity
  • Cybersecurity Risk Manager
  • Cybersecurity Risk Analyst

As stated above, CASP was developed at the request of the DoD and is valid for 8570 compliance. Because of this, it qualifies an individual for DoD positions in cyber security at the following levels:

  • IA Technical Level III
  • IA Manager Level II
  • IA Architect & Engineer Level I
  • IA Architect & Engineer Level II

Of course, the biggest benefit of CASP is that it’s a relatively low-cost way to increase job opportunities and salary, especially compared to CISSP. The CASP program can be completed at LeaderQuest in just one week of daytime classes, or two weeks for those who sign up for our evening schedule.

If you’re interested in CASP courses in your area, click below.

Get CASP Info


CASP vs. CISSP

One of the main critiques of CASP is that it doesn’t measure up to the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. But that’s like comparing apples to oranges.

The tests have different goals and represent two completely different career paths. Yes, CISSP has been around longer and holds slightly more street cred in certain areas, but CASP is more cost effective, easier to pass, and is a powerful way to open the doors to new positions.

If you’re looking for a career in IT management, CISSP might be the better choice. If not, CASP can level up your career at a fraction of the cost.

Still not sure how the two stack up? Don’t worry. We’ve provided a comprehensive guide below. Read on to see if CISSP or CASP is right for you.

CASP vs CISSP

Think CISSP is a better fit for your career? LeaderQuest offers low-cost courses for CISSP online and at our campuses in Denver, Colorado Springs, Dallas, and Jacksonville. If you’re interested in learning more about CISSP, get more info below.

get CISSP INFO


Are you interested in getting CASP certified?

If you’ve got 5-10 years of IT experience, aren’t interested in management, and are looking to make more money in the cyber security field, CASP may be right for you.

While it may not be as versatile as CISSP, it’s a cheaper, easier alternative for people in the enterprise cyber security world.

Weylin Piegorsch

CASP occupies a strongly-needed niche . . . I feel that it’s one of (the) most important certfications that I hold.

Weylin Piegorsch, Manager of Network Engineering for Boston University

At LeaderQuest, we have a team of highly trained professionals who can help you study and pass the CASP exam. With flexible classes, both online and on our campus, we’re here to ensure you succeed. We also offer professional skills assistance to help your job hunt after you graduate.

This certification could be the perfect way to advance your IT career. If you want to take the next step in your cyber security education, click the link below. Questions? Contact us here.

Get CASP Info!