You should feel a great sense of pride and satisfaction once you have achieved your CCNA certification. The biggest question is, “What do I do now?” Don’t let your time, effort, and money go to waste! Utilize this new certification to boost your IT career!
What you can do with your CCNA certification depends on your current situation. If you are new to the field and looking for your first IT position, then your strategy would be very different from the experienced IT pro who has recently obtained their certification. In either case, the good news is that the CCNA certification from Cisco is considered to be a valuable and highly sought after credential, so job opportunities should be abundant.
Here are my thoughts on how to proceed for both the new entrant to the IT field and the experienced IT Pro:
CCNA Without Experience
Never stop learning!
Working with technology means that change is part of our daily lives, so we must stay current with the latest advancements. Staying on top of the advances in a given field or area of expertise is critical to your relevance in the work place, so take advantage of all learning opportunities. Join study groups or Meet Ups to learn from others in the field, read blogs and Cisco websites to stay on top of new or evolving technologies. One strategy that I have found critical is leveraging Twitter which can funnel information to me rather than spending hours searching the Internet to find important announcements or relevant changes.
Utilize social networking tools like LinkedIn to promote your newly acquired certification and effectively connect with other professionals and placement specialists. Also, attending Cisco conferences can help you meet the right people to further promote yourself. Again, join various study groups and learn enough to become a presenter/mentor for others.
Gain real-world experience
Hands-on experience in a production environment can further set you apart from other candidates, so be willing to gain experience through different channels. One solution would be to purchase a home lab and work through all the setup, configuration, troubleshooting, security and optimization procedures taught in your studies for the CCNA. Labs kits can be purchased off of eBay and can be a difference maker when it comes to thoroughly understanding these technologies.
Also, pursue other forms of experience by offering your services for free. For example, work as a volunteer for smaller companies who may not be able to afford high priced consultants and full-time IT staffs. Often family and friends work for or know of small companies who need some basic assistance with networking, etc. so become a valued technologist by assisting these companies free of charge or perhaps at a discounted rate.
Experienced IT Pro
Explore new technologies
Few technologies have the staying power to be relevant throughout your IT career, so be open to learning new technologies which can lead to new opportunities. Be willing to self-study some technologies in order to gain a rudimentary understanding of potentially relevant fields of study.
Embrace the Cloud and Security
The cloud and cyber security are two areas of interest are two of the most sought after skill-sets and will likely be in demand for several years, so embrace learning and being an advocate of both of these fields. Both may require a steep learning curve and constant attention to evolving technologies, but these types of skill-sets will certainly open doors for qualified practitioners. LeaderQuest offers a complete Cyber Security program and also several individual cyber security courses.
Engaging with other technical specialists can be enlightening as to what skills gaps you may still have and can assist with improving your overall understanding of this constantly changing field. Take opportunities to attend sponsored events and conferences to learn the latest technologies directly from the experts.
If you haven’t achieved your CCNA certification yet, stop thinking about it and just do it! The bottom line is that the CCNA certification can help you boost your career and increase your pay. You will need to network, market yourself and your certifications, and continue growing your skills and experience. Our Network Support Specialist training will prepare you for the CCNA certification and help boost your professional profile.
Cyber security is everywhere.
Anywhere you see anything happening online, via the internet, or any sort of connected computer system—cyber security is at play.
So chances are, if you’re an avid fan of, well, anything, you can find a job in cyber security supporting it.
The coolest brands and retailers use top-of-the-line cyber security to to protect their online purchases, inner-company information sharing, and any sensitive customer data collected in-store. (We all remember the Target and Home Depot security breach fiascos, don’t we?)
The big financial service companies who essentially run the country are heavily dependent on cyber security, as are cloud-based and SaaS tech companies who are shaping the future of both how business is done and the world at large.
And let’s not forget some of the sexiest positions in cyber security: ones you can land working for the CIA, for example.
According to a survey by the SANS Institute on Cybersecurity Professional Trends, the top five industries seeking cyber security professionals include:
- Banking, Finance & Insurance
- Information Technology Management
- Government Defense
- Non-Defensive Government Departments
- Consulting or Professional Service Companies
Awesome Cyber Security Job Titles
Some of the leading job titles for cyber security professionals include:
- IT Auditor
- Junior Cyber Security Network Defense Reporting Specialist
- Penetration Tester
- Security Architect
- Cyber Security Threat Analyst
- CIA Information Assurance Security Professional
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
But they don’t hand these jobs out to just anybody. You’ve got to get certified, even if you’ve already got a degree.
“Security-related certifications are a prerequisite for most commercial cybersecurity jobs and all defense-related IT security jobs,” said Carolyn Duffy Marsan of Network World. “These credentials range from basic CompTIA Security+ to the gold standard ISC2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).”
She gives the example of Verizon, a company that’s so in tune with security that they publish an annual support on security breaches. For them, it’s important that IT staff take and pass a course like GIAC Incident Handler so they’re fully prepared to deal with security breaches when they do happen.
And according to Study.com, employers who need cyber security professionals prefer to hire ones who’ve got both a bachelor’s degree in an area like computer science or IT and industry-accepted certifications. On occasion, experience can be used as a substitute for the degree, but the idea is not to hire newbies that need extensive training… they need people who know what they’re doing.
The 3 Best Cyber Security Certifications to Help You Land the Job You Want
According to Monster, one of the internet’s leaders in job posting, computer science roles alone are in high demand, but when you add in the element of security, the individuals who can fill this criteria become even more valuable.
For this, getting certified as a job candidate seeking to extend your career is critical.
1. One of the best certifications you can get is the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)—especially if you’re already working in cyber security and want to advance your career. It’s a globally recognized certification that tells your prospective employers that you really know your stuff when it comes to information security, and it was the first of its kind to meet ISO/IEC Standard 17024. There are also cyber security specialization certifications in penetration testing, ethical hacking, vulnerability assessment, and digital forensics examination which can make you stand out in a crowd!
2. For those with at least two years of experience in the industry, CompTIA’s Security+ is a certification that passes the standards of the US Department of Defense and is updated every three years to make sure you’re always on top of the security information curve, helping you manage risk and keep a designated network secure.
3.For total beginners, the Cybersecurity Fundamentals Certificate can be done by self-study until you’re ready to take the exam. Completing the certification indicates that you’ve got a solid enough background in the principles of cybersecurity architecture, concepts of cybersecurity, and knowledge of how to respond to incidents.
Stay On Top of Your Game & Get Ahead in Your Cyber Security Career
Staying on top of the curve with cyber security certifications is actually one of the best things you can do for your career.
Diana Burley, 2014’s Cybersecurity Educator of the Year and professor at George Washington University said, “Continuous professional development is critical in the field of cybersecurity because the nature of the threat continuously evolves.”
Even if you don’t land a job in cyber security right away, if it’s your dream career, you need to keep at it.
“Get a job doing general computer work,” advises Ira Winkler of Computerworld. “The logic behind this is that you cannot be expected to protect computers if you don’t know how to administer a computer system, you can’t secure a system that you can’t properly configure on your own… and you certainly can’t write secure code if you can’t code at all.”
No matter what path you take to your dream cyber security job, certifications are an important stepping stone to getting there.
You tell us: what is your dream job in cyber security? What steps are you taking to get there, and how have certifications helped you out so far?