Any vet can attest that making the transition back to civilian life can be difficult. The skills that make you successful in military life don’t always translate to the civilian world. You’re essentially starting a whole new career. However, many military vets rise to the challenge and pass with flying colors.
Enter Peter Quinones. A tattoo artist, Harley-enthusiast, and U.S. Army Vet, Peter was transitioning out of almost two decades of service when he came to LeaderQuest for assistance.
This is the story of how he was able to land a job in cyber security that made him $50,000 more a year from where he started.
Sixteen Years of Service
June 1999 – January 2015
“I was doing a PhD in emergency management and a lot of cyber was coming up as a critical need so I started looking around. I decided to come into LeaderQuest and talk.”
Peter Quinones left the U.S. Army with an impressive, 16-year service record. He started as a Human Resources Specialist and was later reclassified as Military Police where he aimed to apply real-world practice towards his BA in Criminal Justice.
During his career, he trained military police officers in tactical law enforcement operations that resulted in 100% mission success with zero casualties. While still in the employ of the Army, he also pursued a Master of Arts in Security Management at American Military University.
It’s safe to say, Peter was no slouch. With his military transition coming up he wanted to face the problem head-on. That’s where he first made contact with LeaderQuest.
“I was doing PhD in emergency management and a lot of cyber was coming up as a critical need so I started looking around,” Peter said, “I decided to come into LeaderQuest and talk.”
Joining up with LeaderQuest
January 2015 – March 2015
“LeaderQuest has become more than just a place to take classes. The staff is great and always helpful . . . everyone is helpful and that is why I keep recommending it to people.”
With his background primarily in security-related work, Peter didn’t know much about IT. What he did know is that the field was growing and he wanted to explore his options. Taking classes at LeaderQuest seemed like the perfect way to see if he was interested.
Peter headed to the Colorado Springs campus to learn more. He liked what he saw and before long he was enrolled and hit the ground running during his transition. “The first thing I did upon my transition to civilian life was to take my A+, Net+, and Sec+,” Peter said, “I had no previous IT experience.”
Peter tackled the three CompTIA certifications in January, February, and March. He ended up liking the atmosphere so much that LeaderQuest became more than a school. It wasn’t long before enjoyed coming on to campus just to study.
“It kind of feels like home,” Peter said, “The staff is great and always helpful.”
Interested in our entry-level IT classes such as A+ and Network+? Get more information below.
Cyber Security All-Star
“Immediately upon obtaining my Security+ certification I was offered a position as an Information System Security Engineer, that jumped me up from my previous pay by about $20,000, just shy of making six figures.”
After Peter earned the Security+ certification, which is much sought-after in the Department of Defense and enterprise cyber security world, it wasn’t long before he got the job he was looking for.
“Immediately upon obtaining my Security+ certification I was offered a position as an Information System Security Engineer, that jumped me up from my previous pay by about $20,000, just shy of making six figures,” he said.
By the time Peter was finished, he had accomplished much. He’d made it into the cyber security world. He’d learned valuable knowledge and was even able to re-sit his Security+ class to refresh the information later. All in all, during his time at LeaderQuest, Peter went from making around $40,000 to $90,000.
“If I can make it with little to no experience, anyone can—especially if they have LeaderQuest on their side.”
After getting hired, Peter continued to push his career. Eventually, he partnered with another IT specialist in the field. Today, he’s the Chief Operating Officer of an information system engineering firm that focuses on risk management framework compliance and IT security solutions.
“I’ve recommended numerous individuals to LeaderQuest,” Peter said, “I am proof that if I can make it with little to no experience, anyone can—especially if they have LeaderQuest on their side to assist them with their goals.”
Interested in IT Training?
Looking for a chance to upgrade your career? Or maybe you want to jump into the thriving IT or cyber security industry and you just need your foot in the door. LeaderQuest offers excellent IT training with industry expert instructors. They’ll prepare you to take the certification exams while also giving you the skills and confidence you need to thrive in a new position.
Do you work days? Nights? Would you rather take classes online? LeaderQuest offers classes during the day, at night, online, and on campus to work with any schedule. Getting trained is an investment in your education, but with even starting IT salaries in the $35,000 to $50,000 range, it’s one well worth making.
If you’re exhausted and stuck in a job you hate, don’t worry. Give us a call today and our career advisers can help you find IT training path that’s best for you.
CompTIA strives to ensure their exams are relevant and cover topics that employers care about. That’s why the newest version of the exam, SY0-501 which was released on October 4th, is different than 401. The updated exam increases the focus on cyber attacks, risk management and hands-on skills using industry standard technologies and tools.
How is SY0-501 different?
If you’ve taken SY0-401 in the last few years, 501 will have a lot of similarities. About 25% of the content/questions is new or represents a deeper dive into certain domains of the quiz. The 501 exam has also shifted to lower layers of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Previously, the 401 version of the exam had some content related to analysis (layer 4). Now, this content has moved to intermediate certifications like CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA+). Instead, 501 focuses on applying technology, which falls in layer 3. By staying in the first three layers of the taxonomy, the exam limits its scope to remembering, comprehending, and applying cybersecurity knowledge.
With four new exam objectives and a focus on implementation, the 501 exam aims to address changes in the industry.
Get the full comparison!
Still worried about passing the new Security+ exam? Never fear! We’ve got you covered. If you want the full breakdown, get CompTIA’s Security+ Detailed Mapping (SY0-401 vs SY0-501) below.
This downloadable includes 40 pages of valuable information covering domain comparisons, objectives, and specific details that will be covered in the 501 exam.
Just fill out the form below, and we’ll send you the Security+ Detailed Mapping and send you emails about local events, cyber security updates and more.
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Interested in getting certified?
Getting certified takes hard work and dedication. LeaderQuest can prepare you for exams like Security+ with our cyber security training courses. We offer classes on day or evening schedules and provide live training on campus and online.
When you’re done, you’ll have more than just a piece of paper. Our industry-expert instructors will ensure you have the knowledge you need to excel in a new job role. Using our strong connections with the local IT industry, we help our graduates get the jobs they really want.
Are you ready to start your cybersecurity career? Contact us today!
Raziel Toro is a vet, a loving husband of four years, and a father to two boys who, “don’t run out of batteries.” He’s also a proud graduate of LeaderQuest who went on to find a great IT job after getting certified.
This week, we’re proud to bring you his journey to success from his transition out of the U.S. Air Force to landing an IT job that made him $15,000 more a year.
Read on to learn about the IT training success story of Raziel Toro.
Preparing for the Transition to Civilian Life
“While I was enlisted, I did the furthest thing from IT. I was an HVAC technician which means I went to work, received my work orders, and then started laboring away. The closest I got to IT-related stuff was when we needed to repair the AC in the server rooms… I was stuck and unable to really fulfill my potential.”
When Raziel enlisted in the US Air Force in 2012, he wanted to travel. While he did get the chance to see Ireland, Germany, and was deployed to Qatar for six months, he spent most of his time at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. There, he worked on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) where he fulfilled work orders, fixed units, and worked on AC and refrigeration. It wasn’t exactly what he pictured.
“One of the main reasons for me pursuing training and certifications was that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing,” Raziel said, “I joined the USAF to do something amazing but was unable to achieve my goals. I was stuck and unable to really fulfill my potential.”
As his separation date neared, he knew he had to make a change. He’d always had a gift for computers and heard others talk about their work in the cyber security world.
Meeting people working in this career field and talking to them about their lives as well as what a normal day for them would be inspired me to pursue this career… the possibilities are infinite with computers and it is pretty amazing.”
IT Training at LeaderQuest
“Well, my first choice would have been to get some sort of entry-level position, but I quickly found out that that was almost impossible to get without certification. That’s what made me push for certification.”
The idea of jumping into the unknown was difficult for Raziel, but once he was home with his wife and sons, he was excited to start a new chapter of his life.
“In the military, you always have that secure pay so on the way out it’s like, what am I going to do? How am I going to pay? How am I going to survive?” Raziel said, “It was a little scary, but once I moved back home it was a little more exciting. It seemed like there were a lot of opportunities out there I just had to go and get them.”
LeaderQuest first contacted Raziel in January of 2017 after finding his resume online. During the process, Shavonne Lewis, one of our expert Career Training Consultants, discussed Raziel’s career goals with him and how getting certified could help him attain those goals. Raziel decided he was interested in learning more and set up a meeting.
Passing the CompTIA Security+ Exam
“They taught us not only the book way, but the real world way. It wasn’t one dimensional. They said, you need to know this for the exam, but once you go out there, this may not be the way you do it. They were very helpful instructors, I’ll say that.”
With his focus on cyber security, Raziel decided to take the notoriously hard Security+ exam which meant lots of classroom prep, participating in virtual labs, and lots of stress.
“It was a little nerve-racking just because I didn’t have any prior experience,” he said.
However, Raziel found the instructors to be incredibly knowledgeable and helpful not only in preparing to pass the test but in learning how to apply the information to on-the-job-situations. He was pleased to find that the instructor’s understood the struggles of moving from the military to the civilian world.
“The instructor, Michael McLain, was in the service as well before he made the transition about fifteen years ago. He was extremely helpful. He gave us some of his notes to study. We could always Skype with him even after hours. He’d always give us an explanation.”
By the end of March, Raziel had passed his Security+ exam and was ready to jump into his IT career.
Security+ is a great option for those who are new to IT or who want to move into cyber security from the network or systems IT world. One of the most valuable things Security+ helps you develop is a vocabulary to converse with peers and executives alike. As a foundational IT certification, Security+ has breadth with just the right depth.
Hired as a Security Analyst at $15,000 More a Year
“LeaderQuest is the reason that I’m in the position that I am today, you know. I wouldn’t have been able to do this all by myself. Especially not the courses and the help from [LeaderQuest Employment Relations & Career Services Manager] Kimberly, you know, finding a job. She put in that work you don’t really see… If you’re pursuing IT, a certification it’s definitely a great way to get started.”
Once Raziel was able to put his Security+ certification and experience in virtual labs on his resume, the calls came rolling in. With help from LeaderQuest career services, he was able to get a position as a Network Security Analyst by the end of August. And the best part? He’s making $15,000 more a year than his previous position!
What does the future hold for Raziel? He’s currently finishing his degree in cyber security with Colorado Technical University. As for others in his position, he said he would definitely recommend certifications, even if it’s hard in the beginning.
“You’ve got to stick to your guns and take care of business. If you’re pursuing IT, a certification it’s definitely a great way to get started.”
Are You Ready to Start Your IT Career?
Most classes have a 5-10 day turnaround which means you can get your degree and be ready for a job in weeks. Whether you need to take courses during the night, day, on campus, or online, we’re willing to work with your schedule and your learning style.
With unfilled cybersecurity jobs expected to rise to 3.5 million by 2021, there’s never been a better time to invest in your education. Find out if IT training is right for you today!
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