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Am I doing this right? Unemployed NOOB studying SSCP.

I've had a Fourth Amendment fetish since I was a babe. I also need a job and I'm ripe for a career change. This has led me to think network security is the logical thing to pursue.

Me: my professional background is in managing scientists in stem cell biology. I have no professional or educational background in technology. However, I've been using Linux on the desktop for about 15 years now and tech has always been easy for me. Most importantly I enjoy figuring out things I don't understand.

For the last couple months I've been studying for the SSCP exam. I took the CISSP practice exam and was scoring ~50% with zero studying and with a couple months of mainly not studying I'm scoring 60 - 66% on the SSCP.

After having bought the Darrel Gibson book, reading it cover to cover, and doing a tiny bit of studying, I'm concerned I'm pursing the wrong certification. Should I have instead selected Comptia's Security+?

Is it naive to think that getting SSCP certified or Comptia Security+ certified will lead to a job? What else should I be doing?

TLDR: Linux enthusiast with a 4th amendment fetish seeks security job despite no professional or educational background in such. Is pursuing SSCP certification smart or is it dumb? Comptia Security+ instead? What else?

1 Reply
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Community Champion

Re: Am I doing this right? Unemployed NOOB studying SSCP.

I in no way say what I am about to say to discourage you, but to enlighten you. A certificate does not GET you a job. It may be a requirement for a job, but not a ticket for a free job. I speak as the selecting official for several jobs I have held in the past. As a selecting official I reviewed resumes, scheduled interviews, held interviews and then selected the person most suited for that particular position based on SEVERAL factors. I have had people apply who held prestigious credentials. I once had an applicant that had 7 PhD's, all from a bible college. While 7 PhD's is impressive, it had nothing to do with the IT job he was applying for. Nothing else in his resume proved he had the experience to do the job. I had applicants that had 1) experience only, no certs or degrees; 2) Certs or degrees only but no/little experience; 3) No certs, degrees or experience (yes they made it through the pre-screen somehow); 4) A mix of degrees, certs and experience.

 

Most of the people I interviewed came from pool 4. None came from pool 3. Next preference was pool 1 then pool 2. Yes, experience is valued over learning. Having learning is preferred over nothing, but a lot of hiring professionals want to know you have done the job or are capable of learning while doing. Why would experience be valued over learning? Because learning usually teaches you one way, the book way. In real life things do not always go according to the book. Having had to adapt to unexpected problems or an uneasy install, helps you figure out ways around it. Not saying that the book people can't also figure it out in real life, but the experience people have a head start. I am also not saying that learning has no place and that it should be experience only. Learning helps expand your horizons and helps you grow rather than stay stagnant. That is why credentials that require continuous learning via CPE's are held in higher regard than those who didn't.

 

My perfect candidate was someone who had experience, certs/education, possibly received some awards/accolades AND had ambition. I have hired people who were not the best candidate on paper, but had enough of the qualifications and a ton of ambition. I want someone who is going to be a rock star. Sure they are going to have great skills and acquire more while they are with me. Sure they may leave in a few years because they have such good qualifications, but I hope to have them make things so good in my business that we are in a much better state than before they came. New ideas, documented and improved processes, moving in the best direction, etc. 

 

So my advice to you is to still strive for certifications, but do not expect that to be the door opener. Also strive for experience. If you are unemployed, set up a lab at home and try to gain new skills.  Buy used computers and practice with them. Look into free virtual machines and practice setting them up. Volunteer to help others with their IT issues. Experience does not have to be paid to be valid. Look for opportunities to gain experience. See if anyone in the unemployment field offers free training for IT. See if anyone is willing to hire you as an intern. Can you find a mentor in the IT field? See if they will let you shadow them.

 

Most importantly, if this is your dream/passion, don't give up. There are ways to get there, you just have to find or create them. Also do not fall into the trap of I used to get paid this much money to be a manager so I can't take any less. That will lead to a lot of disappointment and failure. I have seen that before. I once had an employee who thought salary equaled the same value in a different field of employment. It DOESN"T.  Just because you have been a manager of scientists at X salary doesn't mean you will get paid the same salary starting out in a new field of IT. Perhaps you get lucky and find it, but don't come in expecting it. When I switched back over to IT after being out of it ten years, I took a 50% pay cut to do it. Now I make more than I ever could at that old job and have enjoyed following my passion ever since.