Career change / cert path question

esperlanoesperlano Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□

I'm in my mid-30s and decided to go back to school a couple of years ago to get an IT degree, to change careers from a sales job (non-IT related.) I'll be graduating next year and need to find an internship between now and next fall.

My ultimate goal is to work in info sec, but have recently realized I should get the fundamentals under my belt before embarking on that path. I don't currently have any certs or any job experience in IT.

I'd love to start right out as a networking admin intern, but after sending out a bunch of resumes and cover letters I've yet to hear back. I'm wondering if I need to start out as like a help desk position first.

I'm also wondering which certs I need to go for before landing a good internship (or the help desk position, if that's recommended). I'm studying for the Microsoft Networking Fundamentals cert just to get something under my belt. After that, do I need to spend the time doing the A+ (seems like an awful lot of info I may never use - CPU sockets, bus speeds, etc?) or should I start with something like Network+ -> Security+ -> CCENT -> CCNA?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


  • LexluetharLexluethar Member Posts: 516
    If you want to be in info sec you best understand all layers of the OSI model. It's a tough job because you generally have to have a solid grasp of not only physical topology and vulnerabilities but you also have to understand it at the software level as well.

    As a guideline I would suggest getting your Security+ to start out with. Once you have that I would do the Net+ then CCENT then CCNA Security. A+ doesn't really help a whole lot IMO (i have the A+ and went through this same process) and the Net+ has more real world implications (IE knowing how to subnet is probably more valuable than anything i've studied for in the A+).

    As for a job, yes you need to start out small. Most companies will not hire you straight into any type of administrator role without prior experience. Try landing a NOC role or desktop support / help desk. During that time you will gain valuable knowledge on how things in IT are run (in general i realize you might land a crap job and not learn this) and you will get some experience under your belt. During that time don't fiddle your thumbs - you need to be studying your rear off and get those certifications. Once you have a year of experience and at least your CCENT i bet you can land a junior admin role and work your way up from there.

    Just my two cents.
  • esperlanoesperlano Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Oh wow! Thanks for the great info. That's actually the exact opposite of what I thought the path should be, but it makes sense. I have two Security+ books already for when I was ready to study for it, and I've found the material less difficult than Network+ and A+, so that's good (might be because of the two security classes I've had so far).

    I was leaning towards your assessment of A+, in that it might not help a whole lot, especially in relation to how many hours of studying it would cost; I was just worried that a lot of people say hiring managers won't consider you without an A+, and plus it would greatly benefit getting the potential help desk job.
  • LexluetharLexluethar Member Posts: 516
    For sure, i mean i'm not saying the A+ doesn't have a place, i was just mentioning that for info sec an A+ really won't benefit a ton. You are right though, you need that first job and that first job probably will not be doing info sec stuff so having an A+ will help in that regard.
  • Russ5813Russ5813 Member Posts: 123 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Hi esp. I was in your shoes a few months ago and actually followed a path similar to what Lex suggested. Got my BSIT, then Sec+, then decided to take a small break from the CompTIA study grind and got my ITIL Foundations. Now I'm back to studying for Net+. Couple observations from my experience: The BSIT should be more than enough to land an entry-level position (VOC/Help Desk, in my case). I agree with Lex that A+ is a fine cert but may not align with your long-term goals. Have you considered getting the ITIL-F cert at some point? I've seen many many entry/junior level IT positions that prefer (or require) ITIL knowledge/certs and have seen far fewer mention A+. ITIL-F also takes considerably less time to study for, and coming from someone who works/goes to school full-time/has a family/transitioning careers, I understand how valuable time is. It's worth doing some research for your area and see what KSA's and certs are in demand.
  • esperlanoesperlano Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Hi Russ,

    Thanks so much for weighing in. I actually haven't heard of the ITIL before, but I'm going to look into it. It'd be great if it took somewhat less time than A+ to study for, especially as A+ doesn't really align with what I want to do over the long run, as Lex pointed out.

    Just got a call from an IT staffing agency, looking for a helpdesk recruit. I'm going to meet with them and see what they've got to offer. It might be worth taking a helpdesk job for a year or so to get some experience on my resume. I hope it'd be worth it!
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