Yet Another Cert Career Path Thread

superbeastsuperbeast Member Posts: 86 ■■□□□□□□□□
I know these types of posts are a dime a dozen on this forum, so I appreciate any and all who not only view this thread but leave any comments/advice.

About Myself: 32 years old, Father of 2. Work full time in non-IT related field. Diagnosed with ADHD, currently medicated to help with this. Work during day. Attend evening classes about 4 days a week

Education: Just about to attain AS in Computer Info Systems from community college. Will be transferring to Cal State school to obtain BS in Administration w/ Cyber Security concentration. Have books on A+, Network+, Security+, CCNA R+S, CISSP, CEH. Also have access to Cybrary resources along with Professor Messer and CBT Nuggets

Goal: To achieve CEH and work in cyber security field whether it's at a NOC or for government(NSA, Homeland Security, etc)

I have struggled to focus on one cert partially due to my ADHD but also because I guess I don't have a clear pathway toward my ultimate goal. I want to build a solid foundation but also don't want to have to invest any time that will not add value to my resume.

My path was originally A+ > Network+ > Security+ > Linux+ > CCNA R+S > CCNA SEC > CISSP > CEH.

Any suggestions from the forum as to how to tweak this career path to better fit my ultimate goal? Any and all advice/comments welcome and much appreciated.


  • TomkoTechTomkoTech Member Posts: 438
    There is no ONE path. And with ADHD or not, a lot of people(myself included) struggle with setting the time aside to study and prepare properly for certifications.

    With that said. I wouldn't suggest spreading yourself too thin. Working on a Bachelors degree and trying to cram in studying for random certs along side of that will be doing yourself a disservice. Both require a huge time commitment which means time away from your 2 kids. I would focus on one at a time until you can manage to sustain success in that one. Add more to it if you can, if not just finish school or the certs then do the other.

    A+ is relatively basic. I never really "studied" for it. I brushed up on antiquated technology that the test covered and that was about it. However there is no real reason to pursue this cert if it is not part of a degree plan or required for a job you are seeking. You can go right into the Net+ imo. Which you could also skip if you wanted to do the CCNA as 2 exams. You won't need the Net+ AND the CCNA. But the Net+ can help you prepare for the CCENT/CCNA.

    Again you don't NEED a Sec+ as well as a CCNA Sec.....

    Personally I am working towards the bachelors in security at WGU so they require the individual certs. Take my advice with a grain of salt. Because again everyone is different and there is no best bet path to success in this field.
  • Jamm1nJamm1n Member Posts: 106 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Your going to want to break these up, like TomkoTech said focus on one. I had to take a break from my Masters to work on a cert because with work 3 kids, wife, dog, house... last thing I want to do is study for school and a certification.

    Don't bother with A+ unless you want to do help desk, if your going to go for CCNA R&S I wouldn't worry about Net+ either. They are not going to help in the long run.

    I am a big believer in what a degree can do for you, especially from a brick and mortar or non-profit school.
    I say go for the degree first, it is going to be better in the long run.
  • KrekenKreken Member Posts: 284
    Get your BS first.
    TomkoTech wrote: »
    A+ is relatively basic. I never really "studied" for it. I brushed up on antiquated technology that the test covered and that was about it. However there is no real reason to pursue this cert if it is not part of a degree plan or required for a job you are seeking. You can go right into the Net+ imo. Which you could also skip if you wanted to do the CCNA as 2 exams. You won't need the Net+ AND the CCNA. But the Net+ can help you prepare for the CCENT/CCNA.

    I never understood why people would even recommend to take Net+ if you can get much more plus a respectable certificate by going directly for CCNA.
  • superbeastsuperbeast Member Posts: 86 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Thank you all for your comments/advice. It is greatly appreciated and offers insight to what was a cloudy situation. I do have one concern which may just be me personally, but given my age (32), after I graduate with a BS, I predict that would put me right around 37 or so. Any concerns given my age to enter IT field with just degree and no certs or experience? I feel that with my age and no work experience in IT, a BS may not be enough to compete with candidates younger than me that may already have experience.

    I completely agree with focusing on just one thing as that would prove to be most efficient, especially given my full plate thus far. My thinking is to quickly get a cert so I can enter the field with my AS and one cert. That will then give me experience on my resume while I am going to school for my BS.

    Any opinions on this?
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youMod Posts: 2,772 Mod
    Don't worry about age! I am 56 and still going strong. Intern somewhere or help out for free at a church or something to gain experience.
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • Jamm1nJamm1n Member Posts: 106 ■■■□□□□□□□
    no experience is going to hurt regardless if you have a cert/degree or not. I would start trying to get a job in the field right now with your AS, a lot of companies I found will give you a period after your hired to earn certs.

    Its not going to be a great job...mostly entry level I would think.
  • superbeastsuperbeast Member Posts: 86 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the reassurance everyone. Again I really appreciate everyone's advice as this forum has been a great help and the community here is definitely something special

    Given that I have only had customer service jobs and am currently in the insurance industry, I think any work in IT, even if it is entry level will be a blessing because at least I'll feel my work at the end of the day counted toward my own professional growth in the IT field.

    Any other comments/advice are more than welcome.
  • iBrokeITiBrokeIT GICSP, GCIP, GXPN, GPEN, GWAPT, GCFE, GCIA, GCIH, GSEC, CySA+, Sec+, eJPT Member Posts: 1,308 ■■■■■■■■■□
    superbeast wrote: »
    I feel that with my age and no work experience in IT...


    Any opinions on this?

    You alone control your story and definition of success.

    In 4 or 5 years would rather be known as a 37 y/o with ADHD that works customer service jobs and no degree or as a recent IT Grad that is getting their start in the field with a promising future ahead?

    Stop making excusing like too old, no experience, AHDC ect... If you search hard enough you'll find a reason why you shouldn't succeed and then you'll start believing it. Don't go down that path.
    2019: GPEN | GCFE | GXPN | GICSP | CySA+ 
    2020: GCIP | GCIA | eCPPT | eWPT | eCTHP

    WGU BS IT-NA | SANS Grad Cert: PT&EH | SANS Grad Cert: ICS Security
  • kiki162kiki162 Member Posts: 635
    So I think a lot of us understand the whole ADD/ADHD issue, and being all over the board and/or can't focus. Ppl that do NOT have it, won't get it.

    Here's my advice to you, you are thinking about it WAY too much. Stop thinking about the long term goal that you can't control, and instead do 1 step at a time. I'd start with focusing on obtaining 2 certs per year while you are in school. Give yourself a timeframe to study and complete each task. For example take 2-3 months per cert, and set yourself with a schedule daily/weekly. I'm going to read xyz pages/chapters...etc. One of the things I learned early on was to read through a book 3 times, and create notes along the way. Then use a testing engine, and obtain an 80% or higher before taking the exam.

    If your focus is on the Networking side of IT, then take out the Linux+, as that really has no value. Work on getting yourself into a IT job where you can pay the bills first, and not making $100K off the bat. I think the Net+, Sec+, and CCENT/CCNA would be a good path. You can easily achieve those certs, and be close to completed your Bachelors in the next 2 years. The higher end certs can be achieved once you getting additional experience.
  • Danielh22185Danielh22185 Member Posts: 1,195 ■■■■□□□□□□
    The IT industry is definitely a unique industry where higher level education is not required to succeed. Given your age, having no IT experience just yet, and already working toward your BS It might be best to stay that course if you REALLY want that degree. However, the most impactful thing you can do is start building your IT experience yesterday. Easier said than done, I know, but the IT world generally holds experience > most / all credentials.

    Honestly If I was in your position I would drop going for the degree and focus on a reputable cert to get my foot in the door now. Yes a BS is valuable too but in 4-5 years you could seriously develop your skills on your own by obtaining certs and giving yourself even more time to invest in getting experience along side while still working your current job to keep an income.

    Like I said the IT world doesn't demand degrees. Generally a degree gets you more of a wide swath of experience in all kinds of IT technology. There really isn't anything out there that gives you a degree and also develops you into an expert. Not to say the degree won't make you well rounded but still won't automatically position you above the crowd of experienced / certified only folks. This is something you have to learn and earn over time.

    Of course a degree looks good, but from experience it really hardly comes into play unless you want to start trekking down a management route, which would slowly removes you from doing technical work anyway.

    Also worth noting: I have a bit of a bias opinion in this type of situation. I never got my BS and went strait for certs and experience and am doing just fine. I too have a wife, kids, house, dog, etc under my belt of financial responsibilities. I also did get a bit of a later start in the IT world at age 25, but once I got my foot in the door I've been making strides very rapidly ever since.

    Anywho, just my .02.

    Good luck to ya!
    Currently Studying: IE Stuff...kinda...for now...
    My ultimate career goal: To climb to the top of the computer network industry food chain.
    "Winning means you're willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else." - Vince Lombardi
  • KrekenKreken Member Posts: 284
    superbeast wrote: »
    ...given my age (32), after I graduate with a BS, I predict that would put me right around 37 or so...

    You can cut down on time by taking winter and summer semesters too.
  • superbeastsuperbeast Member Posts: 86 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Thanks again everyone for your advice. I feel more at ease because of this community and it's great to see some of you are in similar life situations as me(wife, kids, etc). After reviewing everything, it does make it a lot easier to make a decision on my path. When I first enrolled back in school, it wasn't for computers, it was just to get momentum going because I knew I wanted that degree. So I think I will focus on that. Then once I start taking the cyber security courses, then I can take that knowledge and apply that toward possibly obtaining a cert since I'll have that time spent in the class room for those specific cert related courses instead of trying to fill my plate now and going nowhere fast with it.

    Thanks again everyone for your advice/input.
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