Programming Certificate from local Community College

thaiguy314thaiguy314 Member Posts: 58 ■■■□□□□□□□
So just a little background: I'm currently a cybersecurity analyst (RMF) for the Air Force and a Army Reserve cyber officer. I never intended to go into IT/Cybersecurity and just fell into it hence why I have a bachelors in Psychology and an MBA. Next year, I'll have access to Army Reserve tuition assistance in addition to my hazelwood and company tuition assistance (I gave my post 9/11 to my kids). I figured I'd used to the opportunity go back for a STEM masters at some point (just in case a position in the future may need it and/or HR filters as I've been turned down for not having a STEM degree in the past).

As of right now, I'm looking into a general cybersecurity or digital forensics program but most of them have required a background in programming or pretty decent knowledge of a programming language as a prerequisite. In addition to that, the Army requires I have a solid documented background in a programming language as well (even as an officer). The Army would usually send us to a course for programming but Army training tends to be underwhelming and I rarely get anything useful out of it. On top of that, I'm trying to limit my time away from my civilian job as I really like it and already have other Army training I need to go to to get promoted. I've tried to teach myself but find that I tend to get overwhelmed, don't know where to start, and its hard to find answers when I get stuck so I get easily discouraged. With that being said, the local community college offers an 100% online certificate in Intermediate Computer Programming that includes basic and advanced courses in C++, SQL, Java, basic linux, and web programming. Link below. 

My question is: would it be smart to go this route to 1) give myself a structured, guided way of learning and 2) having this background being documented and demonstrating to the Army and potential grad schools that I've met the prerequisites. The school is cheap and I'll probably use my annual company tuition assistance to pay for it, worse case I pay out of pocket which isn't a huge deal. Any advice is appreciated!

http://mypaccatalog.alamo.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=173&poid=30835  
Certs: CISSP, CEH, CCNA Cyber Ops, Security+

Comments

  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Member Posts: 3,294 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I like learning through courses that have homework assignments that are required to get done and think it is a good idea.   I think programming can definitely tough to learn when you don't have a specific project or assignment you are working on.   I'd do it
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youMod Posts: 2,746 Mod
    Why not?
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • yoba222yoba222 Senior Member Member Posts: 1,091 ■■■■■■■■□□
    edited June 2019
    Things I like:
    1. You can do this on the company's dollar and not your own.
    2. It's a guided program so you stay on course.
    3. Potentially apply these finished courses towards and actual STEM degree.

    Things I don't like:
    1. College certificates (even graduate certificates) are largely worthless in my opinion. I have two and don't even list them on my resume anymore.
    2. 100% online isn't all that engaging like being in a seat interacting with someone in person is.
    3. There's a LOT of cruft in that certificate program. There's what looks like a baby A+ class (ITSC 1305), a baby Network+/CCNA. If this is what you want then great, but if you only want to advance your programming skills you're not taking the most direct path to do so.
    4. Potentially not able to transfer these courses into an actual STEM degree.
    5. The programming class only goes 1 level deep (optional second level). I don't have a computer science (CS) degree but it was an information systems degree,  and it went two level's deep. The CS degree at the same school went 4 levels deep. I remember failing a programming internship interview because there were questions that touched concepts I simply hadn't been introduced to at only 2 levels deep (things like design patterns, big-O notation). When I say levels deep, I mean like Java 1, Java 2, Java 3, etc.
    2017: GCIH | LFCS
    2018: CySA+ | PenTest+ |CCNA CyberOps
    2019: VHL 20 boxes
    2020: OSCP 2020
  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Member Posts: 3,294 ■■■■■■■■■□
    edited June 2019
     I'm actually taking online programming certificate classes at a college that will lead into the master's program there right now.  I'm really liking it personally so far.   Just having assignments, quizzes, and exams that have to be done each week really helps me personally.   Like you, I'm having my company pay for it so I don't see any negative.   Another thing you might want to check is to see if your company requires you stay a certain number years after using the tuition reimbursement.  I've heard some require like 2 years of stay or else you have pay it back... My company doesn't do that but I've heard other say they do.

    As long as that is a regionally accredited college I don't know why they would transfer into a degree.  Not sure if that one is or not... Might be something else to check on as well. 
  • thaiguy314thaiguy314 Member Posts: 58 ■■■□□□□□□□
    yoba222 said:
    Things I like:
    1. You can do this on the company's dollar and not your own.
    2. It's a guided program so you stay on course.
    3. Potentially apply these finished courses towards and actual STEM degree.

    Things I don't like:
    1. College certificates (even graduate certificates) are largely worthless in my opinion. I have two and don't even list them on my resume anymore.
    2. 100% online isn't all that engaging like being in a seat interacting with someone in person is.
    3. There's a LOT of cruft in that certificate program. There's what looks like a baby A+ class (ITSC 1305), a baby Network+/CCNA. If this is what you want then great, but if you only want to advance your programming skills you're not taking the most direct path to do so.
    4. Potentially not able to transfer these courses into an actual STEM degree.
    5. The programming class only goes 1 level deep (optional second level). I don't have a computer science (CS) degree but it was an information systems degree,  and it went two level's deep. The CS degree at the same school went 4 levels deep. I remember failing a programming internship interview because there were questions that touched concepts I simply hadn't been introduced to at only 2 levels deep (things like design patterns, big-O notation). When I say levels deep, I mean like Java 1, Java 2, Java 3, etc.
    Ah ok, thanks for the response. the first hand experience was more of the response I was hoping for. If you don't mind me asking: if you could've redone your college certificates, what would you have done? And were they more worthless in the HR sense or do you mean you got nothing out of it knowledge-wise?

    Unfortunately, I have to look into something 100% online as I work full time and have a EASILY stressed out stay-at-home wife haha and 2 kids at home (my wife is also in school) so night classes are out of the option. I was looking into the program because of the structure and I could at least have a potential resource in the instructor I could email in case of issues. And yes, the fluff classes aren't ideal as I already have experience in them and thats why I actually went with the certificate instead of the full blown associates. I was going to speak with an advisor to see if my certifications or experience would get some of them waived so I can concentrate on strictly the programming.

    And lastly while it's fresh, do you think the depth of this certificate is decent enough for creating scripts and small programs? I intend on staying in cybersecurity and don't have aspirations to be a full-blown developer or software engineer. I mainly want the knowledge to use on the Army side when we go on missions to automate basic functions, create scripts, understand code if we have to read through source code or other scripts, enumerate systems, make life a little easier in general, etc.  

    Thanks for your input.
    Certs: CISSP, CEH, CCNA Cyber Ops, Security+
  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Member Posts: 3,294 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Yes, I'd guarantee you'd learn how to create some small programs (that really doesn't take much).    Also, I got 2 kids at home as well and pretty much always do my studying/homework after they have gone to bed. 

    And to what Yoba222 said, it does go 2 levels deep as the you are required to choose an advance level programming course in the 3rd semester.
  • thaiguy314thaiguy314 Member Posts: 58 ■■■□□□□□□□
     I'm actually taking online programming certificate classes at a college that will lead into the master's program there right now.  I'm really liking it personally so far.   Just having assignments, quizzes, and exams that have to be done each week really helps me personally.   Like you, I'm having my company pay for it so I don't see any negative.   Another thing you might want to check is to see if your company requires you stay a certain number years after using the tuition reimbursement.  I've heard some require like 2 years of stay or else you have pay it back... My company doesn't do that but I've heard other say they do.

    As long as that is a regionally accredited college I don't know why they would transfer into a degree.  Not sure if that one is or not... Might be something else to check on as well. 
    Oh that's great news! That's actually the kind of experience I'm hoping for. I've read on my own and I know syntax and all of that but when it comes time to apply it, I completely blank so I think having something like assignments and homework to apply it to would help as well. Luckily, my company is like yours and doesn't require additional obligations, we get a couple thousand dollars every year to apply to education, certs, conferences, etc and its pretty much use or lose. And yes, it is accredited fortunately. I actually did my undergrad work in this community college system and they have a deal with most of the public Texas Universities to where almost everything will transfer over. Not 100% as each school has minor variations but when I transferred for my undergrad, Texas State took like 28 or 29 of my 32 credits. Thanks for your input.
    Certs: CISSP, CEH, CCNA Cyber Ops, Security+
  • JDMurrayJDMurray Certification Invigilator Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 11,544 Admin
    Knowing how to create software is very useful knowledge for many types of InfoSec careers. You will have a much deeper understanding of what goes on in those beige boxes, blades, VMs, etc. than most of your non-programmer InfoSec colleges will ever know. However, programming is not an activity that a typical InfoSec pro does on a regular basis or at all. Programming is a skill only used by certain InfoSec specialists (e.g., pentest/Red Team, vulnerability researchers, cryptographers). If you are not an InfoSec specialist that needs to write your own tools to produce results then you are probably just working as a software engineer creating or maintaining (i.e., writing content for) security-oriented tools (e.g., SIEM, network management, host-based security) and there is very little InfoSec knowledge involved in doing that.

    All that being said, you learn to program well as you learn anything else well: practice, practice, practice. If the CC certificate programs get you started by giving you a buffet of programming languages to try (e.g., C++, C#, Python, bash, SQL, Powershell) then that's a good start. Eventually, you will discover a language that you really like to use and will continue with it to make yourself a better programmer.

    It's now time for you to discover what instrument in the orchestra you really want to play!   :)
  • yoba222yoba222 Senior Member Member Posts: 1,091 ■■■■■■■■□□
    After reading the other posts, maybe I'm being a little harsh. The courses aren't going to give you full blown computer science background but will definitely round you out. In retrospection, right now if I needed to pick up another language, I could do it on my own with minimal resources (actually I'm learning Go on Udemy these days come to think of it) and I do credit the classes from the cert for giving me that foundation.

    For me the certs were worthless from the HR perspective. At the time, I didn't really feel confident claiming to be a software engineer even though my grad certificate said that. I like JD's analogy--I felt like it was claiming as if I had a certificate in classical violin performance -- but I was just sort of only okay at playing the violin because I only had 3 or 4 semesters of practice.

    Learning programming is a burden too though because now it's one other thing you need to keep sharp and like JD mentioned, it's not something you need everyday in infosec.




    2017: GCIH | LFCS
    2018: CySA+ | PenTest+ |CCNA CyberOps
    2019: VHL 20 boxes
    2020: OSCP 2020
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