What cert next? Also some tough career questions...kind of DC specific as well.

ukiltmybruthaukiltmybrutha Member Posts: 74 ■■■□□□□□□□
Well I am in the DC area and I work as a government contractor which is a whole different ball game from most of the country and world.

I hold my MCSE 2012, MCITP-EDA, Sec+, Network+, and A+.

I work as a Windows Systems Engineer. Employer will pay for the Microsoft track and the Cisco Track but that seems to be it until I am here for a year.

I am kind of tired of the Microsoft track because Prometric testing centers are 60 miles away from me but Vue centers are very close to me.

15 years in IT and I have hated just about every minute from Desktop Support, Desktop Engineering, and now working with Servers. My fault for picking a career path that I didn't like? Sure, no problem with that. No problem with getting into a profession that pays the bills either.

It took me every minute of 15 years to realize that I want to do one of a few things...become a "legal" hacker, penetration tester, or forensics person but my need to pay bills comes first. I think that I'd also like to try my hand at management even if it is managing entry level folks at a helpdesk.

Here are some goals:

1) Pick certifications that continue to increase my job security.

2) Pick certifications that can secure my pay rate. (Pay is important to me, I have some unpleasant debts that will last me a very long time).

3) Pick certifications that might allow me to transition into one of the above fields without taking a large pay cut.

4) Pick certifications that will tend to get me paid as much possible as compensation for doing what I hate. (I enjoy non-IT hobbies in my free time so that helps).

The Cisco certifications are free...I guess that I should just pursue those before a year has elapsed to assist with goals 1&2.

I am not sure if the Cisco certs will help with my goal #3 and/or help even a drop as far as getting me into the part of IT that interests me.

Also...does anyone know if the IT career path that I'd like is even fathomable without having anything above a Top Secret Clearance (which I hold)?

It seems like everything in the DC area needs an SCI or higher to perform Forensics, hacking, or penetration testing for the government. I am not SCI eligible.

Thanks for any help or positive ideas.

Comments

  • MrAgentMrAgent Member Posts: 1,309 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I would suggest getting the CEH and checking out indeed.com
    There are some jobs that dont require SCI. Maybe you can work on the issues that are preventing you from obtaining SCI eligibility? Not only do most govt jobs require SCI, but I am finding that a lot are asking for a CI poly.

    You could also get the MCSE private cloud. Seems a lot of govt agencies are moving to virtualization as well.
  • ukiltmybruthaukiltmybrutha Member Posts: 74 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Hey MrAgent,

    Thanks for being so on target. I expected to take some lumps for being honest. I never understood why IT always had to be so politically correct.

    But anyways....

    The biggest thing with the SCI is more along my wife being a permanent resident...I mean she is from the UK so that isn't particularly a bad thing at all especially since there is so much joint intelligence.

    Unfortunately, a foreigner is a foreigner with respect to the USA. I could get an SCI but would be denied an interim under the DOD 6/4 rule. However, I have been told that I would have a 100% chance of ultimately getting the SCI even with her being a PR but I would just have to wait longer.

    Most employers have not been willing to wait that long. In fact, I had a contingent offer for a contract at a 3 letter agency if the company was awarded the contract. They ended up getting the contract 6 months later but neglected to ask me if I was SCI eligible since I had an TS/SSBI which to most people spells eligible. They rescinded the conditional offer even though it was their fault for never asking in the first place.

    Could you explain your thoughts on the MCSE private cloud and virtualization? I don't particularly care for virtualization or the Cloud. Do you have any thoughts on the Cloud in particular as it may pertain to my interests?

    I'll also take a closer look at CEH on indeed to see if I can find anything that doesn't require an SCI. Is/could there ever be a market for non-cleared hacking and forensics? I know there is for penetration testing. I was once called by Morgan Stanley from the UK for a forensics job...(assuming bank fraud or something of that nature).

    What about Public Trust or DHS work? DHS has their own clearance setup which I hold. I wonder if the Treasury (which I am on contract at) might have room for forensics that use their clearance setup?

    Another thing that holds me back is distance. Unfortunately I live a little bit South of Fredericksburg so areas like Fort Meade, Reston, and Herndon are not areas that I wish to commute to even for a satisfying job. DC proper, Arlington, Alexandria, and Quantico are ok. My house is underwater so I am kind of stuck...can't let go of it because of the clearance requirements out there so kind of a catch 22!

    Thanks for your thoughts so far or any other ideas!
    MrAgent wrote: »
    I would suggest getting the CEH and checking out indeed.com
    There are some jobs that dont require SCI. Maybe you can work on the issues that are preventing you from obtaining SCI eligibility? Not only do most govt jobs require SCI, but I am finding that a lot are asking for a CI poly.



    You could also get the MCSE private cloud. Seems a lot of govt agencies are moving to virtualization as well.
  • SephStormSephStorm Member Posts: 1,732
    I can't get into all of your issues, but it looks like you are going to have to sacrifice something. I would guess that Mr. Agent is suggesting visualization as a way to give you job security. It won't get you a hacking or forensics job, but its a notch if someone is looking to hire someone who needs visualization.

    With respect with the SCI issue, The only thing I can suggest is to keep trying and be upfront about whatever issues exist. They did not ask is unacceptable. Make it clear that you are clearable in time and that you are worth the effort. Look for GS positions rather than contracts with your time constraints.

    Yes there is a market for non cleared pen testing. I'm going to guess that your biggest hurdle will be experience, no one hires an entry level pen tester. You will have to join a firm or group that does security assessments, or start out in network security or IA. If you go the firm route, get your CEH and OSCP. For network security, go CCNA and CCNA Security (Optionally CCENT and CCNA Security). IA you'll want CEH and CISSP or Associate.

    For forensics, my guess would be look at LE agencies. If you cant get direct hire (Better have a degree or forensics certs and experience), look at getting on board with Infragard and/or FBIs Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory's

    You might have to compromise on location. I know someone who bit the bullet and moved away from the family to take a better job and support the family from afar. I have a lot of respect for that guy.

    My .02.
  • MrAgentMrAgent Member Posts: 1,309 ■■■■■■■■□□
    So from what I am understanding is that you can't get SCI eligibility because your wife is a foreign national? I have a couple of close friends who's wives are from other european countries, and they both have SCI. So I dont think that should be an issue. Granted it makes things more difficult because of the amount of work that goes into the investigation, but you can def get it done.

    I suggested the MCSE private cloud because you were asking about other potential certs which could possibly bump up your pay. VCP is also in that realm, though it requires you attend their training for a week.

    Ive seen openings in Dahlgren from time to time, you may want to take a look there. I do know that quantico also just had some contracts start, because I keep getting calls from recruiters for positions there.
  • ukiltmybruthaukiltmybrutha Member Posts: 74 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks SephStorm. I really have sacrificed alot, and I am not willing to sacrifice much more. Did you mean virtualization instead of visualization?

    Also.... "They did not ask is unacceptable." What did you mean by this?

    I just want to make sure that I have all of your points.

    You have some very good information on what certs to get and the LE perspective as well. I really like your ideas.

    My viewpoint is that Contracting in the NCR is better for job security than Federal jobs. I know that sounds absurd, but things are still rather easy here. I think that I'd rather make more money than have job security because job security is almost guaranteed here. Yes, I know that is changing though.

    I won't compromise on location because my family is already pretty broken up. The only areas that I can consider are between DC and South Florida and everything South of DC is rather dead with the exception of a few places like Richmond, RTP, Charlotte, Tampa, and Southern Miami. Still, all of those places are dead in their own right. Getting a good paying IT job is generally the end of the line in Richmond/North Carolina. Getting a job period is hard South of that. (These are just my experiences).

    Thanks for all of the info.


    SephStorm wrote: »
    I can't get into all of your issues, but it looks like you are going to have to sacrifice something. I would guess that Mr. Agent is suggesting visualization as a way to give you job security. It won't get you a hacking or forensics job, but its a notch if someone is looking to hire someone who needs visualization.

    With respect with the SCI issue, The only thing I can suggest is to keep trying and be upfront about whatever issues exist. They did not ask is unacceptable. Make it clear that you are clearable in time and that you are worth the effort. Look for GS positions rather than contracts with your time constraints.

    Yes there is a market for non cleared pen testing. I'm going to guess that your biggest hurdle will be experience, no one hires an entry level pen tester. You will have to join a firm or group that does security assessments, or start out in network security or IA. If you go the firm route, get your CEH and OSCP. For network security, go CCNA and CCNA Security (Optionally CCENT and CCNA Security). IA you'll want CEH and CISSP or Associate.

    For forensics, my guess would be look at LE agencies. If you cant get direct hire (Better have a degree or forensics certs and experience), look at getting on board with Infragard and/or FBIs Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory's

    You might have to compromise on location. I know someone who bit the bullet and moved away from the family to take a better job and support the family from afar. I have a lot of respect for that guy.

    My .02.
  • ukiltmybruthaukiltmybrutha Member Posts: 74 ■■■□□□□□□□
    yep, I can get it done but it just takes a while as you mentioned. Most customers refuse though...and if they won't that usually means a pay cut for the "favor". :)

    So you think I can make some more money with the MS Cloud cert? That is interesting. I have to look into it further. IA sounds like something that might be interesting but at the same time maybe I won't like it...hmmm.

    I interviewed at Dahlgren once and it didn't go well. Also had a chance to be considered at another King George entity for forensics provided I take a 30k pay cut which I just can't do.

    Quantico is where it is at hopefully but it seems like a 120k offer at Fort Meade is a 95k offer at Quantico. That is just too steep for me.

    I'll take everything you said under advisement. I am headed in the right direction.

    Thanks


    MrAgent wrote: »
    So from what I am understanding is that you can't get SCI eligibility because your wife is a foreign national? I have a couple of close friends who's wives are from other european countries, and they both have SCI. So I dont think that should be an issue. Granted it makes things more difficult because of the amount of work that goes into the investigation, but you can def get it done.

    I suggested the MCSE private cloud because you were asking about other potential certs which could possibly bump up your pay. VCP is also in that realm, though it requires you attend their training for a week.

    Ive seen openings in Dahlgren from time to time, you may want to take a look there. I do know that quantico also just had some contracts start, because I keep getting calls from recruiters for positions there.
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