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A Career in IT Security for Public Safety

In 2015 I retired from public safety after 20+ years of service, in my mid-40s. I knew prior to retiring that was too young to retire completely, I still needed to work or do something. I decided to move into IT Security because I heard it pays well, job security, and always learning. The only thing I can say is to be careful what you ask for, it is for sure always learning. If you have worked large events, parameters or barricades you understand the basics of security. For all of these events, you set inner parameters, outer parameters, controlled access, monitoring flow, and critical assets that get extra security and controls. That is what IT security is, except you use firewalls, antivirus, logs, ports, nat rules etc. Don't want to go too far down the rabbit hole, yet.

One thing that is essential in IT Security is the ability to investigate. Public safety, specifically law enforcement know how to investigate. I remember the first job my boss told me he liked working incidents with me because I knew how to investigate, he was able to do the super technical stuff and I would do the investigation side of things.

I say this because there are an increasing amount of people leaving law enforcement in recent years, due to retirements or just moving into something else. I would encourage you to move into IT Security. There is a huge shortage of security professionals that won't be fixed anytime soon. Security is one of those careers that college is not necessarily the answer to start in the profession. Certifications actually carry more weight than degrees, believe it or not. Some of the better-known sources for certifications are CompTIA, EC-Council, ISC2, SANS, and CISCO.

CompTIA is the standard for entry-level certifications. There are several different certifications depending on the path you are looking to go out, IT, IT Security, or Professional Skills. Below is the recommended path from CompTIA, you don't need to take them in order.

There are different avenues to get the certifications, attending a class doesn't get you a certification. You need to go test at a testing center. There are different ways to prepare for the exams, some buy the material and self-study, others attend classes at colleges, and others take boot camps. All of these work, depending on your learning style. I have experience in all of these and I have found Bootcamps work the best, for me anyway.

Self Study is good for those that have the discipline to stick with it. Some of the material out there is awesome to learn the material. Youtube has a bunch of videos to help with some of the concepts. The materials, practice exams, labs, and vouchers will cost about 300 to 400 depending on the course.

I have taught certifications courses at colleges. What I found is these courses are normally spread over a semester. Many of the students struggled because they forgot some of the material over the course of the class, normally a semester. The cost of these would depend on the college and if it is for college credit or not for college credit.

I didn't know what a BootCamp was until I got into IT. Bootcamps worked great for me because it is essentially a week crash course on a topic to prepare for the certification exams. Bootcamps that are good will have lectures with labs to reinforce the concepts that were just covered. Labs are helpful because that is the time to perform hands tasks using virtual machines where it is a safe environment. CompTIA put together pay scales for different careers in IT. Keep in mind this is average and will change depending on where you live. When I was a security manager I would offer a 10-12k pay increase if someone came to work for me, just because in order to hire security pros you essentially are stealing them from other companies.

If you are interested in a career in IT or IT Security GingerSec can help you get prepared for CompTIA certifications. GingerSec is a CompTIA Training Partner, meaning we teach the material developed by CompTIA to prepare folks for taking their exams. All of our courses offer live instruction, materials, practice tests, test vouchers, and if applicable labs. Register for classes at CompTIA Course Select | Gingersec GingerSec is always adding bootcamps to get you certified.

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