To say Alan Crawford thinks a lot about IT security is an understatement.
The veteran systems engineer doesn’t need cybersecurity spelled out in his job description to keep it at the forefront of his mind.
“I have been evangelistic about the need for stronger security measures for almost as long as I’ve been involved with computers,” said Crawford, 57.
“Everything I do in IT is influenced by my concerns about security.”
Crawford said he’s found his latest weapon for the cause.
As an early beta tester for the new CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certification, Crawford sees a valuable professional achievement that’ll test the mettle of anyone wishing to prove themselves in the security arena.
“I found the CASP exam to be quite challenging,” he said. “In fact, I didn’t think I had passed the exam when I finished, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I had done so.”
Crawford, a recently hired senior systems engineer for ING US Financial Services, is already applying some of his tested knowledge in his daily activities.
As part of an infrastructure support team helping to build out a new data center, Crawford found the most pertinent parts of the CASP exam for him to be those aspects that dealt with physical security.
Though he never pursued a strict IT security career path, Crawford said he realized its influence from his first IT job as a programmer for a small start-up in hospital management systems straight out of Control Data Institute.
“My interest in security is holistic and an important aspect of any generalist’s toolkit,” said Crawford, of Berwyn, PA.
Adding CASP to his own toolkit that already includes CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+, Crawford credits his industry certifications with helping to earn his latest role - and excelling in it.
“I use my certifications as a way to prove that I’m not all talk,” he said, noting the credentials show “I actually do know what I’m talking about. I think the certifications are an important tool to getting and keeping a job.”
He added: “It’s a way to distinguish myself from my peers, and to perhaps be the one who keeps my job when others might not.”
As one who until recently held the temporary title of unemployed IT technician, Crawford said these uncertain times in the job market placed even more value on such industry credentials.
“Hiring companies need every tool they can use to separate qualified candidates from the rest of the pool,” he said. “I think certifications are the best way to do this.”
What sets CASP apart from all other IT security options in Crawford’s view is that it can offer a vendor neutral experience and “it tests practical knowledge as opposed to ‘book smarts’.”
For his money, it doesn’t matter what your level of industry experience is, there is always room to improve and prove yourself, especially when it comes to IT security.
“I can’t stand a job where I’m not presented with challenges, and throughout my career, I have been the one in any group who was charged with figuring out how to use new technology,” he said.
Crawford hopes he’s not alone in relishing such professional challenges.
Any veteran technician, he said, should want to gain valuable insight into a growing and ever-more important field and the new CASP certification is the perfect opportunity. IT pros with the necessary level of experience and training should want to prove their knowledge and use this as a tool for career advancement.