Virginia student Nicholas Anderson took an immense amount of pride in the knowledge he was the 200,000th person to earn CompTIA Security+ certification.
For the 24-year-old, it’s the veritable ‘cherry on top,’ upon earning his first accreditation in the sector and the industry where he has always wanted to work. Now, Anderson just hopes to pair it with post-college employment.
“It’s definitely something I value along with focusing on my own career path,” he said. Anderson, who is studying information systems and cybersecurity at the Springfield campus of ITT Technical Institute, said he learned of CompTIA’s offerings early on and initially targeted CompTIA A+ to help launch his career, “because it’s one of the things people look for.”
However, in talking with people in the field of his targeted line of work, Anderson said it became apparent that CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ would garner more interest, eventually deciding on CompTIA Security+, “because it’s a big requirement these days.”
He’s got that right. With the ever-increasing number of global cyber threats reported and greater reliance by corporations on anytime, anywhere access to big data, talented professionals with the skills and knowledge to combat such threats are in demand.
With more CIOs at the end of last year acknowledging that getting hacked is more a question of when, not if, the new mandate is not only strong defenses, but the right technology and practices in place to rapidly detect a breach and minimize damage, according to a recent article in InformationWeek.
In fact, based on recent data compiled by technical recruitment firm Dice.com, information security is one of those rare fields today that has more job openings than people to fill them. The IT job site noted a 79 percent increase in the total number of information security jobs posted on the site from September 2009 to September 2011.
Anderson, who will pair his coming Bachelor’s degree with an Associate degree in computer network systems, also from ITT Tech, said with the global threat on IT these days, “that’s the new place where crime is happening.” To help prepare himself for what lies ahead, Anderson said his initial certification was worth it, “and this is coming from someone who paid for it out-of-pocket, not through a company.” “(Certification) is something that in addition to education helps show that I know what I’m talking about, and CompTIA Security+ is a well-known certification so employers really take it seriously when it’s on the resume,” he said. “I can definitely say getting this certification is worth it. It’s just as worthy as getting my degree.”
The latest update of CompTIA Security+, released last year, added a greater emphasis on operational risk to an exam aimed at experienced IT security professionals. Security risk control and mitigation along with current technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization are folded in to provide a true, proactive knowledge set for the world of cyber security as it is today. Anderson said he appreciated that the exam itself took into account some of the most up-to-the minute technology and trends. “From what I’ve gathered, CompTIA certifications offer a better reflection of what you know rather than just getting easy questions on the test,” he said. “It’s a better pool of knowledgeable questions, put to better use.”
Anderson, who grew up surrounded by computers from a military father with a fascination for the then-burgeoning technology, has worked as a systems specialist, but eventually hopes to become a penetration tester. He said he hasn’t narrowed down where he’ll apply his trade after earning his degree. “I’m getting job offers, which is nice,” Anderson said. He said as one who is currently on that job search, “I can tell you a lot of employers can substitute experience for education, however, if they want a certification, they will look for it and not usually substitute for it. “I definitely think (certifications) hold a high value.”
For a young man with his whole career truly in front of him, Anderson knows CompTIA Security+ was a big first step. “It was a huge relief to have that first certification done,” he said. “The best I could say to anyone is to go ahead and go for it. Once you have that first certification under your belt, it just paves the way for getting more of them done. It definitely helps to show that you have the knowledge to back things up.”
Now, there’s a nice bit of security to have.