Career / Career Progression

Life After Security+: Mapping Out Your IT Security Path

by Team Nuggets
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Published on October 27, 2017

Training and education are essential to excelling in a technology career. Whether your employer pays for your training or you pay for it yourself, earning a certification boosts your resume considerably.

CompTIA Security+ is one of several certifications that capture the interest of the IT industry. If you're one of the lucky professionals adding Security+ to your credentials, you must recognize the many options you have available moving forward. Here are some tips to help you plan your post-Security+ career.

Know the Basics

You should know all available options before you can map a career path. Some people start on help desks where they work with various applications. Others perform internships or volunteer for nonprofits to build a resume.

However, in some instances, credentials like the CompTIA Security+ certification can be enough to land you in an entry-level systems administrator position. From there, the following path could be an option:

  • Information Security Administrator/Network Security Engineer

  • Information Security Analyst/Engineer/IT Auditor

  • Information Security Manager/VP Information Security/Compliance

  • Chief Security Officer

After the Security+: Your IT Security Certification Map

Earning your CompTIA Security+ certification gives you a solid foundation for building a career in IT security. But what should your next step be? Here are a few security certifications you should consider after your Security+.

  1. GSEC: SANS GIAC Security Essentials Another entry-level certification, the GSEC: SANS GIAC Security Essentials cert, is designed to show that you understand information security terms and concepts and are ready to take on hands-on security roles. It consists of one exam, and though it is pricier than Security+, it continues to build your foundation for your security career.

  2. Cisco CCNA Security: Cisco is a big dog in IT, providing products to a significant market share of enterprise organizations. The CCNA Security certification is an intermediate-level certification comprising two exams, the CCENT ICND1 100-105 and CCNA Security 210-260 IINS. When you earn your CCNA Security certification, you demonstrate that you can secure Cisco networking products, opening up plenty of IT security career opportunities.

  3. Cisco CCNP Security: If your organization uses Cisco products, the next natural step in your certification progression is CCNP Security. CCNP Security is a professional-level certification comprising four exams: 300-208 SISAS (retired as of 01 Jan 2024), 300-206 SENSS, 300-209 SIMOS, and 300-210 SITCS. If you use Cisco products daily, the CCNP Security certification sets you on a solid career path with incredible earning potential.

  4. White Hat Hacking: White Hat Hacking skills will take your security career to a new level. Learn how to find weaknesses and vulnerabilities in systems to assess security posture. 

  5. (ISC)2 CISSP: This advanced certification is a beast! But it's well worth the time to train for and earn, given the career opportunities it offers. The (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential requires a minimum of five years of cumulative, paid, full-time work experience in the field and specific experience in two domains of the (ISC)2 CISSP Common Body of Knowledge. The (ISC)2 CISSP comprises just one exam, which is scheduled for six hours. As previously noted, this one is a beast!

Finding a Job

Once you have your certification, you'll likely be ready to start your new career. If you already work in an organization with security administrator positions, ensure the powers that be know about your increased qualifications in case an opportunity arises.

Whether you're currently employed in information technology, update your LinkedIn profile with your latest certification. Who knows? It just might lead to a lucrative job offer. At that point, you'll be ready to begin your job search. Here are a few ways you may be able to land work:

  • Network—A recent survey revealed that 85 percent of all job openings are filled through networking. Reach out to others you know to see if they might know of any opportunities. Join local technology professional groups to meet others and hear about openings before they're listed publicly.

  • Recruiters—Many employers use recruiters in the tech field because they specialize in finding technology professionals. Find a recruiter in your area who works with tech positions.

  • Job Boards — Once posted online, an opportunity can become competitive. However, reviewing job boards can also give you information on which companies are actively growing their IT teams. Over time, you may be able to reach out directly and land a position through networking.

  • Job Fairs — Local job fairs can be a great way to network with local companies. Even if they aren't hiring for tech positions, you may make a connection that gives you an "in" with a company on your dream list.

Most importantly, even after you've landed the position of your dreams, never stop learning. Your skills can quickly become outdated, so you'll likely find it necessary to continue to update your certifications to remain competitive.


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