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Hello guys. First post here so be nice and all.

So here's a little bit on information. I just graduated from high school last month and i am on my way to diving into the college world. I slacked off during high school and just rode it along. So my grades were not the best so i have to go to a community college first.

My entire life i have been interested in technology and computers. in the past 5 or so years i have become rather interested in computer security, I entertain my self by doing pen-tests on my networks and setting up test environments to preform these tests legally and safely. This is my passion and i would really love to make it my career and my life. I have done quite a bit of research on the education required for me to do this.

So what i think i have to do is go to my community college and get my associate of science degree in something, transfer to a 4 year school and get my bachelors degree, get employed, and then get my masters. SO what i would like is for you guys to give me input on what i can do to get closer to my goal and dream. Could you tell me what i should get my associates in, my bachelors, and my masters? Should i go private sector or go government? How do i go about getting a job after i graduate. I really need your help soon. i need to declare my major now for my community college to get my associates degree. Thanks for the time

Edited by ChaosXIII
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Although, school is important, in this industry nothing hold more weight than experience! If you really want to be competitive, I would start working on your certifications. Most people will tell you to start with your MS Certs as they tend to be easier for new comers to the field but if you'd like a slightly more aggressive approach I'd start looking into getting your SANS or Cisco certifications.

As for your choice of major, that should be based on your primary interest or your intended career. Which ever route you decide to take, if you truly wish to be competitive in the field of pen-testing your are going to need a strong understanding and background both in networking/network protocols and computer programming (among other things).

Edited by lickfrog
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  • 4 months later...

Honestly, I think that a traditional education is going to provide the most value. Studying something like computer science is probably the best way to go because it opens more doors and give your the skills that you truly need to understand how computers work on a fundamental level, which of course is necessary if you want to do any sort of reverse engineering or bug hunting. Certs are worthless.

That being said, I dropped out of school, so my advice is pretty useless.

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As for working, get a part time IT job sooner rather than later if you can fit it in along side your studies. The biggest issue graduates face is they have plenty of knowledge on the subject, but no experience. So they have no way of applying what they learnt to a job.

As for life, don't plan it out to far in advance, take each block one at a time, review your progress and consider your options as you go along. IT moves way to fast to make long term plans, so you need to work on being in the right place at the right time.

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I'd say comp sci or similar if you want to do the associate route first.

If you're specifically interested in security, when it comes time to go for your bachelors, look for a college that offers an information security degree program. ESPECIALLY look and see if there's a school you can go to that is an NSA National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance (I'm assuming you live in the US)


(note: "information assurance" is fancy government speak for "information security")

Having a degree from one those programs can get you a small waiver on experience requirements for certain professional certifications, like the CISSP.

Also agree with Vako: find a part-time IT job while you're in college. Pursue work-study, your campus' IT center, or even local businesses that might need someone to be a junior sysadmin, web developer, etc. It'll really help you land internships later and eventually a full-time career once you graduate! While I was in college, I did IT help desk work for my university's computer labs.

For security, there are a few certifications you can study for and get without any work experience. I'd recommend the CompTIA Security+ cert, just because job ads constantly ask for it and even non-techie HR hiring people know what it is. CompTIA Network+, A+, and Linux+ are also good ones for a beginner to get as well. A cert like that and some work experience while you're in college will give you a SERIOUS edge over your fellow students come graduation time.

Edited by chikpee
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  • 4 weeks later...

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