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I am looking forward to joining my chosen profession in this electronic age. Unfortunately I am not sure where I should stop with my math education and which certs would be a good choice to obtain. I want to work in Information Security: Linux Systems are my preferred side of the digital divide.

I also wanted to know where if any place in the U.S. would hire someone, regardless of their past? As, unfortunately mine isn't as clean as most, but my skillset grows as I prepare for a future in IT.

Any suggestions on college courses from the KCTCS? That is, if anyone is familiar with that college. Or, is there any other specialized local or titled college one might suggest, aside from the MIT and IT specific schools? Something such as EdX and other Linux guided online and on-site course work that might be acredited nationwide, or internationally?

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Hey, welcome aboard! I'm still finding my way through as well.. I'm, as we speak finishing up my Bachelors Degree in Information Technology/Security. If you're good in mathematics..(something I really envy) why limit yourself? Keep going! I'd love to have a degree in something like Applied Mathematics or Electrical Engineering, but the math would kill me.

I work at a jr. unix admin, for a Data center, and having the certs that I do, may have helped me. I have a few (see below) but I'll say this... having certifications DOES NOT mean you know things. After all my certs, my first day on the job was a harsh slap in the face..it really woke me up. I didn't know crap... about anything. Experience is seriously the best proving grounds.

There is a website that lists employers in the US that hire convicts or people with records, I forget the name though.

This is a smaller list: http://exoffenders.net/employment-jobs-for-felons/#axzz31jwp9Hke

Also, these guys cost a bit, but check out


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Unfortunately I am not sure where I should stop

Why would you stop? Continuing education is mandatory in the IT field. Security exploits/flaws are being discovered everyday along with new software advancements.There's no such thing as too much knowledge. I currently work IT Security, however i'm wanting to start my own penetration testing company. Here is a list of certs in my goal list atm:


  • BSD Professional (BSDP)


  • C++ Certified Associate Programmer – (CPA)
  • C++ Certified Professional Programmer – (CPP)
  • C++ Certified Senior Programmer – (CPS)


  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Linux+
  • CompTIA Mobile App Security+
  • CompTIA Mobility+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Project+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA Server+
  • Social Media Security Professional


  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)
  • EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)
  • Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT)
  • EC-Council Network Security Adminstrator (ENSA)
  • EC-Council Certified Incident Handler (ECIH)
  • EC-Council Certified Security Specialist (ECSS)
  • EC-council Certified Disaster Recovery Professional (EDRP)
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO)
  • Certified Secure Computer User (CSCU)
  • Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA)
  • EC-Council Certified Secure Programmer (ECSP)
  • EC-Council Certified VoIP Professional (ECVP)
  • EC-Council Certified Enryption Specialist (ECES)
  • Certified e-Business Professional (CEP)

eLearning Security

  • Certified Professional Penetration Tester (eCPPT)

Offensive Security

  • Offensive Security Certified Expert (OSCE)
  • Offensive Security Wireless Professional (OSWP)
  • Offensive Security Exploitation Expert (OSEE)
  • Offensive Security Web Expert (OSWE)


  • Wireshark Certified Network Analyst (WCNA)

I'm not likely going to achieve all these as new certs will come available as technology/security advances, but this is my goal. Continuing education is very important and should be considered by every IT professional. Hope this helps give you an idea. :)

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Ask anyone who does comp security/networking professionally and they'll all tell you the same thing. Certs will get you past HR, and that's about it. At a minimum they show you know how to memorize questions and answers, and maybe have an aptitude for the subject. I've held several certs over the years, Apple Certified Hardware/Software, A+, CCENT(glorified Net+), Security+, all have expired. Wish I could keep the Apple certs, but I don't work for an authorized service center anymore, from the ones I've had, they're the hardest to get. Other than the Apple certs, the others I got after being laid off from a company and they paid for "retraining", I used it to get the certs to get past all the HR drones around here that didn't think it mattered that I have twenty years of experience.

Like Syperus said above though, don't stop. Do what you can afford, but don't bury yourself in debt for school.

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Mostly agree, but certainly not completely.

Remember the dot-com bubble and how it burst? Up until that point the sky was the limit. Anybody with a digital watch was hired by some IT department somewhere as an IT expert/consultant and sent off to bill a customer some ungodly amount to drink their coffee.

We actually had a guy on staff whose only interaction with technology appeared to have been the digital scale he occasionally told people to use at his previous job of supermarket produce department guy - he was in charge of the PVCS repo and managed to help us set it up in such a way that a commit removed your local copy but didn't actually put it the file in the repo. When the first collegue got bitten by this the guy came by his desk and berated him for improperly configuring the PVCS client when it was in fact he himself that had configured it that way, a fact not forgotten by anybody in the department.

Funny addendum: One collegue replaced the icon of the PVCS client with that of the recycle bin.

But then the bubble burst and the wheat got separated from the chaff in record time. We used to occupy a complete floor with roughly 50 desks for our department alone and suddenly we were down to 10 of whom 5 were sent out to do consulting (my dept specialised in-house fixed-price development). Before long even the last few of us had nothing left to do and we had to be sent out for consultancy-type jobs, effectively clutching at straws. When it was my turn to enter the raffle I was about 26 with a CS degree from what you would consider uni (dutch school system is a unique beast), 4 years of solid, hard-core java development under my belt and also some fairly solid C programming experience as well. However during my working years I never bothered to get any training. Figured I would learn more from simply developing in whatever new tech came available (which I did) and thus could spend the time more efficiently. So when the company tried to put me somewhere as a consultant they had a very hard time getting me through the door. I finally settled on a cheap helldesk job (they used to get 120 an hour for me, here just over half that). Since then I can tell from experience that all the rumors are true, both those about the helldesk being a bunch of coffee drinking slobs AND those about developers being like monkeys on a MASSIVE acid trip.

Some notable experience there (it was for the 'large payments' department of a then-local bank): transferring data with a stock exchange using plain FTP, the salary batch job for a major oil company got lost in the system and we needed a day to find it (you wouldn't believe how much in interest 4 billion accrues in just 1 day) and the direct-mapping of unvalidated external data to a C struct using a cast as the recommended means of reading said data.

But I disgress. During these days if you didn't have some sort of degree which you recently acquired you really didn't stand a chance of even coming close to the door, let alone stepping through it. Nowadays with the financial crisis you would think things are equally crap, but just a few months ago I got quite far with an interview I never expected to be having in the first place, courtesy of a former co-worker dropping my name as an experienced dev and troubleshooter with his HR department resulting in them giving me a call. I wasn't looking to move so while I did go to the interview to see what's up, I didn't provide a nice resume. Instead I just blurped out in an email some of the things I've been working on during work hours and some of the projects I was attempting at home. In the end I did get an offer which was pretty much identical to what I was doing at my current job.

An offer I improved a bit and then showed my current employer as an argument for me deserving a raise, which I got. :smile:

So in closing I feel it's who you know first, what you can prove you know second in order of importance regarding getting through the door. Beyond that point it's your motivation, personality and to what extent your current skill-set can be used to solve a problem for the employer that's worth your salary.

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I want to thank you all for your input. I used the exfelon website and found that Apple might be able to employ me. And, considering it is probably the only store job where I can share my "legal enthusiastic knowledge" of products and their abilities with new and old customers, I would be happy to work there. At least then I could get my foot in the door of a company that isn't microsoft based.

Anyhow, once again, I want to thank those who gave input. And as for Cooper, your evaluation and response is spot on from what I've been told in-person by other IT Specialists in my area at college as well as some of my professors. In fact, I would probably benefit from just learning enough to teach the tech, and keep my foot in the door at the local junior/community college so I can gain employment and teach the next few generations basic technology. It would not pay as much as I would like, but lets face it: We shouldn't expect a million dollar yearly salary anyways. If we do, we will only be saddened when we get to our little cubicle of our "dream job" and probably be sick of it before the first paycheck.

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Having a teaching gig on your resume will probably work wonders and not just in the job seeking department.

For job seeking it'll show you've got character, patience and the ability to explain tech. Like I said in other topics, that last bit is actually rather rare.

For you personally, you can look at 'your kids' and know that they're accomplishing something because of something you did. If that doesn't make you feel good about yourself, not much else will.

The best of luck with your endeavors!

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  • 11 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

This was a good thread, Cooper your a pot of knowledge mate.

I am updating my certification at the moment (Sec+) and taking my time with it too, she's not one to rush into. But again only so that I can be sold for more money by my employer. Its quite interesting seeing kids from school with no technical certs at all, get the positions I have tired my entire life to get but I cannot be mad, I think with age you are perhaps seen to potentially buck the system a bit instead of just take orders. I dunno. I am quite humble and have proven ability.

Certs are purely to get past HR and in the door, from then on tho its a matter of staying relevant. Work is good as we are a provider of ITIL training which they pay for, and any certs you pass work will also compensate you for which is nice.

What I do find is it is much harder to study in your 30s with 2 kids than it is when your 16-18, but then again passing feels soo much sweeter.

Wish you best on your study's Ximal, Take your time and..


edit: 50th post yay me!

Edited by Sinn3rman
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