News: Want a Career in IT Security? Our IT Recruiter Shares the Top Qualifications in Demand Right Now

Want a Career in IT Security? Our IT Recruiter Shares the Top Qualifications in Demand Right Now

People sometimes ask me about the IT industry here in the states. These folks are usually either trying to get into a certain field, or looking to switch or move into another one. Right now, you may currently be a Computer Science major that will be graduating shortly and are interested in the current state of IT security.

Whatever the case may be, we here at Null Byte are looking to help you out. Joining me in writing this article today is our IT recruiter, who has a long, successful history in getting people employed. Together, we hope to shed some light on the various aspects of the industry and what works and what doesn't.

Want a Career in IT Security? Our IT Recruiter Shares the Top Qualifications in Demand Right Now

If you have any questions at all after reading this, please ask away in the comments section.

The Industry Today

The world is, shall we say, beat up right now. Between raging wars, economic austerity and a market awash with unemployed graduates, it's better if you enter the battlefield knowing the terrain. Now, the first thing you must understand is what everyone else is doing, and what you should be doing. And these are not always the same thing.

On a positive note, enforcing security policies, outwitting hackers, preventing data breaches, snuffing out cyber threats, and other similar security tasks are going to be strong in the market. Nowadays, companies need all the security help that they can get. In fact, as more and more mobile devices find their way into corporate offices, security threats are only becoming more complex.

That means companies will be looking for talent. Looking for you.

Stay Current and Stay Learning

You have a shiny new BS degree in Computer Science? That's great, but you are not the only person on the block with one. Though hiring and staffing managers will usually have little IT knowledge as they guide you through the HR dance, the IT managers will have a lot of questions for you. J2EE on your resume? Be prepared to explain the latest release. Working with load balancing? Be prepared to explain new developments with it.

Let's say I'm an IT director searching out a new security analyst, perhaps an entry level network security spot. Looking over the cover letters, I want a person with a wide range of skills. Now this doesn't mean I want that person to be light in the basics, but I want to see them exploring other programming languages and architectures. This applies even more so, if you have been in a period of unemployment, or moving around from one industry to another.

The Value of a Security Clearance

Any of you current or ex-military people out there with a valid clearance will have a step up on the field. While most employers do not require it, all of them will welcome it. Performing a background check on a potential candidate is common place and expected, but a govt background and security check is very detailed and most of all, it's VERY expensive for a private company to undertake.

Want a Career in IT Security? Our IT Recruiter Shares the Top Qualifications in Demand Right Now

Having one already puts the employer at ease. Knowing the work has already been put into a candidate and they have been vetted properly will give you a strong lead against the competition.

Get Certified

Certified Information Systems Auditor, GIAC Secure Software Programmer—JAVA, and GIAC Secure Software Programmer—.NET are only a few pieces of paper that can help you get through the door. Many certifications are specific to a technology or framework, so some detailed planning must be done. The CCNA is a good start for networking types, as well, and the higher level Cisco certifications are always in demand.

It should be pointed out that the value of these change from year to year, so aspiring IT security professionals should select their certification programs carefully and never depend on a particular certification to help them land a job. Think of them as great additions to your resume, but not the main course. Coupled with your degree, they make a good battering ram into the employment market.

Go Mobile!

The mobile Internet's impact on security is knowledge a modern professional simply can't do without. In fact, according to Symantec's 2012 State of Mobility survey, responses rated mobility as the highest security risk in IT!

What's more, businesses of all sizes are experiencing a variety of damages from security breaches. Go ahead and turn on the news and see for yourself, there are new attacks each day. Businesses are losing thousands a year to this. Companies are worried and they will need help.

Right now, having a resume with mobile device work on it is gold. Enterprise level knowledge is always great, but most employers will know not to expect it from someone fresh out of college, so getting your foot into a company that works with those technologies is worth its weight in cookies. And I am sure you have not noticed the exploding growth of mobile applications on the market. Security on those is going to be a massive challenge in the future, so keep that in mind.

Want a Career in IT Security? Our IT Recruiter Shares the Top Qualifications in Demand Right Now

Also related is work in cloud computing. Major telecommunication firms like AT&T, Verizon, and others are about to wage a pitched battle over the 4G and cloud computing fields, and they are soaking up new graduates like student loan debt. Security here will be expansive as more and more new devices pop up and link up.

In Closing

It's a challenging time to be searching for employment for some people in certain areas around the world. Hopefully, understanding the current IT market will give you a better idea on your goals and what steps to take to achieve them.

Ask Us Questions!

This is just the start of what you need to know. The most valuable information comes from asking questions, so if you have any questions on any of this, please ask away in the comments below. This is the best time to ask, since our IT recruiter will be here answering your inquiries directly. Have a bunch of weird questions for him? Do not hesitate!

Wondering what certificates are hot? What companies are hiring for today? Let 'em have it.

Otherwise, if there are other questions not appropriate for our IT recruiter, just go ahead and start up a thread in our forum or shoot me a message directly. Null Byte is here to help!

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Seeing as I am planning on going into the Security Field when I am done with my schooling (Currently a HS student). Would you recommend I try to get one of the mentioned certificates? And what other things should I do the increase my potential for a future career in the IT field (Learn more languages, etc...). I currently know Java and planing on learning C++ along with Python.

Allen's Recruiter Friend: I would hold off on the certs until you are perhaps midway into your major for two reasons.

1. Your curriculum will cover some parts of what you will need to know, so slices will seem like review for you, depending on the cert and your path.

2. The value of certs changes year to year as Allen pointed out, and the chief driving force behind this is new technology coming into the field. Depending how far along in HS you are, this might mean two or more years until you hit that point and who knows what will be out there by then.

I should ask, what focus in security were you looking into?

Would it be too broad to say networking security and or Enterprise Network Security?

I am going into my 3rd year of computer science and so I have been researching a lot about computer related jobs lately. I would agree that taking cert classes half was is probably a good idea, but note that a certification is extremely specific and they can be expensive sometimes too. If you want to go into computer security, then some sort of cert might be a good idea since compSec is really just a sub-topic of computer science, e.g. not many schools offer computer security majors. What I have learned is that knowing many frameworks and programming languages is what gets you jobs. Experience is also very important, thus I would consider trying to get into a co-op or summer internship. In order to get internships you need good grades. If you don't do it right, your situation quickly becomes catch-22, so just make sure to think long run. Ask lots of questions and get lots of opinions, then do what you think is the right choice. Best of luck! :)

What would be good subjects for people planning to be in school with in the next year to study and what are interesting subjects for people who just like to do this stuff?

Allen: I find programming and networking to be crucial. The good thing about coding is once you learn a language to some extent, learning others can be a cake walk. Do you know any?

More of this depends on the route you wish to take with it --as in do you want to develop or work on networks or a bit of both...etc

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