Why Certifications Matter in Today’s Cybersecurity Job Market
Certifications are essential to meet the requirements for government employment, and service contracts associated with government and military entities
By Tom Kennedy
Back in the day, say a half-dozen years ago, work experience was valued more than certifications in the IT space. The “been-there-done-that” details on resumes and job applications were golden, both for military veterans as well as for corporate IT people looking to advance their respective careers.
While experience still carries strength-of-candidacy today, there is one new truism: a lack of certification is a show-stopper. Shifting needs and requirements have elevated IT certifications in the collective minds of IT employers.
“Certifications are essential to meet the requirements for government employment, and service contracts associated with government and military entities,” says Prabath Boteju, founder of IT training company ComputerMinds.Com.
This wisdom is consistent with a recent survey by the University of Phoenix and the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council). The study highlights the importance of cybersecurity certification programs aligned with military job roles and occupations.
“Of the 256 IT employers who were polled, 86% said that industry certifications aligned to cyber-affiliated U.S. military job roles and occupations play an important role when hiring candidates. In fact, almost half (48%) agreed they are either very important or absolutely essential and 84% consider them to be the ‘gold standard’ when hiring.” (Source)
In other words, career advancement, whether you are in the military, transitioning from the military, or are a civilian seeking a corporate IT position, may be stifled without proper certifications.
Military organizations and U.S. government contractors are required to abide by credential requirements mandated in recent years. With the exponential growth in cybersecurity threats starting in the early 2000s, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) established the Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP) in 2006. Its aim is to apply appropriate risk management safeguards to information systems within the federal government.
All DoD Information Assurance (IA) jobs are defined as either “Management” (Information Assurance Management, or IAM) or “Technical” (Information Assurance Technical, or IAT) Level I, II, or III.
DoD Directive 8570 was established to provide guidance and procedures for the training, certification, and management of all government employees who perform IA functions in their official assigned duties. It means that military service members, contractors, and government employees alike, are required to have an approved certification for their specific job classification. Almost all Defense-related organizations are required to comply with DoD 8570. Examples include cybersecurity workers in the Navy and workers performing DoD work with defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and General Dynamics IT (GDIT).
So, if you’ve been on the hunt for cybersecurity jobs, it’s likely you’ve seen job descriptions with DoD 8570 or 8140 compliance requirements. DoD 8140 is an extension of policies that confirmed the importance of popular IT certifications like A+, Network+, Security+, and CISSP. It also added new cybersecurity certifications including CASP, CMC ISC2, and CEH.
These DoD directives have helped military members gain valuable IT experience as they transition to civilian careers. Armed with military clearance and certifications, former Cybersecurity Workforce members have a formidable head start in the civilian world in the competition for IT roles. Meanwhile, men and women without military experience must continue their education and certification efforts, or be left behind.
Suffice it to say that this escalated focus on cybersecurity certifications and advanced training has created high demand for certified individuals.
“The good news is that cybersecurity certifications are supported by government programs for military veterans and for corporate sector employees, alike,” notes Boteju of ComputerMinds.Com.
“We exist to help people navigate what’s possible with their careers and the best pathway to capitalize on that potential, including the available funding options.”
“Certification, hands-on training, and career advice will prepare you for a career in the IT field of your choice. We offer comprehensive programs designed to prepare career-changers to make the leap. We also offer standalone courses to help IT professionals add new certifications quickly.”
In an upcoming article related to this topic, we will lay out some of the important certification resources available to IT-career-minded students as they map out career pathways.
Based in the Dallas Fort Worth metro area, ComputerMinds.Com specializes in cybersecurity training, project management, and logistics and supply chain management, to prepare students for prosperous careers in these growing industries. ComputerMinds.Com offers a broad range of certifications and hands-on career training, including CompTIA and Microsoft IT courses.
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