Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Certification, not degree, Secured IT Job

Certification, not College, Secured Vet’s IT Job

An IT career was something John Barnes pursued for years, completing online-college level IT classes while enlisted in the Navy and working as an aircraft mechanic.  But it wasn’t until he completed CompTIA certifications required by Department of Defense Directive 8570, that John won his first IT job.

 “I didn’t get my first break until after obtaining Security+, which met one of the DoD Directives,” says John, now a help desk analyst with the U.S. Army Reserves (USARC) at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) in North Carolina. 
In 2010, after five years in military service, he had to decide whether re-up with the Navy for an aircraft-centric career, or transition out of the service and pursue IT, the field he had long preferred, full time.
The economy was in recession. But John thought he had an advantage because—despite moves from naval air stations in Maine, to Fla., and tours of duty in Qatar and Africa—he had steadily taken college-level IT classes and online, pursing a bachelor’s degree in information technology through an online university.
“I was almost done with my degree, I thought I’d get out, and I should be fine,” recalls John, explaining that he liked the diversity of opportunities, growth and the security of the IT job market.
But after his discharge on Sept. 15, 2010, John was only offered contract aircraft mechanic jobs, most in Iraq or Afghanistan on a four-month rotation.  “Every time I went to a job fair (seeking an IT job), people would say, ‘we need you to have certifications,’” recalls John. “They were looking for someone who has A+, Network+ or other certifications.”
So John put his degree on hold and started working on his first certification: CompTIA Network+, an exam he successfully took (despite not having the A+ credential) soon after finishing a networking course.
He began looking for a job after the winter holidays, once he had earned what he dubs “The CompTIA Three”  (the A+, Network+ and Security+ credentials). He found his current job in about four weeks, starting in February.
He’s proud of his first IT job, which he secured through a recruiter, but plans to move beyond the help desk role.  Short term, he next aims for an enterprise desktop support job.  He plans to earn more certifications (Active Directory, Server Infrastructure, CCENT and CCNA) using his GI benefits, with a long-term goal of becoming a security administrator and later completing his bachelor’s degree in IT with a concentration in security.

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