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post #41 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsee View Post
I'll add my two cents.

If you want to work for a fortune 500 company and have a career in the real sense you need to go to a reputable 4 year college with a great Computer Science department.
no you dont. I spent 8 years in one of the big 4 accounting firms doing unix and security, with no degree. Degree's are ok, but the technology changes so fast that you will learn very little there you can't learn some where else much faster and cheaper.

Degree's are a very nice thing to have, but you can do just fine without it. That being said, I'd get a degree if it didnt involve learning so much useless crap you will never use again. Much like the CISSP.
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post #42 of 48
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Originally Posted by Zate View Post
no you dont. I spent 8 years in one of the big 4 accounting firms doing unix and security, with no degree. Degree's are ok, but the technology changes so fast that you will learn very little there you can't learn some where else much faster and cheaper.

Degree's are a very nice thing to have, but you can do just fine without it. That being said, I'd get a degree if it didnt involve learning so much useless crap you will never use again. Much like the CISSP.
Yesterday isn't today.
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post #43 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zate View Post
no you dont. I spent 8 years in one of the big 4 accounting firms doing unix and security, with no degree. Degree's are ok, but the technology changes so fast that you will learn very little there you can't learn some where else much faster and cheaper.

Degree's are a very nice thing to have, but you can do just fine without it. That being said, I'd get a degree if it didnt involve learning so much useless crap you will never use again. Much like the CISSP.
While yes you can do things fine without a degree and learning on the job, it's certainly easier to land a job with a degree.

I'll use myself as an example since I'm also looking at a career in Network Security.

Two years ago I got a job as a PC repair tech at a local shop. This was my first IT job, ever. Before this I had just been messing around on my own, built a couple computers and that's about it. But it was enough to get an interview at the shop, which later panned out to getting the job. Before I go any further let me say that I do not have any degrees at present, so obviously I didn't have any when I started this job.

I can safely say I learned 10x as much in the first 4 months of that repair technician job than I did in all my years of tinkering on my own. Easily that much more. Now, that was due in large part because I wasn't working for a big-box retailer - since it was a local shop everyone there had a background i computers, and management took the time to train me properly rather than say "Click this button, if it doesn't work they need a new computer". During my time at this repair shop I got my A+, Network+ and Security+ certs. This was from a combination of the training and teaching from my manager and self study books. I sincerely doubt that the classes I would've taken at this point would have given me the same knowledge. I probably would've been able to pass the certs just the same, but I wouldn't know why the answer to question 42 was A, but that is was that answer. Profound difference. Higher level classes would be a different story.

Fast forward to more recently and I've taken a NOC position in a Fortune 500 company. Still no degree, just the certs and contacts. Now, I have always said that these certs, being entry level, are meaningless. And I say that because anyone who studies for 2-3 weeks should have no problem passing them. It's your higher level CCNA, CCNP, Juniper, etc certs that require actual skill and know-how. But entry level certs get you interviews. I can safely say that while the connections I had to my current management got me my phone interview, the certs and experience got me my second, face-to-face, interview. Beyond that, you need to show a willingness to learn and deal with the bottom-of-the-totem jobs.

Yes, you can jump into higher level positions without degrees, but it's going to be much harder. I am getting my degree while working this NOC position, and I'll be honest, I can't wait til I'm out of it. NOC isn't a terrible position at all, it's just not what I want to do and is thus not a very exciting position for someone like you or myself who wants to get into a higher level security position. But, without that elegant slip of paper - you need to work from the bottom up.

Now, on the flip side, if I had a degree and my repair shop experience , I probably could have gone into some Jr. Sys Admin position, rather than doing the middle-man position first. However, the main difference is I'd have four years of book-knowledge rather than four years of book knowledge backed by on the job training and experience.


So TL;DR - the degree makes jobs and interviews easier to get, but don't think that it outweighs experience. In many cases, the degree is what allows you to get the experience in the first place; but you'll have a better understanding of it than the guy with just experience or the guy with just the degree.
    
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post #44 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottsee View Post
Yesterday isn't today.
today I hire security professionals, even for entry level positions and degree's are not that important. If you have a CISSP, that trumps a degree, if you have a few years experience, that trumps a degree. I dont care what your degree is in, you wont have learnt anything technically useful, lots of great skills, soft skills, organization and the like, but not much that will help you in day to day technical security. The courses just just dont keep up.

By all means get a degree, they are important, but dont stress over what it's about, it wont matter. Do your real learning on the side.

Security is one of those things that is in constant flux and needs constant learning to keep up. The key concepts remain the same for the most part but the details change constantly.

so dont take this as a bagging of degree's, get one, it's important. Just dont expect that it's going to magically propel you into a security career, that happens because of your external hard work and dedication to the field.
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post #45 of 48
Go back and re-read what I wrote. You're moving my quotes out of context. Life isn't an assembly line. The choices are pretty narrow either work your way in from reputation/report or work experience.
Edited by scottsee - 6/8/11 at 6:54am
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post #46 of 48
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Originally Posted by scottsee View Post
Go back and re-read what I wrote. You're moving my quotes out of context. Life isn't an assembly line. The choices are pretty narrow either work your way in from reputation/report or work experience.
I read your comments and dont agree with them at all. Degree's are nice to have, definitely get one if you can, but you can and will have a great career in security, in a fortune 500 company, or in smaller more agile places without a degree. You need an understanding of more than just "security", you need to understand in depth every technology, protocol etc that you are working with. you dont get that from a degree.

This issue gets debated a lot all over the place. some people think degree's are a must have.

I say get the degree, but make sure you develop the tech skills to go along with it.

unless you are going into "compliance". (which is what security people do who can't do security )
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post #47 of 48
For starting out yes a degree will be helpful, many companies (mostly idiots, require a degree), it is not an absolute requirement. Will it help sure, but that also depends on what you are doing specifically.
Let's break Security down and look at if a Degree really helps or can be bypassed
Security Analyst, Security Auditors, Information Assurance - these titles are for individuals mostly familiar with NIST 800 series publications. They typically will work to determine the overall security posture of a Network, Company, or Organization. - A degree will be helpful but is not an absolute requirement, as there are very few degree tracks that dive into the level of detail required to know.
Network Security Engineer/Architect/Administrator - these titles are for individuals that work mostly with hardware, such as firewalls, IPS (Intrusion Protection Systems). They also may set and/or work with Systems Engineers/Administrators for OS's (meaning Group Policy Enforcement). These titles may also work either directly or indirectly with incident response and/or Computer forensics. - A degree may or may not be helpful but again is not required, if the individual is working more in the incident response/forensics it will help a lot more. For individuals working with firewalls and IDS/IPS not so much.
Security Engineering/Computer Science (similar to what E-Peen is mostly interested in) - these individuals work more on the software side of things such as anti-virus, anti-malware, firmware. Since this requires alot more in-depth knowledge of code. - A degree will help further at least in the beginning to have a general knowledge of the interactions.

As you can see there is just a few career paths in the Security Field, there are many more and some fields that specialize even further into the titles already listed.

I will admit that although a degree isn't always required it will help with some things. (This is specifically speaking to Bachelors, not Masters or PhD's.) It was also mentioned, it will help get you at least the interview. Once you have 5-7+ years experience people and companies could give a rats ass less (unless they are some old school backwards ass idiot) about the degree.


I can tell you that whenever I interview someone, well first the positions I oversee will always require experience, if they don't have at minimum 3-5 years experience I don't even bother with or without a degree. I personally value (for the type of work I do) experience over a degree. There are other positions where a degree would be more sought after specifically dealing with forensics. I can tell you too, that just because you have a degree don't expect top pay. The pay should be equivalent to someone in the field with about 2 years experience.
Pay ranges (heavily depends on specialization and geographical locations, among other things) start $45-65k. The top end pay for the Security field I would estimate at around $180-200k. Keep in mind those are estimates they could be higher or lower. Also note although this can be lucrative this is not the highest paid IT field, if your just looking for the money side of things then you should probably be looking at the sales side of IT. I have friends that are Sales Reps (no I'm not talking about Jimmy Bob working at CompUSA, Bestbuy, or the local Mom&Pop, no offense Jimmy Bob) that make over $500k/year+, but the downside is the quota's.
IT Security I would say out of all the IT fields is probably about 3rd as far as money making potential.
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post #48 of 48
Thread Starter 
So Security Engineering/Computer Science. I finally know what it's called that I am interested in.

Thank you. Seriously... I mean it. You don't know how long I've been trying to find the exact name/definition of what I was interested in.
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