July 20, 2021

CyberSec in the military

What’s up everyone. I’m exploring options for my career in cyber after completing my Sec+ and N+ certs. I have an unrelated BA in business admin/corporate strategy. I’ve been toying around with the idea of enlisting in the military to serve my country while also furthering my IT career. Does anyone have any experience in this or some do’s and dont’s? Im going to speak with a recruiter here this week to learn more and would love some input from you guys. Thank you!



I was a medic a long time ago so I can’t speak on cyber in the military, but I can say that I’ve worked for a few well known IT Sec vendors and having that experience is a strong boost getting in the door. Depending on your exact role and such you are a known quantity in terms of skills since they know you will have legitimate experience an have been exposed to the technology and processes used.

That being said the usual rules of engagement apply when talking to a recruiter. Nothing is promised unless it’s in writing. They normally have quotas and may try and push you into a role where there’s a shortage rather than what you want, however their need for cyber is just as urgent as in the private sector so getting what you want is highly probable. Also be wary of a role that doesn’t have good translation to the civilian world is that’s you goal.


I’ve got experience doing this on the reserves side and found it enormously helpful in launching my career. A TS clearance will open many doors. Try and go for 17C (Army), or 1B4X1 (airforce), or whatever the Navy calls it. Shop around with the branches and find one that’s offering something relevant.


For a quick mapping of what certifications map to roles, you might read up on DoD 8570/DoD8140: [https://public.cyber.mil/cw/cwmp/dod-approved-8570-baseline-certifications/](https://public.cyber.mil/cw/cwmp/dod-approved-8570-baseline-certifications/)

For the newer 8140/NIST model, have a look here: [https://public.cyber.mil/cw/dcwf/](https://public.cyber.mil/cw/dcwf/) (This will give you an idea of some of the roles/functions in a generic/Federal cyber workforce model) — See if you have any particular interests that map well.

Read up on MOS roles (and equivalent in other forces). This will give you ideas for questions to ask around the different roles available.


Look up the skill identifier for cyber security in the branch you are discussing with, in the Army thats 17 series. Be very suspicious if the recruiter tries to push you into anything not <cyber skill identifier> BeCaUsE tHeY dO tHe SaMe ThInG.

Regardless of branch, you will need a Top Secret security clearance and probably a CI polygraph as well. The poly is a toss up but if you have something excluding you from receiving a clearance, don’t join. OPMS publishes guidance on what may block you from receiving a clearance, look it up before signing a contract.

The cyber fields are very very competitive and have multiple long courses. If you fail one of the schools you will get recycled into the needs of the branch. That could be the infantry/cook/light vehicle maintenance or anything else under the sun they can’t get people to sign up for.

IF you can meet all the requirements and pass the courses, its an amazing opportunity where the US government is going to pay you to attend some of the best training in the world on how to become an effective infosec operator. Also benefits like GI bill, veterans hiring preference, access to VA medical care are pretty nice.

For Army specific cyber questions there is a [great thread](https://www.reddit.com/r/army/comments/mgg2na/mos_megathread_series_cmf_17_cyber_branch_17a_17b/) at /r/army that goes into detail and you can ask questions to individuals currently serving in the branch.

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