April 12, 2021

Elder Millennial seeking career shift

Hi all,

I am, what I would call, a middle manager in my current field (wholly unrelated to Infosec) but with few prospects for upward mobility. I also don’t feel that what I do matters.

I have a BA in Military History (yea, I know) and throughout college worked for two tech support companies doing very broad network and device support/troubleshooting. One was an ISP the other a general help tech position working (primarily) with Windows products and devices.

I currently manage a large portfolio of Homeowners Association communities as a Community Association Manager. While not relevant to information security–I hope that anyone who has ever lived in an HOA can understand that it is a relentless field that is very underpaid for the 60+ hours you put in. As a middle manager I make $42k a year. My household being supported more so by my work as a Realtor than my primary job. But, I have zero passion for either long term.

I have been looking at the Masters program at WGU. But, in my research, have also discovered that this degree is really for building off of a foundation of knowledge that is already there and to put that feather in the cap should an employer be honing in on a recruit with a masters.

I guess I have 3 main questions:
1) Can the WGU MS be completed without a strong working knowledge of material (or rather should it)?
2) Would certifications and home-study be of greater use?
3) Should I marry both a Masters and Certs at the same time and as able–to catch up and be viewed as worth hiring?

I am 34 years old and when I dedicate myself to something–I am voracious in learning–but I am also not naive in the sheer volume and scope of info sec and what is now being more generally called cybersecurity. I don’t want to rush and make too many mistakes–but am aware that at my age I am likely behind the eight-ball.



CyberSecurity is a specialization of Sysadmin/Networking. Are you interesting in those? Basically, do you do any IT stuff in your free time. If not, you’re going to have a really hard time jumping straight into infosec. Can’t secure a network if you can’t even administer one. Can’t secure a server if you’ve never laid hands on one.

>Would certifications and home-study be of greater use?

I personally think so. I got my certifications with time, a $40 McCraw book, and the exam fee. Nothing else. A lot of people here have done the same.

>Should I marry both a Masters and Certs at the same time

You don’t need a masters degree for this field. Hell you really only need an associates in something tech related to get past most HR requirements. The bachelors you have now *might* work.

What really gets you in the door in this field is experience, followed by certifications. Entry level CyberSecurity typically wants 1-2 years of general IT/sysadmin/Networking experience. Good news is that most entry level CyberSec jobs will earn about what you make now; bad news is the basic IT experience you would need would be 30-50k depending on where you get in.

CompTia A+ certification will cover basics of IT/Networking, and will help you get that basic sysadmin type job.

CompTia Net+ certification will cover intermediate networking, and will help you get network engineering type jobs.

CompTia Security+ certification covers basics of CyberSecurity, and is basically a requirement to enter this field. It also assumes you either have an A+ and Net+, or already know about the topics covered by those exams.

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