July 8, 2021

How important are qualifications?

Hi there,
I’m 18 and I’m an apprentice Security Enginner.
(If you don’t know what an apprentice is, it’s like an intern, but you get paid and a qualification and it’s the actual job you sign up for.)

At the end of the apprenticeship I get a L4 Cyber Security Technogist qualification.

I hear a lot of people talking about getting CompTia qualifications, but my colleague’s have said it’s not really worth getting, since I have experience.

I hear it’s quite hard to get a job in cyber security, is this only for people who have never worked in it?

I’d love to do more of a role on the offensive side, like penetration testing. Would it be hard for me to get into it?

I can and probably will (for a little while), stay at my job even after I finish my apprenticeship. Is this a good idea?

I know I’m asking a lot of questions, it’s just my first IT job and I want to know my potential :P




I think apprenticeships are great – experience and relevant qualifications. I’d much rather employ an ex-apprentice than someone fresh out of uni with paper qualifications.

There’s currently a massive shortage of qualified cyber people, so with experience I don’t think you’ll struggle.


Well done on the apprenticeship, It is imo the best way to get into the industry and gain real experience. I done one 5 years ago and it was best choice i made.

Experience trumps certifications, but certifications are good for CV and it is another box which is ticked when you go to look for a new job. I have picked up a few over the last 5 years.

Build up your experience, dont rush decisions and choices. Try and make a plan of what you would like to do in the future and build up the necessary skills, certs and experience around it.

You said you want to do Pentesting, so a plan of action could be:

– Gain experience using Vulnhub, Hack the Box, CTFs etc..
– Creat reports/walk throughs based on the machines you root
– Cross skill with Pentesting team at work or teams at work which work in similar areas if you have the option to do so.
– Look at certifications in that space e.g. Pentest+, eJPT, eCPPT, OSCP

You are 18 so there is plenty time, but defo start planning and playing around in the areas you want to get involved in, its a good way to determine if you will like it or not.

Best of luck.


Your post sounds a bit like bragging… “I’m 18 and I’m an apprentice Security Engineer… I hear it’s quite hard to get a job in cyber security, is this only for people who have never worked in it?”

So here’s the question for you to contribute to this sub – how did you get your apprentice opportunity? how did you get your “first” cyber security job (ie, without any real world cyber security job experience)?

To answer your title question, it depends what you define as “qualifications”. I saw a kid who only graduated high school got hired in a threat hunting job without any cert, but he’s been a hacker for long time, so what’re his qualifications?

For average people who wanted to break into cyber security job market, cyber certs ARE the preferred and achievable way, unless your dad/mom is a CISO who can bring you in without any qualifications.

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