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Re: Entry Level Certifications
From: jsn.link () gmail com
Date: 27 Mar 2006 21:47:51 -0000

Matt,

A couple years ago I found myself asking the same questions with little hands-on experience and no formal training in a 
field that, at that time, was largely foreign.  If you have spent any amount of time looking at certifications, you 
will find there are many options available.  These are just a couple that may help you.  

I started with a Cisco CCNA material.  Although I never became certified, the topics covered and the detail provided, 
in my opinion, provides an excellent foundation for anyone working with networks or network infrastructures.  Although 
the Cisco CCNA does teach their product, there are many core fundamentals gained while going through the certification 
process.  Check out www.cisco.com / Learning & Events / CCNA.

Fortunately I had a couple mentors that helped ‘guide the way’ by recommending GIAC certification(s).  I went to a GSEC 
(security essentials) conference and later a GCIA (intrusion analyst) conference.  Both of which I earned silver 
certifications.  Check out GIAC at http://www.giac.org/  or the SANS Institute for conferences http://www.sans.org/. 

Keep in mind that most certifications will be valid for a limited time (2-4 years).  That is, you must ‘do something’ 
to maintain your certification.  In addition, most certifications teach, what I call, hard-skills “how to configure an 
access-list” or “how to optimize a server application”.  The soft-skills are often overlooked “how to report an 
incident to management” or “how to communicate to peers why change is necessary or beneficial”.  

In my opinion, I see these certifications as stepping stones toward the CISSP.  Again, I think there are many ways of 
getting there and no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of doing it.

Hope this helps.
Jason

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