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What's the best career path to get CISSP certified?

The CISSP certification can be a challenge to obtain. Mike Rothman unveils how to get on the right education and career tracks in order to get CISSP certified.

I am currently earning my bachelor's degree in security management, and I want to find out how to get CISSP certified....

I have no security experience in the military, private or public sectors. I have a certificate of completion of an IT program that readied me for the A+, Linux+, Network+ and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certifications, but I have yet to earn them, since I started earning my security bachelor's degree. What degree path or major should I take to get into a career that could help me earn and use a CISSP certification?

One of the requirements to get CISSP certified is to have five years of practical experience as a full-time IT professional, so it'll be a while before you are eligible to get the security certification. You can fulfill one year of required work experience with a four-year college degree or an approved credential from a CISSP prerequisite pathway, such as CompTIA Security+, Microsoft Certified IT Professional and GIAC Information Security Professional.

Prep for CISSP certification

In the meantime, I think you should concentrate on the fundamentals of computer systems design, programming and other foundational aspects of modern IT. If you don't understand how applications are built, how websites are deployed and how networks operate, it will be very hard for you to learn how to protect them.

Many younger folks want to jump into the cool aspects of network and systems protection without first having fully understood the fundamentals of computer science. And without more specifics on the IT program you completed, I can't comment on its value.

In terms of majors, anything related to computer science or engineering will give you the background you need to study information security. I studied operations research and industrial engineering in college, and although that isn't exactly applicable to information security now, it gave me the fundamentals to be able to learn what I needed to know.

You may also want to consider interning or getting a part-time job with the IT department at your school. Secondary education networks are perhaps the hardest to secure due to the open nature of academic research and the fact that it's politically incorrect to tell students they can't do things. If you cut your teeth in that kind of environment, you'll be well prepared for what the real world has to offer, and you'll get CISSP certified before you know it.

Editor's note: This content has been updated. For more information and resources, including exam preparation for CISSP domains for areas such as asset security and practice quizzes, check out SearchSecurity's Security School Catalog for CISSP certification.

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This was last published in October 2017

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