The Veteran’s Guide to Cybersecurity Certifications

Leaving military service is a big transition for most U.S. military personnel. Becoming a civilian means reassessing education, deciding a career path to pursue, and then working your way back up the ladder.

Cybersecurity is an excellent option for many U.S. veterans. Not only is the IT security field rapidly growing, but it’s a field that pays well, with a median salary of $99k. Plus, veterans may have an advantage over civilians, as they were likely trained in military security procedures and are well-versed in tackling issues systematically. Plus, veterans might already have security clearance, which can make getting federal-level jobs easier to get and shorten onboarding time.  

Want more information about your post-military IT career? Download our Military to IT guide.


How do you get into cybersecurity? It helps to have familiarity with IT, but it’s not required, because you can gain that familiarity in cybersecurity certification courses. Here are the top information security certifications for veterans to get started in their cybersecurity career.

CompTIA A+Certification 

The CompTIA A+ certification is one of the best baseline IT knowledge certifications out there. CompTIA A+ certification covers skills like:

  • Identifying hardware components of PCs, laptops, and mobile devices

  • Identifying network and security fundamentals

  • Installing and configuring peripheral components

  • Installing, configuring, and troubleshooting display devices

  • Managing system components 

CompTIA Network+ Certification

Once you have your A+ certification, the Network+ certification will help you gain basic knowledge of computer hardware, software, and operating systems. 

This information security certification course covers topics like network theory, bounded and unbounded network media, network implications, routing and switching, network security analysis and implementation, WAN infrastructure, and more. 

CompTIA Security+ Certification

While we’re looking at CompTIA certifications, let’s look at Security+, a very popular certification that arms you with knowledge on security fundamentals, networks, and organizational security. You’ll be able to implement basic security services on computer networks, learn basic cryptography concepts, implement a secure network architecture, and delve into risk management and disaster recovery concepts. 

There are two prerequisites: the CompTIA A+ certification and the CompTIA Network+ Certification.

EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Want to learn how to hack without the criminal element? Become a Certified Ethical Hacker! A CEH is a cybersecurity professional who knows how to look for weaknesses and vulnerabilities in target systems. A CEH uses the same knowledge and tools as a malicious hacker, but in a lawful, legitimate manner

In the CEH course you’ll learn how to scan, test, hack, and secure target systems, and also covers the ethical part with topics like reconnaissance, gaining access, enumeration, maintaining access, and covering your tracks.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

When you’ve got your IT and cybersecurity feet under you, CISSP is a great next step to gain credibility and mobility to advance in your career. The course expands on the essential elements of the eight domains that comprise a Common Body of Knowledge. The course covers:

  • Security and risk management

  • Asset security

  • Security engineering

  • Communications and network security

  • Identity and access management

  • Security assessment and testing

  • Security operations

  • Software development security

Before you go for CISSP, it’s highly recommended that you have your CompTIA Network+ Certification. 

ISACA Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) 

If you find you enjoy risk identification, assessment, and evaluation, and/or risk response and monitoring, this certification can help you hone your skills and make you an even more marketable cybersecurity professional.

In the course, topics include introduction to IT risk management, IT risk assessment, risk response and mitigation, and risk and control monitoring and reporting. This certification is targeted to IT professionals, especially those in risk and control, but doesn’t have any prerequisites.

ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

As you advance in your career, you may decide you want to help support information security within your organization. This is a highly valuable skill to have, as the information of organizations are under numerous risks. When you effectively manage the information security of an organization, you can help them remain healthy and competitive.

Here’s what ISACA CISM covers:

  • Information security governance

  • Information risk management

  • Information security program development

  • Information security program implementation

  • Information security program management

  • Incident management and response

Upon certification, you’ll be able to implement an information security program, direct security activities, establish a framework of information security strategies, and more. This course is for IT professionals with at least five years of experience in information security as well as information security management.

Considering an IT or cybersecurity career after your military career? Download our Military to IT guide.


Author: Ellis Fitch

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