Certifications: My personal goals and struggles

Being an adult with no post-secondary education can be challenging when it comes to getting jobs. I’m fortunate in my current job that my boss is also self-taught and gives everyone an equal and fair chance, however, when in front of my peers who have post-secondary education I’m treated as if I don’t know the same amount as they do.

This has been a struggle my whole professional career, despite most circumstances I do know the same amount if not more knowledge, the expectation is I have to prove them wrong, versus others with certifications are given inherited trust and respect.

So, this year I’ve set out to embark on a pretty ambitious goal – I’d like to obtain three certificates within 2 years, namely: CySA+ (exam pending), OSCP (2020), CISSP (2020), and if I have the time I’d also like to obtain CEH certification. My main focus throughout my career has been software engineering, which I love, however, I find passion in cybersecurity, researching – breaking – and elevating my way through networks.

With this new goal in mind, I’m developing a new plan to achieve these goals, and I’ll list the resources below.

  1. Study – spend at least 4 hours per day studying, researching, and preparing for the certifications
  2. Practice – Once I complete a segment (eg, privilege escalation or enumeration), pick a VulnHub or HackTheBox machine and try to use my new-found knowledge.
  3. Iterate – Circle back to the subject I just learned, explore more videos and new methods on how to do it, go to #2.
  4. Blog – Share what I’ve learned on this blog, to help build a knowledge base for myself and share my experience throughout this process.
  5. Take the exam – Take the exam, and hope to pass!

The resources I’m currently using for studying are:

YouTube (various lessons), Cybrary, Pluralsight, ITPro.tv and books related to cybersecurity, cryptography, and buffer overflows.