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How special are you? It certainly pays to be a specialist in IT security.
If you've resolved to find a new job in 2012, gaining IT security expertise can be the passport to more opportunities. Worldwide demand for information security professionals will grow by 13.2 percent in 2012 -- and reach nearly 4.2 million jobs by 2015 -- forecasts Frost & Sullivan.
If you already like working at your company, this may be the year to make yourself invaluable -- and ask for a salary raise. Salaries for data security analysts will rise 6 percent in 2012, while IT salaries overall will increase 4.5 percent, predicts Robert Half Technology
Following are ways that you can start advancing your security expertise right now.
A sure way to escape techie obscurity is to be certified in IT security. You can network with other IT professionals when in the classroom (e-learning is an option), doing the labs, and taking the exams.
Once certified, your name can be listed in the certification databases, and you can market your expertise -- as a consultant or employee.
To get started on certification:
Vendor-neutral security certificates, available worldwide, emphasize knowledge and application of general security concepts, tools, and procedures. They include:
Cisco® security certificates, available worldwide, feature role-based certifications comprised of network security theory and hands-on practical applications in a Cisco network environment. The certificates are offered at the Cisco CCNA®, CCNP®, and CCIE® levels; see a comparison chart
CCIE Security 4.0 is unusual among security certificates for its up-to-date, real-world content. It emphasizes security competency and efficient problem solving in networks that use cloud services, carry voice and multimedia traffic, and are accessed by a variety of wireless devices.
The content, currently in development, may include real-world applications that involve:
Cisco will soon announce the blueprints for the CCIE Security 4.0 written and lab exams; the first exam will take place approximately six months later.
Although there are no prerequisites for registration, Cisco offers a preparation path through its CCNA and/or CCNP Security levels, and recommends that candidates have at least three years of hands-on network security experience.
If a security certificate is not in your plans for 2012, incremental ways to build your security knowledge and skills include:
Until you gain the specialized IT security skills or certification that your business needs to protect itself, you can rely on Cisco Certified Partners that specialize in security to help you.
Partners that have an Advanced Security or Master Security Specialization can provide whatever security services your business needs -- ranging from device configuration to comprehensive managed security services.