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  • HadIt.com Elder

IT departments and networking are interesting, but given today's business outlook, good jobs are hard to come by.

That aside, back in the 70's, by chance, I was in the Navy reserves, and this kept my clearances current. There was a downturn

in the electrical industry, caused by changes in the US electrical codes that allowed the import and use of then less expensive relays and other electrical components.

(from first Italy and then other countries.) I saw the declining business, quit, and went to work for Hallicrafters (now a division of Northrop Grumman).

The security clearance, navy experience as an ET, and working as an electrical/electronic engineering and QC tech for my previous employer opened the door.

Eventually, after more than fifteen years in various electronic warfare related positions with the company, I ended up working as a "hired gun" on/in various contracts for the USAF.

It was interesting from the IT standpoint, because of the ways USAF IT was structured into the 90's. Each department was responsible for it's own IT. The government engineering department

at a specific location was most interesting, because it maintained mainframe servers for it's own use, and had multiple layers of unclassified and classified networks.

As a side task, I ended up writing the first modem command and protocol files that allowed a P/C running windows to remotely connect to the unclassified networks, and use the mainframe

servers as a gateway to the internet. The same files were also used with "special" modems and slight changes to remotely connect to low level classified networks.

Much later, the security police and comm group under them were given the additional responsibility of IT.

It was really hysterical when the "new" IT group found out that the engineering networks were well beyond anything they had anticipated, and that it was going to take a major effort in time, training, and money to even begin to "manage" the networks.

It was another decade before they actually were able to effectively manage the networks at just one location. (a major USAFB)

In short there are other areas besides IT. My personal specialty was involved with automated testing of complex military only aircraft systems, and field/logistics support.

These days, without a clearance, you would be in competition with thousands of foreign trained (mostly Indian) engineers for those positions that don't require a clearance.

It's not uncommon in major metro areas to find Indian EEs willing to take a technicians job and pay.


Good on ya looking to better your lot in life.

I did what you want to do and it was a great career.

Worked in telecomm equipment and data cabling, then switched to IT full time and ended up teaching in a private IT school. (1990's)

My advice:

1. 4-year degree is not needed for lower-level IT jobs.

I had 20 years in telecomm - then got a job at IT help desk paying the SAME wage I was making in management at telecomm company. :ohmy:

Help desks are the lowest level of IT work and have high turnover. After 6 months there I got a job paying $10k more a year.

Tip: Experience is more valuable than schooling. If you can do some part-time cabling and/or help desk work, it'll count for more than any paper.

Stay away from IT schools; only a fraction of those graduates get decent jobs because the market is pretty glutted and then you're stuck with a hefty loan.

Contact local cabling and temp agencies about work in your off-time. Any initiative you show to improve your life counts well with employers.

If you find IT is your cup of tea and excel at it, you might consider a degree for management positions down the road. But there are many folks who get the paper and find they hate the field :sad:

2. Your security clearance is very valuable.

Look for positions where a clearance at your level (or lower) is required. Having that clearance puts you ahead of other candidates (and that's the whole job-seeking game).

3. Specializing is good but it's tricky to know where to focus.

Explain your situation to IT managers and ask their advice. Mention your veteran status. I've had employers who hire ONLY veterans.

4. Certs are good but you can get those on the side. I got A+, MCSE etc studying on my own time and using test-help materials. (Knowing how to do IT and passing tests are two completely different animals. Use whatever aids are available to pass certification tests). I attended night school to get AA in Networking but learned very little. To do it over, I would have skipped those 2 years of night school.

Feel free to message me any questions.

Good luck! :smile:

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  • HadIt.com Elder

At one point, I had the same problem, even though the prospective employer was not supposed to (by law) look at your medical history.

What really happened was that as soon as the applicant left, or was in another area, the sealed medical history questionnaire was opened, looked at, and then placed in a new sealed envelope.


Good Luck with it, I was a Radioman in the Navy and loved all that work, Had over $300,000.00 worth of schools, Top Secret clearance and nobody would hire me, they told me

I was over qualified, but I think they did not want to hire me because of my disability.


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  • HadIt.com Elder

Have you ever checked into VA Vocational Rehab program? I know several folks who have received their degrees in a skill changing environment to a skill that is easier on our service connected disabilities.

May be worth a try.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I was a golf course mechanic for 10 years after service. No degree at all. I went to a tech school for 6 months for Oracle database developement, finished the top of my class, went on one interview and landed that job. I've trpled my salary in the 10 years since and have never looked back.

I would recommend IT security. It is what is hot right now. I would find a school that offers classes when you are not working so you can keep your job and learn at the same time. I agree that a technical school is the best. they are expansive, mine was 10K.

MOST IMPORTANT -- all the classroom time is worthless without experience. Find a school that offers internships or real world hands on experience either at the end or during your training. Employers look for experience first, education/background/security clearences second.

I pulled this after a 6 second google search

Certifications having to do with application security are also very popular. ISC2's Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP) certification can help. Other popular certifications are GIAC Secure Software Programmer - Java (GSSP-JAVA) and GIAC Secure Software Programmer - .NET (GSSP-NET). "Both are developed by the GIAC and show the software developer how to think like an attacker. Specifically, looking at common exploits, like validating incoming data types and guarding session cookies," explained Evan Lesser, Co-Founder and Director of ClearanceJobs.com.

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Have you thought about trying for GS IT jobs (civil service)? You have the points, the degree, and it may be easier to work your way through to a technical area, so that can start your journey where you want after that.

Edit* Whoops somehow I posted it before I finished, lol.

I hate to say that what I've found is that it really depends on where you're at or what you are going for as well as who you want to work for. When I got out of the military there were some places I checked out that specifically required a degree for them to even look at me, but your degree had to pertain to the job. It didn't matter my years of experience (8 years) or certs, they wanted that piece of paper. But since you have one, like your brother said it still could work to your favor. I have four certs (Net+, A+, Sec+, CISSP) and I am currently working on two more (CCNA, VCP4.0). I have three degrees (B.S., A.A.S., A.A.S.; 2 computer related and one criminal justice related) and I am going to go for my M.B.A. next year. When I knew I was being forced out I wanted to make myself as marketable as possible before the time came, not to mention I believe continuing education will keep me somewhat sharp. ;)

I'll be honest though, what I've come to find out works the best is who you know. It seems unfair but I see it every day, even where I work.

Do you want to be a network admin (fixing computers, any issue computer to wall, setting up computers, dealing with printers, etc) or more on the switch and router sides? Have you completely discounted server administrator work? It's what I do now and I love it.

Edited by Colt
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One of my degrees is in electronic engineering, and from the experience I got many years ago, stopped working 20 years ago myself..

the companies get cheap labor from the kids who get schooling, certifacates, degreees, and technicians.. they work for crappy wages and are always under the gun for performance and pinks slips... losing jobs, cutbacks, cheap labor... temp work... it's cut throat, low pay, finger poiting when things go wrong.....

often, you ar not used for technical skills, but to do crap work... if you do get to stay at a company,, and don't get layed off, and find a good place... and can stay and get a retirement... good for you, but it's really not a job that want's older people, you must be very phsycial to crawl around computers, rooms stuffed with computers, sometimes they are not clean, and you must crawl around floors, in cabinets... other places are clean,,, if you do field work, people don't give a crap about you and you do the work and don't chat with too many people, if they have a bad day they can have you fired for looking sideways...

like I said, the comapnies want kids who do the work cheap, and there are plenty of kids with the technical training and knowledge and will do the job cheaply...

the software writers have it a little better, are treated better.. and you really need a higher level degree anmd you need to entwork with lots of technical people.. you must always train and take classes to keep up...

your life will revolve around your job...

the best jobs are government jobs, if you can get into any government job, you get a retirement earlier, and cannot be layed off so easy... the benefits are many times more, private companies can screw you and make life hard...

unless you are very gifted in these areas... are very healthy, and love the technical jcomputer stuff, don't bother.. there are to many young geeks that will do it cheaper and better..... plus they usually don't have the pressure of kids, families, homes..

It's very high stress and not a good place to start late in life, in computer fields..

My other degrees are in business, real estate, and general studies..

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