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Career Story: Network Security Consultant

Network Security Consultant

Job Title: President Of Sole Proprietorship For Information Assurance

Type of Company: My company provides consulting services to the federal government either directly or indirectly, as a sub-contractor to other government vendors.

Education: BA, English, University of Virginia •• degree in computer programming from the Computer Learning Center •• certifications from various computer training programs (IAM from the National Security Agency, for example)

Previous Experience: I began my career in a succession of menial jobs: stockroom clerk, administrative assistant and the like. But after awhile I took some programming courses and got some work as a programmer. Eventually, at a bank where I was hired to do security programming, I got my real career going.

Job Tasks: I now provide expert consulting advice on various aspects of computer security; do security testing to pinpoint network flaws; and conduct a battery of tests, interviews and documentation reviews to ensure that information in a system is collected, stored, and processed as securely as possible and will also meet government certification and accreditation requirements, when necessary.

I'm sometimes asked too to manage teams of less experienced personnel -- government employees, for example, or other contract workers -- and to set the security standards for a particular government project.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job as a consultant is that I usually have full control over how a job is scheduled, as well as how it's conducted, and I can make time for my family or for personal obligations. I can also decide NOT to do something, for any one of a number of reasons: because I think it's wrong or won't work, or because I simply don't want to. And I'm, above all, my own boss.

But being your own boss can have its drawbacks: you don't get paid for holidays or vacations or any other time off, and you have to register and comply with all business requirements, even if your staff is only you. It won't be, however, not always: sometimes you'll need help to get a given job completed. And then you'll have to file additional tax forms.

Job Tips: Be aware that you've got to have the knowledge, background, training, and expertise to embark on a career as a consultant in IT security and these can only be acquired over years. But be sure too to take the necessary courses to keep abreast of new developments in your field. Doing the same kind of work over and over won't allow you to grow.

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