CompTIAWorld | FALL 2017 46 Experience Alone Was Not Enough Unlike Holliday and Smith, Michael Bays earned his CompTIA certification after leaving the military. He had served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years, joining in 2007 as an aircraft maintenance administrator responsible for logging aircraft components. He then went to data analyst school, where he learned to build servers; extract, transfer and load databases; and do trend analysis. He was promoted to data analyst and eventually earned a college degree in information systems. When he left the Marine Corps, Bays worked as a data analysis contractor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Navy, but he quickly realized he needed certifications for long-term success. “When I got out of the Marine Corps, I realized a lot of potential employers require CompTIA Security+,” Bays said. “I just wish someone had told me to get certified when I was still in the Marines. You need more than just job training—you need certifications.” Bays’ IT career surged forward when he was offered a job as a database application specialist for InfoReliance Corporation, a leader in cloud computing, cybersecurity, software engineering and enterprise IT services. But the offer came with one condition: Bays had to earn Security+ within six months. “When they said I would need Security+, I was nervous. I’d never taken any kind of certification exam before, and I considered myself more of a ‘database guy’ without of a lot of experience in security.” He was driven not only by his employer’s mandate, but also by wanting to learn new technology, methodology and best practices in cybersecurity, information security and information assurance. “At first I thought I was just checking a box and doing something the DoD and my employer required to keep my job,” he said. “But since certifying, I notice small things click in my mind as I work. Everything I learned applies to my job, and I really learned a lot!” n