First an introduction:
I am a Master's student in Computer Engineering and Information Assurance at Iowa State University. I just completed two Bachelor's degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science. Throughout my 7 years of college I have been involved in computer and network security through both work and student organizations.
As part of my graduate assistantship, I have been assisting in a law-enforcement computer forensics lab and assisting with computer forensics investigations. I have decided that this is the career that I want to pursue.
I am planning on graduating in December of this year and would like to work in (or within a couple hours of) the Chicago area. I would be interested in either the law-enforcement or civilian path.
Now, the questions:
1) Would obtaining a certification now be particularly helpful in my career search? (As mentioned above, i do have some experience and plan to continue my current work through December.)
2) What are the differences between the certifications? (For example, does CHFI focus more on network intrusion/attack/etc. investigations than the CCE?)
3) Which certification exams can be taken without attending a formal training/boot camp?
4)Which certification would people recommend for my situation/goals?
5) DOES ANYBODY KNOW OF ANY POSSIBLE FUNDING/ASSISTANCE WHICH CAN BE USED TOWARDS TRAINING/CERTIFICATIONS?
6) Any recommendations for networking/career searching to locate careers in the field?
Here are some ideas I have currently. Your comments are encouraged and welcome. After 7 years of school (without parental financial support) I really do not have money laying around and being able to avoid additional debt would be ideal. (Thus why question 6, above, could be a huge help).
1) Additional self study and then apply to take the CCE exam.
2) Take a small loan and attend ChicagoCon 2008 for networking opportunities. (Does anyone know if they use interns? I know some other conferences allow students to act as interns (assist with check-in, setup activities, etc.) and attend the conference events for free. If so, who would I contact?)
3) Take a large loan (student loan if possible) and attend ChicagoCon 2008 and take the training for CHFI. (Does anybody know if there are any prerequisite training/experience/certifications/etc. for this?)
4) Wait until I have an employer and obtain training and certification as they deem fit (and as they will fund).
5) Do both 1) and 2).
Well, if you read this far, I greatly appreciate your time. Your comments, suggestions, etc. will be very appreciated.
Thank You for your time.
MCSA, MCSE, CCE
MS - CprE and InfAs
BS - CprE
BS - ComS