To me the most interesting thing about the latest Employment Situation Summary (May 2010) is that once again we’re going essentially nowhere from the preceding month. Though the numbers show a solid increase in employment for May of 431,000 jobs, 411,000 of those derive from hiring to staff up for the US Census. In fact, private sector employment shows a net increase of only 41,000 jobs over the previous month (less than 25% of the previous month’s growth of 195,000 jobs).
Given the recent downturn on global stock markets (three or more trading days in the last month have witnessed point drops in excess of 300 for the Dow Jones Industrials, and other indexes have seen multiple drops of three percentage points or greater on multiple days in this period as well) and a lackluster job growth situation, optimism about growth and recovery appear to be on the wane right now. I’m not convinced it’s once again time for total doom and gloom, but certainly a bit of caution and conservatism is called for, both for IT employers and those on the hunt for IT jobs.
And in fact, the information sector for May was dead flat with neither growth nor losses to report for that period. Here’s the snippet from Table B-1 that tells the information sector story:
While things are going nowhere, that’s still not as scary as going down, down, down. Personally, I’m hoping to see another up month soon, and after that, a few such months in sequence wouldn’t go down badly, either.
Last week, I got a phone call from one of my publishers asking for a revision to this Sybex title Computer Forensics Jump Start by Michael Solomon, Diane Barrett, and Neil Broom (Sybex, 2005, ISBN: 9780782143751). Always glad to revise a book (which means it’s still selling, and the publisher thinks it will stay that way, or it wouldn’t risk the costs of writing, editing, laying out, and printing a different version), I’m in the process of building a revision plan.
Part of the coverage in that book deals with various Computer Forensics certifications. In fact, here’s the very list that the book currently includes:
- Advanced Information Security (AIS): An old Security University offering, now defunct. Will be replaced by the Q/FE Qualified Forensic Expert credential instead.
- Certified Computer Examiner (CCE): still going strong, and shows strong signs of a thriving and vibrant certification program.
- Certified Cyber-Crime Expert (C3E): Warren Kruse, the tech editor for the last edition of this book had his hand somewhere in this program, but I can’t find any evidence that it’s still up and running (all links lead to a dead end on the parent organization’s home page, which is not a good thing, and the toll-free number listed on the page is out of service). I’m going to axe this one.
- Certified Information Forensics Investigator (CIFI): This is a cert from the International Information Systems Forensics Association (IISFA). You can’t access information about the cert directly from the Website, and they don’t provide contact information other than a general email address. I’ve sent an email to this address to see what kind of response it elicits, but I get the willies whenever a cert program isn’t fully-fledged with a public website, transparent info, and complete contact information for the parent organization.
- Certified Computer Crime Investigator (CCCI): The High Tech Crime Network is still plumping its various credentials, including basic and advanced versions of this cert, as well as the CCFT that follows next. I need to do some more digging here (and for the next item, ditto).
- Certified Computer Forensic Technician (CCFT): see previous item.
- Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE): The brainchild of the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS). The same organization that offers the credential also offers training on the background and bundles the exam costs in with those charges. Their phone rings into voicemail, and while I see signs of legitimacy in this program, I want to interview some principals before I let this one stand in our revised list.
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): ISACA is well-known for this cert, but because it’s aimed at audit in general rather than at computer forensics in particular (it does include coverage of forensics, but its coverage goes well beyond forensics alone) I’m not sure I’m going to keep this one on the list.
- EnCase Certified Examiner Program (EnCE): EnCase is one of the biggest and best-known names in the forensic software space, and one of the few to offer its own dedicated certification program. For those who use this tool, this cert becomes a badge of competency and legitimacy. Like IACIS, the same company that offers the cert also offers (and requires) the related training.
- GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA): The GCFA is a well-known and widely available source of vendor-neutral security certifications from an active and well-respected player in the infosec field. They, too, offer (but don’t require) training to prepare candidates for the related certification exam.
- Professional Certified Investigator (PCI): ASIS International is the parent organization for this senior-level security/forensics certification, which has been around longer than any of the others mentioned here. It offers considerable cachet and comes with a well-established sense of validity and legitimacy.
What I’d like to hear from readers is any experiences they’ve had with any of the certs mentioned here, or their recommendations for other certs to add to this list (I’ve indicated which ones are likely to be removed: if you want to object, that’s also entirely welcome). As you can tell from my comments, forensics certification remains a kind of “wild frontier” where anybody who wants to hang up a shingle can start a cert program in this area, and try to grow a certified population. Separating the wheat from the chaff in this big field of dreams and drama will be an important part of revising the book. Please help!
I was just poking around in the MS Download Center, and I discovered that a new version (2.0.4000.0) of the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor has been available since April 20, 2010. Maybe that makes me a member of the “better late than never school” but it’s still an important program for many companies and organizations that are pondering or planning adoptions of Windows 7, along with at OS migration on some platforms.
The program still looks and acts the same, but I can tell from some updated messages relating to certain programs on my test PC (DualBoot Pro and ISO Recorder, to be specific) that the software has been updated with additional recent update and version information.
If you’ve got an older version of the software (look for a creation date of 10/21/2009 in Explorer) you may want to grab this newer one. It’s always a good idea to use the latest and greatest Upgrade Advisor — especially when and as you find yourself checking upgrade status on any particular Windows machines.
In the past couple of months, I’ve written about various signs that the economy is finally turning around, small step by agonizing small step. You can find me writing about improvements in employment, small jumps in manufacturing, and even tiny increments of job growth here and there. Today, I had lunch with a friend and former colleague from NetQoS, and got some more slight and gentle signs of improvement.
Let me explain: Jim and I are both well-educated, white males with advanced degrees and 20-plus years of experience in the job market, with about 20 years of executive level experience between the two of us. In case you didn’t already know that makes it darn difficult for either of us to find work, especially work with pay commensurate with our years of experience and the few gray hairs we have left.
But finding work we are. Jim left his job recently and was expecting it to take a year or more to find a VP-level position, or higher, at a local company in the Austin area that meets his now very well-developed sense of what makes a good potential employer, and an equally good potential job. Much to his surprise — and mine — he finds himself pondering multiple at least tolerable job offers at decent-to-better-than that companies, and is even mulling over a few more entreprenuerial opportunities as well.
As for myself, in the past couple of weeks I’ve had so much work come knocking on my door that I’ve had to turn a handful of jobs away simply for lack of bandwidth and resources to service them. And let me be clear: I’m not looking for full-time employment right now, though I would certainly consider any good offers that might be tendered in my direction anyway.
Though neither of these situations is typical, or perhaps even ordinary, these days, I can’t help but find my optimism perked up by these occasional rays of economic sunshine in what has been a pretty dreary landscape until recently. Given all the work I know of out there, and the gradual reawakening of some go-go mentality, I don’t think I’m wrong to see some signs of improvement, no matter how slim and evanescent they may turn out to be. Buck up: it could definitely be worse!
It might seem countintuitive for new or pending IT graduates to read that by giving of their time, skills, and knowledge they may very get something substantial in return. Although it’s unlikely that recent grads will luck into a job with the very group or organization they might choose to support with their time and effort, it’s important to remember that all of these outfits are staffed primarily by volunteers. Working in a volunteer group is a great way to meet people and make contacts you might never otherwise be able to make on your own.
Just for grins, I surfed over to my local public radio station (KUT Austin) and checked out their “Get Involved” section, where numerous volunteer organizations get the word out that they’re looking for volunteer help of all kinds — this morning, in fact, there were 61 such organizations listed, all of whom can probably use some help with computer-related tasks and activities, and some of whom focus directly on such matters (Goodwill Green Works, Austin Partners in Education, Military Children Education Coalition, Community Tax Centers, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, and more).
By reaching out to others, and giving of yourself, you not only do some good for those you seek out by volunteering. You may also do yourself some good by gaining additional experience and by making contacts that may in fact lead to a real job someday–hopefully, sooner rather than later. If your local area has a public radio station, you can use it to find volunteer opportunities easily; if not, use your favorite search engine to see what kinds of volunteer organizations are looking for help where you live.
Check out Gerry O’Brien’s 5/19/2010 posting to the MS Born to Learn blog: it’s entitled “Register for SharePoint 2010 Beta Exams.” The open period during which those who manage to register can take this exam for free runs from 5/21 through 6/11/2010, so there are still about two-and-a-half weeks left as I write this posting myself. Because beta seats are limited in testing centers (they’re free and thus also generate no revenue) if you’re interested, you’ll want to jump right onto the Prometric Web pages to see if you can wangle yourself a slot.
Here are some particulars, with links to the relevant MS exam pages:
- 71-668: Pro: Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Administrator counts as credit towards the MCITP: SharePoint Administrator 2010 cert
- 71-573: TS Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Application Development counts as credit towards the TS: SharePoint 2010 Developer and PRO: SharePoint Server 2010 Developer credentials
- 71-576: Pro: Designing and Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Applications counts as credit towards the PRO: SharePoint Server 2010 Developer cert
SharePoint is pretty hot stuff these days, and SharePoint 2010 offers some interesting and powerful enhancements to the general SharePoint bag of tools, tricks, and technologies. There’s no better price for a cert exam for free, so if you’re interested, your next move should be to see if you can secure yourself a seat!
I got a real sense of the way things will apparently be turning around in our economy last Friday, when my local paper reported with some fanfare “Austin job numbers improving” as the local employment rate finally edged into positive territory. To get a sense of what I mean, take a look at this chart:
Unemployment dipped slightly for the Austin metro area, but the “big news” was that jobs actually swung into positive territory for the first time since 2006. 01% isn’t much to crow about, to be sure, but the move into positive territory is the kind of swing lots of economists have been looking for — and that lots of other metropolitan areas would also be happy to see (particularly in the Northeast US and in the proverbial “rust belt” states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and so forth).
I’m not sure this is noteworthy, except perhaps as yet another small and tentative signs of actual improvement. We still have a long way to go, but this indeed is the corner we’ve been trying to turn for some time now. We’d also better get used to this corner, because it’s likely to stay in sight for some time yet, even if we don’t find ourselves circling around it for a while before moving away from it again (hopefullly, into positive territory for once and for all).
It’s been a while since I dropped in on the Cisco Certifications Home Page, so I thought I’d pop in to see what was new and interesting. While I’d been aware of various new Cisco certifications, it’s been long enough since I visited that the program architecture struck me forcibly as I viewed this diagram (click on the thumbnail to see it in readable detail):
The last time I really paid attention to this architecture, the CCENT had yet to be introduced (it serves as single-exam entry level cert for the whole Cisco cert shebang). Likewise the Cisco Certified Architect had yet to appear, either, at the other (top) end of the Cisco cert hierarchy. With the CCENT available throughout the global Cisco Academy infrastructure — present in many high schools, as well as community colleges and technical schools — it’s taking over the bottom of the pyramid from the CCNA. As the latest and greatest pinnacle on top of the Cisco pyramid, the Cisco Certified Architect is really just getting the wind in its sails (I plan to talk to the Cisco cert folks and report back on this credential, which amplifies a growing trend to put architect certs at the top of many certification ladders).
Do yourself a favor, and check out the many credentials and offerings in the Cisco cert hierarchy. There’s lots of room here for learning, professional development, and career growth. Enjoy!
In the past weeks, I’ve gotten a handful of emails from students facing matriculation and the job market, asking for my opinion on whether or not networking is a good area within IT to chase after. The good news is that because networks are everywhere, so are networking jobs. The bad news is that because the employment situation is so tight, there’s an extraordinary degree of competition for networking jobs right now. Alas, that also means the better the networking job — by which I mean networking jobs with higher pay, more interesting work environment, superior employer rep and ranking, and so forth — the more fiece the competition is for such positions.
While this doesn’t mean there aren’t any networking jobs to be found, it does mean that new grads will face stiffer than usual competition even for entry-level positions in the current job market. But if that’s not enough to deter any readers who are looking for a networking job, then here are some online resources you’ll want to consult to help you gear up and zero in on that kind of work:
2. SearchNetworking.com “Career Advancement in four steps: Computer networking certification and career advice.” August 4, 2009, by Tessa Parmenter and Ed Tittel–see especially the link to networking certification guide.
3. See the Recent Graduates and other sections in the Career Advice section on the UK-based InsideCareers website: even though its home audience is “across the pond” the profiles and information are still pretty useful.
4. The list of the Top 10 Jobs in IT from careerbuilder.com does include one outright networking job (network manager) and numerous other positions that require networking skills and knowledge.
Good luck to all those searching for jobs in IT, in the networking field or elsewhere. If you’re on the hunt, be sure to use your personal/family/professional networks (the personal kind, not the communications kind) to put you on the path to employment: the US Labor Department reports that nearly half of all jobs landed come from networking-based connections. Use one kind of networking to help you work in another!
I just got an email the other day from my friend and colleague Clement DuPuis, the guy behind the terrific CCCure.org website and a real information security maven in his own right. He wrote me to let me know that he’s working with the Federal IT Security Institute (FITSI) as an instructor for that organization’s Federal IT Security Professional certifications — now available for the following IT security roles: Manager, Designer, Operator, and Auditor. The name of the program is the Federal IT Security Professional program, or FITSP for short.
In case you didn’t know it, the Feds now have strict and specific requirements that include certification for anyone who works for or with the government in any job that involves IT security. And, of course, it takes no special predictive abilities to understand that the FITSP program is designed to get people trained up on the relevant subject matters to meet those requirements. But what is interesting (and special) to me is that Clement is one heck of an instructor and security guy, which makes attending any classes he teaches more than worthwhile, but also fun and supremely educational. And right now, the first 500 people who sign up to take any of the four FITSP cert exams, all of which normally cost $295 each, can take that exam for free.
If you’ve worked in infosec for or with the goverment for 5 or more years, you can also check into getting grandfathered into some FITSP credential. Visit the home page for more details and information. If you can get into one of the classes that Clement is teaching, it’s definitely worth doing, too.