Professor Says, ‘I Give My All to Ensure That the Students Are Prepared for the Exam’
When Tammie J. Thompson of Waldorf completed the CompTIA Security+ course at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM), she discovered that the course successfully prepared her to earn Security+ certification, a valuable certification for IT professionals that indicates mastery of foundational network security knowledge and skills.
Not only did she advance her skills, but pursuing the certification also helped her stay competitive and show growth in the security profession.
“Security+ is one of the most sought-after security certifications for those seeking jobs in or supporting the government,” said Dr. Finis Massey, the CSM adjunct faculty member who teaches the course. “DoD Directive 8570 (soon to be replaced with DoD Directive 8140) requires a certain level of certification to operate on the government network. Security+ certification is one of the low-level security certifications that can open that government door.”
Massey understands the value of “opening that government door” from personal experience.
“I spent 22 years in the military as a U.S. Army paratrooper,” he said. “Due to rapid deployments, endless training and mandated vacations, I was only able to earn an associate degree by the time that I retired. I immediately saw the need to earn certifications as a way to get into the government workforce. The government workforce has been known as a stable, rewarding place to work, with great benefits. With each certification came increased responsibility and increased pay.
“Later, I realized that my supervisors all had degrees and were earning more, yet doing less. I embarked on an education journey, earning a doctorate in computer science with a focus in cybersecurity (IA) last year,” he said. “Certifications are required to get you in and to prove that you are capable. Formal education is for life and is the division between the masses that only have certifications.”
Massey approaches his CSM class with that perspective. “I see myself in each one of my students and I understand that earning Security+ could be a means for getting a government job or being let go from a government job. I give my all to ensure that the students are prepared for the exam. It is a challenging exam.”
“I would recommend this course to others because both CSM and the professor provide you with the material to ensure students success in obtaining certification,” Thompson said. “The professor makes himself accessible, even after class hours, for any questions you have or to go over material you did not get the first go-round.”
The CSM CompTIA Security+ course included several aids that assisted Thompson in her study. “The Testout study tool CSM provided was very helpful,” she said. “And the study material and board of notes and questions we went over during each class session benefitted me.” Students can take the Security+ exam at the CSM Testing Center in La Plata.
Thompson came to CSM after already having earned an impressive set of credentials — a master of science degree in administration, information resource management. Along with her Security+ certification, she has earned Certified Information Security Manager certification through ISACA.
Thompson works as a senior information systems security officer supporting the federal government, and she recognizes the value of ongoing professional development.
“Professional development is valuable because it reveals the value an individual has placed into what he/she does as a profession and acknowledges how they want to excel at it,” Thompson said. “Most importantly, it shows how much an individual has to offer, which are knowledge, skills and experiences that were gained from professional development.”
In addition to her ongoing education, Thompson is a veteran and brings to her work all the experience she gained during 21 years of active duty service. “I am a retired Senior Master Sergeant from the U.S. Air Force,” Thompson said. “Being that I held many positions in the Air Force, my last position or job title was Superintendent, Cyber Operations, 4th Communications Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC. I oversaw plans and programs, client support, network operations and airfield and radio operations.”
Massey encourages all members of the community like Thompson to consider what additional education could do for their career. “The great thing about cybersecurity is that anyone can enter the field at any age,” he said. “For those new to cybersecurity, I have a certification roadmap up in the back of my classroom. Students can map their new career paths and see what certifications are required to get them to their desired level. I followed the roadmap myself — many years ago.
For information about training toward the Security+ certification at CSM, visit www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/non-credit/career-development/computers-and-information-technology/Security.