Monday, December 15, 2014

Need Help Tackling the CompTIA CASP Certification? Training Can Help!



The CompTIA CASP Course(CAS-001): Powered by Calibrate from Medallion Learning is the definitive CompTIA CASP training tool designed to help each individual learn efficiently while maintaining the pace that best suits his or her needs. The course content is developed by industry-leading subject matter experts and delivered through Calibrate—a learning platform designed to integrate content delivery, assessments, and active learning in an individualized setting.

CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification is designed to follow CompTIA Security+ Course, although there are no prerequisites. CASP is recommended for those with 10 years’ experience in IT administration, including at least 5 years of hands-on technical security experience. Job titles relevant to CompTIA CASP include:
  • IT Specialist, InfoSec
  • Risk Manager/Analyst
  • Security architect, ISSO
  • Penetration Tester/Ethical Hacker

Key skills addressed in CompTIA CASP training:

  • Host, network, application, and storage integration
  • Enterprise-level infrastructure security
  • Risk management
  • Enterprise security research and analysis
  • Advanced authentication tools and techniques
  • Security policies and procedures
  • Identification and assessment of industry trends
Although the product tour gives an excellent overview Calibrate’s user interface, features and tools, here’s a rundown of what you will find:
  • The course requires you to take a pre-assessment at the outset. This enables Calibrate to determine your unique learning path based on the gaps in your knowledge. A check mark is placed next to any topic for which you have a good understanding, so you know exactly where you stand when you start training.
  • Your custom learning path is also your table of contents. This is a very convenient feature, keeping you focused on the progression of training—building upon concepts logically.
  • You can’t get too far ahead of yourself. Courses are made of units that contain topics. All of this content is accessible from the learning path, except those that are locked. Calibrate keeps you focused on the task at hand by requiring you to review any prerequisite topics before unlocking others.
  • Flexible, interactive instructional interface. The instructional window is divided into four panes: primary instruction, transcript pane, notes, and tools pane. Every feature of the interfaces is designed so that you can customize it to fit your learning style, and the instructional display has several different layout options so that every pane where you want it to be. Additionally, the tools pane displays only the tools available for the topic at hand, reducing clutter in the interface.
  • Read along with the video: Each video includes a complete transcript that runs simultaneously with the video so that you can read along. Key terms highlighted in orange reveal definitions when rolled over.
  • Taking notes and marking concepts is a breeze. Copy and paste content from the transcript to your notes.  
    • Entering text in the notes pane pauses the video to give you the time to finish your thought.
    • Each note is synchronized with the location in the video that it was entered.
    • Clicking the note returns you to that moment in the video.
    • Each note also adds a clickable tag to the video’s time-line that allows you to return to the note associated with that tag.
  • Track your progress: Topic quizzes and unit assessments give you the opportunity to measure your understanding of the content and validate the results of the pre-assessment. Unit assessments are tracked in the learning path with check marks added to—or removed from—topics according to the results of the assessment. This ensures that you have an accurate snapshot of your understanding of the content at any given moment.
  • Understand your exam readiness: Each unit assessment gives you the opportunity to earn a “medal”, based on your performance in the assessment. Like the Olympics, the levels are gold, silver, and bronze. A bronze achievement indicates that you have a good understanding of the material. However, you are welcome to take more instruction and try the unit assessment again if you wish to increase your rank to silver or gold. This system is also applied to the course assessment, with a bronze medal indicating that you are likely to pass an independent, external certification. As with the unit assessment, you are welcome to take additional instruction and retry the course assessment.
  • Search the entire course: Search any term and the results appear with the term categorized by location within the course. Select any result in the list and you are taken to that instance of the search.
When followed faithfully, the CompTIA CASP Course(CAS-001): Powered by Calibrate, is a complete self-study option that provides the training, tools, and self-assessments necessary to gauge your readiness to tackle the exam and earn your CASP certification. With it’s three-tiered ranking system, earning a “gold” on your course gives you maximum preparedness.
Want to try it before you buy it? Use the free trial to test drive the software before you purchase it.

NOTE: CompTIA is retiring CAS-001 in May 2015. CAS-002 is being launched on January 20, 2015 will be offered alongside CAS-001 until CAS-001 is retired. For more information please visit the CompTIA website.


How to Get the Most Value out of an IT Certification

A recent article in CIO magazine discusses the value of IT certification and the difficulties of selecting just the right one to advance your career. Subhash Tantry, president of certification, testing and assessment platform provider Mettl, is quick to point out that the best certifications often include a performance metric—a lab component that proves you can apply what you’ve learned in real life situations. Another pitfall is the marketing associated with the certification—industry analysts warn against letting certification promotion cloud your decision on which certifications to choose. Lastly, the article touts benefits like building soft skills, increased marketability to employers, and rapid acclimation for new hires who hold IT certifications. Fantastic, but here’s my question: how does the career IT professional navigate this given the full spectrum of career paths and specialties?

While clearly targeted at businesses and making the argument that the investment in training and certification is critical for IT staffers, the question lies open to the individual—how do I navigate this? Recently, CompTIA announced that it had issued its one millionth A+ certification. That’s right: 1,000,000. This is a beginner’s certification and it goes without saying that many of the holders of A+ certifications have gone on to develop their careers and earn increasingly complex certifications. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth your time if you’re just starting out.

Here are some ideas that may get you started:

1. Browse the job boards. Whether or not you’re looking for a job or interested in a particular company, browsing job boards is an excellent indicator of what the market wants for your area of interest. If employers are requiring certain skills repeatedly, it’s definitely something to research further.

2. Watch the news. For instance, data breaches are always big news. As criminals get more inventive, so will the IT security professionals charged with protecting data.

3. Read industry publications. Following trade publications that target different groups and topics, managers, executives, trend-setters, and so forth will help you gain a broader understanding of industry movement. Be aware of what’s coming next so that you can allocate your training and certification dollars wisely and with an eye toward future development. A quick glance around tells you that IT skills are constantly evolving and you don’t want to be left behind.

4. Find the path to your dream job. It's a safe observation that even though no one wants to remain in an entry-level job for their entire career, you have to start somewhere. Defining your interests and matching them with IT specialties will help you set career goals. From there, there are tools to help you determine your path and the certifications you need to earn to get there. CompTIA’s Career Roadmap is a vendor-neutral resource. It’s also updated regularly, making it easy to see how you get from “A” to “B” if you are starting today.

The one thing that is agreed upon by all participants in the article is that ongoing IT investment and certification is a sound investment in your career—particularly performance-oriented training and certification programs which have the advantage of proving that you can apply what you learned.