From Royal Engineer, to personal trainer to setting sights on cybersecurity career - thanks to SaluteMyJob

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Alan Philips served for nine years in the Royal Engineers, leaving in 1998. With the transition into civvy street a challenge and vocations into the fitness industry and plumbing, Alan now has his sights set on an exciting career change into the world of cybersecurity. He has just completed SaluteMyJob’s Ethical Hacking Course. Here we talk to Alan about his challenges, why he would recommend the course and why he thinks a career in cybersecurity is well-suited to his military skills and experience.

Transition into Civvy Street

After leaving the Royal Engineers, Alan said support was limited, so ‘he had to learn the hard way’ - and he still finds the transition tough now: “I came out with a City and Guilds Plumbing certificate which was not recognised in Germany. When I came back to the UK I applied for several jobs as a plumber and most employers would say that I did not have enough experience and would not even give me an opportunity. So, I ended up going to college to train to be a personal trainer and I spent ten years in the industry climbing to the top. My final position was as head of the department for fitness and wellbeing.” However, Alan knew this wasn’t his real vocation and had sights set on another career.

Cybersecurity and Abertay University

When Alan was living in Germany, he began an IT and computing degree with the Open University  in his spare time, with aspirations of becoming a computer programmer. Due to personal circumstances, he had to cut the course short but his interest in IT never faded. Alan said: “I have always had an interest in IT and a couple of years ago I read an article online about cybersecurity and the demand for more ex-military people to get into it. I signed up for some basic courses with Techvets to get a better understanding of the subject. I like that it is a very broad and varied industry and the challenges it presents and numerous roles.”

Alan was searching for cybersecurity courses for ex-military personnel online and came across the SaluteMyJob website. He said ‘it was a great opportunity that he couldn’t turn down’. “I would certainly recommend the course to others,” Alan said. “I have really enjoyed all aspects of the course. Well explained, interesting practical work hacking virtual systems and a great support network.” Alan hopes to gain hands-on experience with an employer to further develop his skills and experience and said he would love an entry level job with GCHQ: “I think this would be such a rewarding career, the fact that you are doing something to help people and organisations from the threats out there.” He hopes his transferable skills: discipline, hard working, problem solving, team-work and a never quit attitude, will help get him into this particular role. 

Ex-military personnel and Cybersecurity

For ex-military personnel looking to get into cybersecurity, Alan recommends looking online for free courses to get a better understanding of whether it is the right career - as well as signing up to SaluteMyJob and Tech Vets. 

And finally, why do you think ex-military personnel are well-suited to cyber roles? 

“I think ex-military personnel are well suited to cyber roles because of their unique transferable skills, they are well disciplined and used to working in a meticulous way. Problem solving and working under pressure. And love a challenge.”

Looking for more information on our pathway programme?

SaluteMyJob’s Cyber Jumpstart ‘pathways’ programme attracts, selects, trains and places talent from the Armed Forces into employment in cyber jobs. The Pathways programme is developing new ways to help employers access new talent pools and fill their skills gaps, and to remove some of the barriers facing people from the military community. SaluteMyJob has teamed up with Abertay University to deliver a pioneering ‘Ethical Hacking’ pathway - and hopes to run further courses in the future. To discover more about the course and our pathways, click here.