Reservist veteran hoping to embark on exciting cyber career thanks to pioneering programme

Posted on Monday, June 12, 2023 by Faye CoppNo comments

Joe Coulter served in the Army Reserves for 23-years, retiring as a Warrant Officer Class 2, from the 253 Medical Regiment based in Belfast, in May, 2017. He is currently on SaluteMyJob’s Ethical Hacking Course, a pioneering pathway, designed to support members of the Armed Forces community on their journey towards a promising and exciting career in roles where employers face a significant skills shortage. SaluteMyJob chats to Joe about his time as a Reservist, how he is finding the course - and why he believes ex-military personnel are well-suited to a role in cybersecurity.

Reservist Life and discovering Cybersecurity

Joe’s 23-years as a reservist included one tour in Bosnia and one tour in Afghanistan, where he designed, developed and installed an in-theatre digital casualty evacuation command and control system used in the Med Group HQ and Joint Helicopter Force Afghanistan. As well as operational tours and numerous other accomplishments, Joe honed the transferable military skills needed to begin a career in cybersecurity. His civvy job was an IT role as a systems analyst and programmer, but it was while undertaking SaluteMyJob and IBM courses (IBM QRadar SIEM and IBM i2 Analyst Notebook in 2018), where his interest in cybersecurity developed.

Joe said: “Many of the skills attained or honed in the military are transferable into the cybersecurity arena, the use of standard procedures and methodologies used is akin to the military drills that we are all used to. The cybersecurity environment fits well with the military environment. I believe that a veteran would fit in well and quickly into a cybersecurity environment.”

Ethical Hacking and Abertay University

Joe wanted to further his cybersecurity knowledge and the Penetration Testing pathway, through SaluteMyJob and Abertay University has been a great way to do so: “I have found the course to be very good, I have learned a completely new box full of tools and skills that only serve to increase my employability. I would definitely recommend the course for others as long as they have an interest and some understanding of cybersecurity and computer networking.” He believes pen testing is a good place to start in cybersecurity, because ‘pen testing and using the applicable tools and methodologies gives us a very good in-depth knowledge of all things cyber, systems, networks, protocols etc. It also opens the door to many other aspects and roles within cybersecurity’. 

Finding a career in cybersecurity 

After the Abertay University course, Joe hopes to attain CompTIA Security+ certification and is looking for roles in Penetration Testing. He believes the transferable military skills that will help him stand out from the crowd in finding these types of roles, are:

  • Innovator (Thinking outside the box)

  • Problem solving

  • Management

  • Team worker / builder

  • Presentation and Training

  • Communication skills

“Military personnel are a great fit for cyber roles as they are all well-trained and adept at both attack and defence tactics and drills. We are taught and drilled to always think as your enemy, to enable the speedy development of plans to counter the threats prior to the potential facing of such a threat,” Joe said. “Never underestimate your enemy (attacker) and never be complacent, be alert and be on one’s guard, we all from day one in the military are taught such values and they become part of our daily lives, like an automatic instinct without need of conscious thought.”

What advice would you give to transitioning and ex-military personnel if they are looking to get into cybersecurity? 

“Look for as many opportunities as you can, there is plenty of support out there, contact support groups and companies like SaluteMyJob. Self-learn, YouTube for instance has a vast array of free learning videos and online courses. Most general computing qualifications, even basic stuff, can enable movement towards a career in cybersecurity.”

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

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