From system administrator to CEO, Tony Vargas has collected a number of titles and accolades over the last 20 years, and continues to hone and develop his passion. Though he didn’t earn a four-year degree, Vargas has continued his education in other ways and says continued education is the staple of any career, not just in IT.

(Photo Courtesy of Tony Vargas)

(Photo Courtesy of Tony Vargas)

What is the focus of your current occupation?

“I am co-founder & CEO of Security Together, a cyber-security and technology consulting and product firm based in Roseville. Security Together focuses on strategic Cyber Security and Technology consulting and product development. ”

“I am also the chair of (ISC)2’s international Application Security Advisory Council in addition to being the co-founder and chairman of the (ISC)2 Sacramento Chapter… a 501(c)3 cybersecurity non-profit that focuses on Cyber Security community outreach and gives free presentations about how to help children, parents, teachers and seniors stay safe online. The [Chapter] presents at schools, churches and many other places…Chapter membership is open to anyone who wants to learn more about cybersecurity. I am also a member of the California Cyber Security Task Force focusing on cybersecurity policy, awareness and technology.”

What are all the degrees and certificates for which you believe helped you achieve your current place on your career path?

“I do not have a 4-year degree. Instead, I have an AA degree and five cybersecurity and IT certifications: CSSLP, CISSP, CISSP-ISSAP, Security+and RHCE, in addition to over 20 years of working experience… Most of what I’ve learned about computers has been self-taught and through work experience.”

“Some of the first jobs I had were system administration positions (traditional IT positions), yet they were not taught at universities at the time. Universities have traditionally taught computer science, electrical engineering or IT administration, yet system administration is a bit different…Coincidentally, almost all of the top cybersecurity professionals in the world have a background in system or network administration.”

“Coincidentally, the Sacramento region has some universities that are doing an excellent job teaching IT and cybersecurity. UC Davis is one example. UC Davis has an excellent cybersecurity program. Additionally, many of the community colleges in the Sacramento region are part of the Cyber Patriot program, which is an initiative to help educate students regarding IT and cybersecurity.”

How has your education been of benefit to you in your career and or current office?

“Education is a staple for all careers, IT and cybersecurity are no different. IT and cybersecurity require not only technical knowledge, yet also how to deal with others effectively. Formal education programs at universities and/or certification programs are important because they teach technical concepts and theories that are fundamentally essential to know, however, in the IT and cybersecurity industries things don’t always work as they should. An IT professional needs to understand the theory behind an issue, yet also requires strong analytical thinking. Formal educations can also help develop strong analytical thinking skills.”

What advice can you offer others entering such a practice or occupation?

“The advice I would give others entering into the IT or cybersecurity fields is to practice your skills not just in a lab at school or work, yet also at home. Being good at IT or cybersecurity takes practice, just like anything else. If someone wants to be a professional athlete, they practice all the time for many years. Obtaining skills in the IT and cybersecurity fields is no different. Practice your skills all the time.”

“I also recommend learning multiple operating systems and programming languages. Windows, MacOS, Linux, are just some of the important operating systems to know. Ruby, Python and C are good programming languages to learn. Once you learn the basics of the systems, set up various services on the computers and then network multiple systems. Virtualization is another good technology to know.”

Karen Hansen M.S. Earth Sciences, has been an educator and consultant who is currently an analyst regarding land and other public information records. She lives and works in Sacramento, CA. She has been writing about earth and the environmental sciences for Examiner.com since May of 2010. Find her work in several sections of the publication. You can find her work at SF Solar Energy Examiner, SF Environmental News Examiner and Environmental News Examiner 

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