Directive 8570 is a rather extensive document (96 pages), but what it boils down to is this: Information Assurance Technical (IAT) & Information Assurance Management (IAM) designations in government services, at any class level (I-III), possess specific acceptable requirements.
These include an alphabet soup of letters indicating various attainments, some from (ISC)² (a clever short-form for International Information System Security Certification Consortium), and other certifications from numerous other agencies. Some come from CompTIAsuch as A+ [infographic], CASP, etc., CISCO Systems’ SCYBER exam for security specialists, and the EC-Council offering Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certifications.
Whether from inside or outside of government, numerous professions require you to possess minimum certifications, just to be considered for an interview. If that is where your dream lies then there will be essential credentials.
On the Other Hand
There are some jobs that can be had with a clear demonstration of passion and ability. Employers, especially those in technical startups are often looking for desire; for the fire within the individual; for the drive that separates them from the crowd and makes them a worthwhile addition to their team.
Over the course of interviewing they will eliminate those that seem to focus solely on monetary ambitions, and look for the people that would do the job for its own intrinsic rewards. Someone who wants to “do great things”, and combines passion with ability is the ultimate candidate.
It is not a hard argument to make that an experienced professional with a Google™ or Microsoft™ background is a more desirable candidate than someone with a fistful of degrees and limited experience. But someone who has taught themselves to be a programmer, who perhaps created an app that became popular in the iStore/Playstore, or won a robotics competition at their college, or started an online hobby (Facebook) that became a billion dollar business… those are the people that business people will desire.
But these employers take it one step further. One of the most important aspects to them is culture fit. You can have perfect qualifications sans one, and that is the ability to integrate with other employees.
You can’t fit everywhere; no one is that adaptable and that is not a problem. There are unlimited possibilities.
If you’re a go, go, go personality type, the last place you want to be is an organization with endless meetings, vettings, and reviews. You’ll end up being constantly frustrated that the people around you can’t seem to ever make a decision.
If you’re a person that tends to long periods of deep, thoughtful consideration in your approach to problem solving, an office with a frenetic pace is going to be a burden. The pressure to produce results quickly can impair and hamper your decision-making process.
Many of us have worked in the “wrong place”, even if it was our “perfect job”, and we know the consequences. More of us have sought certifications to “get an edge” on the competition.
Ultimately it is only when these two aspects are properly combined that we find our niche; where we finally find that place where we can spend a good portion of our career learning, growing, achieving, and making a difference. Don’t “settle” — go and find your perfect place.