Career advice for military/defense path

Dec '28 - Hey all, I’m looking for general career advice. I am an 18 year old computer science major and hoping to get involved with some sort of military/NSA/CIA position eventually in my career. What are these jobs like, how do I get involved, and how competitive are they? I should also state I plan on joining the Air Force reserves.

There’s a lot of bureaucratic BS that you have to put up with. It favors inefficient and management-heavy development practices. You often are both on the bleeding edge of some technology while stuck using others that were considered out of date before you were born. The pay is pretty good.

The college I went to had an IT track for “homeland security” and a well funded, managed cyber security club. I didn’t do much in terms of security due to being lazy and personal time constraints, but did look into a lot.

I can’t say much about exactly how these jobs are like as I don’t work in them. However from secondary accounts from other fields there are a few things. Getting security clearance helps, and you might see this on some jobs out there. Getting a security clearance usually means some forms of background checks. So if your record is clean, keep it clean. There is also other stuff like if your in a massive financial bind, it might be seen as a security risk. There are other considerations that I wont go into, but it is something to keep in mind when applying to any job where your dealing with secret level stuff.

This is one area where going into security isn’t so much about the competition and more about your own background and “drive” to get into it. Security is massive and always relevant. Heck just a few weeks ago the US released information on a large scale attack on US cyber infrastructure that is still being understood, to the point where there isn’t a firm understand of the full scale of the attack. So there is always room for more well trained security experts. The biggest issue is its a cat and mouse game, so you need to be good, and keep it up.

I don’t know much about the specific cyber security divisions and their backgrounds beyond knowing cyber security is basically everywhere, military and civilian.

I really wanted to stress that you should finish your degree, and seek out extra opportunities to learn more about cyber security as your “going” to college.

As I stated earlier, the college I went to had a cyber security team that went to events, ran drills, trained and practiced. A few of those people went off specializing in security for any number of companies. However, the cyber security team was optional as it was a club, so joining it and even going to any of the stuff related to it was technically optional. Regardless it seemed like a fantastic resource if that is your goal.

I’m not saying your college has to have that, but it might have some career information on how to get into what you want to do. Or at least some resources that can point you in that direction.

I’d also assume the Air Force can train you, but I do think you should finish your degree before jumping into that. As regardless of what you learn you will always have that degree in your pocket the rest of your life.

Good luck, keep learning!


I second this. :grinning:

You will hear differing opinions all over the internet about how you don’t need college. And you can learn this stuff on your own.

I would stay put and finish the degree and use career services.
Let them help you.
That’s their job.

I have two degrees (unrelated to software development) but the alumni center and career services were my best friends.

And those connections helped me get started in LA and start my business.
So, don’t underestimate them.

Talk with those departments and they will be able to provide more information and maybe connect you will alumni who are currently working in the military software jobs.

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@jwilkins.oboe is 100% correct: your school’s career center is an amazing resource and they can help you with internships, resumes, interview prep, offer negotiation, networking, etc. If your school has a decent CS department, the career counselor(s) probably have recruiter contacts at Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Ratheon, Ball, CACI, Honeywell, etc.

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