Cybersecurity awards certifications

Cybersecurity teacher Wolfgang Oertner said most college freshmen have minimal success at job fairs. However, he taught a current George Mason student who underwent a different experience. The student’s 12 certifications from his Marshall Academy cybersecurity course stood out to employers. According to Oertner, he now makes over six figures.

The Marshall Academy is home to many career preparation courses. Oertner has 30 cybersecurity certifications that he now teaches others to complete. Before that, he teaches the basics.

“We start with IT fundamentals, which gives you a little bit of a background in IT,” Oertner said. “It talks about databases, it talks about the cloud and it talks about all the other aspects.”

Oertner said he’s a disciplinarian but still promotes a relaxed environment in his classroom. He said that he understands students’ attention spans.

“Fifteen minutes of videos,” Oertner said. “Done. Fifteen minutes of discussion. Done. You see flashcards all over my room. Fifteen minutes of flashcards with acronyms and stuff like that. Fifteen minutes of lab sim. Day is done.”

A unique aspect of the cybersecurity classes are college credits students can gain from them.

“The A+ [industry certification] that these students are in right now is worth six college credits,” Oertner said. “If you need 120 to graduate from college, six of them, that’s 5%. Now some of my students have 10, 15, 18 certifications worth about 30 to 40 college credits. Now you took an entire year off your college career.”

Students also have the opportunity to earn the Linux certification, which shows employers capability in the Linux operating system.