Lineman Lands a Job as a Cybersecurity Engineer, Thanks to his CEH

Zakery Stufflebeam

Company: Horace Mann
Job Title: Cybersecurity Engineer 
Country: United States

When Zakery Stufflebeam made the decision to leave his career as a lineman to pursue his passion in cybersecurity, he had no idea the impact that one certification would have on his life. In a recent interview, a former lineman revealed that the Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) certification from EC-Council was instrumental in his transition to a successful career in cybersecurity. Zakery credited the EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) program with being ‘paramount’ in his career, stating that it gave him the confidence and knowledge base he needed to jump ship and land his first position as a systems administrator. The C|EH also helped Zakery quickly climb the ranks, earning promotions and pay increases, eventually leading him stable foundation and fully immerse himself in the IT field. Thanks to the C|EH, Zakery is now a cybersecurity superstar and grateful for the life-changing opportunity.

The C|EH was paramount in my career. It changed my entire life. It gave me a path to take and the confidence to jump ship from a very successful career as a lineman to something that interested me intellectually much more.

Tell me about your journey as a cybersecurity professional.

My journey as a cybersecurity professional was different than most because I didn’t get started at a very young age. I was always interested in it. But growing up, we didn’t have computers and internet and all that until I was almost an adult. So, once I learned that this was a career path that I could pursue, I began asking people in the field that I ran into how they get there? What did they do? And everywhere I went, there was a common theme, and that was CEH. So, once I heard about this program, I started deep diving into it and started learning. From there, that’s the first cert I got in Information Technology that gave me an initial boost in confidence and gave me the path to where I am today. So, I went from a lineman in a telco company straight to a system administrator, and from there, I pursued many certifications and skill sets that are needed. Now I’m a cybersecurity engineer for Horace Mann corporation. So, the


CEH was instrumental in me making that path and choosing to leave a very stable foundation in a stable career to move over into cybersecurity.

What caught your attention about the CEH program?

When I heard about the CEH program, I was not aware that this was a career path that you could choose. I wasn’t into Information Technology, but I was in an IT National Guard unit. And I had done a lot of work with telecom. But I was not fully immersed in IT in the sense that we know it now. And when this CEH popped up, from a conversation with multiple IT professionals, I was super intrigued on what is this? What do I need to do to get it? So, the fact that I learned about CEH, at the same time, I got to know that this was a career path, and you can be an ethical hacker. That was huge for me because that was a dream that I didn’t know was or could be a reality until this time. So, once I heard about the CEH program, did some research, and found out really what it was, I knew I had to do it. It didn’t matter what happened as I was going to get it. And that was when I asked the military and gave the reasoning for me to have it, and they paid for the course itself, and I paid for the traveling. I cleared the certification on the first attempt and was very grateful for, how much it’s changed my life.

How did CEH benefit your career?

CEH benefited my career tremendously because, before it, I was a lineman, I aspired to be in it. And I was very much pursuing this on my own as far as not just certifications, but also, you know, running VMs and running things at my own home to practice these things. But I didn’t realize this was a career choice or even that you could get certified in this. When I got introduced to CEH, everything changed, and I realized this was the path I could pursue. I switched positions, took a pay decrease, and completely changed my career, which was scary. CEH made me feel confident in my decision because I understood the fundamentals and the processes involved. And I knew that if I worked towards it and continued my education, I would make this a career. I knew people with CEH that came and spoke with us during the class made me feel more confident and comfortable making such a drastic career choice and change.

How recognized is CEH in your organization and the industry?    

CEH around me is very recognized mainly because there are not many IT opportunities where I’m based. I live in the rural Midwest. So, there’s not a whole bunch of IT companies. But what happened for me was the CEH was not a requirement was something that I needed for my first position as a system administrator. And that was because they required a security plus or higher certification to get the job.

The CEH was the higher certification that I had. And that gave me the job because the other applicants did not have those requirements.
It was huge to have the CEH in my profile because that was my first step into the real IT world that I wanted. And so around me, CEH is very well recognized. And in the industry, a lot of people will tell you it’s the foundation of ethical hacking. So, most pen testers that I know either have CEH or have taken the course. I know several people who have taken the course and got the certification because they wanted to pursue higher-level certifications. But they understand the CEH fundamentals and what the cert provides to the industry.

Did CEH help you in any way whatsoever to either get a higher pay, get a promotion, get a job that you wanted etc.?

CEH was instrumental in getting the position I wanted to begin my career in IT as a system administrator and get the experience I needed. When I first joined the military, I was in a telco unit, and then I switched over to an IT unit where I took a full-time position. And the reason for this was the CEH. They initially wanted Security Plus, but they understood that with my CEH, I would be able to pass security plus, and I did within the two weeks of getting hired. And it was a requirement to have at least Security Plus or higher. CEH was the higher certification and therefore got me the job. It also allowed them to put me in the recommendation.

I got promoted from one GS position to another quickly, which usually takes a year or more.
And so, therefore, not only did it give me the job,
but it also gave me a pay increase because my knowledge base was higher than the other applicant’s knowledge base at the time.

How has the CEH certification impacted you?

The CEH has impacted me immensely because the skill set and the comfortability it gave me with these concepts was huge in my career. Currently, in my position as a cybersecurity engineer, I work with SOC analysts quite often. I was quick to note the difference in the knowledge level. It’s not that they’re not equipped for this because they’re good analysts they’re some of the best I’ve worked with. The difference I noticed is where the mind goes in the path that an attacker will take. Analysts look from a defensive perspective, and I feel like the CEH brought that offensive perspective in your head and made you start thinking the proper way to notice indicators of compromise and things like that. It showed me the path, which helped me to grasp some of the thought processes quickly.

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