I’m really interested in computer science and programming, as well as the security field and computer security. I’ve already taken some college classes (in high school) for a degree in mechanical engineering, when I thought that that was what I wanted to do with my life, but I know now that my real passion is in computers. I love security and computers, and hope eventually to work for some kind of a software developer, or maybe a security firm as a pen tester. I’m going to be starting college for real this fall, and though I’m pretty certain that a degree in Computer Sciences is going to be what I want to pursue, I’m not sure what the best/most relevant…(I’m not really sure how to put this to make sense) degree that I would want to pursue would be. Are Computer Sciences degrees indicatory of an IT job? (Because though I could do that for a while, I wouldn’t want to do it forever) and what types of degrees/qualifications/certifications are security employers looking for?
Computer Science is usually the "catch all" degree for any career in the computer or information technology field. In a Computer Science major, you will take a variety of classes which will teach you about programming, hardware engineering, and security, among other things. Computer Science is somewhat more for programming/coding, however.
If you feel that you want to enter the computer/information technology field in general but are unsure if Security is your true interest, then Computer Science would be a great major. However, if you are absolutely certain that you would enjoy security, see if the college that you would like to attend has any sort of degree in computer security, forensics, information security, or similar terms. Many colleges (especially colleges that feature a variety of computer degrees) are now creating information security majors as this is a growing field.
Certifications are big in the computer field, and most legitimate certifications can only help you. One of the most basic certifications is CompTIA’s A+ which teaches you the basics of operating systems, hardware, and software. While this is unlikely to help you once you already have a degree and are ready to get to work, it may help you learn more about computers if you feel that your knowledge is currently subpar.
The computer security field is big on networking, so any networking certifications will help you…things like CompTIA’s Network+ and Security+, or Cisco’s CCNA programs. There are a variety of certifications specifically geared towards computer security, too, but for many of them you need to have experience working in the computer security field before you can even attempt the exam. These include the CISSP (a very lucrative certification that can earn you a ton of money in the field, but does require extensive security experience) and other certifications like the Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Forensic Analyst, Certified Incident Handler, and so on. Take a look at the SANS Institute, as they offer a ton of security related certifications.