Air Force Gives Students a Second Crack at Cybersecurity Certification

The United States Air Force is offering students who failed to gain cybersecurity certification the first time around a second opportunity to qualify.

Previously, students who didn’t pass the Security+ exam on their first go had to rethink their chosen area of specialization within the Air Force. The new Pathfinder program gives students a precious second chance to pursue their dream of working in cybersecurity.

To acquire the Security+ certification, students must prove that they have the necessary skills to perform in a security-based information technology career by passing the Security+ exam. 

“The exam is known to be complex and difficult and many Airmen fail and lost their designated career field,” said Airman 1st Class Seth Haddix, 81st Training Wing, Public Affairs.

Under the new program, selected re-classed students who failed to pass the exam the first time can retake the test during their first six months at their duty station. 

The program has worked out well for Senior Airman Jennica Ripoli, 21st CD communications technician at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

“Missing my chance of getting my desired job in the Air Force crushed me. It felt like I wasn’t able to achieve what I worked so hard for, and I would never be able to follow the career I wanted,” said Ripoli. 

“Being able to eventually transfer over to cybersecurity after passing amazed me and made me feel like the Air Force is really trying to help me follow the right path.”

Being able to finally pass the exam and follow her dream career has been a real confidence boost for Ripoli.

She said: “This opportunity proved that I could overcome failure. I worked hard and continued to pursue the path I wanted, and I was successful.”

By switching fields, airmen who complete the Pathfinder program gain the distinction of possessing two Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSCs) instead of the usual one. 

The first airman to complete the Pathfinder program was Airman 1st Class Johnathan Garcia, 75th Communications Squadron client systems technician, Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

“I feel I am more qualified with the knowledge of two AFSCs,” Garcia said. “I have more knowledge working with the other cyber jobs on base.”

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