Those of you who are friends with me on facebook may know that I have been studying for the CompTIA Security+ certification in order to specialize into this field. It's growing, and apparently qualified people are in demand. As far as the multiple-choice questions on the exam I am sure I won't have much difficulty regurgitating the information. But apparently there are "Performance Based" questions on the exam now, and while I am not unfamiliar with public/private keys and checksums and the like my experience is mainly derived from verifying linux package files and things like registering my certificate with Ubuntu's Launchpad service.
There is also the issue of being a guy with a certification but no skills. I fucking hate those guys, and I do not wish to be one. Therefore I want to create an environment to test these skills, I want to be able to build and test a secure environment. Real-world skills + the studying + the certifications = a good candidate for a job.
Current OS for me is Windows 7. Thanks in advance, I hope to take the exam soon. I have been affected by the government shutdown and need to hit up the job market...
So, start out spending a lot of time with unix.
Buy and read [VIDEO]http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000SEHPK6/]Amazon.com: Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C eBook: Bruce Schneier: Kindle Store[/VIDEO] and just about any other book by Bruce Schneier.
Follow the research of people and companeis like Matasano Security - Research at Matasano Security, http://cr.yp.to/crypto.html, and daemonology.net
Also, if you know security stuff, can get around in unix and windows and osx, and are competent at software engineering skills - you can have a VERY well paid job