Home / Alumni Spotlights / From airspace to cyberspace: Michael Leibler’s journey from the military to a new career

From airspace to cyberspace: Michael Leibler’s journey from the military to a new career

Leibler (far left) takes a break with his troop in 29 Palms, California. After serving in the Marines as a hydraulic mechanic on the CH53 Echo aircraft, Michael Leibler pursued a career in HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning). However, due to a back injury, he found it increasingly difficult to handle the physical demands of the HVAC industry. Determined to find a new, less physically demanding career, Leibler searched for alternative opportunities.


Leibler’s interest in computer science led him on a quest to explore educational opportunities in the field. During his research, he stumbled upon CFCC’s associate degree program in computer science. This discovery excited Leibler, as he realized that pursuing this degree would provide him with a solid foundation for a successful career in computer science.

“I chose CFCC because it offered the course of study that I was interested in without taking copious amounts of unrelated courses,” explained Leibler. “It was also brought to my attention that CFCC had a stellar computer science and cybersecurity course.”

Michael Leibler

Leibler showcases the process of utilizing developer tools to examine a website.


Leibler’s entry into the tech industry began with CFCC’s Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Cyber Crime Technology program. However, he soon realized that his existing knowledge of computers was limited, and he needed to broaden his general understanding of computers.

With a desire to expand his skill set and explore different facets of technology, Leibler made the decision to switch his degree to CFCC’s Information Technology program. This shift allowed him to delve into various areas of computing, providing him with a more comprehensive foundation to pursue his passion in the dynamic world of IT.


As his educational journey progressed, Leibler sought to push himself further and expand his expertise. He made a deliberate choice to add more challenging courses to his curriculum, such as digital forensics and certified ethical hacking (CEH) .

By undertaking these advanced courses, Leibler aimed to develop specialized skills that would enable him to tackle complex cybersecurity issues and contribute to the field of digital investigations. Through his dedication and determination to continually enhance his knowledge, Leibler embraced the opportunity to become proficient in emerging technologies.

During his studies, Leibler was fascinated with the Computer Forensics classes. These courses taught him valuable skills, such as the ability to recover deleted files and pictures. Leibler also became familiar with various hacking techniques through the highly challenging CEH class.

“I was impressed that CFCC offered the Certified Ethical Hacking class which is a graduate-level course,” Leibler said. “My computer science instructor, Jon Armke, informed me that the CEH class would be grueling, and indeed it was. But, it inspired me to learn more about cyber security.”

As Leibler gained insight into the dark side of technology, he developed a strong desire to go beyond simply understanding hacking techniques and apply his knowledge to safeguard his own digital identity. With a growing awareness of the potential vulnerabilities in the digital world, Leibler committed himself to learning more about cybersecurity and implementing effective measures to protect himself and others from cyber threats.

Leibler celebrates following the CFCC summer 2022 commencement ceremony.


Leibler’s relentless pursuit of cybersecurity knowledge led him to actively engage in CFCC’s Cybersecurity Club, where he eventually took on the role of President. With the necessary approvals in place, he embraced the opportunity to share his expertise with club members, conducting workshops on topics such as password cracking and Wi-Fi hacking. This hands-on teaching experience not only solidified his own understanding but also enabled him to empower others with essential cybersecurity skills.

Additionally, Leibler’s dedication and involvement in the field continued through an internship with CFCC as a Network/System Security Administrator for the sandbox network, a controlled environment to safely test software. This valuable experience allowed him to apply his knowledge in a practical setting, strengthening his network-securing systems abilities.

As his skills and experience grew, Leibler’s efforts were rewarded when he secured a position as a Junior Cybersecurity Analyst with a local security firm. His active involvement, internship experience, and continuous pursuit of cybersecurity education propelled his career forward and established him as a professional in the field.


Having recently attained his Certified Ethical Hacker credentials from the EC Council, Leibler attributes much of his success in the cybersecurity field to CFCC. He is grateful for the exceptional instructors at CFCC who generously shared their wealth of knowledge and expertise. Their guidance and mentorship equipped him with the necessary skills and understanding to thrive in the complex world of cybersecurity.

Leibler acknowledges CFCC as a key foundation that provided him with the educational and professional opportunities to excel in his chosen field.

“The course material was truly on par with what a student may expect to experience in the real world,” Leibler commented. “The professors were the key. They were incredibly patient with my endless questions. More so, they seemed thrilled that a student had taken such interest in their course. It was obvious that they were passionate about their trade.”

To start your career in the computer science industry, visit CFCC’s Cyber Crime Technology and Information Technology programs.

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