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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 11:29 am 
Willamette
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In my experience, the larger companies want degrees as an item on the job req checklist (even if they don't apply to the job in question). Smaller companies are more flexible and will go with Certs. A lot of times, you can't even get in the front door on the larger companies without a degree (you get filtered out by HR). God forbid actually questioning their job listings (I remember seeing a job listing way back when for 5 years experience in VB5 when it had just come out).


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 9:59 am 
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I think degrees are more significant with really large employers, but fact is information learned in school can be pretty obsolete years later in employment. The PC industry is much more "what have you done lately" than other industrys. I guess if you have an institutional type job with a major corp then a degree is an assett, but my experiance in business was that my schooling was irrelevant (I graduated in 1994) to my day to day work and my customers didnt care. Business goes to the best and most able, not neccesarily the most educated - but then I deal with direct sales and our company gets compensated by the solutions we are able to sell. At the end of the day business rewards people who can do it - and that usually is a result of experiance not out dated education.

- please note I am not suggesting education is bad, just not as key to this industry as a Degree is to say Education or Health Care. I dont doubt that someone who took a job at IBM or a school board etc might have a different outlook on this same topic however.

In my opinion our industry is much more like a trade than people will admit to - and your "hours" on job (like an electrician or plumber) is often a better indicator of ability than either certifications or degrees.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 3:00 pm 
Northwood
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Skilless wrote:
I'm on the verge of saying that in the IT/Tech industry, a 4 year degree is a must, unless you know someone (or got extremely lucky). Many companies require a degree just to walk in the door, and then the certs just make them look better when they bid contracts or to lower support costs from outsourcing. Managers usually don't understand what certs mean besides how it looks on paper.


what major would you recommend?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:16 am 
Java Junkie
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That depends on what is offered and what you want to do ... I would declare a major after you've learned the basics.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 6:04 am 
Northwood
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Jipstyle wrote:
That depends on what is offered and what you want to do ... I would declare a major after you've learned the basics.


well, a friend told me you can't major in Networking, so what'd be the closest thing and can actually help you learn?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 7:17 am 
Java Junkie
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You misunderstood my post.

It makes no sense to me to choose a major before you've studied enough that you know what you enjoy. IT / CS is a huge field, and narrowing down your major requires that you take the basic courses.

Incidentally, many schools offer a major in Networking. Mine doesn't .. we have either Computer Science or Somputer Engineering. Canada's system is quite different than the US.

I started in CS and ended up redeclaring a double major in CS and Mathematics because I enjoyed the math as much or more than the CS.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 7:27 am 
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Id agree..the thing with degrees is...they never expire...certs do.
But experience is priceless.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:57 am 
Little Foot
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RABical wrote:
I do know that in my own home state, Oklahoma, a fairly recent study found that $18.00/hr was considered the minimum for a single wage earner to support a family of 4.


I live in N.J. and that's the minumum for a single wage earner if you want to pay your property taxes and that's it. You better be able to get food stamps.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 8:41 am 
8086
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I have lots of certs and lots of expeirence and no degree.
I am the systems administrator for a major enterprise and was hired as such. I am paid well and get job offers in my inbox every day. I think that having a degree is a great way to get a foot in the door, but there is no substitute for expeirence. I may at some point go for a U. of Phoenix type of degree, but with six figure offers all day long, I am not going to mess with it unless I have to.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 4:57 pm 
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I just got done reading all of the posts on this topic. Very interesting. I have found myself in the middle of a forced career change. I'm 38 and have decided to pursue an interest in A+ certification. It sounds like I am on a long and ever increasing road of certifications, experience, and degrees. Perhaps it is too late for me to start something like this. I have come from a mid-management position in high speed manufacturing. I worked my way up from the "floor". Back then, late 80s, you absolutely could NOT be a manager unless you sported that special piece of paper with at least a BS degree. In the last couple years before I left, the position of the company had changed. I was told this by our area VP. Non degreed individuals were now being hired as Production Managers. That was unheard of even 10 years ago. Perhaps industries - whatever they happen to be - are seeing more value in what the person has demonstrated in the past, rather than what is said on paper. At least in my former profession, a "checklist" with "degree in" is not a must anymore.

What are your thoughts on starting your own business? For example, Entrepeneur's Start Ups had a few franchize opertunities (for computer repairs and education training mostly) for well under 100 thousand. Here's a couple: FAST-TECHS-ON-SITE-COMPUTER SERVICES, and COMPUTER MEDICS OF AMERICA, INC. Besides working capital and the actually ability to do the jobs, I wonder what else would be needed.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:54 pm 
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This is 100% personal opinion but I think there are two factors at play here.

During the dot-com and explosion of small and mid-sized business computing systems there was a significant shortage of qualified sysadmins, DBA's, network admins, etc. and at the same time (and probably related) manufacturers developed interfaces for their software, computer and network systems that simplified their management and those two things allowed many companies to drop degree requirements, especially as they started to rely more and more on contractors who were making so much money many weren't interested in becoming employees. And I'd agree that some of those jobs no longer required an engineering degree. The interfaces alone moved the bar that used to be between "operator" and "administrator" quite a few rungs up. During the dot-bomb job requirements often didn't change, but I noticed that degrees were often taken into account when trying to sort out a sea of employees who seemed to be otherwise similar.

The other factor is that it depends on what sort of computer work is being done. No insult intended, but many of today's IT admin jobs are often more technician jobs and technician jobs have typically been where certificates and associate degrees were appropriate. Point being there is a big difference between being an admin and setting up systems and configuring them versus designing the hardware and/or writing the code and huge gray area between. The former is where certs and experience without degrees tend to be significant and sometimes even preferable. People on the later side of the range tend to consider certs and sysadmin manuals "how to" guides for things someone else designed for them. And the reverse is often true, I've seen more than a few NCG's with BS's, MS's and Ph.d's who don't have enough working knowledge to perform day-to-day IT jobs, they tend to have the background and prerequisite skills to learn them quickly though. In either case, experience (and by that I mean actually learning how to do a job on one's own, not merely turning over the hour meter) is a huge factor. Certificates and/or degrees mean the person should have the prerequisite knowledge to do a job. Experience is where that person actually learned to apply that knowledge and technical accomplishments are what proves that the person was able to apply the knowledge.

In the IT industry I've seen people who are very well paid that don't have technical degrees. However, keep in mind that that means that person was able to learn quite a bit on their own so it wasn't really a short cut and in some companies, especially engineering companies, the lack of the appropriate degree can sometimes be a ceiling to further advancement (titles are inconsistent across businesses, but a typical title where I see that kind of thing is "director" and certainly VP). There are always exceptions but aiming for the exception often means making a goal more difficult to obtain. On the other hand having the appropriate degree is no guarantee.

I've noticed that IT departments may hire non-degreed "project managers", etc. as well. I have some personal opinions about why that is, but one opinion I'll voice publicly is that it's a figment of the dot-com as well. At one point there simply weren't enough CS degrees being cranked out and that meant there wasn't a sufficient number of people able to and willing to move into management positions to fill the need so businesses started filling those positions with other people. I have also noticed that when a big RIF hits, those jobs classifications have often been hit hard whereas others areas aren't hit nearly as hard (or were supposed to be hit "later").

As far as changing careers late in life... 38 does not seem too late to do that to me. In today's world I think people have to be mentally prepared to be forced to change careers at some time in their life. It doesn't take much for a particular class of jobs in any industry to evaporate with little warning. The real hit is having to start from the beginning again because of the potential pay cut. Plus with a couple certificates and little experience getting started can be an issue or at least mean one should expect some time building experience and making connections. If someone knows someone that can help them get a start and is willing to do so, that is as good as gold. In fact some people would say it's better to try to find a job first and get some experience if you have none, rather than get an MCSE first, but it's a real chicken-and-egg situation. As far as on-going training goes, that's just a consequence of being in a technical industry. Such industries are always changing so training and education never really stop. At best the training can become informal to some degree.

Keep in mind with all this that the Computer Science major wasn't really common until the late 70's or early 80's and the idea of certificates as a stand-alone requirement weren't common until the late 90's. There were certificates in the 80's but they weren't typically something someone went out and got to start with unless they were already in a technical field. It wasn't until the MCSE certificate that I noticed a significant number of people with an MCSE, no technical degree and little or no experience on the job market. Point being that the computer and network job market is a fairly fluid situation, what worked for one person ten years ago might not work now.

As far as starting one's own business IMHO the person running the business should have a good understanding about the service or product that business is selling to increase the likelihood of success. A business owner could hire someone to do the actual work, but that business model is kind of painful on a small scale because the overhead the business owner represents with a small workforce might be enough to make it non-competitive. You have a good point, I'd be curious what those franchises offer besides what you mentioned that is truly of value. Typically name recognition is one of the big things, but I've never heard of those. Best Buy's "Geek Squad" is the one name that comes to mind (or "Nerd Herd" but that doesn't count :P ).


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 7:41 am 
8086
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Location: Oklahoma
Degree + certs is the best way to go, if you want a job making more than 50k (at least here in the Oklahoma area) you need to have at least a 4 year degree, I have my A+, Net+, MCP, Security+ and MCSA and still im stuck at 30k a year simply becuase I dont have my degree, altho in Oklahoma making 30k is simply not bad, I can stull support my family, I have a house, 2 cars and 2 kids, and im not hurting at all.


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