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Do degrees still matter?

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by robjphat, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. robjphat

    robjphat New Member

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    Hi everyone

    First of all, apologies for the umpteenth 'how to get into IT' posting.

    ok, a bit of background-I have currently started a Masters course entitled Management of IT , however, after doing quite a bit of web research i'm starting to worry about how far it is going to get me in this industry and part of me is thinking of pulling out this course and getting more industry recognised qualifications (the same money would fund a couple of mcp's,comptia's and possibly even a cisco) and using the time I would have spent doing essays/dissertation to get some work experience (even if it is voluntary at least i have my current job). i've never worked in IT before (save for a bit of helpdesk work at my current place) and I think the main reason was mainly down to confidence as i didn't come from a computer science background (my degree was in Business Studies). so after a break from study after nearly a decade i decided to give the mentioned course a shot and i would treat it as a conversion course. Although it is early days, I quite enjoy the work but i have to admit i have issues learning in a big lecture theatre about the subject where as i would have preferred something a little more 'hands on'.

    so, my query is (as the title says) how important are academic qualifications like this in IT? If I was to quit would I be hindered not having a computer science background? has anyone done a similar course to the one i mentioned?

    I'm no programmer, so the kind of thing i would like to do is hardware/software support and maybe after a few years move into project management, consultancy, IT tuition or just straight forward IT management ( i realise that sounds over ambitious but you have to have goals)

    any help would be very appreciated.
     
  2. SimonD

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

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    I am a 40 year old IT Consultant, I am very technically qualified (see my sig) and I have a vast experience with working in the IT industry..... and I left school at 16 with no real qualifications (I got a U in English, my two highest qualifications were Technical Drawing and Physics). Has it held me back?? I certainly don't think so.

    My advice to getting started in IT (which btw I did when I was 27) is to get into a service desk role, gain the experience and move up that way (of course it depends on what kind of work you want to do in IT but that's generally where people start).

    As far as courses go, look at the likes of the A+, N+ and MCDST, leave off doing more indepth courses like the CCNA and MCITP SA\EA courses because they are aimed at people with 12 - 18 months exposure to the technologies involved.
     
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    WIP: VCP6-CMA, VCAP-DCD and Linux + (and possibly VCIX-NV).
  3. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    I will preface my comments by mentioning that I am in the States, so your experience may differ slightly.

    I have a BS degree, but not in IT... mine is in Chemistry. And despite the fact that it's not in IT, my degree has indeed helped me to gain employment by making me look more attractive to prospective employers.

    Do degrees help? Depends on the job. A degree isn't required for entry-level tech work. And to be honest, a degree (particularly higher level ones, like the Masters you are pursuing) can actually hinder you in getting an entry-level IT job, because you'd look way overqualified for the position - this is why McDonalds doesn't hire people with Masters degrees to be fry cooks.

    Degrees help you more the farther you go in your IT career. As you advance, you will see that the more advanced IT job postings desire (and in some cases, require) degreed candidates. Unfortunately, a Masters degree by itself won't help you jump directly into those advanced positions without first getting IT experience. On rare occasions, I will encounter degreed people who become IT directors or managers with no previous IT experience, but in my experience, these have without exception been the worst IT managers I have encountered in my 12 years in IT. They simply don't have the real-world experience to back up the poor decisions they make.

    All that said, that's not the path you are planning to take anyway. Your plan to work for a few years in IT before becoming a manager or consultant is a strong one. So... what would I do if I were in your shoes? Your Business degree will be just fine - I would recommend pursuing some entry-level certifications. As Simon recommended, the A+, Network+, and MCDST certifications are worth pursuing, and I agree that you should not pursue the Cisco certs until you're about to begin supporting them in a real-world environment.

    Are these certifications required? No, but like degrees, they can help you to look more attractive to employers. And, like advanced degrees, advanced certifications can actually work against you at the start of an IT career - that's why we recommend holding off on Cisco for now. ;)

    Best of luck to you! :)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  4. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    I agree with what BM has said here - it is relative and depends on the level of job that you're applying for.

    Having said that, anything that you have that the other applicants don't is usually a good thing.

    I don't think relvance of the degree is paramount - I did three years of Civil Engineering and came out of it with no idea how to actually build a bridge, mix cement or put up a shelf. They are things you learn in the early days of a real job. It's more about showing that you have the intellectual capacity to study at a higher level than most others (and wear a traffic cone on your head) - which, as BM says, is more relevant higher up the ladder you go.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  5. dales

    dales Gigabyte Poster

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    wearable traffic cones are importantin high level jobs!? That explains alot!!!!
     
    Certifications: vExpert 2014+2015+2016,VCP-DT,CCE-V, CCE-AD, CCP-AD, CCEE, CCAA XenApp, CCA Netscaler, XenApp 6.5, XenDesktop 5 & Xenserver 6,VCP3+5,VTSP,MCSA MCDST MCP A+ ITIL F
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  6. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    I take it you're not a Mason?

    :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  7. Josiahb

    Josiahb Gigabyte Poster

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    Damnit! I knew I'd been doing something wrong.....

    Seriously though, the advice above is good.

    I would actually say that for some people a degree in another area can be of benefit to you, particularly something like Business Studies as it suggests a wider understanding of the business landscape in the real world which someone who has spent their entire time buried in Comp Sci may be lacking!
     
    Certifications: A+, Network+, MCDST, ACA – Mac Integration 10.10
  8. dales

    dales Gigabyte Poster

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    bit off topic years ago (i was about 20 then) i had an older relative who was every time we met I gleefully gave him the "handshake" and basked in his expression of confusion!

    agreed as above, i think degree's are worthwhile further on in your career, alot of the more rewarding jobs I've seen in the papers require degree's etc!
     
    Certifications: vExpert 2014+2015+2016,VCP-DT,CCE-V, CCE-AD, CCP-AD, CCEE, CCAA XenApp, CCA Netscaler, XenApp 6.5, XenDesktop 5 & Xenserver 6,VCP3+5,VTSP,MCSA MCDST MCP A+ ITIL F
    WIP: Nothing
  9. reverb

    reverb Byte Poster

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    I don't think degrees are worth much nowadays. Everyone has one and I certainly wouldn't go if I had a choice now. I would get some job experience and work my way up because after graduating that's what you will be doing anyway, at the very same level as someone who has just left school. In fact your classmates who didn't go uni will probably have built up an impressive cv whilst you just graduated.
    That's from my own experience and I suppose having a degree depends on your chosen career eg. law, doctor etc then you will need a degree. In short, most will say degrees aren't essential in IT and as someone who is trying to enter in the world of IT; most jobs I see just require experience and no mention of academic qualifications.

    If you don't mind me asking, what kind of work was you doing before getting into IT?
     
  10. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    What jobs are you looking at? You also need to look at the bigger picture as you won’t always be applying for entry level jobs.

    In answer to the OPs question I would say a degree is worth something.

    We can all bang on about how much we are earning and what job we are doing (Edit: that wasnt aimed at SimonD by the way!) but a degree is a major achievement in its own right and it is something that you can put on your CV for life. Also some high end jobs will *only* take someone on that has a degree.

    Anyways, each to their own. :biggrin
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2010
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  11. reverb

    reverb Byte Poster

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    I'm looking at 1st line roles :biggrin
     
  12. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Yup, but what will you be looking at in 10 years time? :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  13. SimonD

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

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    I spent 10 years as a squaddie.
     
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    WIP: VCP6-CMA, VCAP-DCD and Linux + (and possibly VCIX-NV).
  14. SimonD

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

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    Well when I first started in IT I was doing 1st line work, 10 years down the line I was a consultant, not having a degree didn't slow me down, having the determination to succeed is what got me to where I am today.

    As I have previously mentioned I don't think the degree is worth doing, I have friends and family who have degrees and they say the same thing, my wife (who incidently has 3 degrees and an MBA) agrees that it's not worth ME doing a degree, not because I wouldn't be good at it but because I have the right amount of experience and brains to be able to hold my own with board level management, what I don't have when it comes to a degree I can get via courses\ other methods.

    The OP stated that he has had a break in study of nearly a decade, would a degree now help him advance his career enough or would he just be better off getting commercial experience? in my opinion the commercial experience wins hands down.
     
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    WIP: VCP6-CMA, VCAP-DCD and Linux + (and possibly VCIX-NV).
  15. volatile

    volatile Nibble Poster

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    The answer to this question often becomes very biased. Those people with degrees and no certs, that have been successful, will say certs are not worth it. Those people without degrees and with certs will say degrees are not worth it. What do both groups have in common? Aptitude and experience.

    I would recommend not listening to anyone that takes a hard-line stance and says, with no gray area, that a degree/cert is worthless. It all depends on yourself, your situation, and the employer you are targeting. Having both a degree and certs can only help you in more instances than hurt you.

    Edit: Also, the current environment is very different from 10-15 years ago. Back then, if you even said you had computer skills you were hired. I'm still not saying you can't be successful without a degree and/or certs...but with so many people who possess them it may hold you back if the HR at a company is short-sighted and doesn't look beyond the resume filler.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
    Certifications: Computer Science Degree, A+
  16. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Yup, some of the guys I work with don’t have degrees and are very good at their jobs.

    People take different routes to whatever job they are doing. For me I did a degree, spent 9 months on a helpdesk and then was offered a position as Network Manager in a software development company. Things really progressed from there.

    Perhaps the OP should go for the conversion degree but also get the hands-on with some entry level certs (e.g A+) as well?
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  17. robjphat

    robjphat New Member

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    Hi

    Many thanks for the replies (and i must complement you all on the speed on getting back to me)

    I've done quite a bit of soul searching over the last few days and the difficult decision I have had to make is to put the academic study on hold for now... which i believe echos what many of you have said. I have many reasons for my decision but i think the number 1 reason is that, as I'm doing it part time (unfortunately, i have a mortgage to pay), it could take up to 4 years plus a few thousand pounds (especially when you consider loss of full time earnings) to get my qualification and there is so much more I could be doing with that time/money.

    I'm not knocking the importance of academic qualifications but I think, for me,at this stage in time, it isnt going to help me as much as practical experience.

    I've already booked my first mcp to be taken in a couple of months (don't worry I'm not going for one of those 'we will promise you a £35k job' type intensive courses-i've got the books and i plan to do home study) and i plan to follow that up with more in early 2011, so i will let you know how the cert route pans out for me.

    -Rob
     
  18. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Nice one mate, best of luck with your studies. :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010

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