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Is a degree needed in the long term?

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by TruthOrDare, May 12, 2008.

  1. TruthOrDare

    TruthOrDare Bit Poster

    Hi everybody, this is my first post so go easy on me please. :p

    My situation is this, I am 23, have an A level in ICT, have good all-round knowledge of computers and am looking to become a network engineer (through CCNA probably).

    I have read about the N+, A+ and MCDST are good steps in terms of certifications before I go for the CCNA, however, I have read nothing about degrees.

    I don't really want to go to university for 3 years to get a BSc in Computer Science (or similar), however I would consider doing it if necessary. While I am aware I could probably get a entry level job with my current knowledge/experience (which is my next move), would it hurt me in the long term in terms of the high-end jobs by not having some sort of IT degree?

    What I am afraid of is hitting some kind of wall after a few years due to people not being able to look past my lack of a degree. Though saying all this, I could just be overly cautious and paranoid. :oops:
    WIP: A+
  2. Logicum

    Logicum Bit Poster

    I think the key to your whole post is that you want to be a network engineer. If by that you mean the guy who handles switches, routers, cabling, and the configuration of devices on the infrastructure side of things then A+, N+ and CCNA etc are the ideal places to go. Of course *any* certification at this point will help you- if you start at the A+ and work upwards whilst looking for an entry level IT position you may change direction at some point as you gain experience and a feel for the job.

    As for a degree: well, I am working towards a degree whilst studying certification, but that's mainly for other reasons than gaining a better IT position in industry. Having said that I have read a lot of articles in business magazines that basically state if you have a degree you tend to be considered for more of a manager's position than someone without a degree. But it's really horses for courses. A degree will give you a high level abstracted view of computing per se, whereas certifications help you do your job in a specific manner using a specific vendor OS/tool.

    If it were me (and I have been where you are) I would start a distance HNC course in networking or computing and also start studying the A+. Even a part-time HNC course (if you are in the UK) would be great (with a local college). Anything you do from here on in will help. But with a network engineer goal in mind focus on specific tools you will need to do the job.

    Erm. Have I actually helped or is all that just impossible to understand? :oops:

    Take care!
    WIP: Many
  3. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

    Hi and welcome to CF!

    I don't have a degree, and several times over the last few years I've considered going for a OU degree.

    However, I've never found the lack of such a piece of paper to hinder me in getting jobs!

    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  4. Jiser

    Jiser Kilobyte Poster

    Hi, in my experiance. My degree has been pretty bad. However over the years knowledge has built up, I have matured etc etc. The university also gave me the option to do a placement year in industry working full time. - Perfect, gives you entry into an I.T. job and the experiance you really need. Most if not all large companies such as Microsoft/Intel operate Internship years - which is great if you get into one, as they may offer jobs at the end of your degree.

    Aditonally Graduate schemes if you can get into one offer between 22-30k starting wage - at 21/22 years old if you started your degree at 18 - this is amazing. They also offer great prospects.

    A family member who recently started working for apple, on a wage above 70 k+ had to previous get an MBA to achieve his ambitions and to advance.

    A degree isn't neccessary at all in life, there are pros and cons. You just have to look at both.
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), PGc, MCTS:Win 7, MCSA W7/MCITP EDST, ITIL Foundation, Prince 2 Foundation, C&G: Web Design, MOS 07: Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Outlook.
  5. WelshyNet

    WelshyNet New Member

    Like Logicum said a HND or HNC might make more sense if your goal is to become a network engineer.

    Have you looked for companies in your area that might employ you and put you through these qualifications?

    I did a FT HND with a telecommunications company earning approx £35 a week when I was in college but during breaks i.e. summer or easter etc we would be sent out to work on site or be put on internal courses. This way you get the experience and also a certain level of education.

    I did start my OU degree but to be honest I found it completely boring - mainly down to the subject I chose.

    GL anyway

    Certifications: CCENT, HND Telecoms, HP SysAd 1&2 + LVM
    WIP: CCNA and onwards
  6. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

    Welcome to CF :)

    Getting a degree or not is totally up to you. I have a degree and I believe that it has assisted me (in-conjunction with my professional certs & experience) in my career - within the last 5 years I've been promoted twice and my pay has increased. There are alot of management jobs out there that state a degree level cert/education is required. However that could mean anything from a BSc/BA to an NVQ 5 to the GCGI.

    If you feel that way, then I would recommend you getting your degree - it won't hurt you having it. I also recommend going down the part-time route (HNC/HND/BSc) as it is alot cheaper than going full-time. But that is just my opinion.

    One more thing, having a degree will also assist you if you plan to migrate to another country.

    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  7. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    I have a degree, and it has helped me get jobs where the employer preferred degreed applicants. But is a degree required? No, not for 95% of the IT jobs out there.

    Would I recommend that you get a degree? Yes, but not at the sacrifice of getting real-world IT experience. If you do decide to pursue a degree, do it while working. Doesn't matter if you go to school part time and work full time, or go to school full time and work part time - that decision is up to you. Just remember that nothing - neither certifications nor qualifications nor degrees - is valued more than real-world experience.
    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!
  8. TruthOrDare

    TruthOrDare Bit Poster

    Thanks for everyones input. Your posts are very informative and I have been doing more research.

    The chances are that I will go for a Foundation Degree in Information Technology at my local college next year. From what I have been reading, it is a 2 day a week course over 2 years. I'll be contacting them some time this week to get some more information as their website is very vague. :biggrin

    It will give me a degree, and allow me to do a third year at a university for a BSc in Computer Science should I choose to do so. The Foundation Degree also seems to incorporate the CCNA at the same time, which is great. In addition, it also mentions undertaking work experience throughout the 2 years, which is another positive thing.

    But before then, I fully intend to get to do the A+, N+ and MCDST before then and get some proper real-world work experience before I do the degree.
    WIP: A+
  9. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

    I have a degree with no certs. Walked into an IT support role after a 10 minute interview after graduation. Seems a little bit like luck to me.

    See this discussion. :)
    Certifications: BSc(Hons) Comp Sci, BCS Award of Merit
    WIP: Not doing certs. Computer geek.
  10. Finkenstein

    Finkenstein Kilobyte Poster

    I've been working in the "professional" IT field for about 12 years now. I am currently finishing up my degree. I would definitely suggest that you complete your degree. While it definitely isn't required, it does help. I was actually contracted to a very good company for a few years, and the degree was a deal breaker to my getting hired in direct (which was something that they rarely even offered). While I'm very happy where I am at, I see no harm in finally finishing my 4 years. It isn't easy, and I wish I had done it right the first time, but here I am now, almost 30 with a wife and a little boy, working full time, and going to school full time in the evenings. It's hard, but I'm convinced it'll pay off in the long run.

    Good Luck!!
    Certifications: MCP, Network+, CCENT, ITIL v3
    WIP: 640-822
  11. sunn

    sunn Gigabyte Poster

    It's all about your personal situation as far as I'm concerned. I have no degree, but it hasn't stopped me from reaching my goals. I thought it would prevent me from being a manager, but I've done that too.

    I once asked my manager if he would suggest I get a degree. His reply was "if it makes you happy, we (company) will support you in your efforts; but don't do it for us. The only time a degree matters here (company) is when you're being interviewed to come off the street. Once you're in, prove to us through your work that you belong and deserve a promotion."

    The only reason for me wanting a degree is to be able to get an MBA. I couldn't care less for the degree itself.

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