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Will not having a degree hinder me?

Discussion in 'The Lounge - Off Topic' started by Juelz, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. Juelz

    Juelz Gigabyte Poster

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    Myself and a friend were discussing degrees in relation to getting on in IT. He is in his final year of a Computer Science degree and he wants to go into programming ideally but is prepared to take a support job if it came down to it. He seems to believe he will be in a far greater position than me in regards to getting a support job when comparing his degree to my certs/future certs. He said my CV will probably not get past HR due to not having a degree as its expected in this day and age for the younger generation (below 30) to have one. Is any what he is saying correct?
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
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  2. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    In a word, no. Doesn't sound like the best friend in the world to me and feel free to tell him I've got a degree and certs coming out of my ears but when I got my first IT job, all I had was a quick mind and a polite manner. Unfortunately for your friend, degree's aren't worth a great deal anymore. I got mine while I worked and to be honest, I'm not knocking them, but mines only been good as a life achievement for me. I think I'd be where I am without it but of course there's no way to know that.

    Don't let your mate put you off. I know loads of high flyers without degrees. I think he's right about one thing, a computer science degree us more useful for a programmer / developer. And there are plenty of jobs that whittle the numbers down by saying people must have one, but that tends to be either top end roles or roles they expect a million applicants. Keep up the good work Juelz
     
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  3. SimonD

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

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    Actually, you can point him in my direction.

    I left school at 16, I didn't take any O Level exams, failed my English CSE exam and my highest grades in the exams I passed were Physics and Technical Drawing.

    As it stands, I drive a 6 series BMW and live in a 4 bed detached house, I have that not because I have a degree (which I don't) but because I worked very hard at what I do.

    Sure I have various IT certifications but I still have no higher education ones and it hasn't held me back at all.
     
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  4. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Interesting – I have a degree and just spent £10k on a Rolex.

    Sometimes this forum cracks me up :)
     
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  5. SimonD

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

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    Sparky, do you think your degree earns you more money? because I can't see how me having a degree would pay me any more than I currently earn (and yes I also have a nice watch but again, no degree).
     
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  6. Sparky
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    Nothing to do with money. Just banter :)
     
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  7. Rob1234

    Rob1234 Megabyte Poster

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    If you look at the statistics and research around this the majority all point to over time people with degrees will earn more money then non-graduates, now obviously that does not mean every non-graduate will never earn a good wage or more than a person with a degree.
     
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  8. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    Good point Rob, and I might perhaps be looking just at IT, where I see a strong mix of haves and have nots at all levels. Doctors of course, top earners and must have one, Vets, dentists. I think it's job like those that skew the figures. Show me figures for History and Geography degrees, English and Art. I think that would paint a different picture entirely (not you personally Rob just speaking out loud)
     
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  9. Jaron78

    Jaron78 Megabyte Poster

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    Love this :)
    First off mate, as Jim says, not exactly a good friend.

    Left School at 16 with GCSE's and went to work in the Games Industry. Left the Industry at the age of 31 because I was sick of being made redundant.

    Decided I want to do IT, went out and done some studying for Exams (A+), and blitzed anyone and everyone with my CV asking for a chance. Someone took a chance on me and 5 years later I am in a new job where I earn great money, and I know for a fact I got the job over 3 people (That I am aware of) who had Degrees.

    Your "Friend" is talking rubbish in this instance if you ask me mate.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
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  10. Apexes

    Apexes Gigabyte Poster

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    i left school in 2002 with GCSE's no higher than a C

    went to college for 3 months to do PC Servicing, dropped out cos it was crud.

    I'm now a senior engineer for a large financial firm who are moving me out to the states to manage project work over there.

    You don't need degree's for starting out in IT, just a crap-ton of dedication and willingness to learn
     
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  11. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    You can also look to do your degree part time once you're in IT as I did. My employer at the time paid for the entire thing part time over five years. Zero student debt and I was earning and getting books paid for, study leave etc. This is very common in the States I believe :horn::redtowel::raisehand:
     
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  12. Monkeychops

    Monkeychops Kilobyte Poster

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    It's kind of an 'it depends' answer really, in some cases yes it will hinder you, in others it won't.

    For my first role they specifically wanted people with degrees, didn't matter what it was in but it was part of the requirements to get an interview. Without that role I wouldn't have gotten my second, third, fourth etc roles when I did, maybe not at all, ultimately no idea how things would have played out with no degree.

    In my current company I've worked with people who do and don't have degrees at various levels, it's often listed as a requirement again on roles but this many years on can't imagine it holds much weight.

    Now I'd imagine it's more about the experience and what I've done rather than the piece of paper I got all those years ago, the experience is what's bringing in the 6 figure salaries but the piece of paper helped me get there.....

    Also know guys who are worth millions and have a single GCSE to their name.

    (did I wave the willy too much or just enough to fit in with this conversation there? :) )
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
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  13. Sparky
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    This question always cracks me up – hence my earlier posts.

    The question was if not having a degree would hinder the OP? This generally results in members posting how well they are doing without a degree – well done.

    Does this mean this is going to be the same for the OP? No idea to be honest and neither do any of you.

    Hinder from what exactly?

    Getting a job?
    Getting a better job than his mate?
    Earning more money than his mate?
    Earning big money?
    Buying a Skoda Octavia RS (that’s a fancy car I think)?
    Getting a big house?

    I think Monkeychops summed it up in balanced way - ‘it depends’ :)
     
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  14. Stuzzle

    Stuzzle Byte Poster

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    This question troubles me most whenever I casually look over jobs for high end companies like Microsoft, IBM, HP etc. In many cases they list a degree within their minimum requirements and I instantly feel like my choices have become a little more restricted from my lack of university attendance :blink.

    The same applies when I see jobs at the higher end of the management and pay scale, listing a degree in their requirements, and it's enough to panic me but sadly ultimately not enough to suddenly hop on to the first OU course I see (because ultimately I don't know what single subject would interest me enough to commit to 5/6 years consistent study for it)
     
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  15. Pseudonym

    Pseudonym Byte Poster

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    I used to work for a guy that worked for HP for several years who didn't have a single certification. Nevermind a degree. I don't believe having a degree makes any difference in IT personally, unless you're looking to get into programming. Even then, some degrees are worth far more than others. eg. One from oxbridge is worth 10 times more than one from a lesser university. Just take a look at a breakdown of the modules from cambridge as opposed to say LJMU. The difference is night and day in terms of complexity.

    Something else I've noticed is a lot of degrees include certs in their modules. I've seen CCNA in several IT related degrees, and even the A+ in one. I wouldn't pay 9k a year for that. :')

    Even if a job lists a degree in its requirements I'd still apply if I believed I could do a good job, and I generally feel that I'm a good interviewer and good at writing CVs. Saying all that though, if an employer paid for me to do a CS degree I'd jump at it.
     
  16. Shinigami

    Shinigami Megabyte Poster

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    Just my two cents.

    Will it hinder you? Not necessarily.
    Is it an advantage? Sometimes.

    Some companies like Microsoft may mention degrees in job offers, but I got in through my contacts, not necessarily my (not particularly amazing) degree.

    But for growth beyond ones role (at least where I work), degrees are a big plus and often lauded on internal promotion emails.

    In my case I am now attending a business school (provided by my employer) as they would like to see me advance beyond my consulting role (which leaves me with mixed feelings as I love the techie stuff).

    Personally, I wouldn't fret it too much. Yes, a degree is truly worth it's money in roles that include health care. But in IT you also need skills that don't come from degrees. Determination. People skills. Willingness to learn new things and pick them up out of your own initiative. Team player. Eager to learn. And we could go on...

    Your mileage may vary and it certainly has for me. These things can be country specific too. Industry specific as well.

    But your friend is not seeing the big picture. You CAN get a GOOD job in IT without a degree.
     
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  17. Monkeychops

    Monkeychops Kilobyte Poster

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    I may or may not have worked for one or more of those companies listed in that quote, whilst I have a degree I wouldn't even be eligible for any of their grad schemes due to the fact I got a 2:2 all those years ago.

    Did that harm me getting the job(s) there? Not at all.

    Would I have been in the position to go and work in those places without the experience I had? Again no chance in hell.

    Would I have gotten the experience needed to get those jobs without my degree? For me no, the degree helped get me my first job, which lead to my second etc etc.

    That last question is the main one that is different for every person and every job so it is really tricky to say.

    There is no right or wrong answer to this question, I guess it's a case of in some instances yes it will, in others it won't.

    Within organisations like those above I have worked with many top people who do not have a degree who are all earning good money to afford those nice houses and cars everyone likes ;)

    Even as an experienced hire I've had head hunters (proper ones where their clients have asked for me by name, not just random recruitment campaigns) come to me with positions where when they've had a public ad I clearly don't meet the degree requirement (i.e. 2:1 or above, looking back I really should have put more effort in ;) ).

    So maybe look at what it is you want to do job wise, short and long term, look at job ads for the sorts of thing you want to be doing and see what they ask for. Also as well as grad schemes the big companies are also more and more running apprenticeship schemes for non degree people which is a great foot in the door (I've seen the competition for these places as an assessor and christ I'd have no chance if an 18 year old me was up against some of these people!).
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
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  18. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    I personally needed a degree to enter the field ~20 years ago, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have landed an apprenticeship or entry level role without one.

    IT was a niche profession then, there wasn't that many Comp Science graduates and everyone was already saying 'computers are the next big thing', it was still extremely tough to land a role.

    I was declined apprenticeships with BT and IBM, and after getting a 2:1 still had to make 200+ applications. (In those days you used a newspaper and actually sent snail mail, I had a stack of reply letters an inch thick.)

    Some people are 'lucky' or extremely talented and do manage without degrees.

    I think most IT roles do not require a degree. Availability of MOOC's, books, labs and CBT, now means there is little requirement for traditional learning in IT.

    The big companies that quote this and that, its usually a HR person trying to limit the number of applications, only about 1% of the jobs genuinely need a degree.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
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  19. Monkeychops

    Monkeychops Kilobyte Poster

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    I think that's a good way to look at it really, the degree isn't often needed, but like certs themselves it's often used as a way to just sift out applications. It's an easy requirement/criteria to set that has a defined yes/no answer for an application.

    So this is more of an issue when starting out, but once established not as much of an issue.
     
  20. crazy horse

    crazy horse Byte Poster

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    I do a lot of recruitment of engineers and IT managers alike and this is a debate that happens in my place of work. I have hired degree educated and non-degree educated for entry level and experienced positions, depending on who has been the best candidate during the interview process based on capability and fit for the role/ team.

    The key is to ensure the roles you are applying for are appropriate to your capability and that you can demonstrate that on your cover letter, CV and at the interview stages. There are some roles which do naturally look for a graduate, and the type of career your friend is looking for (developer) does tend to want degree educated people in my experience. I believe this is because being degree educated means you have the academic ability to operate at a certain level which some employers and managers deem desirable.

    However, in generic terms what I have observed in my organisation is that non-degree educated engineers tend to have a slower trajectory to the next salary bracket or role when compared to degree educated individuals. That is not a hard and fast rule though as there have been a number of exceptions to it. Additionally, some non-degree engineers also "top out" at a lower salary bracket than their degree educated peers, again not a hard and fast rule but worth noting.

    So essentially, apply for roles that meet your current capability, gain suitable experience backed by industry certification, work very hard and I expect you'll not notice much difference in job prospects between you and a degree educated individual (note the working very hard applies to a degree educated person too).
     
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