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A+ or degree for starting out?

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by Swither, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. Swither

    Swither New Member

    Sorry if this topic is similar to others (and yes I did use the search, but there's so many answers to slightly different situations!)

    I am trying to decide what qualification would be better for me to try and start a new career in IT.

    I am looking at a CompTia A+ (which will also give me a BTEC IT Technician's Certificate as it is a 'dual' course, if u want to pay for the extra exams) or perhaps doing a 2 year fast track honours degree course in computing & IT at University.

    I was made redundant last year from a senior management position from a very niche role (animal care - was a curator) and I realistically need to re-train for a new career.

    Most entry level jobs ask for the A+, so I have enrolled for that in September, but it is basically at night-school and will take untill June 2010, but you build a good portfolio as you go showing what you have been doing.

    The Uni course would be full time, but I don't know if it would be considered better for entry level jobs or if the industry CompTIA A+ would be preferred by employers? I do realise that employers want good experience over anything, but I need to start somewhere!

    Just to complicate things, I have been looking at teaching and was thinking of maybe teaching ICT once I got a degree or equivalent IT qualifications.

    Being over 40 and just starting out, have I left it too late for employers to even consider an older guy like me for entry level jobs?

    Sorry if I'm asking too many complicated questions, but I'm going a bit deranged after not working since last November!

    I'd appreciate your advice!

    Certifications: none yet
    WIP: CompTIA A+ - soon!
  2. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

    I would do the degree and A+.

    Whilst your degree is full time you could do the A+ selft study as most of us on here self study.

    You just need the books a pc to practice on (pref not one that you dont mind braking) and when your ready take the exams.
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  3. kevicho

    kevicho Gigabyte Poster

    Not at all, if you show enthusiasm and initiative combined with experience of business (and you market this fact) then that should give you an advantage, assuming your technical skills are proficient for the role you apply for

    Good luck
    Certifications: A+, Net+, MCSA Server 2003, 2008, Windows XP & 7 , ITIL V3 Foundation
    WIP: CCNA Renewal
  4. JK2447
    Highly Decorated Member Award 500 Likes Award

    JK2447 Petabyte Poster Administrator

    I think the guys advice is spot on. One of my very best friends is just about to finish his degree in IT and Computing and he's 47. The beauty of self study is when you have uni assignments to be in, you can drop your self studies for a bit, or if work or holidays mean your not getting the work / life balance right.

    You don't need a degree to get into IT if thats what you are thinking, although loads of us have them I've met many many people high up in IT who don't. A+ and N+, possibly MCDST would give you a good chance of getting into IT. Be warned tho, IT is very much an industry where you start at the bottom, often on buttons. But the rewards are there and I've done well out of it so I'm sure you can too.
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV, VSP, VTSP
    WIP: AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
  5. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    Is a degree worth getting? Absolutely. Do you need a degree to get into IT? Absolutely not. And, for this reason alone, I'd say the A+ is more important than the degree when starting out.

    Plus, you're not gonna make "degree money" when starting out in IT; a degree doesn't automagically enable or entitle you to make more in IT, because just about everyone starts out at the bottom and works their way up. This is because real-world experience is valued by employers MUCH more than a degree or certifications are; a person with a 4-year degree and no experience will be far behind a person with 4 years of experience and no degree.

    If you want to get a degree, by all means, do so... but not at the expense of getting real-world IT experience, working at LEAST part time while in school. Regardless of whether or not you go to school, I'd recommend that you pursue the A+, Network+, and MCDST - and no further certifications until you build some IT experience. :)

    40 is not too old - I've known people to get started in IT in their 50s! One of the biggest reason older people DON'T get into IT is because they can't handle the loss of salary... like I said, you'll likely be starting out at the bottom. If you can swing it for a while, the money will come... in time.
    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!
  6. Swither

    Swither New Member


    I have absolutely no delusions of jumping into IT on good money. I expect a very low salary with any entry level job and expect that if I do well to take another 5years+ and study plus good experience to get a decent wage again.

    I was just wondering how useful employers consider computing degrees compared to certs like CompTIA A+.
    I know that experience is king though.

    Do you think that employers would prefer younger candidates over older gits like me for entry level jobs? That is my worry, that I may struggle to break into the IT industry as employers won't consider me due to my age.

    I am also considering teaching so I was thinking of maybe teaching ICT if I did the degree route.

    Thanks for advice so far :)
    Certifications: none yet
    WIP: CompTIA A+ - soon!
  7. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    For an entry-level job, I'd hire someone with an A+ before hiring someone with a degree. The degree may or may not be relevant to what I need a plain-old entry-level tech to do; a degree simply indicates that you can follow a structured course of study.

    Plus, a degreed candidate is liable to be more expensive than a non-degreed candidate, with potential student loans to pay back. Finally, a degreed candidate is more likely to leave upon finding something better, leaving an employer to find, hire, and train someone all over again.

    Not saying that a degree isn't worthwhile... but a degree isn't required (or necessarily relevant) to do entry-level tech work. For a senior tech, team lead, or management position, a degree IS helpful... but without first getting some experience, the degree alone wouldn't be able to get you those kind of jobs.

    Some will... some won't. Depends on the employer. Would you rather hire someone who be more likely to work for lower wages? If so, you'd probably hire the younger tech. But would you rather hire someone who is more likely to be dependable/stable/settled down? If so, you'd probably hire the older tech. Would you rather hire someone who is more likely to be on the cutting edge of technology? If so, you'd probably hire the younger tech. But would you rather hire someone who is more likely to be patient with users/customers, or perhaps hire someone who can use a large range of experience to his/her advantage when dealing with situations? If so, you'd probably hire the older tech.

    See what I mean?

    I know quite a few experienced techs who teach without a degree, but they typically have tons of experience to be qualified enough to teach those courses. Obviously, many education systems require a degree... but don't think that you HAVE to be degreed to EVER be able to teach. Certainly a degree helps.
    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. Swither

    Swither New Member

    Thank you for that well considered reponse BosonMichael :)

    Good stuff to think about in that reply.
    Certifications: none yet
    WIP: CompTIA A+ - soon!
  9. jvanassen

    jvanassen Kilobyte Poster

    Ive just decided myself to start out also and have been throwing up whether to do an Open University Degree in Computing or to start off with my Comptia A+. Ive been looking at all sorts of bits this week and really humming and arhhing over which to do. Found this thread and i think its thrown the balance towards Comptia A+. Going to start off with that then either look for more Certs to do or head onto the degree.

    Thanks for all the info and opinions posted, found it very helpful
    Certifications: CompTIA A+, Network+, CCENT
    WIP: ICND2 200-101
  10. Markyboyt

    Markyboyt Kilobyte Poster

    I think the guys have covered most of it really, it all depends what you have the time to do, obviously doing a full time degree affects the cashflow quite a bit so you would need to weigh up whether the cost of the degree and loss of earnings during that period are outweighed by the end result.

    I'm not experienced in the field yet, but if the A+ is the slightly better route regarding getting a job then i'd guess it makes sense to go that route, after all you can self study towards the A+ whilst working full time too, if the works a little dry then you can self study quicker while trying to get that job and then press onto the N+ and MCDST. One thing that I dont think has been said yet but is usually said is start applying for IT jobs whilst your studying the A+, you don't have to wait til you have gained it.

    Also on the topic of is 40 too old, I think 40 has positive benefits especially in a career switch, you have a lot of experience behind you to draw upon and use to show what you can bring to a role, technical skills are only half of the story. If you want to be an entry level helpdesk tech for instance communication skills and customer handling are high priorities, possibly higher than technical although I can't confirm this. Soft skills could be the key to getting your foot in the door, once you are in you can build up the technical and progress through the ranks
    WIP: A+

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