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Certification Route.. or Academic IT Degree? (MSc)

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by Dusk1983, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Dusk1983

    Dusk1983 New Member

    Hi all, Im new here. Nice to "meet" you all.

    My situation is that Im another career changer without direct IT work experience, but a good science batchelors degree. I have always been involved in intensively using, customising, troubleshooting and occasionally building Microsoft PCs, although as I say I have sadly never worked in that capacity (yet!)

    Im studying for my A+ as an initial startpoint, based on the advice here.

    After much research, I then think I have two routes. I can either use my degree to convert into Computing as a general academic subject (for example, there is a 2 year university masters course called Computer Systems and Networking) or I can line up desktop support work experience, complete the A+, before hopefully getting my first full IT support role (before ultimately progressing onto more advanced network support and MCSE/A, or diversifying into something else.)

    Is there any value in academic qualifications like this, or is it "all" about experience+professional certification?

    I hope this above makes sense. There seems to be many very knoledgable fok around here. All comments are gratefully received.

    Many thanks in advance,

  2. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

    Hi Welcome:)

    Experience matters the most the most unfortunately.

    If I were you I would convert your degree and do the A+ whilst looking for your first IT role.

    But untill you have the required experience do not over certify yourself by doing the MCSE/A.
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  3. dwhyte85

    dwhyte85 Nibble Poster

    Hello Andrew,

    I have to say, from my experience to find a job easier it is better to have a Microsoft and/or Cisco certification, the sad fact is the majority of recruitment agencies don't know alot about computing.

    I have noticed for jobs like programming a Bsc. Computer Science is sort after, however, most support roles look at experience and professional certs.

    If you're starting fresh, the cheapest option would be after your A+ take a look at the MCDST as it's often looked at as a must-have for support roles, this is what i've noticed for the jobs i've gone from - it saddens me that i've worked with some total mugs (I mean people with no real knowledge) who have an MCDST who blag through life - I guess you can still buy certifications :-/.

    Anyway, to answer your question - see if you can get an internship, pay isn't great but it's invaluable to have the work experience and get your A+, I don't think the degree route is best considering it's 3 years full time or 4 or more part time, by that time with good focus you could have an array of professional certs.

    Only my opinion :-)
    Certifications: Bsc. Comp Sci, MCP, MCTS, MCSA, CCENT, MBCS
    WIP: ICND 2, CEH and converting MCSA to MCITP: Enterprise Administrator
  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    Why would anyone with a science degree want to lower themselves to IT support ?

    ducks and runs....

    no seriously though ? :D
  5. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    Perhaps for the same reason I did... and I don't think it's "lowering" at all.

    When I got my BS in Chemistry, all the employers wanted chemists with Masters degrees. As a result, I got exactly ONE interview. The interviewer flew down to meet with me, and he told me that he was hiring for someone to run some lab analysis equipment, and that he was also looking for a network admin. I told him that I'd not only run the lab equipment, but I'd also help out as needed on the network. When he asked my salary requirements, I told him I was looking for around $30K. After all, my teachers had told me that I could reasonably expect to make $35K upon graduation, but I figured I'd increase my chances by lowering my salary expectations, considering the lack of interviews and all... plus, it beat the heck out of the $9.83/hr (approx $20K) I was making!! He told me he'd get back with me. He never did.

    So... I did what I swore I'd never do: make my 18-year-long hobby my job. I didn't want to burn out on computers and end up hating them. Weird thing, though: that never happened. I only grew to enjoy them more and more over the next 11 years.
    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. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

    More wonga probably :tongue
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Office 365, Server 2016, CEH
  7. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

    I would say, it depends on what field/area of IT you're going to go into.

    Programming is one area where a degree is a strong requirement. Management is another area where a degree (or equivalent) is strongly recommend, sometimes even necessary. However on the support side, a degree isn't a requirement.

    You may want to join a professional IT association, the BCS for example just for their network opportunities...

    Certifications: CITP, PGDip, 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: MSc in Tech Management
  8. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    Yes possibly not the best way to ask but you get my gist. I had an ex gf with a chemistry PHd, its seems anything less than a PHd means you get to wash test tubes...

    I think there are some very interesting bits of research underway at the moment, nanotechnology, genefolding, etc.

    I see no reason why your can't use your science degree and tech skills, in fact I wouldn't mind a science degree myself...
  9. Evilwheato

    Evilwheato Kilobyte Poster

    A subject that I can talk about :p

    Being in a similar situation as you, I was thinking about converting my BSc in Business Management with a postgraduate in some computing subject or similar. Then I really thought about it ;)

    I thought that the large amount of cash I would have to pay (normally in the range of £3000 and above) would be better spent gaining relevant IT qualifications (even through self study). Although a Masters would be great (I would love to do one) I thought that gaining the work experience while studying for my A+, N+, MCDST etc would be a better career move.

    On top of that, I left university with a good degree and had problems finding work- which didn't give me great confidence in my degree (even after slogging away for three years). However, as the others have said, experience is highly valued in the IT industry. I'm sure you could grab yourself an IT role and build up from there ;)
  10. UKDarkstar
    Honorary Member

    UKDarkstar Terabyte Poster

    I actually started a Masters in Business Information Systems about 5 years ago. It was a one year course and I figured as it was only scheduled for 12 hours a week "classroom" time I could combine it with running my business. I had to give it up after the first term as it was impacting on the money I was earning but I was was also unhappy with the course :

    1) It was run through a university "Business School" (I won't name which one) which had a very "international" flavour i.e. they attracted a LOT of foreigh students (good fees)

    2) Due to the foreign students (I was one of 6 "British" students out of over 100) a high element of seminars was spent basically teaching Englsih and grammar and was nothing to do with the course content at all (even though there were requirements for these students to have studied english as a foreign language)

    3) The Masters was very academically focused on research and submission of papers etc

    So, overall I left feeling a bit disappointed. The impression I had was that it (first term) was more like an undergraduate level (due to the foreign students) and that it was not vocationally orientated enough.

    On reflection now, given my job-hunting status, I do perhaps wish I had completed a Masters or MBA or something similar but I can also see that the particular course I had started wasn't right for me and the type of increased educational experience I was hoping for.

    I would say, then, that degree or post-graduate courses can be a big advantage but employers are crying out for real world experience and the ability to apply the theory to business circumstances so look carefull at what you study.
    Certifications: BA (Hons), MBCS, CITP, MInstLM, ITIL v3 Fdn, PTLLS, CELTA
    WIP: CMALT (about to submit), DTLLS (on hold until 2012)
  11. dwhyte85

    dwhyte85 Nibble Poster

    I didn't lower myself, I needed a job. I think Comptia offer the best certs, they are more valuable than learning one specific set of tools, I think TheRegister.com sums it up pretty well:

    "I am an engineer. You are an MCSE. He is a train driver"

    Anyway, as already said experience will get you far but of course you need to somehow get the knowledge first, it's a bit of a vicious cycle, without the MCPs it'd be difficult to get an entry into a fair paying job.
    Certifications: Bsc. Comp Sci, MCP, MCTS, MCSA, CCENT, MBCS
    WIP: ICND 2, CEH and converting MCSA to MCITP: Enterprise Administrator
  12. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    That was, in fact, the only job opening I found.... literally, as a test tube washer, I kid you not... making $25K per year. So I took an IT job as a Field Service Tech making $11/hr (about $22K per year). Less money... but it was the right decision.

    There are. When I was in college, my research (back around '95) was on getting high yields out of a polymer liquid crystal that could be used for computer storage technologies.

    I do use my science degree - employers are really impressed when they see it. As far as using my knowledge goes... I use the logic and troubleshooting and research skills that I refined in college every day as I learn new things. And writing lab reports and research papers helps me when I write practice exam questions in a manner that is clear and easy to understand and technically precise. :thumbleft

    Would I love to work as a chemist? Sure... but I really can't afford to take that big of a step back in my career at this point... and besides, I absolutely LOVE what I do. :biggrin

    When I go back for my Masters, it'll probably be in Information Systems, not Chemistry. :)
    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!

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