Any luck with no degree?

sprks79sprks79 Registered Users Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hey everyone, long time lurker but finally starting to post. I have a question, I am in my late 30's, I have been in the "tech" field as a freelancer for around 8 years. I have no formal education, some college but no degree, just starting to earn some certifications. I am looking to get out of freelance and into a stable position. Am I to late? Do I absolutely HAVE to have a college degree? Will my freelance work plus some certs (network+, CCNA, and Linux+) do me any good? Any other fast track options for learning what I need to fill the college gap?

Thanks in advance :)

Comments

  • markulousmarkulous Member Posts: 2,394 ■■■■■■■■□□
    You don't have to have a degree. The wall you're going to hit mainly is with HR. Look around for jobs in your area that you want (or want in the next 3-5 years) and see what the requirements are.
  • koz24koz24 Member Posts: 766 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I can see it as being an issue in some really strict places but not all of them thankfully. Don't let age and lack of a B.S degree stop you from your career goals. I can safely say that in my 4 year CIS BS Degree I got about a Network+/CCENT networking knowledge. The rest I had to learn on my own like the rest of us.

    What you are going to want to do is cert up and get your hands on any experience you can get. Further down the road, you will see things like "experience can be substituted for education". IMO, experience trumps a B.S. degree by far!

    Getting that first gig is probably going to be the hardest thing you do in your career though. Polish your resume and your interviewing skills and hopefully someone will give you a shot with your CCNA.
  • tmtextmtex Member Posts: 326
    I have 2 AAS degrees, I normally but not always get past the HR screening. Mainly depends on what type of the company it is. I know MANY who have no education after HS but are Certified in X that do very well and have climbed the ranks. Also yes there are entry level helpdesk jobs that require a 4 yr degree PLUS CCNA for 40K a yr which I think is totally stupid
  • john.m.jones123john.m.jones123 Member Posts: 21 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I've hired many folks over the years and for my technical folks, I only look at college if they have no experience or certs... If I had to rate it I'd go with:

    1. Experience (Technical, related)
    2. Experience (Other IT Experience)
    3. Certifications (Related)
    4. Certifications (Non-Related, for example, if I need a Windows admin but applicant had a Redhat cert)
    5. College (IT Degree)
    6. College (All Other Degrees)
    MSIT | PMP | CISSP | CISM | CISA | CDPSE | CAPM | ITIL | CEH | CCNA CyberOps | Sec+ | Net+ | A+ | MCTS | MCP | MS 365 Desktop
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  • kiki162kiki162 Member Posts: 635
    You can go without a degree, but you'll find that you will peak at some point. Now some ppl like doing the same old job, they let their skills go stale, and getting their small pay raise every year. You could get a few certs and find something stable, but keep in mind that technology always changes, and because of that you need to keep up with that growing need. That's the dynamic of working in IT.

    That being said, I think it would be in your best interest to go back to college. I think WGU has one of the only online colleges that you will obtain certs while getting a Bachelor's. I believe UMUC will also do that as well, but it's not heavily advertised.

    One of the other things that I would recommend would be to sit down and create a path for yourself. Where do you want to be in a few years, what's your ideal job, what certs do you want to obtain in the next year, two years, etc. From an HR standpoint, if you are looking for a new job, getting yourself a few entry and mid-level certs under your belt, while being enrolled in college is always a plus.
  • mbarrettmbarrett Member Posts: 397 ■■■□□□□□□□
    sprks79 wrote: »
    I have a question, I am in my late 30's, I have been in the "tech" field as a freelancer for around 8 years. I have no formal education, some college but no degree, just starting to earn some certifications. I am looking to get out of freelance and into a stable position. Am I to late? Do I absolutely HAVE to have a college degree? Will my freelance work plus some certs (network+, CCNA, and Linux+) do me any good?
    Without a college degree, you will need to stay focused & have a good idea of what you want, and be willing to work for that. At your age, I don't see a college degree as that big of a deal except as an HR weed-out, which is something out of your control. Just keep gaining skills & experience in the stuff you do well and people will take notice. Try to keep your resume focused and be able to sell your skillset.
  • no!all!no!all! Member Posts: 245 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I don't think you're too late at all. I've been in IT for almost 6 years and have no formal degree, although I have been getting certifications over the past 5 years. I have a dev ops friend who has nothing but experience making $55/hr. I don't think it's impossible to survive on knowledge/experience alone. Being in a good location is key as well.
    A+, N+, S+, CCNA:RS, CCNA:Sec

    "In high society TCP is more welcome than UDP. At least it knows a proper handshake" - Ben Franklin

    2019 Goals: CCNP:RS & relocate to St. Pete, FL!
  • LinuxRacrLinuxRacr Member Posts: 652 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Not too late at all. I'm in my late 30's, and have been in IT for over 15 years with no degree. This being said, I've been able to grow in salary and experience with no degree into the 6 figure range. I have noticed that some of the positions were hesitant to hire at first, until I explained that I am working through my degree, and would be finished soon. I've also noticed that certain titles and salary ranges were out of reach for some employers, without the degree. I just finished my degree a couple of weeks ago now, and am glad that I don't have to worry about that checkbox any longer. The bottom line is never stop learning.
    My WGU B.S. IT - Security Progress : Transferred In|Remaining|In Progress|Completed
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  • koz24koz24 Member Posts: 766 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I've hired many folks over the years and for my technical folks, I only look at college if they have no experience or certs... If I had to rate it I'd go with:

    1. Experience (Technical, related)
    2. Experience (Other IT Experience)
    3. Certifications (Related)
    4. Certifications (Non-Related, for example, if I need a Windows admin but applicant had a Redhat cert)
    5. College (IT Degree)
    6. College (All Other Degrees)

    Agreed for the most part! I'd switch 2 and 3 though :)
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youMod Posts: 2,762 Mod
    Never too late. I have a AA and some certs. Plenty of experience. Sometimes positions require a BA, but state experience can be replaced with that requirement. That is my ticket in.
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, CSM, MS Access 2016, 2019 Member Posts: 2,580 ■■■■■■■■■□
    no!all! wrote: »
    I don't think you're too late at all. I've been in IT for almost 6 years and have no formal degree, although I have been getting certifications over the past 5 years. I have a dev ops friend who has nothing but experience making $55/hr. I don't think it's impossible to survive on knowledge/experience alone. Being in a good location is key as well.

    No better pleasure working with someone who has insane knowledge in a particular area and they are willing to share.
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,000 ■■■■■■■■□□
    kiki162 wrote: »
    You can go without a degree, but you'll find that you will peak at some point.

    You'll never be a Director or VP without a degree, but I know some managers in IT, that do not have a degree.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • SweenMachineSweenMachine MCSA: Office 365, MCSA: Windows 7 (I am old), ITIL Foundations V3 Chicago areaMember Posts: 300 ■■■■□□□□□□
    TechGromit wrote: »
    You'll never be a Director or VP without a degree, but I know some managers in IT, that do not have a degree.

    Well, I am a Director and Executive of a managed service provider without a college degree... so never say never.

    I did, however, run a Taco Bell for three years, currently run a business with my wife, have multiple certifications, and worked extremely hard in IT over the past 14 years.. Experience, work ethic and luck can all still exist without a college degree.

    -scott
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,649 ■■■■■■■■□□
    With all of the modern options for completing a degree in terms of cost, time to completion, and time out of your daily life, there are few reasons for you to not seek a degree. There certainly are very successful people without degree and even more people that are doing well for themselves, but for the average person, having a degree is almost necessary if you want to keep up with the middle of the crowd. Maybe in the future the education model will shift to something else, but today this is reality.

    If it isn't a roadblock today, it could easily be a roadblock tomorrow. A customer of mine decided they were going to outsource a significant percentage of their IT department and the ax fell that day... anyone without an undergraduate degree or not already actively seeking one... you're out. It happens.

    From an advancement perspective, doing self-improvement shows that you are serious about yourself and your career. So, even if you get a degree, that shouldn't be the end. Certifications, graduate programs (even graduate certificates), and the like are things you folks should continue to pursue, even with a stack of certifications.
    AZ-204 [ ] AZ-400 [X] AZ-500
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  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,000 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Well, I am a Director and Executive of a managed service provider without a college degree... so never say never.

    I stand corrected. You'll never be a Senior manager, Director or a VP in the organization I work at without a college degree. Most of the upper management people all to seem to be former military backgrounds as well.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • winona_ryderwinona_ryder Member Posts: 42 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I've hired many folks over the years and for my technical folks, I only look at college if they have no experience or certs... If I had to rate it I'd go with:

    1. Experience (Technical, related)
    2. Experience (Other IT Experience)
    3. Certifications (Related)
    4. Certifications (Non-Related, for example, if I need a Windows admin but applicant had a Redhat cert)
    5. College (IT Degree)
    6. College (All Other Degrees)

    I agree with this, especially if 2 and 3 are switched.

    Most of the security people I know don't have an academic background, but have plenty of certs, or plenty of experience.

    At my first employer in the world of IT, the manager refused to hire anyone with a university degree. He would take people with relevant experience first, and was also keen on traineeships where he could encourage relevant study. He recently hired his first university graduate, and he has hired approximately 12 junior staff for that team in the last 9 years.
  • koz24koz24 Member Posts: 766 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Yeah the problem with most IT BS degrees is that the education you get is too broad. They give you a taste of everything but not enough to apply to any one role. Most, but not all, degrees just show that in between drinking and partying you can show up to class on time, do some homework, bs some papers, and you're done. But then you come out as a "Generalist" and probably have to settle for entry-level helpdesk because it's the only type of job you are qualified for.

    It's very discouraging for new graduates, by the way, to come out with a quarter million debt and have to settle for a $40k job.

    If I could go back in time and give myself some advice I would have said do as many certs and internships as possible.

    I've never heard of anyone being discriminated because they have a degree though. If they have a degree and no experience and someone else has experience and no degree then I can see the case.
  • jcundiffjcundiff Member Posts: 486 ■■■■□□□□□□
    15+ years in IT, 6+ in Security... No Degree (currently working on it now at WGU to check the box). bumping up against the 6 figure range ( almost there :) ) been an IT manager, now a senior analyst. Hard work, hard work, hard work will get you where you want to be. I always figured I needed to do twice as much as the guy next to me with a degree :) I jumped at every chance to learn new skills, obtain higher level certs ( currently hold CISSP and CRISC) and continue to shine. In 18 years, I have only had 2 reviews that were not "Exceeds". 1st one was as a manager when I refused to bell curve my team ( my less than fully met people were developed and mentored to fully met or got the OTD (Out the Door) ranking). When I went 2 levels above my manager to defend my people, I won, but he had the last laugh... 2nd time, I had no one to sing my praise at the review panel ( reported to an open slot at review time), but had done significantly more outside my team than any other year. The CSO apologized profusely when he realized what had occurred (he knew what all I had taken on for the company).

    A foot in the door, followed by your hard work will get you where you want to go :)
    "Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn't Work Hard" - Tim Notke
  • MitMMitM Member Posts: 622 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I'm in my late 30's. I don't have a degree. I've been in IT for about 19 years now. I believe and would like to continue to believe that hard work pays off

    I looked at WGU recently, but decided to continue my journey to get some certifications that I want. Once I complete those, maybe I will revisit the degree.
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, CSM, MS Access 2016, 2019 Member Posts: 2,580 ■■■■■■■■■□
    It really depends on the company and the role. I found these two variables to be the biggest drivers behind, if yes or no.
  • alexkurbanalexkurban Member Member Posts: 32 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I understand your situation, i am in my 28 and i have no degree, i had a difficult situation at home and for this reason i cant study what i really want.Now that i have stability in a non cualified job i decided to start preparing my future certifications. I want to pass CCNA R/S, Comptia+ Security and stay focused on the security. I always think that its too late but something inside me says that never its too late for this.
    Sorry for my english grammar, i understand very good english but i am not good writting icon_sad.gif

    My best wishes to you
    Now that I have some job stability in an unskilled jobNow that I have some job stability in an unskilled jobNow that I have some job stability in an unskilled jobNow that I have some job stability in an unskilled jobNow that I have some job stability in an unskilled job
  • EANxEANx Member Posts: 1,078 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I went far in my career without having a degree. Once I moved into management, I figured it was more of a necessity so banged out the Bachelors while working full time. Now, as a manager, I'm trying to fight against the idea of "this position requires a degree". I always ask "why?" and most of the time, they can't really come up with an answer. Bring me someone with a few honestly won certs and a lot of enthusiasm. A degree is nice but not required in my shop.
  • m1xaylom1xaylo Member Posts: 59 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Degree is such an outdated concept used by HR to deter and weed out huge amount of applicants. If you look carefully lots of the job postings have very unrealistic amount of expectation regarding candidates experience, certification and degree combination anyway. Degree only shows that you are "trainable" but you can also prove that by getting few certifications using self study. Depending on what kind of job do you want to get (fed. gov) - it might be a requirement that they wont overlook.
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, CSM, MS Access 2016, 2019 Member Posts: 2,580 ■■■■■■■■■□
    My boss (director at a very large corporation) doesn't have a degree and has no desire to get a degree.

    There are two parts to this. Getting into the company yes the degree most certainly can help. However, once in the company if you are outshining your peers that really ends up going along way.

    My boss has delivered on two massive projects, game changers and has moved up very quickly. She might hit a ceiling because of her degree but hasn't yet.
  • CSCOnoobCSCOnoob Member Posts: 120
    No degree is not an issue for some companies. I happened to know someone who rose the rank up to Director level in a really large corporation (now a multi-national company) with just a high school diploma. Though, he was eventually forced to leave for not having a degree and I am sure other reasons as well (politics most likely).

    My 2 cents - Don't give any reason for company not to call you. Have a degree from WGU, which can be very inexpensive.
  • lucashgarcialucashgarcia Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Here in Brazil is almost mandatory that you have a degree on some IT Subject to start working. But a friend of mine that worked with me at IBM a few Years ago (who lives now in England working at a nice position on Vmware) never get one. He was a Vmware Certified Professional and was a very, very good at his work...
  • 9bits9bits Member Posts: 138 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I'd like to think the new generation is starting to understand how inefficient traditional university education is. That said, there are a lot of start-ups and small companies that will give talented people a shot and not care about university education.
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