Are degrees really that necessary?

sorry_not_moosesorry_not_moose Member Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
Good Morning Everyone, active duty military guy here who's making a career change from healthcare to IT. I don't have a degree in IT/IS/CS, but I'm seeing it as a requirement for even entry level jobs. I'm planning on getting my A+/Net+/Sec+ over the next 90 days, and I'm hoping that will be a viable substitute in place of an actual degree. What are your thoughts on this? Any hiring managers willing to chime in? Thanks in advance and have a great day! 
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Comments

  • LionelTeoLionelTeo Member Posts: 526 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Only had a diploma, but had like 12 GIAC Certifications with GSE. Eventually, your accreditation boils down to your experiences. TBH I don't really care about working for a company who cares about that degree paper. Most importantly is to work for a company that cares about the work you had done and appreciate the work you are doing. I would apply the same thought process in my hiring. 
  • Infosec_SamInfosec_Sam Security+, CCENT, ITIL Foundation, A+ Madison, WIAdmin Posts: 507 Admin
    edited May 2019
    I would expect the A+/Net+/Sec+ to be enough to get you into the door in IT. Like @Skyliinez92 said, it does really depend on the role and what the individual hiring manager values, but I don't think you'll have too much trouble finding someone who values certifications over a degree, especially in an entry-level IT position. From there, your experience will be what carries you up the ladder into better positions.

    If you're going to just do certs though, I'd consider also grabbing some equipment for a home lab and tackling some projects with that. You might find some value in actually working with equipment along with your cert studies, and it'll give you something cool to talk about in an interview. 
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  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 1,995 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Really depends on the company, some companies require a degree even for janitors, others ask for one, but it you have experience and/or certs, they will still hire you. More and more companies are moving away for must have degree requirements, IBM CEO for example says they will hire employees without a degree, but if this filters down to hiring manager is hard to say.   
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • Chrisbari14Chrisbari14 Member Posts: 82 ■■■□□□□□□□
    It depends on the type of Job you're trying to apply for and the companies hiring. I once interviewed for a System Admin job at a University  and was told I was the best interviewer they had come across in the  3 months of interviewing. I also had the most certifications. But I was told that because I hold a associates degree and not a Bachelor's Degree, that I was not considered, although I was the only person to answer all technical questions correctly. So I think it depends on the company and hiring manager. Some consider experience to trump degrees, but others prefer Degrees over experience.
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 1,995 ■■■■■■■■□□
    It depends on the type of Job you're trying to apply for and the companies hiring. I once interviewed for a System Admin job at a University  and was told I was the best interviewer they had come across in the  3 months of interviewing. I also had the most certifications. But I was told that because I hold a associates degree and not a Bachelor's Degree, that I was not considered, although I was the only person to answer all technical questions correctly. So I think it depends on the company and hiring manager. Some consider experience to trump degrees, but others prefer Degrees over experience.
    Universities are pretty much inflexible with the degree requirement, I had similar experiences in the past. I'm surprised they bothered to interview you when they seen your resume didn't have a degree on it.    
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • MontagueVandervortMontagueVandervort Senior Member Member Posts: 399 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Depends mostly on the area you live in.

    Some areas are more "strict" than others - have higher requirements.

    If you already have a degree and/or background in medical, I'll say it's probably unnecessary for you in total for now as it stands.

    Go for the Net+, get a Cisco cert or two, and apply to medical providers. You "should" be a shoe-in ... I know you would be in my area.

  • mikey88mikey88 CISSP, CySA+, Security+, Network+ and others Member Posts: 493 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Degree falls into a category of "nice to have" I learned that by having a degree or certifications doesn't mean that you'll have jobs falling on your lap.

    You still have to interview well and have the right experience.
    Certs: CISSP, CySA+, Security+, Network+ and others | 2019 Goals: Cloud Sec/Scripting/Linux

  • NetworkingStudentNetworkingStudent Member Posts: 1,407 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Really depends on the company, some companies require a degree even for janitors, others ask for one, but it you have experience and/or certs, they will still hire you. More and more companies are moving away for must have degree requirements, IBM CEO for example says they will hire employees without a degree, but if this filters down to hiring manager is hard to say.   
    TechGromit pretty much nailed it.   Some companies will require a 4 year degree.   The 4 year degree can be in anything!!!!.  I know there are some companies by me that have this requirement.   

    If you have no college degree at all, then it might be harder to find an entry level IT role.

    Get tbe CompTIA certs you listed and you should be able to find an entry level IT role.


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    --Alexander Graham Bell,
    American inventor
  • TrunksXVTrunksXV A+, Network+, Security+, CySA+, Project+, MCP, ITIL Foundation, CSAP, CIOS, CSIS Member Posts: 33 ■■■□□□□□□□
    It really does depend on which organization you're applying to. What that organizations business culture is. 

    I would go read Bryan Caplan's book "The Case Against Education" it provides a nice overview of why employers like to see a college degree on the resume, despite the fact that none of the classes are really relevant to the job in question. It all has to do with what Caplan calls a signaling model. 

    They will pay us more, if we can get through all these classes with boring and irrelevant information. I'm doing my Associates Degree currently and will graduate in less then 11 months, but I'm not at all excited or have high hopes for any better prospects depsite this. I'd like to see some results after i graduate but I'm not all that hopeful. 

    The good news is I will be debt free, and I will have gotten more certs at my current job. So its not all bad. 
    Certifications: A+, Network+, Security+, Project+, CySA+, MCP, ITIL

    Future Goals: DevOps, CASP+, Server+, Linux+, Red Hat, PenTest+
  • DZA_DZA_ Untitled. Member Posts: 438 ■■■■■■□□□□
    I agree with the statements above. Some of the real value that degrees come into play is when you apply for more senior roles up the chain; this is applicable to MBAs as well. For some companies, they love to see managers and senior folks who have a technical degree (computer science, comp engineer, etc). The perspective for a degree, there is a certain level of standard - abstract thinkers, more academically speaking. But for what it's worth, you'll do just fine as I came into IT industry with an advanced diploma or going into the industry with solid experience and certifications along the way. 
  • si20si20 Member Posts: 519 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I'm currently doing my master's degree in digital security and honestly say that the main reason i'm doing it, is because it forces me to focus and get work done, because of the constant deadlines. If I didn't have those deadlines in my face, I probably wouldn't be consuming as much information as I am doing. It's exhausting and at times, I wish i'd not got into IT. But that said, I know for a fact that MSc is going to increase my salary by 10k per year once i've done it, so a one off payment of 6-7k for my MSc will see a great ROI.
  • maryna_bmaryna_b Member Posts: 2 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Having a degree is a good bonus but it certainly doesn't mean you'll get the job just because you have it.
  • slim27jointslim27joint Member Posts: 32 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Like everyone else, I think it depends on the organization. Do you need one to get in the field and excel?...No. I do find value in a degree/higher education. I happen to get mine in Software Development & Security, which was by far my weakest area and built me up to a proficient level without necessarily rushing it. I actually nailed a lot of my web application security/assessment interviews bc of it. If you find a degree plan that interests you, I say go for it, but experience trumps everything IMO.
  • MrNetTekMrNetTek 41 certificate exams, 51 training certificates, and a bachelor's and master’s degree. Member Posts: 100 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited November 2019
    This is my recommendation for degrees, if you have the opportunity and the intelligence, obtain a degree in something you love. As others have stated, the degree doesn't have to be in tech. You can't go wrong with that philosophy. 

    -MrNetTek at your service-

  • SanErSanEr Member Posts: 17 ■■■□□□□□□□
    In general, a degree is not always a sign of skills and knowledge, but I think, it is better to have it in order not ot face any issues at work.
  • MrNetTekMrNetTek 41 certificate exams, 51 training certificates, and a bachelor's and master’s degree. Member Posts: 100 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited November 2019
    @SanEr

    Exactly. There are numerous employers, including the one I work for now, that require a degree just to get your foot in the door. Experience is almost always better, but...acquiring that experience can become quite difficult for many jobs. Obtaining a degree has never been easier. So, unless it's purely a financial reason, enroll somewhere, especially if you're entry-level, looking to break into the industry.

    -MrNetTek at your service-
  • Fulcrum45Fulcrum45 Member Posts: 605 ■■■■■□□□□□
    MrNetTek said:
    This is my recommendation for degrees, if you have the opportunity and the intelligence, obtain a degree in something you love. As others have stated, the degree doesn't have to be in tech. You can't go wrong with that philosophy. 


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    Yup! I got a degree in history because I initially wanted to be a teacher and history was the only subject I truly enjoyed in school. Even though it's about as far away from tech as it gets it still allows me to check that box when I apply. 
  • shaneplusshaneplus Member Posts: 6 ■■□□□□□□□□
    The requirement for a degree is a ridiculous component of the human firewall that is HR. In an organization, their function is to hire people that know what they're doing and put them in the best positions to succeed in their role to best help the organization succeed in its goal. Requiring a degree doesn't meet that objective, but it disqualifies a lot of people that know what they're doing instead. Any organization that has that requirement has a misconfigured human firewall in my opinion. These types of misconfigurations are driving the inflation in the education market.
  • MrNetTekMrNetTek 41 certificate exams, 51 training certificates, and a bachelor's and master’s degree. Member Posts: 100 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited November 2019
    In my opinion, greed and the lack of appropriate federal regulation are driving the inflation of the education market.

    While a degree may not be essential for some jobs, degrees can help gauge appropriate reading, writing, and comprehension levels for numerous intermediate to advanced positions. If I'm an employer, I expect a person to be able to communicate above a seventh grade academic level (seventh grade is about average for Americans---meaning, plenty of people are actually below that level). To me, degrees prove you have discipline. If a person can't follow-through on 2-4-6 years of education, can you really expect them to complete projects that are equally as long? Doubtful.

    Either way, how does a 22 year old demonstrate the necessary discipline to enter into a STEM field? Without experience or degrees, you just have to take their word for it. The risks outweigh the benefits. Thus, this is the reason why many employers require at least some form of post-secondary education. The position I'm in now requires a bachelor's degree. The degree screening process is at least partially responsible for the highly capable people I work with.

    Are degrees always the answer? Certainly not. But, I would never say degrees are ridiculous. A good portion of modern society is being driven by those possessing degrees.

    "Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men -- the balance wheel of the social machinery." - Horace Mann, pioneering American educator, 1848

    -MrNetTek at your service-
  • DFTK13DFTK13 Member Posts: 172 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Many people got it right on here, it really depends on the company and job you're trying to work for and in. I'll just put in my experience...I have an Associates in Network Engineering and 95% of the jobs I interviewed for across the spectrum(Sysadmin, network admin, PC hardware repair...) and the first thing they asked me for was if I had a CCNA, A+ or X certification and what my experience was. I think there was only 1 job that briefly brought up my education. So from where I stand and can see...experience and certs are looked at first before the degree. Now, if you're doing something like software engineering or some heavy duty programming, thats where I've seen degrees get bumped up to the requirements checklist. Again...this is just my experience. 
    Certs: CCNA(200-301), Network+, A+, LPI Linux Essentials
    Goals: CCNP Enterprise(ENCOR + ENARSI), AWS CSA - Associate, Azure AZ-104, Become better at python, learn docker and kubernetes

    Degree: A.S. Network Administration
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  • shaneplusshaneplus Member Posts: 6 ■■□□□□□□□□
    MrNetTek, I'm certainly opinionated on this, and my intent was certainly not to offend anyone. As it's not clear, specifically, I don't think degrees are ridiculous. I said "The requirement for a degree is a ridiculous component of the human firewall that is HR." I stand by that. What I mean is requiring a certain level of a degree from someone that has been able to prove competency elsewhere is ridiculous to me. From what I can see HR departments that require them for employment drive the demand for degrees. Many feel it's expected of them when graduating college, and they can accumulate a lot of expense through completing the college experience. This certainly isn't the only factor. You mentioned greed and lack of federal regulation. I would certainly agree with greed on the part of the educational institutions, and to an extent how the federal regulation is being implemented. I would definitely agree these are contributing factors as well. 

    You mentioned this:
    "Either way, how does a 22 year old demonstrate the necessary discipline to enter into a STEM field? Without experience or degrees, you just have to take their word for it."

    I would say certifications would be a great way to display competence in a certain field. For programming or graphic design, portfolios would be a great way to display competence in a certain field.

    You mentioned this:
    "If a person can't follow-through on 2-4-6 years of education, can you really expect them to complete projects that are equally as long? Doubtful."

    I would disagree with you here as well. 2-4-6 years of employment in the field and working on similar projects at 8 hours a day, 20 days a month, for 12 months a year would better prove discipline than 1 hour a day per subject plus homework for 8-9 months out of the year. Perhaps this is just my opinion from seeing too many recent degree grads trip up frequently when entering the workforce.

    You mentioned this:
    "Are degrees always the answer? Certainly not."

    I certainly agree with this. I will say, certifications aren't always the answer either. I have seen "paper warriors" in this industry that seem to be able to cram and memorized certification questions, but not be able to practically apply their knowledge in the field. Also, not all job experience is equal either. 

    sorry_not_moose, you mentioned this:
    "I don't have a degree in IT/IS/CS, but I'm seeing it as a requirement for even entry level jobs."

    I'm certainly not a hiring manager. I do agree with the majority opinion on this thread that it depends on the organization and job for which you're applying. I'm seeing the same thing in terms of there seems to be a lot of requirements for degrees for a lot of these organizations for even entry level roles without consideration for experience or certifications. It's frustrating to me because it's by enlarge not the right approach by industry to achieve their goals. It is what it is, not what it ought to be. That's just my $.02.
  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 11,712 Admin
    Having a degree will allow you to qualify for more job opportunities. Even a 2-year Associates degree will qualify you for many of "degreed" jobs these days. Go to a community college for two years, get an AA in general education (to finish your GE units) and then use that degree to get a job with an employer who will pay for your Bachelor's and Master's degree. 
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,647 ■■■■■■■■□□
    edited October 2019
    Don't confuse how things have been going in the economy for the little less than a decade with how things will continue to be.  We have had the longest stretch of economic growth in a long time because we came out of a huge recession.  Eventually (potentially in a couple of years), we will have another one.

    Whenever that happens, you're going to wish you had a college degree on top of every other potential leg up you could get compared to others.
    AZ-203 [ ] AZ-400 [ ]
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  • shochanshochan Member Posts: 927 ■■■■■■□□□□
    90 days to absorb all of that information for 3 certs, good luck!  


    2020 Goal ~ Linux+
  • MrNetTekMrNetTek 41 certificate exams, 51 training certificates, and a bachelor's and master’s degree. Member Posts: 100 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited November 2019
    @shaneplus

    What are you going to do when your résumé comes up against a person that has certs, degrees, and experience? Some IT degrees allow the person to obtain all the certs by the time they graduate. See WGU.

    That is ultimately the greatest obstacle---your résumé being compared to other résumés. Much of this comparison process happens automatically by scanning keywords. Meaning, you won't even make it to interviews, purely based on the keywords missing from your résumé. HR offices, everywhere, are already using that kind of software.

    And, even companies that physically review résumés, HR looks for keywords as well. Did you really think someone is personally reading all the content in each résumé, in a stack of a 150 résumés? Résumés that don't have a degree listed on them go straight to the trash (at least for many jobs).

    There are 11.5+ million people working in technology in the United States. Competition for the higher paying jobs is stiff. As others have stated, it really depends on the job and the employer, but...there are still tens of thousands of employers that require at least some college. In my opinion, it's just too risky to one's career to skip college. Diplomas have never been easier to obtain. My advice? Enter a program. Obtain a degree in something you love. 

    Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

    Here is the lesson: https://money.cnn.com/2012/05/13/technology/yahoo-ceo-out/index.htm

    -MrNetTek at your service-
  • lucky0977lucky0977 Senior Member Member Posts: 218 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited October 2019
    IMO, a college degree is more like a goal of personal fulfillment rather than a baseline requirement. Being in the DoD environment, I work with many people who only have a high school education with the caveat that they do have 20+ yrs of military experience performing the job. I have come to the conclusion that a college education is one of those "nice to haves" but there are other avenues to enter the IT field and have a successful career.

    The other issue I see is the government at the Federal and State level are over-promoting STEM education and these PSA commercials give the impression that you won't amount to much in life if you don't receive a college education.
    Bachelor of Science: Computer Science | Hawaii Pacific University
    CISSP | CISM | CISA | CASP | SSCP | Sec+ | Net+ | A+
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,647 ■■■■■■■■□□
    A degree is definitely not a “nice to have”.  There are certain situations where folks have developed enough experience that it is no longer relevant with the exception of hard-lined places that will not look at your resume without one.  However, people starting off are going to have a real hard time developing the experience to reach that level, especially if we hit another recession.

    I agree with your statement regarding STEM, but they are just looking at growth and seeing that we both need more folks and it is “easy” to recommend because folks tend to make decent money.
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  • iBrokeITiBrokeIT GICSP, GCIP, GXPN, GPEN, GWAPT, GCFE, GCIH, GSEC, CySA+, Sec+, eJPT Member Posts: 1,294 ■■■■■■■■■□
    By not getting a degree you are choosing to play your career on hard mode in terms of opportunities available to you, the competition you face for available positions and promotions.
    2019: GPEN | GCFE | GXPN | GICSP | CySA+ 
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  • MrNetTekMrNetTek 41 certificate exams, 51 training certificates, and a bachelor's and master’s degree. Member Posts: 100 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited November 2019
    Most of the median salaries of the future will require degrees; there will be fewer and fewer exceptions. It's why places like Starbucks and UPS offer college degree programs for their employees. That's right...even places like UPS are offering their employees debt-free ways of obtaining a college degree. Numerous organizations already do this through college reimbursement, assuming you make at least a 'B' in the class.

    https://www.ups.com/us/en/services/resource-center/earn-and-learn-program.page

    https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2015/starbucks-college-achievement-plan-frequently-asked-questions

    https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2019/06/04/walmart-adds-14-tech-degrees-certificates-to-live-better-u-college-offering-expands-debt-free-college-to-high-schoolers-and-creates-graduation-bonuses

    Others: https://www.estudentloan.com/blog/10-companies-will-help-pay-college

    -MrNetTek at your service-
  • EANxEANx Member Posts: 1,078 ■■■■■■■■□□
    It used to be that people who dropped out of HS could still get good work in a factory or in the trades but that's not so prevalent anymore. Nowadays, a HS diploma is the functional equivalent of finishing 10th grade while getting a Bachelor's is the functional equivalent of what a HS diploma was 25 years ago. Do you NEED a degree? No, but it makes you more competitive and (hopefully) gives you knowledge that makes you more well rounded as a person. If I was starting off my career today, I'd tell the younger me to start with some baseline certs, get a job and then hop over to WGU and bang out a Bachelor's. And people early in their career are more likely to qualify for grants which, as opposed to loans, don't need to be repaid.
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