Certification vs Degree

muriloninjamuriloninja Posts: 33Member ■■□□□□□□□□
Just found the board a few days back and thought i would sign up to learn and help out when possible.

I have noticed somethings in my time in the IT field. One person will say "Get your certs bla bla bla" and the next will say "$%@! certs" and that has always bugged me. I have a degree in Networking and currently have zero certs although i have experience and have a good job with tons of potential to move into anything i want (IT Consulting).

I have noticed some people on here have no degree, little to no experience yet have three or more certs. What is the reasoning behind this? Does this explain the "paper tigers" we all hear about?

I currently work with two Network Engineers and niether have any certs or a degree and they are in the middle of designing the new stadium for a NFL team. Bottom line is, they both have experience and know what they are doing.

So it makes me wonder, why in the hell did i go to school? Why not just gather experience? What the hell good are certs for?

Honestly i know that most idiotic employers know nothing about IT/Certification, they just know 'hey this guy is a MCSE or bla bla bla" anf they hire him. So what happens if i took a $5k boot camp over the course of a week and became a MCSE? I no doubt would get the job but when crap hits the fan, i would not have the skills to resolve the issue.

I have scraped the bottom of the IT barrel for a long time even after getting my degree and yes i heard the infamous "not enough experience". So i spent alot of time bitter about the IT field and pondered if i should even pursue it anymore. Luck has it that i slowly worked my way up from Tech Support to Help Desk to Desktop Support and i will jump to servers next.

After going through all this and gathering my experience, i now am aiming for certifications. I mean if it is what they are looking for, hell give it to them right?

So i am now on the board and the 3 certs that i feel would suit my career path would be A+ 2006, MCP (70-270), Network +, Server +

I would like to also pursue MCSE and later Cisco but i am taking baby steps, why have a cert and not truly understand what it entails?

I know this was long and i am sure i am not the only one that has endured the trials and tribulations the IT world can hand down. I am back and motivated and i am ready to take it to the next level, i am worth it and so are you.

The certs are gonna get me to the next level in pay and career...so why not.

Comments

  • NuwinNuwin Posts: 75Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I guess the answer here is life is a an exam with several answers to the question, several being right, and you only have to pick one.

    I currently have several certs and no degree (yet). I've just happened to pick up the certs as they relate to my classes. The program I am in tries to teach material based on the objectives of several certifications, although they are not specifically sponsored by Microsoft or CompTIA.

    I guess for me being in the "not enough experience" stage in my life, I figure to use my certs to increase my chances of getting an interview for a prospective job. Once I'm in the door, then it's up to me to sell my knowledge and prove my worth beyond just being a "paper tiger."
    "By the power of Grayskull"
  • keenonkeenon Posts: 1,921Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    i have a few college hours but far from a degree but i do have certs ( which have opened more doors for me than those i have met with degrees)

    its all according to the path you desire to take.. as for me i felt like waiting a couple of years to get a degree was too long for what i wanted to do.. i have earned certs in weeks to a few months ( CCNP took many months, just over a year from the day i picked up the first book icon_rolleyes.gif )
    Become the stainless steel sharp knife in a drawer full of rusty spoons
  • muriloninjamuriloninja Posts: 33Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    keenon wrote:
    i have a few college hours but far from a degree but i do have certs ( which have opened more doors for me than those i have met with degrees)

    its all according to the path you desire to take.. as for me i felt like waiting a couple of years to get a degree was too long for what i wanted to do.. i have earned certs in weeks to a few months ( CCNP took many months, just over a year from the day i picked up the first book icon_rolleyes.gif )

    You remind of this one guy i went to school with, this cat was already a CCNP and was just going to school for the "paper". He had little to no trouble in school, literally breezed through and even tested out of some classes.

    I remember when we first started learning Subnetting, this guy knew it in and out. Thank god for subnetting calculators. icon_lol.gif

    I see you are from TN, that is where i went to school and immediately after graduating i moved to Texas.
  • tibultibul Posts: 240Member
    I would like to obtain a degree but feel it takes way too much time and money for learning something that you can just as easily learn from certs.

    I think certs are deffinatly worth the effort, people say all these things about people with certs and no experiance are just paper certs but yet all the things i've learnt from my certs so far has helped me in my job there has been many many things that i have learnt from studying for certs that i have now applied to my job (you cant get experiance without actually knowing how to do something or how it works, unless you have somebody teaching you).

    I feel i have much more knowledge and the know how to do things than i did before i started with certs, so yes i think certs are very usefull even if its to only improve yourself.

    Also i dont think just becouse your only reading etc that you cant do what you have read, after studying for 70-210, 70-215 i whent and set up our VPN at work from scratch from just the knowledge that i learnt from studying (and more things beside this).

    Its more down to the person studying whether they can put what they read into action nothing to do with the fact they havent got hands on experiance.
    Studying 70-292.
    Aiming for MCSA: Security and 2003 upgrade.
  • MrDMrD Posts: 441Member
    I'm finishing up an Associates in networking technologies and pursuing the CCIE. I think that as a tech you don't necessarily need a degree, but if you ever want to move into IT management or similar then a degree is very helpful. After I finish the AAS I will continue to take a class a semester until I get a Bachelors, and then maybe even go for a Masters. I can do 1 class standing on my head...just my .02

    P.S. Anything to stay ahead of the pack!
  • goforthbmerrygoforthbmerry Posts: 244Member
    They are all just paper. The degrees carry more weight down the road, especially if you want to get into management. HR departments love degrees. They don't really understand certs. Certs are requested by IT managers that have degrees and little technical knowledge. But they know enough to know what technical skills are needed to get the job done. My goals are both in security and management. I am working on my master's now and my security+. I will get more certs after my master's (it is too hard to study for a cert while in school) including my MCSA:security and my PMI CAPM. From there I will move as far as I can go to end up with my CISSP. I am currently a Desktop Support Analyst/Order System management Analyst. I have two years experience in the field. I am currently about to be over educated for my experience. I am hoping to become a network administrator as my next career step. I wish you all luck
    Going for MCSE:security, Intermediate ITIL, PMP
  • RATTLERMANRATTLERMAN Posts: 151Member
    HR departments love degrees. They don't really understand certs. Certs are requested by IT managers that have degrees and little technical knowledge

    TELL THE TRUTH... TELL THE TRUTH AND SHAME THE DEVIL

    What it all boils down to is this :Do what you have to do to get in the door
    but once there prove yourself worthy
  • muriloninjamuriloninja Posts: 33Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I agree that those who have a degree have better chance for management than those without. I am trying to decide if i should waste time with the A+ 2006 or go straight to Network +?
  • keenonkeenon Posts: 1,921Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    net +
    Become the stainless steel sharp knife in a drawer full of rusty spoons
  • muriloninjamuriloninja Posts: 33Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    keenon wrote:
    net +

    Exactly my thoughts after reading how they "improved" the A+ 2006 cert. What a joke..
  • boyles23boyles23 Posts: 130Member
    Of course they are all paper! I am working on my degree and some certs at the same time, because I have run across a lot of jobs that require a 4 year degree. So I think it definitely won't hurt anything(except your wallet icon_eek.gif ) and the certs just help kind of round out your proof of effort and willingness to achieve something better than just average. Some people are in an IT position and didn't have to get a degree to be there, but there a lot of jobs that require it, so really you limit your options. I personally think that companies that require a degree no matter what it is in are kind of ridicolous but I will play the game to get to the top. Just my $ .02!! :D
  • EverlifeEverlife Posts: 253Member
    I have somewhat of an odd background compared to most people in the IT world.

    I've had a fascination with computers from the day I first began playing with my parent's Commodore 64. I toyed with them through high school, and began majoring in Computer Science in college. Programming wasn't for me, so I switched over to Accounting because I enjoyed the logic and mathematics that were involved within it. I eventually graduated with a bachelors in accounting, but continued to toy with computers as a hobby.

    I was hired into my current company as an Accountant, but what really got the job for me was my interest in computers and the IT field. Within 3 months I was moved from an accounting position to an IT position. I now help manage a network of 40 clients in a Server 2003 environment, head up all our computer forensic investigations, and also am in charge of all acquiring and managing the eletronic data on each case we receive.

    My company has paid over $25,000.00 in training costs to send me to various seminars, purchase books and software to further my education. Every single seminar and certification has been my idea. The fact that I'm showing an interest in furthering my education is what is motivating them to **** this money into me.

    Without that college degree, I would never have gotten my foot in the door. There are many people who manage to get into the IT field and do great for themselves with only a high school diploma and craploads of real life experience. However, many companies require a bachelors and masters to be elevated beyond a certain salary range.

    Receiving a college degree means you were willing to put forth four years of your life to an education. The same goes for a certification, it shows interest in learning and mastering a new skill.

    Are either necessary in the field of IT, I don't think so. Are they going to help you out? Greatly.

    I'm currently pursuing my Microsoft certs, simply because I enjoy the topics and absolutely love learning. I'm also planning on working on my Masters degree come next year for the same reason.

    Sorry for the huge post. I don't think anyone should ignore the value of an education, whether it be a degree or a certification, when it is pursued for the right reasons. When someone pursues the for the wrong reasons, they're usually discovered very quickly. =)
  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaPosts: 5,163Mod Mod
    I'm currently in the certification and degree boat. Although, I admit to studying for certifications and working as a systems engineer is really only a side-quest to make some money for college. I've seen a lot of threads like this and I've had a lot of discussions like this, and it comes down to a few basic things for a lot of people: what are employers looking for? For me, going to school is a little more. . . err. . . spiritual(?) than just getting a job. I want to know that I'm educated, I want to complete the journey, and I want to look back at my life and know I didn't settle for something less than that. In a way, the same goes for the certs. I want to know that I have that level of knowledge, and it feels really good to be acknowledged by Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, etc. . . for that knowledge, and truly know that I'm not just kidding myself about how much knowledge I've packed into my brain.

    As for which is better? That's a toughie. In my opinion, certifications were orginially intended as a benchmark for experience. If you were a CCNA, you had basic knowledge of routing and switching. A CCNP had been working for a few years, a CCIE was a seasoned veteran with years and years of experience. If you were an MCSE, you were supposed to be completely educated on the workings of a full-scale Microsoft Windows network and all of it's intricacies. The unfortunate fact is that a lot of people do become "paper tigers", and a lot of people get stuck in that odd middle-point where they have the cert and they have the theoretical knowledge, but not the work experience to back it up.

    I guess you have to start somewhere. These days, you can't get a job without experience, a degree, and/or certifications. Most employers want all three. For anyone really serious about making a career for themselves, I'd say start with school, then go for your certs to show your marketable skills, and get as much practical experience as you can in the process. Educate yourself until you get your foot in the door, and then work hard to stay inside.

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  • ToBeOrNotToBeToBeOrNotToBe Posts: 14Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Interesting topic my friend, but if you just go through the replies, you will simply find some answers that are like "to hell with a degree, i can get certs", and you know what, this is exactly the problem that people and those certs vendors should understand, that those certs holders with no degrees, are supposed to be ranked as technicians, according to the employment chain of escalation, but lets be honest, some of those employers are non educated themselves, so obviously if you come to an interview with an MCSE, to those you are a god.

    in my opinion, there are two ways to solve this messy situation, so those degrees holders with certs, won't be ranked and treated the same as those with no degrees:

    *certs vendors should classify their certs into categories, so that you can't sit for that exam unless you produce you college degree or something.
    *the government should enforce some regulations into the IT employement to ensure no deterioration takes over the IT field.

    so, i guess its a real problem, and really, SOMEBODY MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
  • famosbrownfamosbrown Posts: 637Member
    I have a degree and currently pursuing more certifications. I don't plan on pursuing a Masters or antyhing further until I'm ready to move up the management chain. I got my first Supervisory position of a Tier 2 Help desk because of my bachelor's degree and interviewing skills. Once I got in, I proved I could do the job. I began pursuing the degree when I started seeking more of the systems/networking engineering/administrative jobs that were asking for certifications or both. YOu don't find many recognized accredited universities that actually go in depth and teach you specific vendor technologies, I.E. MS and Cisco, so the certifications show that you have some specific skills. Once I began pursuing my certifications, I took a little pay cut, but I'm now in systems administration with hopes of getting the experience then moving up tp the engineering positions that I see everyday accross the nation and in my area for 70K+ a year. I used to make about 60K as a supervisor, but I had to take a pay cut, so I can actually make the kind of money I want doing the job I want. With both a degree (depends on what kind) and certifications, you have choices. You can be purely technical or just take the managerial side and like others have said above...hire those with the certifications for the specific functions you need them for.

    Paper Certs, in my opinion, aren't necessarily those who are certified with no WORK experience, but they are those who **** to get certified and never learn the material. It goes the same way for college grads. Some **** their way through college, but when they try to get a job in their field, they are quickly identified, along with their institution since they produced the person. I had zero experience until I got this job, and I stepped right in and have performed. Actually, server(S) adminstration is the easy part, the other stuff like multiple project management for technology's and infrastructures I have no clue about is the toughest. No real specific roles in I.T. where I work...just titles :D .

    But anyway, I would get both. Get the degree out of the way, then certs, or the other way around. A degree will help if you decide 10 years later that you hate being a Windows Engineer...you can go off and do something else with your degree, but that MCSE won't get you a job managing a small business department of some corporation. That is why I chose my degree the way I did...both technical and business combined. Kept the options open rather than focusing on something that I may be stuck with.

    My 2 cents.
    B.S.B.A. (Management Information Systems)
    M.B.A. (Technology Management)
  • garv221garv221 Posts: 1,914Member
    This question has been asked a million times. The more of everything the better. The more certs, degrees, experience, women, beer, friends, money...
    Here is a link
    http://www.techexams.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=18864
  • EverlifeEverlife Posts: 253Member
    No offense, but with the rate of change in tech, I really don't understand why anyone would get a masters degree in it. I mean, when I was in college the only languages they taught were COBOL and FORTRAN and we all used WordPerfect and Lotus123 to do our assignments. How useful are those skills today?

    If your goal is to get into upper management and chase the invisible carrot (er, I meant "go for the brass ring", ehem) an MBA would seem a much better choice, IMVHO. President Bush has one from Harvard, that's what makes him so smart. icon_rolleyes.gif

    Are you assuming that everyone in the IT world is working towards a masters in computer programming? There are many different masters programs that relate to theories and methodology within the IT world. You may learn a specific program during your studies that will become obsolete within in a year, however, you can apply the way in which learned that language to learning a new language. The same goes for any subject.

    My bachelors is in accounting, but I find myself applying many of the business and accounting theories and ideals to network administration, incidence response, and computer forensics.

    The way companies do business changes as well, by your logic that would make an MBA useless down the line.
  • muriloninjamuriloninja Posts: 33Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    famosbrown wrote:
    I have a degree and currently pursuing more certifications. I don't plan on pursuing a Masters or antyhing further until I'm ready to move up the management chain. I got my first Supervisory position of a Tier 2 Help desk because of my bachelor's degree and interviewing skills. Once I got in, I proved I could do the job. I began pursuing the degree when I started seeking more of the systems/networking engineering/administrative jobs that were asking for certifications or both. YOu don't find many recognized accredited universities that actually go in depth and teach you specific vendor technologies, I.E. MS and Cisco, so the certifications show that you have some specific skills. Once I began pursuing my certifications, I took a little pay cut, but I'm now in systems administration with hopes of getting the experience then moving up tp the engineering positions that I see everyday accross the nation and in my area for 70K+ a year. I used to make about 60K as a supervisor, but I had to take a pay cut, so I can actually make the kind of money I want doing the job I want. With both a degree (depends on what kind) and certifications, you have choices. You can be purely technical or just take the managerial side and like others have said above...hire those with the certifications for the specific functions you need them for.

    Paper Certs, in my opinion, aren't necessarily those who are certified with no WORK experience, but they are those who **** to get certified and never learn the material. It goes the same way for college grads. Some **** their way through college, but when they try to get a job in their field, they are quickly identified, along with their institution since they produced the person. I had zero experience until I got this job, and I stepped right in and have performed. Actually, server(S) adminstration is the easy part, the other stuff like multiple project management for technology's and infrastructures I have no clue about is the toughest. No real specific roles in I.T. where I work...just titles :D .

    But anyway, I would get both. Get the degree out of the way, then certs, or the other way around. A degree will help if you decide 10 years later that you hate being a Windows Engineer...you can go off and do something else with your degree, but that MCSE won't get you a job managing a small business department of some corporation. That is why I chose my degree the way I did...both technical and business combined. Kept the options open rather than focusing on something that I may be stuck with.

    My 2 cents.

    Nice post!

    I feel better personally getting certs after my degree. I have been out of school 2yrs now, its about time i made up my mind and i am getting certified.
  • EverlifeEverlife Posts: 253Member
    famosbrown wrote:
    I have a degree and currently pursuing more certifications. I don't plan on pursuing a Masters or antyhing further until I'm ready to move up the management chain. I got my first Supervisory position of a Tier 2 Help desk because of my bachelor's degree and interviewing skills. Once I got in, I proved I could do the job. I began pursuing the degree when I started seeking more of the systems/networking engineering/administrative jobs that were asking for certifications or both. YOu don't find many recognized accredited universities that actually go in depth and teach you specific vendor technologies, I.E. MS and Cisco, so the certifications show that you have some specific skills. Once I began pursuing my certifications, I took a little pay cut, but I'm now in systems administration with hopes of getting the experience then moving up tp the engineering positions that I see everyday accross the nation and in my area for 70K+ a year. I used to make about 60K as a supervisor, but I had to take a pay cut, so I can actually make the kind of money I want doing the job I want. With both a degree (depends on what kind) and certifications, you have choices. You can be purely technical or just take the managerial side and like others have said above...hire those with the certifications for the specific functions you need them for.

    Paper Certs, in my opinion, aren't necessarily those who are certified with no WORK experience, but they are those who **** to get certified and never learn the material. It goes the same way for college grads. Some **** their way through college, but when they try to get a job in their field, they are quickly identified, along with their institution since they produced the person. I had zero experience until I got this job, and I stepped right in and have performed. Actually, server(S) adminstration is the easy part, the other stuff like multiple project management for technology's and infrastructures I have no clue about is the toughest. No real specific roles in I.T. where I work...just titles :D .

    But anyway, I would get both. Get the degree out of the way, then certs, or the other way around. A degree will help if you decide 10 years later that you hate being a Windows Engineer...you can go off and do something else with your degree, but that MCSE won't get you a job managing a small business department of some corporation. That is why I chose my degree the way I did...both technical and business combined. Kept the options open rather than focusing on something that I may be stuck with.

    My 2 cents.

    Best post in this thread. My hats off to you.
  • computerguy9355computerguy9355 Posts: 81Inactive Imported Users ■■□□□□□□□□
    Why does everyone think getting a certification without experience is considered "paper cert" and one must have cheated to get that certification ?

    i have a couple of paper certs, i do not have any experience but i have the knowledage. And that is how I landed my second best job (network engineer)
  • tibultibul Posts: 240Member
    exactly what i said in my post above, i consider paper certs being people that **** on tests or only learn enough to pass the test, if you have studied damm hard and learned the material not just remember it then i consider it exactly the same as if you learnt the material from just work experience.

    and this is coming from somebody who has 3 years work experience as a desktop support/network admin and certs also improved much more in my career since getting certs than what i was without them.
    Studying 70-292.
    Aiming for MCSA: Security and 2003 upgrade.
  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaPosts: 5,163Mod Mod
    I think the point, regarding paper certs and experience, is that people who **** are the ones we call "Paper Tigers". Earning a certification through nothing but study and labwork doesn't make it a paper cert, it just means that you know enough to have passed the test and you've shown that you have a solid understanding of the material. Experience is something else, experience in addition to a cert means that you know what you need for the cert, and a whole lot more.

    I've always said that the certifications are a baseline. They are a way of saying "I know a standard level of information, just like everyone else and just like is expected of me." Having experience means you get a chance to go beyond the constraints of the ceritification, and you might even get a chance to innovate, to know more than your average bear. . . err. . . CCNA.

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  • blargoeblargoe Self-Described Huguenot NC, USAPosts: 4,171Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    Eventually, if you want to be well paid, you need to get both...
    IT guy since 12/00

    Recent: 11/2019 - RHCSA (RHEL 7); 2/2019 - Updated VCP to 6.5 (just a few days before VMware discontinued the re-cert policy...)
    Working on: RHCE/Ansible
    Future: Probably continued Red Hat Immersion, Possibly VCAP Design, or maybe a completely different path. Depends on job demands...
  • webexplorerwebexplorer Posts: 5Inactive Imported Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    To have knowledge is one thing to apply it in the right way is another
  • emmajoyceemmajoyce Posts: 86Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I think that both are good for a career and personal satisfaction. Some jobs require a cert. If you want that job, earn the cert. I didnt have the luxury of someone giving me a chance. Thus i had to go to college first. I would have loved for someone to say "hey, come on, i'll show you how to do it.". I earned my certs because i wanted to see if what i had learned had taught me anything and also if it had stuck in the brain. I do agree with the gentleman who said "paper certs doesnt mean you cheated" To me a cert is a cert. You either earned it or cheated. ONly you know. And maybe your employer. Because you dont work doesnt mean you cheated in aquiring your certification. Where did that come from????. Just wanted to put in a plug for programmers. You guys amaze me. Its almost like watching a magician at work. You do all of these actions then magic happens. Wish i could get the brain for it. Have a great holiday people.
    lungsucker.jpg
  • CicadaCicada Posts: 9Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    i'm also in the 'not enough experience' camp.

    i have my B.S. and am nearly done with my MBA. both are in computer-related fields.

    however, aside from internships and volunteer work, I have no "real" work experience. I'm currently working at the data center here on campus, doing some computer repair and phone support [basically geek squad for the university, but all our work is absolutely free to students] -- they've told me time and again that i'd be working with the IT Consultants and sysadmins in our department, but I haven't been doing that, and i've been here for more than 2 years. They've also said that i'd eventually get hired full time, but the department never has enough money. so at this point it looks pretty dead-end.

    it's quite frustrating but all I can really do is apply, apply, apply and hope i can get out of here, and be making more while actually learning something new.

    I'm currently working on my 70-290 exam, then i will go on to complete the MCSA track, and then MCSE...all while doing my MBA.

    Things i've noticed:
    - In the past month that ive been doing hands-on lab work with my computers and studying for 70-290 i've learned more than i have in my 5 years at school [yes, it took me 5 to do my BS, and it will be another year before i complete my MBA]

    -through all my schooling is that it's ALL theory. no application, barely any hands-on work with with i'm interested in. a degree really IS just a piece of paper proving that you made it through a bunch of BS.

    - my friend graduated last year with his MBA in CIS [and a BA in CIS] he had absolutely NO work experience in the IT field...most of it was intern work doing clerical stuff, and some small volunteer work, but no IT work...he was out of a job for nearly 18 months, before he landed one.

    I suppose you can't be too picky, but I don't see the point in doing something you don't like doing just to 'get your foot in the door'...perhaps for a large corporation, but for a small business, i wouldn't even bother.
  • oldbarneyoldbarney Posts: 89Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    No offense, but with the rate of change in tech, I really don't understand why anyone would get a masters degree in it. I mean, when I was in college the only languages they taught were COBOL and FORTRAN and we all used WordPerfect and Lotus123 to do our assignments. How useful are those skills today?...
    The skills associated with those languages and apps may not be in much demand today. But Unix and DOS command line scripting have been used for over 25 years now with no end in sight.

    Incidentally, I am pursuing an MS IT.
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