IT skills in demand, not requiring a degree

I was curious if anyone knew of any IT skills in demand that paid decently, but that didn't necessarily require a bachelor's degree. Something you could learn with self-study, in other words.

I had been dabbling some in Cisco networking, but you have to buy a boatload of equipment that ultimately is pricey once you get all you need, and I don't think networking is my bag. I had looked into the MCSA/MCSE, too, but I hear the demand for those are down. I'm not interested in the server end of things anyway.

I had thought about programming, but again, employers want a degree - even if you were a pro with the needed programs. There's webpage design, which I'm interested in, but employers seem to want expertise in 58 different programs/applications, and even if I did learn the programs, it's a slow road to get the experience one would need to actually get a FT paying job with them. Maybe I'm wrong?

Anyway, just looking for some input from those who have an IT job already and know what it takes and what's in demand. There seems to be no shortage of people who are still learning or standing on the sidelines offering a dozen different opinions who aren't even in the job field yet.

Comments

  • nelnel Posts: 2,859Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Firstly, decide what you want to do and what you enjoy most. Then go with that. Things like networking, server support, programming etc are all in demand but it depends on the area you live too. Obviously the pay structure fluctuates depending on the job role. From my experiance networking and programming seem to have better pay grades than *most* server support roles. but there are advanced server roles which pay great money too.

    Im not going to go into advantages and disadvantages of having a degree but maybe you would be best looking for a junior position in your chosen field - a position where you can learn your trade from the ground up. Even with programming there are several certs which could help you learn the material for a role which can be self studied. Experiance is key as always so looking for a junior position is a good starting place. Otherwise it maybe a case of working up from the helpdesk which is not great but a good learning curve for any IT personnel. And one which many of us have been through. It would get you a foot in the door and some vital experiance whilst self studying.

    Advanced IT positions are not easy to come by compared to what all newbie's think. It takes alot of time, effort, luck, knowing the right people etc to get to the position you crave. Im 23 and after working 6 years in IT support/helpdesk roles i finally landed my first network role 1 year ago. And i like it! :D so stick in there kid!
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  • GT-RobGT-Rob Posts: 1,090Member
    Advanced IT positions are not easy to come by compared to what all newbie's think. It takes alot of time, effort, luck, knowing the right people etc to get to the position you crave.


    Very true words there.

    Nothing is free and nothing is easy in these field. A lot of people see someone young in a high paying IT position and assume its an easy ride, but usually that kid worked his arse off to get there. No matter what route you decide, there is going to be a large investment of time and money to get ahead, but it can be very rewarding in the end.
  • Dr_AtomicDr_Atomic Posts: 184Member
    GT-Rob wrote: »
    Very true words there.

    Nothing is free and nothing is easy in these field. A lot of people see someone young in a high paying IT position and assume its an easy ride, but usually that kid worked his arse off to get there. No matter what route you decide, there is going to be a large investment of time and money to get ahead, but it can be very rewarding in the end.

    First of all, let me say that I never asked for "an easy ride" to get to my goals. Whoever made this assumption needs to pay attention to my post. I just don't want to go back to school and get another college degree, which is too time consuming and too costly for me. I'd rather do something where I can do self-study so I can go at my own pace, or perhaps a community college or certificate/training program - enough training where I can learn what I need to to get an entry level job and move up.

    I had been looking for specific suggestions, but none have been proffered so far.
  • sidsanderssidsanders Posts: 217Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    you listed a bunch of diff areas, which one do you like? you seemed to say networking is kinda out, programming maybe out due to degree reqs... what would you like to do? demand depends on geopgraphic area, employers, in my view. the feds and gov contractors (usa wise), are looking for boat loads of folks in many areas though many of those they want cleared folks (haha, they wont find many of those cleared and available!!!).

    the comptia certs (a+/net+/sec+) can be useful to help land you an entry level gig. no reason you couldnt do those via self study. as others noted, depends on what you want to focus on.
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  • nelnel Posts: 2,859Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    First of all, let me say that I never asked for "an easy ride" to get to my goals. Whoever made this assumption needs to pay attention to my post. I just don't want to go back to school and get another college degree, which is too time consuming and too costly for me. I'd rather do something where I can do self-study so I can go at my own pace, or perhaps a community college or certificate/training program - enough training where I can learn what I need to to get an entry level job and move up.

    I had been looking for specific suggestions, but none have been proffered so far.

    Rob isnt saying you are asking more an easy ride, he is merely commenting that IT is a difficult field to move up in compared to what some people think. What he is saying that IT is a field which requires hard work to gain experiance & qualifications which usually come at a price - time and money. I think i gave you a good starting point by looking for a Junior position in your chosen field. Otherwise it would be a helpdesk/support role to start with whilst you move up the ladder.

    Dont take this personally but You say you havent been given specific answers but you havent been specific entirely yourself. What field do you want to concentrate on? You've kinda ruled out networking and server support but mentioned a kind of interest in programming.

    You've also said that you dont want to spend alot of time & money on a degree but go on to mention formal training. Well formal training can be time consuming and expensive too. Take my example, i was going to take a CCNP taught course at a local university once. Each module (exam) series was quoted as £800 EACH and took upto 8 weeks! so that would be 32 weeks and set me back £3200. I would say thats time consuming and expensive but merely an example. Obviously i didnt go for it due to the money but have started self study. It will still take a large amount of time but cost alot less for me.

    Patience is key in this industry. Everything takes time, along with the effort etc previously mentioned. Some people are lucky and can land a junior or graduate positions - the rest of us usually start at the bottom and work our way up.

    Have you also tried contract work to start gaining experiance? anything like desktop deployments etc? its not great but experiance either way.
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  • TurgonTurgon Posts: 6,313Banned
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    I was curious if anyone knew of any IT skills in demand that paid decently, but that didn't necessarily require a bachelor's degree. Something you could learn with self-study, in other words.

    I had been dabbling some in Cisco networking, but you have to buy a boatload of equipment that ultimately is pricey once you get all you need, and I don't think networking is my bag. I had looked into the MCSA/MCSE, too, but I hear the demand for those are down. I'm not interested in the server end of things anyway.

    I had thought about programming, but again, employers want a degree - even if you were a pro with the needed programs. There's webpage design, which I'm interested in, but employers seem to want expertise in 58 different programs/applications, and even if I did learn the programs, it's a slow road to get the experience one would need to actually get a FT paying job with them. Maybe I'm wrong?

    Anyway, just looking for some input from those who have an IT job already and know what it takes and what's in demand. There seems to be no shortage of people who are still learning or standing on the sidelines offering a dozen different opinions who aren't even in the job field yet.

    Lots of jobs require graduates these days. Helpdesk isn't decent pay but it's a way in. I think if you were to throw your lot in with any technology without a degree or at least working towards one a lot of jobs would be closed to you. But not all.

    Sounds like infrastructure isn't your thing at all, so skip hardcore networking and server ambitions. Web design, well there is a lot of competition and a million programmers out there doing the usual app thing. But it seems programming is something you like. Go for something a bit niche. Why not get heavy with some of the embedded stuff on your own time and see if companies working with that can give you a start. Or check out Java programming, windows sockets and Oracle backends. A lot of financial trading instruments use these technologies. Less money in finance at the moment but it isn't going away. Become very knowledgable about multicasting and how it is used in trading environments. Become knowledgable about TCP/IP and using snoop to debug transactions in real time. No need to be a network specialist in the sense it is understood on this forum to do that. I know one none switch/router guy who did that almost exclusively to support an application for banks. Mind you he did have a PhD and develop it..but even so..Alternatively look at SAP/R3, Oracle or obtaining good UNIX skills or some RPG (AS 400) awareness. Meanwhile pick up the usual entry level certs in the good old things. If you have niche skills in demand a degree can be waivered sometimes.
  • JoJoCal19JoJoCal19 California Kid Posts: 2,801Mod Mod
    Well I can say that its tough enough right now to get a "decent" IT job if you have a degree, experience and a cert, let alone not having any. I can tell you youre probably going to be limited to entry level Help Desk type of jobs with not having any of the three components Ive listed. Now thats not a bad thing because alot of Help Desk jobs can pay in the $30k range from what Ive seen. Not great but enough to start.

    Your problem is you dont really want to do networking, dont want to do systems/server administration, and you dont really want to do programming. So what area exactly are you wanting to do? Database stuff? Project management? Those areas require degrees or lots of experience.

    From my experiences IT is tough to break into, but when you do, mostly the only limitations on how far you can go is yourself. Im going to go against the grain and say the best IT field for not having a degree is programming. I know people who never stepped a foot in school after high school and make good money because they became experts in a particular programming area and have the skills and experience to back it up. Its a little tougher right now but I still see programming job postings that dont require any degree. At a minimum tho I recommend getting a technical certificate from your local (public) college, which costs minimal amount but atleast shows you made the effort to learn. If you want to do programming learn Java first. As a matter of fact, study it and become an expert in it and get the Sun Java certs. Also try to get your foot in the door somewhere by volunteering or working pt.
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  • joey74055joey74055 Posts: 216Member
    JoJoCal19 wrote: »
    Well I can say that its tough enough right now to get a "decent" IT job if you have a degree, experience and a cert, let alone not having any. I can tell you youre probably going to be limited to entry level Help Desk type of jobs with not having any of the three components Ive listed. Now thats not a bad thing because alot of Help Desk jobs can pay in the $30k range from what Ive seen. Not great but enough to start.

    Your problem is you dont really want to do networking, dont want to do systems/server administration, and you dont really want to do programming. So what area exactly are you wanting to do? Database stuff? Project management? Those areas require degrees or lots of experience.

    From my experiences IT is tough to break into, but when you do, mostly the only limitations on how far you can go is yourself. Im going to go against the grain and say the best IT field for not having a degree is programming. I know people who never stepped a foot in school after high school and make good money because they became experts in a particular programming area and have the skills and experience to back it up. Its a little tougher right now but I still see programming job postings that dont require any degree. At a minimum tho I recommend getting a technical certificate from your local (public) college, which costs minimal amount but atleast shows you made the effort to learn. If you want to do programming learn Java first. As a matter of fact, study it and become an expert in it and get the Sun Java certs. Also try to get your foot in the door somewhere by volunteering or working pt.

    Yes, if you like programming learn Java and C# AND learn databases, SQL, Oracle or both. I see that many programmers have to know the backend databases to tie their programmed apps to so I think you would be more marketable mastering a language like Java or C# and a database like SQL or Oracle. Get certified in direction you decide to take like Java and SQL. Also, I have noticed lately a need for those who have SharePoint knowledge. If you don't like networking or servers I would say try to avoid helpdesk as working a helpdesk position will more than likely not benefit you in programming, unless they have the need or let you do some programming on the side as one of your duties. If programming is not your thing there are other areas in IT like application support/sales or vender specific areas like working for a vender that produces and supports a particular product and you could learn their product in and out and either sale it or support it.
  • Dr_AtomicDr_Atomic Posts: 184Member
    Thanks for all the input.

    I was doing some online research since my last post, perusing the job boards and such, and I thought I would ask about *webpage design*.

    Of course, employers (usually HR managers) ask for expertise in every skill imaginable + the kitchen sink. But for the right person with the critical skills, the jobs seem to pay comparable to other IT professions. Am I wrong on this? And with all the webpages out there, with more going up every day and the Internet not going anywhere anytime soon, it seems there should be a steady demand for web designers.

    The primary skills asked for in this area on the job boards (or if anyone knowledgeable knows otherwise), seem to be Java and Flash. There are a zillion "desired" skills asked for, such as Cold Fusion, XML, Actionscript, SQL, PHP, XHTML, etc. I know that employers throw out a wide net and hope to catch the person with the most skills, but knowing that they probably won't get anyone with them all, so I'm not overly concerned that it would take me 43 years to learn them all.

    If I were to try and go into this area, knowing that I simply couldn't learn everything that's asked for (I'd rather learn a few really well anyway), which ones would you think I should focus on? If I were an employer, *I* would tend to go for someone with an extreme amount of expertise in a few areas vs. someone with *some* expertise in a lot of areas. Specialization seems to be the focus these days. For example, I saw a fair number of jobs when I typed in the keyword "Java", and of those jobs, the program "Flash" accompanied it more often than not, so it seems to be a core skill as well. The other program skills were listed off and on. A lot of other programs would be helpful to know, but these two seemed to be the two core programs employers targeted.

    I know that experience is what everyone wants, but with that aside for the moment, for those of you who know something about the market for webpage design, what kind of people are employers hiring, and is there ongoing demand?
  • dynamikdynamik Posts: 12,314Banned ■■■■■■■■□□
    I always try to distinguish from web design and web development. Smaller shops may try to get one person who is proficient in everything, but larger ones will separate the roles. What are you interested in (i.e. design vs. programming/db work).

    I'd definitely specialize in whatever you do.
  • brad-brad- Posts: 1,218Member
    dynamik wrote: »
    I always try to distinguish from web design and web development. Smaller shops may try to get one person who is proficient in everything, but larger ones will separate the roles. What are you interested in (i.e. design vs. programming/db work).

    I'd definitely specialize in whatever you do.
    Yep.

    You need to be stone cold solid with photoshop, flash, html - that is a given. Beyond that like Dynamik mentioned - many places have a "web programmer" (or developer) that does the functional coding. He'll pass the controls he designs over to a "web designer" to create the pages...then those pages get administered by a "web master" for small changes/updates etc. The last company I worked for also had a Search Engine Optimization guy. Dont rule out database administration either.

    There are lots of roles within web. Know which one you want to go after, master the tools, and create something (preferably several things) for potential employers to see - to confirm your ability. If you are not already proficient in PS and Flash, computer based training videos will help bring u up to speed much more quickly than any college class.
  • mrblackmamba343mrblackmamba343 Posts: 136Inactive Imported Users
    Most programming and networking jobs sometimes do not require a college degree.

    I know a lot of people with ccnp,ccvp, ccsp, rhce making big bucks with no college degree after some years of experience. The key word here is experience
  • rsuttonrsutton Posts: 1,029Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    I hold no degree and only an entry level certification but I have been working in IT for 10 years and make enough to pay my bills and have a few toys. I have held many jobs and I have never had difficulty finding work. I had to work my way up from the trenches.

    I feel that not having a degree would probably hold me back from upper management. If I ever decide to go that route I will probably need to get my degree.

    That is my own personal story, others I know have had much difficulty finding work without a degree.
  • tpatt100tpatt100 Posts: 2,989Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    Most programming and networking jobs sometimes do not require a college degree.

    I know a lot of people with ccnp,ccvp, ccsp, rhce making big bucks with no college degree after some years of experience. The key word here is experience

    But they got their experience back when the economy was strong and plenty of IT jobs. I am running into many companies now that are merging positions together to save money. My coworkers and I are looking for work now due to the contract ending and pretty much those of us with degrees are getting actuall call backs. When you get a stack of resumes HR can easily sift through and start discarding those who lack degrees and from that those who lack certs.

    Plenty of people got into IT in the .com days so people with 10-12 years experience is plenty.
  • Dr_AtomicDr_Atomic Posts: 184Member
    brad- wrote: »
    If you are not already proficient in PS and Flash, computer based training videos will help bring u up to speed much more quickly than any college class.

    Could you recommend a place which offers such video tutorials? Would these also include Java (in addition to PS and Flash) since it seems to be something most employers are asking for?
  • brad-brad- Posts: 1,218Member
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    Could you recommend a place which offers such video tutorials? Would these also include Java (in addition to PS and Flash) since it seems to be something most employers are asking for?

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    Dont forget also, youtube often has alot of things i need.

    If you decide you do want to do video training like that - remember to think of it as an investment, or like a college course...only you can replay it as often as you want, no tests or timelines, and you learn much faster.

    Google "photoshop video training" and see what you get...or even better, join a photoshop forum, and see what vendor they like best. I remember the best one i saw years ago was just some dude - not a big company, with an early version of camtasia or something doing it on his own, and killing it.
  • Dr_AtomicDr_Atomic Posts: 184Member
    Btw, does anyone have an idea as to the salary-range expectations for a web designer/developer?
  • rsuttonrsutton Posts: 1,029Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    Btw, does anyone have an idea as to the salary-range expectations for a web designer/developer?

    Lots of variables: location, company, experience, programming speciality (seems like the hot language changes all the time)... Check out your local job boards to get an idea.
  • nelnel Posts: 2,859Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    Btw, does anyone have an idea as to the salary-range expectations for a web designer/developer?

    Its like the last person said - it depends on alot of factors. Your probably best looking at a few jobsites and searching for these kind of jobs in your area (or desired area) to give you some idea.
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  • Dr_AtomicDr_Atomic Posts: 184Member
    I can assure you that I'm not going to chop off anyone's head for speculating a salary expectation. Offering assistance is, after all, what this forum is for - instead of "go somewhere else to get the answers."

    $8.00/hr? $60k/hr? Can someone at least give me a ballpark figure range without being too ridiculous? I'm not going to even bother to get into a field which won't come close to paying the bills. Thanks.
  • skrpuneskrpune Posts: 1,409Member
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    I can assure you that I'm not going to chop off anyone's head for speculating a salary expectation. Offering assistance is, after all, what this forum is for - instead of "go somewhere else to get the answers."

    $8.00/hr? $60k/hr? Can someone at least give me a ballpark figure range without being too ridiculous? I'm not going to even bother to get into a field which won't come close to paying the bills. Thanks.
    Ouch. Um, I don't think anyone was being ridiculous - they were just stating a fact: it's hard to say without knowing the particulars of what you're looking at doing.

    And so yes, you can seriously expect anywhere from $8/hr to $60/hr depending on if you're a designer or developer and where you're located and who you work for or if you're freelancing and what languages/flavors you're using. Sorry, but there really is no easy answer to your question.
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  • kimanydkimanyd Posts: 103Banned
    Assuming you're relatively skilled and find a good company, I don't think $30-40k would be out of the question, at least to start. Something like $60/hr is not at all reasonable unless you're absolutely phenomenal and end up working for an elite firm.
  • fleckfleck Posts: 85Banned ■■□□□□□□□□
    Web site design is something you pretty much teach yourself to do because you love to do it. You make a few web sites for free until you can find people who pay you. Slowly you build a portfolio. Then you get paid. It's really not something you have to go and get educated to do and then show up at offices looking to be a generic web designer. The people who are passionate about it are the ones who are best at it and the ones who will have most success, and they don't ever have to step in a classroom.

    Some web design background on myself: I self-taught HTML by example in 8th grade (1994ish) and also started playing with Photoshop and GIF animation as well as got myself FrontPage (and a nice HTML code cleaner). I built a couple of neat underground sites and kept playing around with web design, but over the last ten years Flash and PHP/SQL etc took over as the method to building a good web site and I just completely fell out. I didn't see a reason to get so complicated with web design. I still think the best web pages are simple image buttons used for navigation. Plain text is still king.

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  • pipemajorpipemajor Posts: 65Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    rsutton wrote: »
    I hold no degree and only an entry level certification but I have been working in IT for 10 years and make enough to pay my bills and have a few toys. I have held many jobs and I have never had difficulty finding work. I had to work my way up from the trenches.

    I feel that not having a degree would probably hold me back from upper management. If I ever decide to go that route I will probably need to get my degree.

    That is my own personal story, others I know have had much difficulty finding work without a degree.

    Consider my plight. I have 30 years total IT experience, advanced degrees (business), have 17 years of management experience but currently only an entry cert. My limited term position ended last spring and despite my former manager working hard to find something else for me back with that company, there has been simply nothing. I'm finding very few outside companies even willing to interview me. And it's far worse for younger job-seekers with degrees but little experience and virtually impossible for folks with no degree or experience.
  • Dr_AtomicDr_Atomic Posts: 184Member
    brad- wrote: »
    Yep.

    You need to be stone cold solid with photoshop, flash, html - that is a given. Beyond that like Dynamik mentioned - many places have a "web programmer" (or developer) that does the functional coding. He'll pass the controls he designs over to a "web designer" to create the pages...then those pages get administered by a "web master" for small changes/updates etc. The last company I worked for also had a Search Engine Optimization guy. Dont rule out database administration either.

    There are lots of roles within web. Know which one you want to go after, master the tools, and create something (preferably several things) for potential employers to see - to confirm your ability. If you are not already proficient in PS and Flash, computer based training videos will help bring u up to speed much more quickly than any college class.

    I'm definitely more interested in web design. Do you know any forums where this is discussed and which is popular?
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAPosts: 5,735Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    Dr_Atomic wrote: »
    I'm definitely more interested in web design. Do you know any forums where this is discussed and which is popular?

    CIW is the only certifications for web design that I have ever heard of.

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