IT vs. Non-IT degree decision - Opinions?

I'm trying to make a degree path choice here and would really appreciate some insight or personal experiences.

I finished my AAS in Network Support immediately after high school and have worked in desktop support for the past 6 years. During that time, however, I have also started teaching a high school vocational IT course that required me to go back to school and take 6 university level education courses. With my AAS credits and the education courses I was required to take I am about 35 credit hours away from a BA in "Technical and Occupational Education".

My beef comes from the fact that I want to leave education and seriously work toward a network engineering type of position in the next couple of years. I guess I'm looking at how close I am to finishing this Ed. degree vs. the amount of coursework I would be lacking if I enrolled in WGU (which I would really like to do considering it would be an IT specific BA).

If I finish my Ed. degree it will be solely to put on my resume. I will learn nothing technical to further my skills. So, how important is it just to HAVE a 4 year degree? Even if its not IT related? Should I put my money to better use and invest it toward an IT degree, even though it will take me a few years longer?
CISSP | CCNA:R&S/Security | MCSA 2003 | A+ S+ | VCP6-DTM | CCA-V CCP-V

Comments

  • Hyper-MeHyper-Me Banned Posts: 2,059
    I would say its more important to have a 4 year degree than it is to necessarily have it in IT.

    If you are really that close, I'd probably finish out the education degree. You could always move on to the masters in IT at WGU if you wanted.
  • steve13adsteve13ad Member Posts: 398 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I'd just plow through and finish your ED degree. The degree gets you in the door, and you have to prove that you know what your doing.

    My BS is in Criminal Justice and I'm a server admin.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Just finish off the degree. If you really want to get a degree in IT than round it off with a Master degree in IT.
    Currently working on: Linux and Python
  • AldurAldur Juniper Moderator Member Posts: 1,460
    I have to agree with everybody here. If you're that close to a degree just finish it off.
    "Bribe is such an ugly word. I prefer extortion. The X makes it sound cool."

    -Bender
  • KaminskyKaminsky Member Posts: 1,235
    xenodamus wrote: »
    I want to leave education and seriously work toward a network engineering type of position in the next couple of years.

    Why ? You're not seeing the bigger picture here.

    I can fully understand you wanting to get out of education after being there a long time but I think you are really missing a trick here. Do you know how much IT trainers make ? Especially IT certification trainers. With the degree in Education and a bent for networking, You could be raking it in down the line if you finish your degree (and get a good one) and get your certs up at the same time.

    You will end up making 3 to 5 times more than most network engineers if you head toward IT cert training. Most training courses I have been sent on typically have 10 candidates per week, each one's company having paid anything from £2k - £3.5k and the trainer keeps a sizable percentage of that money. One told me he got 60% of the fees and the training company got the 40%. Not sure how true that was but he didn't look short of a bob or two looking at the car he was driving and the Harley he had in the car park just for when it's sunny and he fancies a ride home....

    Seriously, teaching and certs... Best of both worlds and you rake it in at the same time.
    Teaching is a gift that not everyone has. I know I cannot teach.. I am the type that says "LOOK... I told you once... what's the problem??"
    Kam.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,735 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Kaminsky wrote: »
    Why ? You're not seeing the bigger picture here.

    I can fully understand you wanting to get out of education after being there a long time but I think you are really missing a trick here. Do you know how much IT trainers make ? Especially IT certification trainers. With the degree in Education and a bent for networking, You could be raking it in down the line if you finish your degree (and get a good one) and get your certs up at the same time.

    You will end up making 3 to 5 times more than most network engineers if you head toward IT cert training. Most training courses I have been sent on typically have 10 candidates per week, each one's company having paid anything from £2k - £3.5k and the trainer keeps a sizable percentage of that money. One told me he got 60% of the fees and the training company got the 40%. Not sure how true that was but he didn't look short of a bob or two looking at the car he was driving and the Harley he had in the car park just for when it's sunny and he fancies a ride home....

    Seriously, teaching and certs... Best of both worlds and you rake it in at the same time.
    Teaching is a gift that not everyone has. I know I cannot teach.. I am the type that says "LOOK... I told you once... what's the problem??"

    I would agree with this. Of course it also depends on whether or not you have a passion for teaching IT. Some people are just not meant for it.
    Currently working on: Linux and Python
  • xenodamusxenodamus Member Posts: 758
    I guess I've never considered education in that regard. That's something to thing about, though. I don't necessarily dislike teaching in itself, but I do dislike teaching high school students. What really motivates my move back into IT is the fact that there is no opportunity for advancement as a high school teacher. It was a step up from what I was making at the time. But now I'm trying to look at my options 5-10 years down the road and public education doesn't have alot to offer.
    CISSP | CCNA:R&S/Security | MCSA 2003 | A+ S+ | VCP6-DTM | CCA-V CCP-V
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    Kaminsky wrote: »
    Do you know how much IT trainers make ? Especially IT certification trainers. With the degree in Education and a bent for networking, You could be raking it in down the line if you finish your degree (and get a good one) and get your certs up at the same time.

    You will end up making 3 to 5 times more than most network engineers if you head toward IT cert training. Most training courses I have been sent on typically have 10 candidates per week, each one's company having paid anything from £2k - £3.5k and the trainer keeps a sizable percentage of that money. One told me he got 60% of the fees and the training company got the 40%. Not sure how true that was but he didn't look short of a bob or two looking at the car he was driving and the Harley he had in the car park just for when it's sunny and he fancies a ride home....

    Umm, no, it most often doesn't work this way. When I hire a trainer to deliver a class for us it's at a fixed daily rate, regardless of the number of attendees. When I deliver training for someone else I'm usually paid a fixed daily rate. I do have one deal in place that increases the rate as the number of attendees surpasses 18, but that's rare, and I have had some deals in the past that are percentage deals, but they are rare too. That 60/40 split is pure fiction.

    I'm delivering training this week on behalf of another company. It's a fixed rate + expenses deal. It's not a low fixed rate by any means, but I'm a known quantity in terms of past work, I have 20+ years of experience in this IT, many high-level certs, multiple degrees (1 that is Ivy League), and a monster-sized tallywacker.

    My point being, it's not a matter of deciding, "I'm going to be a trainer", and all of the pieces line up like ducks and then the Ferrari appears in the garage....

    Second, someone just walking straight in out of college doesn't have the experience to be an effective trainer. Nor do they have effective connections that are going to get them into work in the training industry, which is typically done on a contract basis. As such they will command the lowest rates, if work is available for them at all.

    I won't say to the OP that you've received bad advice here, but you have received uninformed advice.

    To the OP, I will agree with most of the advice you've received here. Typically the field your undergraduate degree is in doesn't matter much unless you want to work in specific fields. Just do whatever you need to do to finish the degree quickly.

    MS
  • KaminskyKaminsky Member Posts: 1,235
    I knew one of the regulars was a trainer. Just couldn't remember who. My 60/40 trainer was back in the mid 90s btw.

    OP, You shouldn't drop your Degree in Education lightly. It will be a very valuable and permanent addition to your future earning potential and your so close in the big scheme of things. However, in my 20+ years in IT support, a degree in IT is the same as a degree in maths or a degree in art history in the long run. I did an IT degree and it is amazing just how much IT theory you will learn and NEVER EVER use again. Just the same as the amount of proving 1+1=2 by 5 page equations or by knowing that that particular effect on a painting was brouaght about by using ostrich feathers instead of goose. A degree is a degree is a starting place.

    eMeS has sort of rained on my parade of the earning potential of a cert trainer but then that is contract work where you go to a company and train, which is always going to be cheaper all round. What I was getting at, was working for a training company where they come to you.

    Either way, eventually you will be bringing in a lot more than if you dropped your degree now and went back into network OPs and stayed there which I think was your original question. Look at the job pages, Network OPs salaries are rapidly going the same way the server admins salaries went several years back. If you have an edge in this game, use it to it's full advantage.

    I personally think you would kick yourself in years to come if you dropped out now. Yes, I spent years in education as well and at the death of it, couldn't wait to get out. However, you have to remember, that degree is with you for life and who knows what you will be wanting to do in 20 years time.
    Kam.
  • chrisonechrisone Senior Member Member Posts: 2,144 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Just finish your B.A. since your so close. However i do want to point out the fact that you should probably look into getting at least a CCNA for networking, if thats the field you want to get into. I just got my A.S. science degree for Network Systems Administration and i got my CCNA and CCNP after i graduated. My degree helps but i think employers like seeing my CCNA/CCNP more than they like my diploma. Now i owe like 23 thousand in student loans icon_sad.gif God i cant imagine owing 45k or more in student loans chasing a B.A. I definitely pat myself on the back for not going past a A.S. at least having some form of university/college degree is respectable enough, added with a CCNA and or CCNP I feel comfortable finding jobs if i ever needed to shop the market. However since your so close get your B.A. it will haunt you for the rest of your life if you never got it being that close. I think reality is that you will still need to get a CCNA or CCNP for any job in networking.

    My two cents....
    Certs: CISSP, OSCP, CRTP, eCPPT, eCIR, LFCS, CEH, AZ-900, VHL:Advanced+, Retired Cisco CCNP/SP/DP
    2020 Goals:
    Courses: VHL (completed), CQURE: Windows Security Crash Course (completed), BlackHills InfoSec: Breaching the Cloud (completed), eLearnSecurity: WAPTv3 (completed), IHRP (completed), THPv2 (completed), PTXv2 (completed)
    Certs: VHL: Advanced+ (completed), OSCP (completed), AZ-500 (failed 1st attempt), eWPT (failed 2x, no further attempts), eCIR (complete), eCTHPv2 (report: awaiting results), eCPTXv2 (Dec)
    2021: AZ-500, AZ-104, AZ-204, AZ-303, AZ-304, MS-500
  • xenodamusxenodamus Member Posts: 758
    Working on the CCNA right now actually. It's hell trying to study for that while taking online classes but I'm hoping to take the ICND 1 in the next couple of months. I went through the academy 4 or 5 years ago but never took the exam. I really liked cisco back then but it was no use in my current job. I'd really like to continue down the cisco road though.
    CISSP | CCNA:R&S/Security | MCSA 2003 | A+ S+ | VCP6-DTM | CCA-V CCP-V
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    Kaminsky wrote: »
    eMeS has sort of rained on my parade of the earning potential of a cert trainer but then that is contract work where you go to a company and train, which is always going to be cheaper all round. What I was getting at, was working for a training company where they come to you.

    Don't get me wrong. There's excellent money to be made in training. But one has to pick the target area wisely. I can have a Microsoft trainer on any topic for $600 per day or less, the same or much less for a CompTIA trainer. A seasoned PMP trainer will only go for about $800 per day at the high end. That sounds like a lot, but consider that these guys don't work every day of the year. Some if they're lucky will work 100 to 125 days per year. Still, there's really not much money to be made in those areas.

    Most of those guys doing that type of training are making what the typical admin or whatever roles are making. The companies that are in the business of that type of training are typically only competing on price, as they're all selling roughly the same product. CPLS's have a tough, but chosen lot in life as Microsoft's bitches limited to selling the MOC.

    There is however excellent money to be made as a trainer in those topics that are a bit more rare and require more experience. Six Sigma, ITIL, Colored Petri Nets, business analysis, WebSphere, Rational, Mainframe, Catia, blah blah blah, etc...

    It goes back to that supply and demand thing. For example, there are a very limited number of accredited ITIL trainers in the world. And it's been locked down such that for a long time there aren't going to be any new ones. There's a population of just a couple of hundred worldwide and we mostly all know each other and that helps keep those rates very very high.

    This is why I say you're not going to walk out of college and straight into the high-end of the training market. You have to have the experience + credentials + certifications + track record + connections.

    Some notable points about the training industry:

    1 - Most training does not occur at a training company's fixed facilities. The majority of training is delivered at the customer site, which drives the delivery cost down.

    2 - It's not a matter of setting up a website and waiting for people to hit it and enroll in classes (in fact, we don't really even have a functioning website in that respect). All effective companies in the business of selling training put a lot of time and money into the sales process. Good old fashioned cold calling is the norm.

    3 - The majority of people in a class did not pay the listed rate. All of those prices are negotiated down. Furthermore, if the training is at a the customer site, it was offered as a packaged deal and normally not on a per-head basis.

    Typically when you see those percentage split deals, it is with a training company that is just starting up and trying to entice some good trainers to come on board for what might end up being below market rates. They'll run classes with 2 people in them just to get volume. The other problem is that you have to trust the training company to tell you the truth about what they sold the class for, and in that business there's some dirty people that I wouldn't trust at all.

    MS
  • ITEnrollmentCounselor-WGUITEnrollmentCounselor-WGU Member Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
    My name is Robert Berry, I am an Information Technology degree Enrollment Counselor at Western Governors University. I want to put in my two bits here. As an Enrollment Counselor I agree with the other posts; if you are nearly finished with your current degree (two or three terms from what you describe) then complete that degree so that the investment of time and money can be of value. Even if it is just for your resume and four year degree has value. As was mentioned the IT field needs the Bachelors degree to get you to the interview.

    You are correct an IT degree will look better and certifications offer proof of competence and understanding of specific IT skills (check the certifications listed in the signatures and profiles just on this page alone!). Our IT degree program integrates certification exams and you must pass those exams to earn your degree. Some things to consider: Is it worth passing up a degree that you are months away from completing? How much trouble would it be to earn a second degree? Would the combination get you where you want to be? How much of a challenge will it be to earn your current degree and meet the requirements for enrolling in the Masters of Science Information Security and Assurance degree?

    Western Governors University is competency based; We focus on your skill and knowledge not on time spent in a seat. We have various assessments to determine your skill level. If you meet or exceed the level of skill we require, you get credit for the subject. If you do not, we give you access our learning resources to help you develop your skill to meet or exceed the level we require. We do not say that 10 years experience equals 100 credits. We see that you have been practicing and studying for 10 years and now you need to just prove that you know the material.

    Please continue taking the time to research this and make the best decision for you. If you would like more information about Western Governors University feel free to contact an Enrollment Counselor any one of us will be glad to help. The contact number can be found on our website.
  • DevilWAHDevilWAH Member Posts: 2,997 ■■■■■■■■□□
    As you can see i have a degree in zoology, and I would not be without it for the world.

    for two strong resons,

    First I love science and had the best time at uni studying for it. It was a personal goal so happy to have seen it through.

    At the end of the day its going to take a few years to work through network qualifications , so if it will take a few months to finish the degree then go for it. Myself I could not leave a project so nearly complete.

    And second its been so helpful in how I approach networking/IT. scientific method of solving problems is an ideal way to approach any problem so for that reason a science degree is a massive help in IT.

    At the end of the day you are so close to finishing then I would go for it. ITs never a bad thing to have a degree to your name, if it shows nothing else it shows drive and cormittmment so no employer is going to look badly on it.
    • If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Albert Einstein
    • An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties. It means that its going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.
  • ccie15672ccie15672 Member Posts: 92 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I like techexams.net for the wide range of input you can get on any given question.

    I would throw into the mix here something that probably goes against the grain when it comes to traditional wisdom. In IT, having an IT degree is probably not going to help you tremendously unless you are looking to go into project management or some other management function in IT. From a technical perspective, I just don't care if someone even has a degree, much less where it might have come from.

    Don't get me wrong. A degree can be part of the total package, but by itself it gets no consideration. Too many schools out there with varying ideas on what is and is not an MIS or computer science degree. Not to mention that, like certs, many people have it... but only a few are going to be good IT folks.

    1) Get your education degree. It has actual value outside of IT. An IT degree doesn't. Its value is even questionable within IT.

    2) As stated, get a couple of certs. I've given this advice elsewhere on this forum. Get in where you are going. Fight for projects. Show you can get it done. Become an expert on something in your environment... be the guy people go to for that. Also learn at least one scripting language. Like Perl, PHP, or Python.

    IT is just too diverse at this point. A solid Unix person isn't going to be troubleshooting protocol interop issues between Cisco and Juniper. A degree doesn't indicate you would be good at either.


    Just my two cents. Also I should point out I am somewhat biased since I never finished my degree.
    Derick Winkworth
    CCIE #15672 (R&S, SP), JNCIE-M #721
    Chasing: CCIE Sec, CCSA (Checkpoint)
  • DevilWAHDevilWAH Member Posts: 2,997 ■■■■■■■■□□
    ccie15672 wrote: »

    Just my two cents. Also I should point out I am somewhat biased since I never finished my degree.


    LOL.. I might have said I finished mine, never said how well I did ;)

    In the end I think go for what you will enjoy most. Like any field you are never going to be good at it unless you enjoy it.
    • If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. Albert Einstein
    • An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties. It means that its going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.
  • Hyper-MeHyper-Me Banned Posts: 2,059
    As was mentioned the IT field needs the Bachelors degree to get you to the interview.

    Its not a hard requirement, but it certainly does help.

    I'm living proof that being able to prove you can do the job and combine that with some certs can still land you a good job.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I make over 25% more than the national average income of someone with an AS degree. I currently only have an AAS, some certs, and 3 years full time experience in this field. I also plan to start WGU in the next month or two for a BS.
  • LaminiLamini Member Posts: 242 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I have been to enough job fairs, lined up, filling out forms to learn that no degree, no job.

    I have trained enough fresh college grads that 6 months later make the decisions, even if the degree is remotely related to the job.

    Save your frustration, get your degree.
    CompTIA: A+ / NET+ / SEC+
    Microsoft: MCSA 2003
  • gugnheimgugnheim Member Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Finish the degree. It at least lets people know that you have been trained to think, in problem solving, and in the liberal arts. My background is law enforcement but my undergrad is in Organizational Leadership, minor in Political Science, my Masters is in Info Sys, SAP concentration. My wife has two masters degrees, is an HR expert, and she looks for that first, certification second when hiring. She wants to know you can think and lead for yourself first.
    Thanks
    Ryan
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