Get a decent IT job without a degree?

TsquadTsquad Posts: 6Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
Is it possible to get a decent job in the IT field without a college degree of some sort. I know I can get a set of Certs that will help but can I get by with just them?

If so, what are some of the key certs that I can get so that I could start working within a year.
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Comments

  • peanutnogginpeanutnoggin Posts: 1,096Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    That will depend on your current skill set. If you have no IT experience whatsoever, you may want to start off with the A+ certification. It'll teach you foundational knowledge that you will build on throughout your IT career. HTH.

    -Peanut
    We cannot have a superior democracy with an inferior education system!

    -Mayor Cory Booker
  • citinerdcitinerd Posts: 266Member
    I say in this economy, with the current job market, and no degree you probably wouldn't make it through the resume screenings. Now I said probably. That doesn't mean you can't try. icon_smile.gif
  • lockdnloadedlockdnloaded Posts: 43Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Yes it's possible. I did it. Depends on what u want to do as to what certs to get. I dis the Comptia A,Net,Sec+ series and that got me in the door. I had alot of people tell me this was not possible (I ignored those guys). Good luck!
  • ehndeehnde Posts: 1,103Member
    It's possible if you ignore any negative comments and just get started. Don't quit your dayjob right now...get started getting your certs right now. Who cares about the state of the I.T. field (Ok, so maybe we care a little bit)? Do what you love doing and do it well.
    Climb a mountain, tell no one.
  • IristheangelIristheangel CCIEx2 (Sec + DC), CCNP RS, CCNA V/S/R/DC, CISSP, CEH, MCSE 2003, A+/L+/N+/S+, and a lot more from m Pasadena, CAPosts: 4,116Mod Mod
    I'd say that having a degree can help your resume stand out, but it doesn't open as many doors as experience does. I, personally, do not have a college degree and I'm working in a position that supposedly "requires" a BS (Let me point out that 90% of my coworkers do not have college degrees but they do have experience). Even the IT director at my current company only has a high school degree. I wouldn't say that getting a degree is useless especially if it's HR that you're dealing with to get hired, not an actual IT manager, but usually it's experience that will get you the job.
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
    Bonus TE Fun: Nerd Photos
  • eansdadeansdad Posts: 775Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Is it possible to get into IT without a degree...yes. Will you be able to get a good position not entry level...no. There are always exceptions and if this was 5 years ago I would have said sure it is but right now and the coming years no. You have people with years of experience and certs completing BS and MS degrees now. No cert will get you that. With that said I would suggest getting the Comptia trio to start (A+, Net+, Sec+) then move toward whatever your direction is. If a systems admin is what you want the MCITP:SA/EA would be a good start, networking Cisco's CCNA. Several colleges (WGU, Strayer, DeVry I think) offer certs to go along with their programs so they might be a good place to go also with WGU being at your own pace making it faster. Once you have the A+ you’ll be able to get into the door and the net+/sec+ will help to move you up but it isn’t something that will happen over night or even a year. Today’s IT doesn’t have a magic cert that instantly guarantees a person a job let alone a good one. Sure a CISSP or a CCIE are high level certs but most people with those have years and schooling behind them. Don’t give up the great thing about IT is that you can always learn and move on. We aren’t bound by our employers like other jobs. Sure have the job and experience is nice but if something should happen we have the option of leaving (given the right education/certs/ experience) even in this economy.
  • SteveLordSteveLord Posts: 1,717Member
    Without a degree, you'll need something else. Either certifications or experience/skill. Generally the management and higher level positions demand degrees more. Remember that degrees don't come cheap and can set you back financially for a while.

    Be focused and motivated and you'll be fine.
    WGU B.S.IT - 9/1/2015 >>> ???
  • TsquadTsquad Posts: 6Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Great info, thanks a lot. That's my one setback. My knowledge of the field is all self taught just from tinkering around and setting up complex networks in my room just for the sake of why not. I have little to no experience in the professional IT world though.

    I am all for working my way up. What is the most entry level IT job out there? From my understanding it is help desk, is this true?
  • QHaloQHalo Posts: 1,488Member
    Help Desk is the best place to start. While you're there just do whatever you can to learn as much as possible. Volunteer for extra work or to help other areas if they need help and they'll allow you. Enthusiasm, motivation, and willingness to learn go very far in IT.
  • erpadminerpadmin Posts: 4,165Member
    Tsquad wrote: »
    Great info, thanks a lot. That's my one setback. My knowledge of the field is all self taught just from tinkering around and setting up complex networks in my room just for the sake of why not. I have little to no experience in the professional IT world though.

    I am all for working my way up. What is the most entry level IT job out there? From my understanding it is help desk, is this true?

    Yes that is true. Level 1/Level 2 positions (help desk/desktop support) are pretty much what you're going to be shooting for. So you're going to want to work on A+/Network+/Security+ (I throw Security+ only because if you get A+ and Network+ first plus use Darril Gibson's Get Certified Get Ahead for Sec+, you'll pretty much be good to go).

    The best thing you can do after acquiring those certs is see if you can find a jack-of-all-trades type of position, usually found in libraries, schools, and small non-profit IT shops.

    Best of luck.
  • TsquadTsquad Posts: 6Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Ok so it sounds like the comptia cert set is the best starting point for me. Is it a very common thing to land a help desk job with just the A+, or is it more realistic to have the net+ and sec+ for that?
  • SteveLordSteveLord Posts: 1,717Member
    If you can afford to, go for them. If you've a lot of free time between now and the end of the year, get as many of them before you have to re-cert every 3 years! ;)
    WGU B.S.IT - 9/1/2015 >>> ???
  • TsquadTsquad Posts: 6Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    What do you mean before i have to recert, do you not have to do that now?
  • eansdadeansdad Posts: 775Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Starting Jan the Compita trio are 3 year certs instead of the current forever certs. Personally I don't think it matters much because the higher in certs you go the more work goes into keeping them. That will trickle down to your Comptia certs anyway. Also you only need the requirments for your highest Comptia cert so if you have all 3 you can easily re-take the exam in 3 years (if you haven't gotten other certs M$, Cisco, EC...etc) and all 3 certs stay active. To me it just seems logical that certs should be limited since IT changes so much.

    An A+ can get you a variety of entry level jobs such as help desk, deployment and desktop support. You can look through all of the jobs sites for jobs and look through staffing companies also to find jobs.

    Also you might want to look at community college and WGU to help get more of an education. Online isn't for everyone but the program does have its advantages. Community college will atleast get you some basic IT courses, gen-ed courses and an associates degree to help further you along and can be transfered to a BS program when you want to.

    Good Luck...
  • erpadminerpadmin Posts: 4,165Member
    Tsquad wrote: »
    Ok so it sounds like the comptia cert set is the best starting point for me. Is it a very common thing to land a help desk job with just the A+, or is it more realistic to have the net+ and sec+ for that?


    It is more realistic to have all three, though you should try finding a help desk job NOW while you are working on the three. They are the easiest IT certs to land (well, the CIW certs are actually the easiest, but I've never seen jobs asking for those). I only had to get mine because of WGU.

    The whole lifetime/3 year to recertify CompTIA certs are moot. The whole point of getting CompTIA certs is to get in the door of IT (or if you are going to use them as MCSA electives like I was before I ended up getting a better job that didn't require a MCSA). You may either go the Cisco or Microsoft route (or both) after you land your first IT gig. It's not a hard thing to do either. Many folks start out Geek Squadin' or working at Staples as a tech before landing a real job elsewhere. Just hit the job boards, craiglist, etc. If you are hungry, you will find work. Then you can worry about getting an education from a place like WGU. There are places out there that will hire you based on a positive attitude/willing to learn.

    Believe me, if you want to work in IT...there is only one person that gets in your way...you. Just start working on a plan based on what's been given to you thusfar.
  • PsoasmanPsoasman Senior Member Posts: 2,687Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    I got my current job through networking. One of my bosses was my instructor at school.

    Degree and/or certs = good.
    Degree and Certs = better
    Degree and certs and experience = better still
    Degree and certs and experience and knowing someone who can get you hired = THE BEST

    A lot of getting a job depends on what the hiring folks are looking for. Some like certs, some like degree, some focus more on experience.
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Posts: 5,031Inactive Imported Users ■■■■■■■■□□
    There are two different questions (well actually 3) in your post and I think that it should be handled as such.

    Tsquad wrote: »
    Is it possible to get a decent job in the IT field without a college degree of some sort. I know I can get a set of Certs that will help but can I get by with just them?

    How are you defining "decent"? Is it a certain amount of money or a challenging job? Is it "job security" or benefits? What are the criteria? My answer is that yes you can have a "decent" job without a college degree. IT is probably one of the few fields where you can still make a "decent wage" (55-75+) without a college degree, assuming you have the "right" qualifications (experience AND certs) and can sell yourself well in an interview. I am in the lower in of this range without a college degree, just certs and experience and when I make my next move I plan to be in the middle to upper in of this range and I probably won't be done with my A.A.S.

    You can "get by" with just certifications. You might not be able to get ahead in certain environments with just certs though. You are going to have to do something to get your "weight" (and worth) up. For many that might be a degree. For others it might be specializing. Still others, high level certs. For some it is all of thee above.

    Tsquad wrote: »
    If so, what are some of the key certs that I can get so that I could start working within a year.

    What type of work? I suggest that you get that if you have the money get A+, N+ and S+. If not, get the S+ and go for some vendor certifications. I only say get the security+ because I think that no matter what you do, having Security knowledge will only help you. There isn't a magic bullet. You could get all the certs in the world and still not be able to land a gig or you could get S+ and work as a government contractor making 40K. More important than certs is getting some experience (I know, chicken and egg situation) getting you name out there, networking online (linkedin) and in personal professional organizations. That will do more for your career than any cert. Who you know is the difference.
  • Pratt2Pratt2 Posts: 66Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Does a 4-year degree in an area unrelated to IT carry any weight?
  • sidsanderssidsanders Posts: 217Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Psoasman wrote: »
    I got my current job through networking. One of my bosses was my instructor at school.

    Degree and/or certs = good.
    Degree and Certs = better
    Degree and certs and experience = better still
    Degree and certs and experience and knowing someone who can get you hired = THE BEST

    A lot of getting a job depends on what the hiring folks are looking for. Some like certs, some like degree, some focus more on experience.

    YESSSS... i have had bosses who have worked for decades and never had real interviews because they know folks. this site can be helpful as you can make contacts with folks who can at least point you in useful directions in all three options in bold.
    GO TEAM VENTURE!!!!
  • TurgonTurgon Posts: 6,313Banned
    Psoasman wrote: »
    I got my current job through networking. One of my bosses was my instructor at school.

    Degree and/or certs = good.
    Degree and Certs = better
    Degree and certs and experience = better still
    Degree and certs and experience and knowing someone who can get you hired = THE BEST

    A lot of getting a job depends on what the hiring folks are looking for. Some like certs, some like degree, some focus more on experience.

    No degree or certs or experience and knowing someone who can get you hired and keep you hired = EVEN BETTER. It happens.
  • erpadminerpadmin Posts: 4,165Member
    Pratt2 wrote: »
    Does a 4-year degree in an area unrelated to IT carry any weight?


    It can be a 4-year degree in basketweaving...as long as it's from an accredited school, and you have some idea about IT, you can get hired. I've worked with many colleagues who were sociology majors, biology, chemistry, criminal justice, and various liberal arts degrees that were in my IT depts in every one of my shops.
  • QHaloQHalo Posts: 1,488Member
    Unless you were recruited by an organization directly from college, I've never really seen where a degree in anything special was more than a check box to many HR departments.
  • rogue2shadowrogue2shadow CISSP, GXPN, OSCE, OSCP, OSWP, eMAPT, CEH, CNDA, A+, Network+, Security+ Posts: 1,501Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    QHalo wrote: »
    Unless you were recruited by an organization directly from college, I've never really seen where a degree in anything special was more than a check box to many HR departments.

    True story! This is unless they request a degree in X but usually you'll see something like "years of experience can be substituted on top of an unrelated degree" (I've seen it in many postings that require CS degrees.)

  • QHaloQHalo Posts: 1,488Member
    Yeah they'll ask for a degree in CS, but if you have X years experience most could care less unless they just have a no tolerance policy to not having a degree. Honestly, I have 10+ years experience. I'm finishing my degree, in Technical Management, because I'm tired of my options being limited by those companies that won't even look at you unless you fulfill those check boxes. That and I have no excuse for not finishing with 4 classes left. ;)
  • N2ITN2IT Posts: 7,483Inactive Imported Users
    A degree carries weight, but it can be done. Depends on what you want to do. Without an "IN" you are looking at helpdesk maybe even customer service before technical helpdesk. I'd grab the A+ and N+ and then roll the dice.

    But if I was a mentor or parent I would guide you differently. I would have a face to face with a 12 pack of some McEwans Ale and Smoke a few Cain F's and have a heart to heart and find your skills sets and your passions and come up with a list of 10 of degree programs you would be interested in. Then I would narrow that down to a few and start looking at regionally accredited universities.

    But that's just me.
  • erpadminerpadmin Posts: 4,165Member
    True story! This is unless they request a degree in X but usually you'll see something like "years of experience can be substituted on top of an unrelated degree" (I've seen it in many postings that require CS degrees.)


    Very true and that's how I've been able to get my jobs without a degree or relevant certs! :) My 13+ years of experience counts for something... :D +1 on this.
  • SteveLordSteveLord Posts: 1,717Member
    technique wrote: »
    Unfortunately, the competition for IT jobs is so stiff that most employers will look for a college degree even for entry-level jobs. Even if you were able to get a job with certs alone, I would presume your career growth would be pretty limited. Your best chance of getting a decent placement is a college degree and then supplementing it with a relevant professional certification. Why don’t you explore the computer degree programs at California College San Diego? Here you will find degrees in fields like computer science, networking, as well as programming.

    Are you more than an advertisement for that college? All you do is poke your head into these forums, revive a thread with the word "degree" in it and post a similar response, always including that link.
    WGU B.S.IT - 9/1/2015 >>> ???
  • millworxmillworx Posts: 290Member
    That is how I initially broke into IT. I was still in high school at the time, but I passed the CCNA back in 2000. I applied to a few jobs got an offer, dropped out of public school to do home school allowing me to work full time.

    I guess I was fortunate to get in when I did, and my hobby since middleschool was hacking, programming and working with MS Server.

    My honest suggestion to you if you have no experience would be start posting in the GIGs section on craigslist, see if you can pickup some small time IT jobs. It would at least give you a little experience to put on your resume, and then build from there.

    If you wanna get started what the other posters recommend is good, get maybe you A+, Net+ and go apply at small mom-pop computer shops, geek squad, etc. It will get your foot in the door and get you started.

    I would still get the degree though, I dont have one now, and while I have 10 years of experience, not having the degree can shut some doors. Though once you reach 10 years of experience people will look over the lack of degree a lot, since most positions will list 4 yr degree or equivalent work experience. But I in no way advocate not getting a degree.
    Currently Reading:
    CCIE: Network Security Principals and Practices
    CCIE: Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide
  • TurgonTurgon Posts: 6,313Banned
    It can be done but it's increasingly difficult. The number of degreed people is rising. Ideally you get a great degree from a great college. Then you apply and get taken on as a graduate trainee by a big company. You get fast tracked and will not be in support, or if so not for long. Expect to be on the project management or commercial side of things attending many meetings and way too busy to hang out on TE.

    For the rest, it's the blue collar route to success which means (hopefully), just enough grunt work in operations to get out of there and become more technical/commercial or you stay there and make the best of things. Operations is fast becoming a vanishing point for successful careers in IT.
  • PhildoBagginsPhildoBaggins Posts: 276Member
    eansdad wrote: »
    Is it possible to get into IT without a degree...yes. Will you be able to get a good position not entry level...no. There are always exceptions and if this was 5 years ago I would have said sure it is but right now and the coming years no. You have people with years of experience and certs completing BS and MS degrees now. No cert will get you that. With that said I would suggest getting the Comptia trio to start (A+, Net+, Sec+) then move toward whatever your direction is. If a systems admin is what you want the MCITP:SA/EA would be a good start, networking Cisco's CCNA. Several colleges (WGU, Strayer, DeVry I think) offer certs to go along with their programs so they might be a good place to go also with WGU being at your own pace making it faster. Once you have the A+ you’ll be able to get into the door and the net+/sec+ will help to move you up but it isn’t something that will happen over night or even a year. Today’s IT doesn’t have a magic cert that instantly guarantees a person a job let alone a good one. Sure a CISSP or a CCIE are high level certs but most people with those have years and schooling behind them. Don’t give up the great thing about IT is that you can always learn and move on. We aren’t bound by our employers like other jobs. Sure have the job and experience is nice but if something should happen we have the option of leaving (given the right education/certs/ experience) even in this economy.


    You don't a degree for a good job. You really dont.
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