Looking for some guidance

Hello all,

Let me start by saying I found this site a few weeks ago while scouring the web for study resources and have honestly been on here reading every day since. It's really great to have a resource like this to learn from. A little about myself:

I'm 24, and I want to be an IT professional. I graduate high school in 2004 and went straight to university at University of Texas at Arlington, graduating in 2008 with my B.S. in Pschology (I know, I know). I was always that kid who breezed through school (graduated valedictorian in high school, 3.9 GPA when I graduated college), and had never really put a lot of thought into what I wanted to be when I grew up. I though I wanted to be a therapist, but realized a little too late that the field of psychology can be kind of a joke. By the time I realized this, I was one semester out from graduating, so I decided to just finish my degree instead of changing majors and taking another 1.5 years to get out. This turned out to be a questionable decision, because a B.S. in Psychology is not very marketable.

After a period of job searching after college, I decided to go back to school for IT. Computers have always been an interest of mine, but for some reason I never really got to thinking about them as a career path. I work as a server, and while I do make decent money, I didn't have the money to go back to a 4-year university (even public university at this point is 4 grand a semester), so I go to the local community college and am pursuing an A.A.S. in Network Security, as well as some of my entry-level certs (A+, N+, S+, and CCENT currently). My community college offers a 4-part Cisco class, so I am currently taking that, and have taken some courses on UNIX administration and various security classes. I also have a small home lab setup, including my own web server and SQL box.

Now that you know a bit about myself, I would like to pick your brains on some things:

1. I will be taking my A+ at the end of March; any advice?
2. In your opinion, do you believe that my B.S. from UTA will aide me in my job search for an IT job/career?
3. Other than the certs I am currently studying for, what would be some certs which you would suggest me trying to acquire (I know I should probably at least look into the MC-ITP certs once I'm done with a few of the ones already on my list).
4. I'm interested in various aspects of the computing world, including security, networking, virtual machines, and even SQL. Are any of these necessarily good/bad choices of career path, and if so, why (especially SQL; I think database admin would be an interesting job)?
5. Do you have any advice, given my situation, to help me get where I want to be?
6. After reading the raves on this site about WGU, I have seriously considered attempting one of their B.S. degrees (I have also thought about going back to UTA for a Computer Science degree). WGU would probably be easier, because I take very well to online, work at your own pace courses, and UTA is probably too expensive right given my circumstances. In your opinion, would going back for another degree help me achieve my goals? And if it were between WGU and going back to UTA, which do you think is the better decision in the long run?

Thank you in advance to anyone who replies; I really appreciate it. I'm sorry if this post was a bit long; I read the post about "What motivates you?" the other night and it really fired me up. I'm engaged right now, and I want my wife (and hopefully our future children) to be proud of me, and I want to be able to provide for her and myself. There's nothing wrong with waiting tables, but after awhile it's time to move on, and that time has come.

Thanks all,
Adam

Comments

  • blargoeblargoe Self-Described Huguenot NC, USAPosts: 4,170Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    1. It's been so long, that the A+ test is entirely different since I took it... sorry
    2. Absolutely. Just having a 4-yr degree will help you pass some of the search filters that companies sometimes use. Lots of people in IT have degrees in something other than IT.
    3. "It depends" :) I've always been of the opinion that one shouldn't overcertify relative to their experience, meaning go ahead and grab all the entry level certs you want, but the getting a pile of expert certs when you've never held down an IT job is going to have diminishing returns. It also depends on what type of IT work you see yourself gravitating toward, eventually.
    4. Any of those would be a good choice, honestly.
    5. Try to get some experience as early as you can. Don't wait for your degree to be over, if you can afford a potential cut in pay (not sure what you're making as a server now). Keep working on those certs.
    6. I wouldn't bother with either. You already have a B.S. and you will have supplemented that with a technical degree. If it were me, I wouldn't even bother with more school unless it were a master's degree. Anything else would be redundant and wouldn't put you in much better of a position, career wise. Instead, focus on shoring up your technical skills or project management.

    I think you are on the right track.

    Good luck

    blargoe
    IT guy since 12/00

    Recent: 2/2019 - Updated VCP to 6.5 (just a few days before VMware discontinued the re-cert policy...)
    Working on: RHCSA 7, learning Ansible
    Future: RHCE? VCAP6.5-DCD?
  • Chris:/*Chris:/* Posts: 658Member
    I have done both B&M and Online Universities and I can tell you Online is no easier than a B&M BUT an IT degree would be easier than a CS degree. Choose a major that will lead you to your goals not the resistance of that path.

    Welcome to TE.
    Degrees:
    M.S. Information Security and Assurance
    B.S. Computer Science - Summa Cum Laude
    A.A.S. Electronic Systems Technology
  • bigmantenorbigmantenor Posts: 233Member
    blargoe- Thank you for the words of encouragement and advice. I don't think I could really overcertify if I wanted to at this point, since I don't have unlimited funds lol. I've probably been ready to take the A+ for a month now, but I put it off because I really, really don't want to fail and be out $300. I'll begin looking for an entry-level job once I have my A+ and N+ done; I've been putting away money for a few months now in the event that I have to accept a tech job which pays me slightly less than serving, so hopefully that will help if that is the case.

    Chris- Thanks for the insight. I wasn't trying to say that I believe online is inferior to B&M; on the contrary, from my experience that seems to be where the future of education is. I also don't think that my choice will be based on the path of least resistance; I need to be able to take pride in my work, so career choice will not be made based soley on the almighty dollar signs. Congratulations on attaining your B.S. in CS, I'm sure that was no small feat, and is deserving of praise.

    Anyone else care to chime in? I love the feedback!

    Thanks,
    Adam
  • Chris:/*Chris:/* Posts: 658Member
    Thanks for the compliments. I was stating the comparison of CS to IT from what my friends coursework was to mine, I hope it did not come across pompous. When choosing where to go next you need to know what you want to do? What is your end goal? If you do not know yet what do you like?

    This is a great place to learn from as there are people from all stages of life and experience so I am sure you will find the guidance you are looking for.
    Degrees:
    M.S. Information Security and Assurance
    B.S. Computer Science - Summa Cum Laude
    A.A.S. Electronic Systems Technology
  • jtoastjtoast Posts: 226Member
    Hello all,
    1. I will be taking my A+ at the end of March; any advice?
    My wife just passed this test on her first try a few months ago and she said that that Mike Myers book was her best reference.
    2. In your opinion, do you believe that my B.S. from UTA will aide me in my job search for an IT job/career?
    Any 4 year degree will get you past the basic HR barrier although you will need some sort of technical credibility also. Thats where the certs come in.
    3. Other than the certs I am currently studying for, what would be some certs which you would suggest me trying to acquire (I know I should probably at least look into the MC-ITP certs once I'm done with a few of the ones already on my list).
    Look at certs for the areas you want to work in. If I were starting now I would get my MCIPT Enterprise which is Windows 7 (70-680) and either the 70-685 or 70-686. Next I would get the CCNE, and Security +. I would completly skip both the A+ and the Network+. That will give you a good foundation on both the network and client side of things.
    4. I'm interested in various aspects of the computing world, including security, networking, virtual machines, and even SQL. Are any of these necessarily good/bad choices of career path, and if so, why (especially SQL; I think database admin would be an interesting job)?
    One thing I love about IT is that almost anything can be a good career path if you are good enough at it. Right now Virtualization is a hot topic.
    5. Do you have any advice, given my situation, to help me get where I want to be?
    Pick what you enjoy doing, not what pays the most. Friend of mine got into coding because he heard that coders started at $60K. He's now making $70K but absolutely hates his job and is debating on taking a substantial paycut to move to an entry level database position.
    In your opinion, would going back for another degree help me achieve my goals? And if it were between WGU and going back to UTA, which do you think is the better decision in the long run?
    While another BS wouldn't hurt you, I personally would probably A) grab a few certs and try to get some experience under my belt; b: While I was working on A, I would go back to school to get something like WGU's MS:ISA (which should hopefully be NSA accredited in June.)
  • bigmantenorbigmantenor Posts: 233Member
    Chris- No, not it didn't come off as pompous at all, I completely get what you're saying. Good luck with all that you are pursuing right now!

    jhoast- Thanks for the reply! And congratulations to your wife! I've actually hit the Meyers book pretty hard, as well as Exam Cram and the Messer videos. I agree with you when you say that anything in IT can be a good career path if you apply yourself; I see many people succeeding in many different subfields by having specialized knowledge and skills. My issue right now is just choosing what interests me I suppose. As far as attempting an M.S. at WGU, this has definitely crossed my mind, especially since I do already have a B.S. I will look at their course listings for Master's programs tonight.
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