Do I need a degree? Older IT guy looking for recommendations

pcgizzmopcgizzmo Posts: 127Member
Hello,

I'm new here and looking for some advice. Although new here I'm not new to IT. I've been in the field for about 16 years. I started out in sales then moved into consulting and now work for one of my former customers as a network administrator. When I started in IT there were degrees but it was a time that you didn't need one because people that new what they were doing were few and far in between.

I've recently been thinking about looking for a new job but realize that certification wise I haven't kept up with the pack and lacking a degree I'm even farther behind. My thoughts are the following:

Get my CISSP, CME and certification in E-Discovery. I would like to work in an E-Discovery/Forensics type environment.

I have a plethora of experience -

VMWare
Microsoft Server 2008, 2003, 2000
SAN technologies
Wireless
Routing
Cisco Firewalls
Citirix
AS400

I have a few concerns.

1. I make a good salary $85k for what I do starting on a different path could change this.

2. I don't have a degree although I've read where maybe with experience and certs a degree may not be needed.

What do you guys think and what would your recommendations be? I'm 42 and think I could get certs with not much trouble and some studying but don't know if I have the fortitude to go for a 4 year degree at my age and realistically it wouldn't be a 4 year degree because I would still be working so more like 6-8 years which would put me close to 50.


Thanks for your time.

Comments

  • YFZbluYFZblu Posts: 1,462Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    If you achieved the CISSP, coupled with your experience, I don't think you'd have any trouble finding gainful employment. Would you make 85k right off the bat? I don't know, perhaps a CISSP could chime in here...
  • TLeTourneauTLeTourneau Posts: 614Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    The degree never hurts, I'm the same age and am working on my degree. I'm going to WGU and went in with certifications which essentially took care of 47 credits. It's a great option for working professionals that want to get a degree. You can do it with experience and certs but when you want to move up the degree makes it a little easier.
    Thanks, Tom

    B.S: IT - Network Design & Management
    M.S. - CSIA (Started 3/1/2017)Progress T1: C688, JIT2; T2:TFT2, C700, VLT2; T3: C701, C702; T4: C706, FXT2, LQT2
    Black = Not Started, Blue = In Progress, Red = Complete
  • spicy ahispicy ahi Posts: 413Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    It sounds like you have a good chunk of IT experience, though how much do you particularly have in the path you're taking? I have a friend who works for the local PD here who does IT forensics and he came from a typical IT background. The PD sent him to classes and such to get him "up to speed" with the work so there was value there. He did take an extreme pay cut (he was making your salary then had to take a nearly 40k dink to do this current job) so you may encounter that should you get an opportunity with the local/state police departments. Of course, it's what he wants to do, and he wants to eventually move up to the FBI or CIA doing the same work so for him it was worthwhile. As for a degree, he doesn't have one and didn't really need one. His military background gave him the boost he thinks, though, so if you have the same that may help your pursuit.
    Spicy :cool: Mentor the future! Be a CyberPatriot!
  • paul78paul78 Posts: 3,013Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    I'm a wee-bit older than you. And I also don't have a degree. But it has never slowed me down. The lack of a degree for me has definitely made it difficult for me to get my foot in the door - but I am a strong believer that its about the network and I've cultivated some strong relationships so I have been fortunate that I do not need to ever cold-call on a job opportunity.

    If you have 16 years in IT and you are currently a network admin - I would not expect the lack of the degree to be a problem.

    Personally, from a career perspective - I would suggest going for the certs that you find interesting. You mentioned CISSP - that's a great place to start if you have an interest in security.

    BTW - I didn't quite understand what you meant by - you getting 85K and this could change - I'm pretty sure if you get a CISSP, that would enhance your compensation opportunities.
  • pcgizzmopcgizzmo Posts: 127Member
    spicy ahi wrote: »
    It sounds like you have a good chunk of IT experience, though how much do you particularly have in the path you're taking? I have a friend who works for the local PD here who does IT forensics and he came from a typical IT background. The PD sent him to classes and such to get him "up to speed" with the work so there was value there. He did take an extreme pay cut (he was making your salary then had to take a nearly 40k dink to do this current job) so you may encounter that should you get an opportunity with the local/state police departments. Of course, it's what he wants to do, and he wants to eventually move up to the FBI or CIA doing the same work so for him it was worthwhile. As for a degree, he doesn't have one and didn't really need one. His military background gave him the boost he thinks, though, so if you have the same that may help your pursuit.

    Thanks for the replies everyone.

    I have a little E-Discovery experience through my current job but no forensics experience. The PD is a good idea. Maybe I can look into that for experience or see if there is a mentor program or internship. Thanks.
  • pcgizzmopcgizzmo Posts: 127Member
    [QUOTE=paul78;620508

    BTW - I didn't quite understand what you meant by - you getting 85K and this could change - I'm pretty sure if you get a CISSP, that would enhance your compensation opportunities.[/QUOTE]

    I was just thinking not having forensics experience even with cissp and forensics cert I might have to take a lower paying job to get the experience. Maybe not though.
  • higherhohigherho Posts: 882Member
    pcgizzmo wrote: »
    Thanks for the replies everyone.

    I have a little E-Discovery experience through my current job but no forensics experience. The PD is a good idea. Maybe I can look into that for experience or see if there is a mentor program or internship. Thanks.

    I think the lack of forensics experience would hurt and might reflect on the pay even if you have a CISSP. I would go down a path that makes use of the experience you've gained. MCITP : EA if you want to stick with servers (and with your experience you can easily match the 85k if not higher though certain corporations require degrees sometimes). I mean your approaching 50 and personally I would really just consider pension plans, retirement , and trying to bank as much money as you can. instead of dumping that money into a degree.

    Try and apply to places like Microsoft ( a forum user here is making 250k and I don't think he even has a degree or just a two year but a ton of experience in Microsoft exchange and messaging).
  • Novalith478Novalith478 Posts: 151Member
    higherho wrote: »
    I think the lack of forensics experience would hurt and might reflect on the pay even if you have a CISSP. I would go down a path that makes use of the experience you've gained. MCITP : EA if you want to stick with servers (and with your experience you can easily match the 85k if not higher though certain corporations require degrees sometimes). I mean your approaching 50 and personally I would really just consider pension plans, retirement , and trying to bank as much money as you can. instead of dumping that money into a degree.

    Try and apply to places like Microsoft ( a forum user here is making 250k and I don't think he even has a degree or just a two year but a ton of experience in Microsoft exchange and messaging).

    I can attest to that. There is a user here who has 16 years experience or something like that, he was in the Air Force for awhile and got injured, applied for Microsoft jobs 3 or 4 times and got in. He's making insane amounts of money now just on experienced based knowledge.

    If you've got enough experience, you can get into the design/engineering jobs, that's where all the money is.
  • paul78paul78 Posts: 3,013Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    pcgizzmo wrote: »
    I was just thinking not having forensics experience even with cissp and forensics cert I might have to take a lower paying job to get the experience. Maybe not though.
    Ahh gotcha. I didn't understand that you were trying to get into forensics work. In that case, I would agree with what higherho said.

    Perhaps you can find a role within an infosec group of a company that needs someone with your skills - maybe not pure forensics work but it would let you have infosec experience and give you exposure without needing to take a salary reduction. There is still a need for server and network admins that perform log analysis, setup and design of security components of a server, managing security infrastructure like SIEM, log collectors, etc.

    I work in infosec and I got here in similar fashion.
  • pcgizzmopcgizzmo Posts: 127Member
    [QUOTE=higherho;620517

    Try and apply to places like Microsoft ( a forum user here is making 250k and I don't think he even has a degree or just a two year but a ton of experience in Microsoft exchange and messaging).[/QUOTE]


    Anyone remember his forum name?
  • paul78paul78 Posts: 3,013Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    pcgizzmo wrote: »
    Anyone remember his forum name?
    I believe they are referring to this thread - http://www.techexams.net/forums/jobs-degrees/74748-career-level-up.html
  • Novalith478Novalith478 Posts: 151Member
    pcgizzmo wrote: »
    Anyone remember his forum name?

    I remember he made a thread (I think) about applying for a Microsoft job. I don't remember his username though icon_sad.gif
  • tpatt100tpatt100 Posts: 2,989Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    I got my CISSP a few years ago mainly because the letters are a popular keyword search for employers on the job board. My current job and my last job were not advertised I was recruited by somebody in HR searching Monster and Dice websites. I emphasized the "not advertised" because I believe I was found using keywords so yeah I guess the CISSP helps. Pretty much every security job a recruiter calls/emails me about asks for the CISSP. Looking back I am glad I did it because the information is useful now, back then not really it is more a top view cert so it helps me now as an IT auditor than as a security analyst.

    You have a lot of experience so I would focus on that and just get certs that compliment that experience. School wise have you considered WGU? There are things I like and things I do not but with my work commute and work schedule it works for me. Also a few of the certs that are part of the program helped me career wise. Studying for the GIAC G2700 helped me ace my interview for my current job plus studying for my CISSP helped me ace my interview at one of my older jobs.

    I do search the job postings to find jobs I might want one day and see the requirements so I can steer my studies in that direction so I can be prepared in case I need to search.

    You mentioned E-Discovery that is a policy I am working on now, reading the book from Syngress:

    Amazon.com: E-discovery: Creating and Managing an Enterprisewide Program - A Technical Guide to Digital Investigation and Litigation Support (9781597492966): Karen A. Schuler: Books

    It is pretty good easy to read. I need to check on certs for that subject I think I am just going to focus on getting the policy implemented first though.

    I think career wise I am going to hammer out this policy creation and auditing deal and get proficient at it with the hopes I can make myself stand out from the crowd since I will have security analyst experience plus the industry standards implementation part.

    I was told I got my job because most auditors are not techies but just technical writers and CPAs so they had a lot of miscommunication issues in the past. Now the IT department can talk to me like one of them and I take the information and work on making them compliant.

    Anwyays enough of my rambling. If you are wanting certs and thinking of a degree I would recommend WGU, the cost is fair and won't break you and the certs come with it. Can't hurt.
  • pcgizzmopcgizzmo Posts: 127Member
    Great post with good info. I've started looking at WGU as of last night. Thank you. I like the Avatar by the way. I'm looking forward to the Avengers.
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