Advice on Degrees and Certs

zdxzdx Member Posts: 40 ■■□□□□□□□□
If you are going for a degree please make sure it is an IT program not a CS degree. Computer science is focused on lots of code to build software, OS, and develop web pages. If you want an IT degree most will never touch code to make software. IT is being out in the field hooking everything up and making sure it works. We let the code monkeys do the software then we learn it and hook it up to hardware and cables to make it work for businesses.

Here are some of the certifications I would focus on from entry level to pro level:

Entry:

A+ - Everyone is expected to know this material in IT
MCSA/MCTS 70-680 - Windows 7 exam from Microsoft is the basis for further Windows 7 exams, harder exam than A+
Microsoft Office MOS - It is expected to know this suite but if you don't have MOS cert as long as you know Office you should be fine
ITIL - Know the foundation of this and get the cert

CCENT - Dont bother get CCNA or at least Network+
IC3 - Dont bother

Entry/Mid
Linux+ - Even if you will not use Linux/Unix everyday know it
Network+ - If you are getting CCNA/CCNP dont bother for the exam but know the material
Security+ - Get it period

Mid/advanced
CCNA - get it asap!
MCITP - Server stuff like administration, infrastructure, active directory
VCP - VMware cert nice


Pro
CCNP - get the cert and the money and the respect
MCITP - Enterprise side nice
CCDP/CCDA - design pro!
CISSP - you will boss everyone around!
PMP - BOSS


I will also note that even with a pro certificate you will STILL NEED a bachelors degree to get into heavy organizations that demand everything because they pay extremely well. Some companies will not even consider you if you don't have at least an associates and CCNP or Bachelors and CCNA for Cisco networking.

If you know networking and someones knows that as well plus a bit of security they will get the job not you. You don't have to have a CISSP but if you have sec+ that is better than no security at all. If you someone knows networking/security and another knows network/security/ AND server side stuff they will get that job.

Network stuff - CCNA/CCDA/CCNP etc
Server - MCITP Server stuff or at least server+
Security - Sec+ ccna security cissp ceh

100k salary if you know all 3.

Hope this helps people out that are looking for work. Maybe some old timers can share their knowledge as well.
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Comments

  • 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, CAMod Posts: 4,133 Mod
    There are some things I would correct here:
    Actually, The CCNA is an entry-level certification. I would put it in the first category since no experience is required or necessary to get the ball rolling there. All those CompTIA certs you mentioned are entry-level as well.

    CCNP/CCDP is more mid-level while CCIE is advanced. MCITP is entry/mid.

    As far as 6 figure salary, you're more likely to get it if you specialize than knowing all the different factions of IT and becoming a generalist.

    Generally in the IT field, Computer science and EE degrees are much more valued than IT degrees.

    Also... you don't always need a BS to get into the bigger companies.

    Edit: Basically, like networker, I would disagree with most of your post. I just wanted to sum up the points I particularly disagreed with the most.
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    I'd have to disagree with most of your post.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • TechZillaTechZilla Member Posts: 58 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I don't feel like any of those certs would really get you past mid level. When someone says pro I think CCIE, VCDX etc...

    I also agree with Iris that specializing will get you the largest salary rather than going the general direction.
  • NetworkVeteranNetworkVeteran Member Posts: 2,338 ■■■■■■■■□□
    zdx wrote:
    Maybe some old timers can share their knowledge as well
    I disagree with most of your advice.
    Computer science is focused on lots of code to build software, OS, and develop web pages. We let the code monkeys do the software then we learn it and hook it up to hardware and cables to make it work for businesses.
    A CS degree generally covers a wide range of topics including software engineering, programming, databases, networking, security, digital design, hardware architecture, writing, public speaking, math, probability, etc. Those with such degrees (and experience) who go into software engineering are rarely "code monkeys", but rather engineers and designers.
    zdx wrote: »
    If you are going for a degree please make sure it is an IT program not a CS degree.
    CS and EE are the degrees I see most often called out for in senior networking roles. Most of my colleagues have one or the other, and are well-compensated for them. There are many paths, but CS is a solid and flexible one.
    zdx wrote:
    Mid/advanced - CCNA - get it asap!
    The CCNA is an entry-level certification commonly obtained by folks with no experience. It's a great way to get your foot into the field of networking. The CCNP is mid-level while the CCIE is advanced. A degree, CCNP, and the experience to back it up is enough for many people to break six-figures, without meddling in other aspects of IT. Of course, the same could probably be said for folks who specialize in any of the other area you mentioned, although those aren't my fortes.
  • Params7Params7 Member Posts: 254
    I thought if you're into management and want to get into IT Management, having medium-high knowledge in multiple facets of IT would be more useful than advanced knowledge in just one of the areas.

    And don't tell me IT-Managers get paid less than specialist technicians/engineers.
  • NetworkVeteranNetworkVeteran Member Posts: 2,338 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Params7 wrote: »
    And don't tell me IT-Managers get paid less than specialist technicians/engineers.
    Indeed, unless we're talking about upper-management, they often are.
  • srabieesrabiee Member Posts: 1,231 ■■■■■■■□□□
    CompTIA has an interactive IT Certification Roadmap on their website, if anyone is interested in checking it out. The OP reminded me of it. It includes multiple vendors, not just CompTIA certs.

    CompTIA Career Pathways
    WGU Progress: Master of Science - Information Technology Management (Start Date: February 1, 2015)
    Completed: LYT2, TFT2, JIT2, MCT2, LZT2, SJT2 (17 CU's)
    Required: FXT2, MAT2, MBT2, C391, C392 (13 CU's)

    Bachelor of Science - Information Technology Network Design & Management (WGU - Completed August 2014)
  • puertorico1985puertorico1985 Member Posts: 205
    I mean no disrespect, but I laughed (audibly) while reading this post. It is full of bad information and is very ill-conceived. I have a CS degree, and I am a Network Engineer (not even remotely close to a "code monkey"). Although, I am sure you mean good, this post should not even exist and can be seen as disrespectful by those that have even a few years in IT. Again, I mean no disrespect, but this should not have been written at all.
  • IsmaeljrpIsmaeljrp Member Posts: 480 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Let me say something I used to tell some of my Marines while I was a squad leader...

    Good effort, bad judgement.
  • PolynomialPolynomial Member Posts: 365
    Params7 wrote: »
    I thought if you're into management and want to get into IT Management, having medium-high knowledge in multiple facets of IT would be more useful than advanced knowledge in just one of the areas.

    And don't tell me IT-Managers get paid less than specialist technicians/engineers.

    They don't.
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    It is not uncommon for highly skilled engineers to make as much or more than their managers. Now if we are talking helpdesk then most likely not.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • redzredz CISSP-ISSAP, ISSEP, ISSMP, CAP (& others) Member Posts: 265 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I would like to begin my compliment sandwich by saying that it does seem every hiring manager wants the "ITIL terminology with applied common sense" certification.

    A degree is a very-nice-to-have, not a necessity. Years of relevant work is almost unanimously more important. I have no degree, and that has never disqualified me from a position (least of all my current one, at a state university, which "required" a bachelor's degree). It may be a tie breaker, but it's not needed.

    EDIT: Second compliment: I also wouldn't bother with IC3.
  • PolynomialPolynomial Member Posts: 365
    It is not uncommon for highly skilled engineers to make as much or more than their managers. Now if we are talking helpdesk then most likely not.

    CIO or bust, man!
    redz wrote: »
    A degree is a very-nice-to-have, not a necessity. Years of relevant work is almost unanimously more important. I have no degree, and that has never disqualified me from a position (least of all my current one, at a state university, which "required" a bachelor's degree). It may be a tie breaker, but it's not needed.

    Its a necessity these days.
  • 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, CAMod Posts: 4,133 Mod
    I wouldn't say it's a necessity. I was able to get 3 positions in IT plus an internship and a contracting gig before I ever received my degree. This latest job as a network engineer is the first time I actually applied for a job with a degree under my belt but it's highly likely that I still could have found a network engineer position without a degree. It'll definitely help you overall to have it but it's by no means a necessity given the number of successful professionals on this forum who have been able to overcome their lack of degree or even, in some cases, a lack of a high school diploma
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
  • redzredz CISSP-ISSAP, ISSEP, ISSMP, CAP (& others) Member Posts: 265 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Polynomial wrote: »
    Its a necessity these days.

    "Necessity" is such a strong word. Unless I've managed to break the system, you're not using that word correctly. While I agree that it is extremely beneficial, it is not needed.
  • PolynomialPolynomial Member Posts: 365
    t'll definitely help you overall to have it but it's by no means a necessity given the number of successful professionals on this forum who have been able to overcome their lack of degree or even, in some cases, a lack of a high school diploma

    These people generally are from a different generation however.
  • 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, CAMod Posts: 4,133 Mod
    I'm 30 so I definitely wouldn't say I'm a different generation. I was able to secure all the jobs/positions/internship I listed above without a degree. It's a more difficult road without a degree, but not anywhere near an impossible one. I definitely recommend to anyone to get a degree to check more boxes and make life easier but I would never say it's a necessity. I've seen too many people rise the ranks side-by-side with me without a degree to ever say that.
    BS, MS, and CCIE #50931
    Blog: www.network-node.com
  • colemiccolemic Member Posts: 1,568 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I don't think necessity quite fits, but neither does nice-to-have, either... if you are applying to a bureaucratic organization, there is a very good chance that you won't make it through initial requirements screenings, regardless of your experience.

    If I were hiring staff, I would almost always go with the degreed person over someone without, unless they had very, very specific talents. To me, a degree indicates that while you might not be the most experienced person, you know how to learn, and are teachable.

    Is that biased, probably. But almost every hiring decision in the world is.
    Working on: CCSP, definitely, maybe. On the twitters: @mcole1008
  • PolynomialPolynomial Member Posts: 365
    I don't think anyone without a degree would recommend that path to anyone.

    Can you get by without one? Sure. But putting yourself in the position to even allow yourself the opportunity is more important.
  • puertorico1985puertorico1985 Member Posts: 205
    Polynomial wrote: »
    I don't think anyone without a degree would recommend that path to anyone.

    Can you get by without one? Sure. But putting yourself in the position to even allow yourself the opportunity is more important.


    My thoughts exactly! I have worked at several organizations before even enrolled at a University. I would never recommend that path to anyone. Ever! If you are reading this, I recommend getting your degree.
  • srabieesrabiee Member Posts: 1,231 ■■■■■■■□□□
    As far as money goes, I haven't been able to do s*** without a degree. I'm getting my Bachelor's and Master's ASAP.
    WGU Progress: Master of Science - Information Technology Management (Start Date: February 1, 2015)
    Completed: LYT2, TFT2, JIT2, MCT2, LZT2, SJT2 (17 CU's)
    Required: FXT2, MAT2, MBT2, C391, C392 (13 CU's)

    Bachelor of Science - Information Technology Network Design & Management (WGU - Completed August 2014)
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    Polynomial wrote: »
    I don't think anyone without a degree would recommend that path to anyone.

    Can you get by without one? Sure. But putting yourself in the position to even allow yourself the opportunity is more important.

    Of course not. No one would recommend anyone not get something that would help their career. That is besides the point though.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • redzredz CISSP-ISSAP, ISSEP, ISSMP, CAP (& others) Member Posts: 265 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I think I was misunderstood. I said it isn't necessary - that it isn't a requirement. For professionals looking to change fields into IT, people who may not have the ability to attend college for other reasons, it should not be perceived as a deal-breaker, which is how it is put forth in this post (and in several replies). It is extremely useful, and highly recommended, if possible. I am not downplaying the importance of a degree, I am just saying that it is not a prerequisite.

    As a 27 year old with no degree, I can assure you that there are several ways to overcome that lack. My initial success was due to freakish learning abilities, a strong work ethic, and natural soft skills. Now, the focus is on effective professional networking and business development. Having four years of proven ROI, to me, trumps a four year degree, while having four years of un-quantifiable "real world experience" may or may not, situationally. If you're making hiring decisions based on degrees, you may not be hiring the best candidates for positions. Others may disagree, and I'm not interested in telling anyone else how to run their business**.

    I volunteer as a tutor for entry level courses (ITILF, Sec+, and CCENT currently - Yes, I'm fully aware I only bothered to get one of those certs) and assist in career placement for individuals with no degree (or degrees unrelated to Information Technology) in my free time. I've seen a great deal of success from motivated individuals without degrees. It takes more work, and it's not recommended, but it is very possible.

    **Unless they're paying me to.

    EDIT: To be clear, once my consulting schedule slows down (or I accept a real person job), I intend to begin taking classes at WGU.
  • GarudaMinGarudaMin Member Posts: 204
    It depends on what your ultimate goal is. If you want to get a C-level job, then without a degree, well you can imgaine yourself. I know of techs who does not have degree. That's fine, they climbed the ladder with their ethics, hard-work, and whatever else.
    But if one is hiring and two people applied for that postion. Both aced the interviews with experience, ethics, hard-work but one has a degree and one doesn't. Then you can imagine who will get it.
    You are right in that it isn't a requirement. But depending on what you want to be, you may find yourself in disadvantage.
  • PhoneJockeyPhoneJockey Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I was browsing Today's posts when I came across this one and this thread sadly is some what informational to me. While I might now know if zdx is correct in his labeling of certifications and degrees, it gives me a menu of what his experiences have encountered.

    Disclaimer: I am not on any GAG order for either business entity.

    My back story is pretty lengthy, I am a 36 year old help desk technician. For the more part that is all I did was tech support for ISP's, Turbo Tax software, CompUSA "dial-a-tech" programs and then TAP warranty work. Now I work in support of active directory accounts and medical record technical support. I make 35k a year and I think for the work I do, I should make more because I am one of the better technicians on my clients team. You see we outsource for my client in the east. I should be looking into a HIT certification but my work does not cover that cert yet. however they do cover CCNA and comptia exams, as well as tuition reimbursement.

    I have not always had the best life, my paths were not drawn out. Parents split when I was young so I did not have the foundation a father figure would normally provide. I am a late bloomer into the game for sitting idle for so long and not investing into something I am good at. You see, you never know exactly in life what you want to do because you like to do what comes naturally and you enjoy. As a kid I never wanted to be a policeman or astronaut from the start and never expected to be a phone jockey at this point.

    I've been told by step-dads and boyfriends as my mother tried to regain her love life, that I was just wasting away and at the time the jobs I held did not show me the corporate life or its doors so I had no idea where to start, no idea what I wanted to get into. We finally got a regular computer, a P1 233mhz I think and therein started my technical journey. I learned much about Windows 98 from the errors and soon learned the system well enough. I started my first gaming on that by playing ranked Chess and chessmaster games. And as with all tech jobs the technical support was my entry level position and because of my troubleshooting knowledge I got in the door.

    At the time certs and degrees were not present in my conversations of gaming in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six and Rogue Spear. It was discussions of how to remove the hand shake in dial up by using the AT&FX command string and how to squeeze all the speed out of your 56k or how to run dual 56k modems. I was learning quite quickly but then my career took a turn for the outsourcing worse as the company moved its call center across the big pond to another country. I landed a new tech job and kept the same help-desk position and continued down that road for years. Never excelling, just always bottleneck by those who capitalized on someone who was decisive at problem solving and really good at computers and providing resolutions.

    I am now at my current job which in the beginning required A+ to have within 90 days. I felt foolish and stupid when I took the test that I knew much of the answers from experience and yet never considered taking the test. Having passed that 5 years ago, I have come to a point now where I realize that I am worth more than 35k a year and I do not think there is any advancement in my current position which I feel if I lost would not be able to get back the same position without having more education under my belt.

    So I made a choice, I made a goal to acquire as many certifications as I can that my work will pay for before college. Yea after having some talks with a few friends one of them who has his associates in computer science and makes $25hr and another who is very well off as well. My friend talked me into college and I found my place at Dakota State University going for Cyber Operations B.S.

    I am going to take my Security+ in the next week and then start on my CCNA. Classes for college start in September and who knows in 4 years where I will be but I know what I will be working on...my continuing education. Hopefully in time I can be where I should have been so many years ago and hopefully making a comfortable wage.
  • puertorico1985puertorico1985 Member Posts: 205
    @PhoneJockey, I wish you the best of luck in your career and your future plans. This industry is definitely not easy, and you will have many struggles along your way, but there are passionate individuals, such as yourself, that make it all worthwhile. You have decided to stop wasting time, and keep pushing forward, and with that mentality, there is only one place you can go: forward!

    Best of luck!
  • DissonantDataDissonantData Member Posts: 158
    Would having an unrelated degree or having a minor in a computer-related field be the equivalent of having no degree in the IT world? What do employers think about those scenarios?
  • milieumilieu Member Posts: 41 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I would guess it goes something like:
    BS in computer field > BS in non-computer with minor in computer > unrelated BS > no degree.
  • redzredz CISSP-ISSAP, ISSEP, ISSMP, CAP (& others) Member Posts: 265 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Would having an unrelated degree or having a minor in a computer-related field be the equivalent of having no degree in the IT world?

    This depends heavily on both the employer and on the non-IT degree being discussed. Some employers value degrees for the sake of degrees, regardless of the field of study. There are times when I would be more inclined to hire someone with a business or finance degree and technical risk management experience than a technical degree and the exact same technical risk management experience.

    I cannot think of a situation in which having no degree would be equivalent to having a degree (even unrelated), assuming some creepy control scenario where every other variable is exactly the same.

    EDIT: A lot of it is in how you market yourself (how you can relate the education to your field and use it as an advantage over other candidates for a position) and on what field you're going into. If you're trying to be a .NET dev with a Master's in Music Theory, well, I mean, good luck.
  • DissonantDataDissonantData Member Posts: 158
    This depends heavily on both the employer and on the non-IT degree being discussed. Some employers value degrees for the sake of degrees, regardless of the field of study. There are times when I would be more inclined to hire someone with a business or finance degree and technical risk management experience than a technical degree and the exact same technical risk management experience.

    I cannot think of a situation in which having no degree would be equivalent to having a degree (even unrelated), assuming some creepy control scenario where every other variable is exactly the same.

    EDIT: A lot of it is in how you market yourself (how you can relate the education to your field and use it as an advantage over other candidates for a position) and on what field you're going into. If you're trying to be a .NET dev with a Master's in Music Theory, well, I mean, good luck.

    By far one of the best explanations I've heard so far. But in what situations would you be inclined to hire someone with a business or finance background? I agree with "marketing yourself" when in comes to whatever education you have, but I'm concerned that these days the field of IT is becoming more "standardized" and certain degrees will be required for certain jobs (i.e. accounting degrees for accounting jobs, medical degrees to become a doctor, law degrees to become a lawyer, etc). How do you think it is going to play out in the future? I really do like IT because it focuses more on aptitude and skills rather than standardized knowledge.

    On a side note though, it is possible to get into medical school with a liberal arts degree, at least after you have taken the necessary prerequisites.
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