Is a masters degree worth it?

Cora5Cora5 Member Posts: 31 ■■□□□□□□□□
Hi All,

I'm making a new thread for everyone including myself that has asked the question on this forum regarding the value of a masters degree. My plan is to pursue the MSISA track at WGU starting in July. I have scoured the threads here looking for answers... Anyway, I'm long-term unemployed with 10+ years in IT Security. I'm presently doing self-study for CISSP and plan to sit for the exam in June-July.

I would like to hear opinions from those who have obtained a masters degree and how have it help your career. Is a masters degree worth it in this economy? I hear a lot about people that have advanced degrees that are struggling to find work in their field. I do realize that it is somewhat different from those of us that are in the IT sector. This is a big step for anyone to take and ultimately its a personal decision to make. This feels right to me and I will do it, just want to get other people perspective on this topic.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to share your stories.

Comments

  • Master Of PuppetsMaster Of Puppets Member Posts: 1,210
    Of course the MS degree is going to help. But employers will value experience above all. How long have you been out of a job? 10 years of experience is a lot but, as you know, this industry changes very rapidly and even a few years away from the front lines can make your skills totally irrelevant.
    Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,286 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I'd think with 10+ years in IT security you'd have no problem getting a job without an MS degree. I don't think it would hurt, but it surely shouldn't be a requirement in finding a job. Maybe have the folks here help rip apart your resume before paying for more schooling?
  • iBrokeITiBrokeIT GICSP, GCIP, GXPN, GPEN, GWAPT, GCFE, GCIH, GSEC, CySA+, Sec+, eJPT Member Posts: 1,289 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Danielm7 wrote: »
    I'd think with 10+ years in IT security you'd have no problem getting a job without an MS degree. I don't think it would hurt, but it surely shouldn't be a requirement in finding a job. Maybe have the folks here help rip apart your resume before paying for more schooling?

    We are here to help but I agree with this statement. I really doubt its a lack of master's degree that's causing you to lose out on jobs.
    2019: GPEN | GCFE | GXPN | GICSP | CySA+ 
    2020: GCIP | GCIA | eCPPT | eWPT | eCTHP

    WGU BS IT-NA | SANS Grad Cert: PT&EH | SANS Grad Cert: ICS Security
  • Tom ServoTom Servo Member Posts: 104
    I plan to start WGU in September, and I am also very interested in people's opinion on this matter. Can anyone who has graduated with the WGU MSISA give their perspective about how the degree is viewed by potential employers, any uptick in recruiting, or changes in the types of jobs you are contacted about?

    I agree with others, 10 years of IT security experience should make you fairly high in demand. I absolutely recommend getting the CISSP, it is a major 'preferred' or even requirement by many (whether rightful or not).
  • Cora5Cora5 Member Posts: 31 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Of course the MS degree is going to help. But employers will value experience above all. How long have you been out of a job? 10 years of experience is a lot but, as you know, this industry changes very rapidly and even a few years away from the front lines can make your skills totally irrelevant.
    I have over 20 years experience in IT and been out of work for almost 2yrs, I took a year off for my family. I believe not having the CISSP certification is hurting me right now. I will post my resume next week to have it torn apart.
  • Cora5Cora5 Member Posts: 31 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I am bumping this thread.
  • higherhohigherho Member Posts: 882
    The school debt atm is not worth it to me. However, I might get a masters since my company is giving me over 7k a year towards it. But if I had to pay it myself then I would not. I'm purely a technical engineer and my clients want me to be certified / a pro in the technologies I deal with. For security if you are doing compliance / managerial type stuff than yes the CISSP will help, it wont hurt but I wont be getting the CISSP because it does nothing for my career.
  • Tom ServoTom Servo Member Posts: 104
    I think I would disgaree with higherho regarding CISSP not helping. Fairly or not, the CISSP is the major cert HR types look for in just about any security position, from audit, security engineering, to pen test. While the material in the CISSP may not help with all security positions, so much weight is put on it that it makes sense for almost everyone who is qualified to grab the cert.
  • NovaHaxNovaHax Member Posts: 502 ■■■■□□□□□□
    IMO...education has little to do with it these days. If you really want to stand out, you need to do the things that other people aren't doing.

    - Industry relevant research (This industry has so much untapped information. There are new technologies and software released every day. Do some independent study on applicability, interoperability, product integration or security issues that surround those products)
    - Build / make something useful (get in on that github action)
    - Get published (books, magazines, blogs, etc...).

    And build a portfolio of the things you've done. A master's degree certainly helps (and I'm getting mine because its fully paid for)...but its not going to be the thing that makes you stand out from the competition.
  • daviddwsdaviddws MCSA x2, MCITP, CIOS, CSIS, CNIP, CSSS, CLNP MCTS, MTA, MCP,  ITILv3, LPIC-1, VCA-WM, SCLA, CTS,  Member Posts: 303 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Do you like your resume at the top of the pile? Can you finish what you start? (most people drop out of Master degree programs)
    ________________________________________
    M.I.S.M:
    Master of Information Systems Management
    M.B.A: Master of Business Administration
  • N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483
    I think so..... In my current position I beat out several candidates and one of the reasons was I had an MBA and they only had their bachelors. Another reason that I was told was my interview skills were smooth.

    So in short yes it helps, but each situation is different. Also I am a BA and I am moving towards solution architecture. MBA's and Master degrees are sought after in those roles. (At least the SA roles I have looked at).
  • emerald_octaneemerald_octane Member Posts: 613
    higherho wrote: »
    For security if you are doing compliance / managerial type stuff than yes the CISSP will help, it wont hurt but I wont be getting the CISSP because it does nothing for my career.

    I wouldnt say it does nothing for you because it is being asked of for purely technical folks. If you see a posting with "CISSP preferred", bet on CISSP certified individuals being called in regardless of the merit. Experience always counts, but you may be running up against folks who have 10 years of experience + the cissp + the infosec masters. Most everyone I know who has earned it has seen their prospects skyrocket.
  • higherhohigherho Member Posts: 882
    I wouldnt say it does nothing for you because it is being asked of for purely technical folks. If you see a posting with "CISSP preferred", bet on CISSP certified individuals being called in regardless of the merit. Experience always counts, but you may be running up against folks who have 10 years of experience + the cissp + the infosec masters. Most everyone I know who has earned it has seen their prospects skyrocket.

    No it really wouldn't do anything for my career (especially since I'm not into a pure infosec engineer or IA). Yes more people who get it are in the security field and in the government world it provides higher labor categories (meaning your employer can get more cash from the government). It's all about the bottom line and how much money you can pull for the employer and knowing the right people.This is what matters. Education is great but jack of all trades is not if you want to be a master / expert. Microsoft doesn't give 150k + salaries to their PFE's because they know everything, they do because they specialize and are masters at their field.

    NovaHax is 100% correct.
  • eLseLs Member Posts: 74 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Personally degrees do not expired and it is always hard to finish it out while one is an adult with a job and family. If you can do it now do it and get it over with.

    Forget about it will hurt you or not you can always dismiss it from resume but at least you always will have the degree with you and bachelors are a dime a dozen now a days. Masters is just another item on the checklist to give you an edge over competition.

    IT is an exception which we see experience and certifications can move you up with out a bachelors or masters. I am seeing associates is starting to become the minimum now instead of HS diploma even if you got experience unless they are desperate.
    Bachelor of Science: Computer Information Systems
    2014 Goals: Solarwinds Certified Professional (SCP), Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).
  • shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    eLs wrote: »
    Personally degrees do not expired and it is always hard to finish it out while one is an adult with a job and family. If you can do it now do it and get it over with.

    Forget about it will hurt you or not you can always dismiss it from resume but at least you always will have the degree with you and bachelors are a dime a dozen now a days. Masters is just another item on the checklist to give you an edge over competition.

    IT is an exception which we see experience and certifications can move you up with out a bachelors or masters. I am seeing associates is starting to become the minimum now instead of HS diploma even if you got experience unless they are desperate.



    Certain masters degree's have shelf lives. If you get a MBA, and you are not on the MBA track in 5 years, then its lost its value as most people will not consider you for those positions. Some companies may look at it more favorably as a check in the box, but it depends on the environment. I'm not going to say to get a masters or not. However I can give the advice to take a look at your finances, get on linkedin and talk with recruiters at companies that have the positions you want and see what they look for. Go to the local meetups with the security geeks and see what they are up too. Try as many FREE options as you can before you spend the money on a degree.



    For the OP. What do you mean by worth it? Is it for career goals or for more money?


    Think about what your career goals are, and do they put you at financial risk. Below I put a chart of some mindsets a lot of us on the board have. I use to think getting a degree and more certs were the answer, but they weren't. "Networking" on this board has done more for me than getting a degree or CCIE


    http://yoprowealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Money-Class-Table.pdf
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    CUCM SRND 9x/10, UCCX SRND 10x, QOS SRND, SIP Trunking Guide, anything contact center related
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