Are degrees really that necessary?

2»

Comments

  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,482 Mod
    Get the best degree from the highest ranked university that you can get. You're better off having it than not having it.

    Now even if you couldn't get a degree now, it's not the end of the world, you can also go back to school or even gets a masters degree later

    but if you can, do it ASAP. It's not about the piece of paper, but the experience, the learning, character, and connections you make.

    Nobody is saying you HAVE to get it, but we're saying it's better to have it than not have it. It does open a lot of doors.
    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Check out my YouTube Channel!

  • shaneplusshaneplus Member Posts: 6 ■■□□□□□□□□
    MrNetTek said:
    @shaneplus

    What are you going to do when your résumé comes up against a person that has certs, degrees, and experience? Some IT degrees allow the person to obtain all the certs by the time they graduate. See WGU.
    If you're asking about me personally, I'm confident I would do just fine for most organizations, and even better for ones I'd prefer to work for. Also, I'm familiar with WGU.
    I'm guessing you were referencing a scenario where someone was in a situation where they didn't have any degrees or certifications, and were trying to get into IT (much more relevant to the discussion). In that scenario, let's take Adam and Brady for an example. Let's say both people are in similar financial situations, and are both working at the same non-IT position and so have the same amount of available time. Let's also say they are looking to apply for the same position in IT in 4 years time so it's a level playing field. For the sake of argument, let's say it's a junior-level network administrator for an MSP.

    Adam: This person applies to IT jobs, but doesn't get any offers initially (no certifications, no degree, and no experience). While still at the non-IT employer, Adam enrolls at an online college so he can continue to work his non-IT job. Let's say he says with the degree plan and picks up some certs along the way (Net+, CCNA R&S, and Sec+). In 4 years, he sees the posting for junior-level network administrator at the MSP and applies. Meeting the qualifications, he gets an interview.

    Brady: This person applies to IT jobs, but doesn't get any offers initially (no certifications, no degree, and no experience). While still at the non-IT employer, he focuses on certifications. He gets his A+ and Net+, and starts reapplying for jobs. He gets offered and entry-level help desk position after this first year. He gains valuable experience and over the course of the next 3 years, he gets a Sec+ and CCNA R&S. He builds a lab to test out what he's learning. He sees the posting for junior-level network administrator at the MSP and applies. While not meeting the qualifications due to not having a degree, he gets an interview based on his experience and not too many other degree-wielding candidates applying for the same position. 

    Adam and Brady both get an interview with HR, and HR grades Adam over Brady based on his degree, so they intend to offer more compensation. On to the technical interview...
    The server team hiring manager has 2 candidates to choose from. Brady does well in his interview based on his experience in the help desk. My guess, and if I were in the hiring manager's position, I would recommend Brady. With the hiring manager's recommendation, I would guess HR would offer the position to Brady, though possibly at a lower starting rate (in my experience, they tend to use those "requirements" as salary negotiation leverage).

    Quite the comprehensive fictitious scenario, sure, but it illustrates two paths someone in a similar situation to the OP might be able to take.
    To be clear, I think a degree + certifications + experience are the best formula to to succeed in getting most desired IT jobs, particularly to the interview stage. Honestly, that's all you can hope for. From there, it's typically a matter of how confident you are in your abilities, how well you will fit in to the environment, and how prepared you are to succeed at the next level. Adam might get more interviews, but Brady might get more job offers.

    Now, in this scenario, Brady can then work to get his degree while accumulating relevant experience if he would want to move up later.
    Likewise, Adam may land an entry-level help desk job to get experience after getting his degree as well.
    Both scenarios would set them up to succeed to get their next interview.

    UnixGuy said:
    Get the best degree from the highest ranked university that you can get. You're better off having it than not having it.

    Now even if you couldn't get a degree now, it's not the end of the world, you can also go back to school or even gets a masters degree later

    but if you can, do it ASAP. It's not about the piece of paper, but the experience, the learning, character, and connections you make.

    Nobody is saying you HAVE to get it, but we're saying it's better to have it than not have it. It does open a lot of doors.
    I don't agree with this approach in almost any circumstance. This seems like a recipe to rack up debt, which might not be the best ROI based on your prospective job markets.
    A college experience is not equivalent to job experience. One of those will prepare you to succeed in this industry.

    MrNetTek said:
    "That is ultimately the greatest obstacle---your résumé being compared to other résumés. Much of this comparison process happens automatically by scanning keywords. Meaning, you won't even make it to interviews, purely based on the keywords missing from your résumé. HR offices, everywhere, are already using that kind of software."

    I'm not going to say that's not how it is for many if not most of the HR offices. I'm not a hiring manager, and not familiar enough with HR processes to speak to that. I have heard something similar from a couple professors and students, but not from anyone that works in HR, and it's not like I sought out that conversation. I have heard of required fields in automated job boards like Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, and the like. This would work similar to how you describe from what I understand. I'm not saying hiring managers and HR firms don't disqualify based on these rather than group them accordingly, but I feel like it would go against their own best interest, and the best interest of the company if they do. From an HR perspective, if you have more otherwise qualified candidates to choose from, you have more leverage in salary negotiations, which means you have a better chance of offering a more profitable employment contract.

    Just my advice from what I've seen.
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,482 Mod
    shaneplus said:

    I'm not going to say that's not how it is for many if not most of the HR offices. I'm not a hiring manager, and not familiar enough with HR processes to speak to that. I have heard something similar from a couple professors and students, but not from anyone that works in HR, and it's not like I sought out that
    conversation.
    Since you're not familiar with HR or hiring processes, how is it that you recommend people not to undertake any education?

    We speak from experience, it's always better to have education than not have it. Not getting education to avoid debt is not a smart approach. The career trajectory and ROI in the long term is enough justification specially in this field (and in STEM in general). 

    I'm not sure why you're comparing someone with cert + experience vs. someone with degree. This black or white thinking is just awful. No one here recommended getting a degree and not getting certs/experience. This is a certifications forum!




    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Check out my YouTube Channel!

  • shaneplusshaneplus Member Posts: 6 ■■□□□□□□□□
    It think you might have misunderstood me. Perhaps I wasn't clear. I too, speak from experience. Just not the experience of a hiring manager or HR representative.
    UnixGuy said:
    Since you're not familiar with HR or hiring processes, how is it that you recommend people not to undertake any education?

    I didn't/don't recommend this. I certainly believe certification + degree + experience is the best way to ultimately make it in this industry.
    I just think it could be more of a timing thing. If someone is trying to get into the cybersecurity industry, rather than the more expensive and longer "pay-to-play" approach of having to get the "biggest most bestest" degree (terrible grammar, but I like the phrase), I think they can be successful getting certs and experience first, then working their way up to an online degree later. I think that approach would have a lower barrier to entry for many, and when they get to the point where they're interviewing for a position, I think they might be better prepared than someone that has a degree, but no experience. In the end, it's about what you know, and what you can do, not what your degree or certification says. It's not a question of cert or degree. It's both, but the more important thing is to learn. I think the best way to learn is experience.
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,658 ■■■■■■■■□□
    shaneplus: there are other options, like get an entry-level IT position and pursue a degree.  You're making a lot of fuss to try and not do something that makes sense.

    This is exactly what I did and I am speaking from real world experience.  I had no degree or certifications and was able to get the most basic entry-level position before the DotCom bubble burst.  I spent the next few years making a little bit of progress on certs waiting to go school because my wife kept telling me that she was going to go to school.  I ultimately went to school and that really made a huge difference.  As a matter of fact, not even having the degree... but simply still going to school made a huge difference.  Since I had some experience and I was actively pursuing an education, I became very attractive to employers.  Two years into my program was like a light switch flipped and I had whole new opportunities opening up for me.

    Those jobs where they say that they require a degree... many of them are willing to hire you if you're in pursuit.

    Guess what also happens rather frequently?  You find a job, you don't have a degree, but everything seems fine.  Then one day, a new CTO/CIO (or even CEO) comes in and says, hey we're partnering with Tata Consulting to do a lot of our work going forward, if you don't already have a degree or aren't already enrolled in a program, good luck with your future endeavors as you're no longer employed here.

    I do consulting work and have numerous customers that had this happen.  Come next recession when companies are looking to tighten their belts, more of this will happen again (not that they actually save money, but it doesn't stop it from being their rationale).

    I can tell you right now, if I had someone that was either junior to me or a direct report and they went through this much effort to try and justify not performing some self-improvement activity... I wouldn't be looking at them favorably.  It isn't that you need a degree... it is that you need to be the type of person that earns a degree.  You need to be looking for opportunities to improve your life.  There are tons of people in a position to make a hiring decision (or influence a decision) that have worked long careers already and have worked with too many people that are just scraping by doing the bare minimum and they have no interest with working with more people like that.  They want to work with people that they can depend on and not have to babysit them all the time.  Sure, if you're early in your career, mentoring you and helping you along is something I would be happy to do as a coworker, but I wouldn't be interested in spoon feeding you or consistently being interrupted to answer the same thing I already answered.  Not that you're this person, but when a hiring decision is made, we have limited information and too many people that we have worked with in the past have had this sort of attitude and it wasn't a good thing.
    2021 Goals: [X] Terraform Associate [X] AZ-204 [X] AZ-400 [X] AWS Cloud Practitioner [X] Terraform CHiP
  • MarioKart64MarioKart64 CompTIA Trifecta | CEH | CHFI | MSCSIA Registered Users Posts: 15 ■■■□□□□□□□
    It really depends on your goals. You can be very successful in a NOC or SOC with just certifications but if you want to move into management then a college degree would be helpful. That said it does not necessarily need to be something like an MBA, my previous boss (Information Security Director) only had an associates degree and a few certifications (although I admit that may change as more and more entry level jobs start requiring a degree). The route that I took and highly recommend is getting a degree from WGU which provides both certifications and a degree
  • Basic85Basic85 Senior Member Member Posts: 182 ■■■□□□□□□□
    IMHO, get the degree in IT. You will stand out from the rest of crowd.  I know people with no certs /degree who are NOW looking into it late in their career, probably mainly due to stiff competition from others.  I can only guess that these are the same people are bashed people with certs and degree and now those who they bashed are now having the last laugh.  Just my 2 certs.  
  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec CISSP SSCP GSOM GSEC EnCE C|EH Cloud+ CySA+ CASP+ Linux+ PenTest+ Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 12,817 Admin
    I know some 55+ year old people that are getting their first college degree because it's on their "bucket list" rather than for career pivoting/advancement. The mental stamina required to get an online degree is often a surprise to people in this age group. There seems to be some assumption that an online degree is easier to achieve in the privacy of one's home over a brick-and-mortor degree that requires a traditional classroom and human contact.



  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,151 ■■■■■■■■■□
    JDMurray said:
    I know some 55+ year old people that are getting their first college degree because it's on their "bucket list" rather than for career pivoting/advancement. The mental stamina required to get an online degree is often a surprise to people in this age group. There seems to be some assumption that an online degree is easier to achieve in the privacy of one's home over a brick-and-mortor degree that requires a traditional classroom and human contact.
    I can't vouch for college online courses, but I've always found it easier to learn with certification classroom training than online training. With a classroom, your a captive audience, you see and hear the instructor (unless you fall asleep in class), with online classes, it's far easier to wonder off topic, I need to use the bathroom, what's in the frig, the dog needs to go out, hey there a podcast i want to catch, etc.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,482 Mod
    JDMurray said:
    I know some 55+ year old people that are getting their first college degree because it's on their "bucket list" rather than for career pivoting/advancement. The mental stamina required to get an online degree is often a surprise to people in this age group. There seems to be some assumption that an online degree is easier to achieve in the privacy of one's home over a brick-and-mortor degree that requires a traditional classroom and human contact.




    True however some online college offer watered down degrees that I personally see no value in


    We have an MBA provider here in Australia that gives you an MBA without any exams. I'm not saying exams are the gold standard but that MBA is not worth the PDF file it's printed on
    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Check out my YouTube Channel!

  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,151 ■■■■■■■■■□
    edited October 2021
    UnixGuy said:
    True however some online college offer watered down degrees that I personally see no value in

    Long as the degree is from an accredited college, does it even matter?  Yale or Princeton might give you some extra mileage when applying for a job, but if it's Penn State or California Coast University I don't really think it matters at all (unless the guy interviewing / hiring is also from Penn State). Far as I'm concerned, having the degree just gets you the little check box the employer is looking to fill in. How many recent college graduates really know squat about programming or networking? It's all theory learning, hands on, little to none.  
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,482 Mod
    UnixGuy said:
    True however some online college offer watered down degrees that I personally see no value in

    Long as the degree is from an accredited college, does it even matter?  Yale or Princeton might give you some extra mileage when applying for a job, but if it's Penn State or California Coast University I don't really think it matters at all (unless the guy interviewing / hiring is also from Penn State). Far as I'm concerned, having the degree just gets you the little check box the employer is looking to fill in. How many recent college graduates really know squat about programming or networking? It's all theory learning, hands on, little to none.  

    yes it does to me (and others that I know). So if it's a watered down degree, I'll know that the person learned nothing. Great, it's an accredited piece of paper that offers me no value, so I'll discard it and look at their other skills/quals. 

    Someone shows me an MBA from a watered down online school, great, depending on the school I'll know that there is a strong chance that they know nothing about finance/accounting/business/marketing/strategy which is one of the building blocks of an MBA. All of this is irrelevant to a Network engineer role or even a Team Leader/Technical manager role, but I'm trying to answer your question.


    I acknowledge that someone can be awesome and excellent at what they do and still - for whatever reason - decides to pay for and get a watered down degree. It won't make them less great of a person.
    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Check out my YouTube Channel!

  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,151 ■■■■■■■■■□
    UnixGuy said:

    yes it does to me (and others that I know). So if it's a watered down degree, I'll know that the person learned nothing.

    And you going to know this was an online degree exactly how? There are 4000 colleges and universities in this country, and several hundred online colleges and exactly none of them say online college degree anywhere in the name. In addition, Colleges like Seton Hall, Florida State and Rutgers University all have online college offerings as well as physical buildings. I guess you can work it into the interview, is this a real college degree?  Some crappy fake online degree? I'm sure that would go over well with prospective candidates. .

    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,482 Mod
    UnixGuy said:

    yes it does to me (and others that I know). So if it's a watered down degree, I'll know that the person learned nothing.

    And you going to know this was an online degree exactly how? There are 4000 colleges and universities in this country, and several hundred online colleges and exactly none of them say online college degree anywhere in the name. In addition, Colleges like Seton Hall, Florida State and Rutgers University all have online college offerings as well as physical buildings. I guess you can work it into the interview, is this a real college degree?  Some crappy fake online degree? I'm sure that would go over well with prospective candidates. .


    "watered down degree", that can be a brick and mortar as well. Online education is fine, a watered down degree that hands out papers without exams or any worthwhile work is just that a piece of paper.

    I'm not gonna go "is this a fake degree", I interviewed hundreds of candidates, I know how to conduct an interview and it's not rocket science to spot a worthless piece of paper.

    It takes all of 3 minutes to test out some basic concepts (in an MBA for example) to spot a paper tiger.
    Certs: GSTRT, GPEN, GCFA, CISM, CRISC, RHCE

    Check out my YouTube Channel!

Sign In or Register to comment.