Certs vs Degree??

AODITAODIT Member Posts: 44 ■■■□□□□□□□
Hi all,

Last time I posted here I asked you all if I should work at a mid sized MSP or work at a big enterprise bank. The MSP was a fulltime offer with benefits and the bank is a contract position.( Desktop Support L2 ) I was advised to work at the bank and I did. It has been over a year and looking back it has been the right choice. It has been a good experience and I thank all members for their input! 

Now I'm looking at different options on how to improve on my career.

Where I stand at right now: 

Associate in CIS
Comptia A+
Around 5 years or so of relevant experience


I did start studying for my Network+ but that came to a screeching halt for whatever reason 😂

I'm looking for advice to improve my current position. Should I take college courses or should I take a cert path? What is my next step in my career? I do enjoy problem solving and am doing very well with software issues. I love my field and am passionate about it and want to continue learning. I'm 34 and single and have time and some resources to acquire what I need. Any ideas and advice is much appreciated. The feedback last post was implemented and I'm very thankful for this place!

Comments

  • SpiegelSpiegel FLMember Posts: 313 ■■■■□□□□□□
    That really depends on what is your main goal, what are you striving to work towards. It's generally easier to figure out what to do next when you have a clear goal in mind. Another factor to keep in mind is what your job demands. Do they value degree over certs? Will you be staying with the same company? There is value in both and it really depends on you and what you want to achieve and what you're expecting in return.
    Degree: WGU B.S. Network Operations and Security [In-Progress]
    Current Certs: A+ | N+ | S+ | Cloud Essentials+ | Project+ | MTA: OSF | CIW: SDA | ITIL: F | CCENT | CCNA R&S | CCNA | LPI Linux Essentials
    Currently Working On:


    2021 Goals: LPI Linux Essentials [X] |CCNP Enterprise [ ] | CWNA [ ]
    Future Certs: CCNP Security
  • AODITAODIT Member Posts: 44 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I'm expecting to take this experience and money and hopefully move on to a full time position or at least better paying. I enjoy problem solving and fixing software related issues. I've nearly maxed out what I can benefit from at this level I think. The desktop engineering team does a lot of the backend stuff that we implement. We usually just fix up the image or software problems that present themselves after we get them.
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,304 ■■■■■■■■□□
    If you're contract now I'm assuming no benefits like tuition reimbursement. I'd go certs now, move to your next step up in jobs as full time somewhere and then use those benefits to finish your BS.
  • shochanshochan Member Posts: 957 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Having no degree might not get you far in HR, IMO...but going after certs can be less expensive, IF you are a good at self study & test taking.  Then again, taking certs does usually require more than 1 resource (book + online training, etc) it can get pricy.  If your company does reimbursement for college courses, you should look into the affordable WGU.edu (approx $3400-3900 every 6mos)...If I were younger I would have probably pursued WGU, but I have opt to go after certs instead.  From what I read on here, you can knock out a lot of courses at WGU in their 6 month semesters (with mentor approval).
    2021 Goal ~ OSCP

    Urban Achiever~ A+, Network+, i-Net+, MCP 70-210, CNA v5, Server+, Security+, Cloud+, CySA+
    A.A.S - CIS
  • SteveLavoieSteveLavoie Member Posts: 959 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I would say do both... certs are good in the short term, but having a degree will help more in the long term. Also don't wait to be at 45 and be blocked because you dont have a degree. Remember Network+ represent the knowledge of what a 2 year experience tech should know about network, so with 5 years of exp and a few hours of reading/test simulating, you could succeed that exam.

    If you are less than 30 years old, than having a degree should be your priority #1 for the long term. Start doing it part-time, but at least have a plan to get a degree. 
  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 12,161 Admin
    When it comes to getting a job, always remember that you are competing with other candidates who have applied--and want--that same job. You must always ask yourself, "what will make me look better on my resume and in my first-round interview than my competitors?" Degrees, certifications, work experience, volunteer/hobbyist activities, and recommendations from other people are all things that have the potential to impress hiring managers and elevate you above your competition.
  • AODITAODIT Member Posts: 44 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Awesome advice bros, who else has that secret IT sauce 😂
  • malachi1612malachi1612 Senior Member SwitzerlandMember Posts: 428 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Look at the field and see what's required.  Then go for it.

    I'm a big believer of you don't need a degree to do IT.  Certify and experience beats any degree in my eyes because you are showing actual interest.

    We have a problem in the IT industry were recruiters are complaining about all these people with IT degrees but they cant do the actual jobs.  Because they lack passion, it was an good idea to them to get an IT degree because they thought it was good money from the start.  Turns out, it really isn't when you starting from the bottom then they loose interest and move onto something else non IT related.
    Certifications:
    MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2016, ITIL Foundation, MCSA: Windows 10, MCP, Azure Fundamentals, Security+.

  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014, CSM Member Posts: 2,643 ■■■■■■■■■□
    edited December 2020
    Try to get into a company that will pay for your degree at least a portion of it, annually.  From what I have seen some of these companies are willing to pay 3500 - 7500 USD a year for tuition.  Might be something worth considering.
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,304 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I would say do both... certs are good in the short term, but having a degree will help more in the long term. Also don't wait to be at 45 and be blocked because you dont have a degree. 
    My security director doesn't have a degree, sure you can say "but he's already a security director" but he told me a few months ago that he had two CISO roles at even higher profile companies got all the way to the end/offer stage when HR realized he didn't have a degree. He's 56, he's still regretting it. I know everyone likes to say "if you have enough experience no one cares" but it's really not accurate for all companies, especially at higher levels. 
  • chrisonechrisone Senior Member Member Posts: 2,205 ■■■■■■■■■□
    edited December 2020
    I only got my AS Associates Sciences degree, didn't feel like getting a BA and adding another 50k to my loans was worth it, being that I knew 15-20+ years later I was going to be here on TE obtaining certifications. Looks like I was right, here I am 15+ years later after my college graduation still getting certs lol

    A few points about my career:
    • I never really had a problem with my AS degree.
    • No one really cared or asked about my degree.
    • My certs and experience really got me the job. 
    • Pretty much got interviews for most of my job applications.
    • Was only denied one interview (local school district network engineer position) because HR insisted non BA applicants were not desired. A few months later they were emailing me back to see if I was interested. Looks like they got a hold of my resume and noticed the Cisco certs I had at the time. 
    • I now work for the local state government (senior sec position), all they cared about was if my CISSP was current.
    • Previous employer was willing to pay 100% of schooling to get a BA. I turned it down due to my situation based on my age, current success, and the future benefits of a BA to my career. 
    Education in any shape or form is never a bad thing. If you have the energy, desire, and money, then go for it. Understand your ROI and if it is worth the effort. 
    Certs: CISSP, OSCP, CRTP, eCTHPv2, eCPPT, eCIR, LFCS, CEH, AZ-900, VHL:Advanced+, Retired Cisco CCNP/SP/DP
    2021 Goals
    Courses: eLearnSecurity - PTXv2 (complete), SANS 699: Purple Team Tactics (completed), PentesterLabs Pro (ongoing)
    Certs: eCPTXv2, AZ-500, SC-200 (fail 1st attempt), EnCE, Splunk Core Power User
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,304 ■■■■■■■■□□
    chrisone said:

    • Previous employer was willing to pay 100% of schooling to get BA. I am too old for that. 

    You had me until there. I wouldn't ever tell someone they're too old to take advantage of a free education. You might not feel like your effort is worth it, but you're surely not too old to go to school. 
  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 12,161 Admin
    I agree about never turning down free education. A problem some people may have with bachelors-level programs in accredited schools is all of the general education courses that are required for the degree. Someone in their 40-50's might not want to sit in a class with a bunch 20-somethings learning algebra, am-hist, poly-sci, and eng-lit. Even with online leaning, it's not easy to learn something that you haven't studied for 30 years and didn't like then.  :/
  • chrisonechrisone Senior Member Member Posts: 2,205 ■■■■■■■■■□
    edited December 2020
    Danielm7 said:
    chrisone said:

    • Previous employer was willing to pay 100% of schooling to get BA. I am too old for that. 

    You had me until there. I wouldn't ever tell someone they're too old to take advantage of a free education. You might not feel like your effort is worth it, but you're surely not too old to go to school. 
    But I didn't tell anyone in that statement that if you are old to not take advantage of free education. I was stating an option that was given and I did not feel it was in my best interest to fit a school full time/part time schedule into my life. I based that decision on my current success at that time and what would have been the benefit of obtaining a BA. 

    My last sentence I explicitly mention "education in any shape or form is never a bad thing." I also stated if you feel the ROI is in your favor to pursue the interest. I said nothing to encourage older people to NOT take free education. In any case I revised my sentence, admittingly it was sloppy. 
    Certs: CISSP, OSCP, CRTP, eCTHPv2, eCPPT, eCIR, LFCS, CEH, AZ-900, VHL:Advanced+, Retired Cisco CCNP/SP/DP
    2021 Goals
    Courses: eLearnSecurity - PTXv2 (complete), SANS 699: Purple Team Tactics (completed), PentesterLabs Pro (ongoing)
    Certs: eCPTXv2, AZ-500, SC-200 (fail 1st attempt), EnCE, Splunk Core Power User
  • AODITAODIT Member Posts: 44 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thank you very much. I in fact did notice that you said that its never bad and the ROI part. Also, we always want as many different takes as possible so it's ok if the views don't match they are not supposed to!
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,028 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Generally Certifications get you more mileage than a degree will. While it's true some companies will not even interview for a janitor position with less then a Bachelors, this is becoming much less common than it once was. If your looking to really move up in a company to director level, then yes a degree is a must, but there will be time enough to work on that later after you landed a better paying job with benefits. 
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014, CSM Member Posts: 2,643 ■■■■■■■■■□
    edited December 2020
    Each situation is vastly different.  It's impossible to say one way or another.  I worked with a guy who played wide receiver for a academic based university (known for its academics not sports), received a compound fracture and acl tear career was over.  This happened in his sophomore year.  The university (which I think is classy) honored his scholarship and allowed him to graduate with  his bachelors in business administration.  He did so well in his undergrad the extended that offer for his MBA.  He received that as well before he was 24 years old.   He was able to get out into the workforce quickly and not in some beginner role. 

    That's clearly a one-off situation but technically aren't they all?

    I on the other hand barely made it through my bachelors due to partying and other extracurricular activities.  I managed to barely get through with a 2.5 from a state university.  

    I used certs to get noticed in mid tiered position my degree was nothing more than a piece of paper to check a box.  (I learned accounting and other basic business curriculum) but you get the point.
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