Degree verses Computer Certifications


There are many computer people that have studied hard to collect the standard computer certifications, such as, an MCSE, CCNA or CCNP, Linux, Netware and Unix certification. These are all good certifications to have, but remember, in today's job market, certifications are the basic minimum required by employers. Most positions require a degree as well as certifications. If you have the opportunity to go to a college or university then you need to do.

There are those that can just sneak by with a few certifications and land a high paying computer job, and many others that are extremely disappointed. If you are of the personality that is aggressive and smart, you will find a job in anything you seek, however, if you are the type of person that must rely on your credentials, you will need all the help you can get. Computer certifications without working experience are only a garnishment to a resume, therefore, you cannot rely on them to land you a job.

If you have just graduated high school and have the financial means to attend college but are undecided, you had better take my advice and get the degree. There are not many 17 to 21 year old computer professionals. Additionally, not having a degree hinders your ability to advance within a large corporate environment. You may very well sit on a help desk for four years and lose a promotion to Systems Engineer to a recent collage graduate.

What happens if you do not have the resources to attend college? Will someone still want to hire you without a degree? Yes, and it happens every day. I taught myself, ,just as many of my friends have done. As I stated earlier, without a degree, our selections are limited. If one day you want to become a CIO (Chief Information Officer) or Vice President of Technology, you will be required to have a degree. As an IT Director, I might have to accept that, because I do not have a degree. Of course, if this sounds like a path you will take, you will discover other options in the course of your career and being a CIO will not really matter.

However, I know plenty of people that are self-taught, self-studied for their certifications, and they are working in the industry today. You just have to be dedicated and self-disciplined. If you do not have these two traits, you are going to have to learn them or lessons will be long and slow for you. When people ask me how I learned computers and networking, I like to tell them, "I taught myself. Because I didn't know much to begin with, lessons were long and slow an the instructor wouldn't stop talking about himself."

Many employers place a great deal of value in someone that is self-taught. I know a women named Ellen that is a good example of this. She quit her job, dedicated herself to doing nothing but learning networking, self-studied, and in two months, she got an MCSE. In her first week, she had five interviews; four with Microsoft and received four offers. The job she chose was to work with Cisco Routers on the Microsoft backbone in Redmond, Washington.

Dave, her boss, picked her because of her drive and determination and her ability to learn. It took her another five years before she ever looked at a local area network. i always choose someone with a positive attitude and the aggressiveness to learn above anybody else. I will always hire eager without experience over someone lackluster with experience.

When I review a resume, the first thing that I look at is what software knowledge is listed. There are many instances when a network manager or an IT director needs someone with knowledge that falls just below a certain salary level. The problem with hiring someone with too much experience is he or she comes with higher salary requirements and bad work habits. Sometimes it is better to hire someone smart and eager who just needs a break. You will find that most employers think in these same terms.

Managers who do not agree with this philosophy will never call you based on your resume in the first place, so you will never have to address their issues with inexperienced workers. If you only have self-experienced to offer a potential employer, be confident enough in what you have listed on your resume to do the job. When you submit a resume, you are telling a potential employer that you have done the best you can on your own, to make yourself ready for this position.

Webmaster's comments:

Here, I give my comments related to the author's information provided above. For those who are not regular visitors of this website, I briefly introduce myself: I received a bachelor degree in computer science from Roosevelt University in Chicago. I worked for several high-tech companies in the Chicago area as an Electronics Engineer, ultimately, becoming the manager of an Electronics Engineering department.

The first thing I want to point out is that all large companies create a position requirements document before hiring anyone. For some positions a college degree is required. For others, only certification my be required. Any resumes that don't meet these requirements will not even be considered. No large company's requirements document is going to require "self-taught", "self-studied", or "self-experienced". That's a fact.

There are two kinds of small companies. One kind uses the same hiring procedure as large companies, the other kind hires based on the principle of getting the most value for their money. They want to get the job done for the lowest possible cost. They want to hire the individual with the minimal credentials and experience required to get the job done. They don't want to, or can't pay for anything higher.

This second type of small company will carefully study every resume they receive, and they're not afraid to hire someone self-taught, as long as, when they interview that individual, that individual convinces them that they can do the job.

Today, no respectable large company would hire someone self-taught. The reason is because they don't have a clue as to that invidual's level of competency. That's what certification provides. A certification means that some organization, be it Microsoft, Cisco, or CompTIA, certifies that you have a certain minimal level of competency. You can get a high-paying job at a large corporation if you have certification.

The author is correct in his statement that without a degree your opportunities for advancement are limited. You might be able to get promoted to "group leader" or "supervisor". But no large corporation is going to promote you to a managerial position without a college degree.

What does a college degree give you that a certification does not? Well, for one thing, to get a degree in Computer Science, I had to pass four quarters of calculus. To get a college degree you have to meet requirements in English like writing, requirements in science like chemistry and physics, and requirements in business like Economics and Business Organization.

A company counts on its managers and executives to have more than just training in their job. When high-level decisions need to be made, they need managers that understand the organization's mission and represent the organization in the global economy. Not something impossible to be self-taught, but very unlikely.

Another thing I would like to point out is that, in actuality, everyone is self-taught. Training, certification, and college education only organize your self teaching. Reading a book by yourself is not that much different then listening to a trainer or college professor. You still have to do the work of learning, understanding, and retaining the knowledge and concepts. Until they invent a chip that gets plugged into your head, everyone is self-taught.

In the IT career field, the day you receive that certification document, or even that college degree, is not the day your learning ends. That's the day your learning begins. Oh, it would be so nice if you could just put in your eight hours, and then go home, kick your feet up and watch TV. If that's what you're looking for, IT is not the career field for you.

In the IT career field, after your eight (or ten or twelve) hours of work, you go home and study your equipment manuals, trade journals, and continue to study the latest technology books. This field doesn't give $50,000 to $150,000 and higher salaries so people can go home after work, kick their feet up and watch TV. It's not an IT career. It's an IT life.

If you love computers and technology (and to survive in this career field you would have to), and you don't have a certification or a college degree, I recommend that you get the best IT job you can with the credentials you have, and then just keep working on certifications and degrees. That's the price you have to pay for a career that gives great respect and high-pay. That other low-paying, butt-kissing, burger-flipping job you might have been considering doesn't look that bad now, does it?

A Career in Computers is a straightforward and sometimes comical look into finding a job in the field of the computer sciences. It answers questions that many IT professionals and newcomers need to know when looking for a job and what they should expect. Most computer books deal with configuring software and do little in answering important career questions in the IT field. Even trained computer professionals are unprepared for the social, political, or psychological aptitude needed to survive the office workplace. This book is cut out of a larger volume title Hacking the IT Cube: The Information Technology Department Survival Guide

Dougals Chick is a Vice President of Technology for a national healthcare group, and creator of the popular IT website The Network Administrator

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