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Getting a job in IT

MentisMentis Registered User regular
edited February 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm looking for a way to get into IT. But I'm really just wondering one thing at the moment. Is a degree in Computer Science (or related) required to get a job? Obviously, I can see how it would be an advantage, but if one were to simply get certified with several different technologies, would they be able to get a job or is a degree of some sort required?

Perhaps someone with some experience here can point me in the right direction.

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    MoSiAcMoSiAc Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Are you in college now, or are you thinking of college. I got into the IT field through college, they needed student workers who had little exp and wanted training. Depending on what you want to do in IT depends on your degree. Comp Sci splits into a lot of stuff these days at most schools, but you could also do TSM if you are into networking, or secuirty.

    Do you have any at home experience with computers. Certs help (A+ is the like first of many and probably easiest).

    The route that I followed and works well is try to get on at your college, they will usually pay for you to get certification tests (they are expensive) and then get your degree in some field related to IT that you enjoy.

    MoSiAc on
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    DistramDistram __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2009
    Some things that might help:

    -IT Degree from a accredited university
    -A+ Certification
    -CCNA (Cisco Certified Netrork Associate)
    -Microsoft Certification
    -Java Certification

    The drawback of certs is that a lot of hiring managers feel that an overabundance of certificates, in the presence of a lack of experience, serves as a means by which a person is masking incompetence.

    Go for the IT degree if you want to work in that field. Go for the CS degree if your primary interest is programming. It really all depends in what you'd like to do. You can get a job programing games or deigning a website with no degree and an expansive portfolio, for example.

    Distram on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Mentis wrote: »
    I'm looking for a way to get into IT.

    What do you want to do with it? Networking and system administration? Project management? Programming & development? Quality assurance?

    What are you doing right now? Are you in school?

    Really, more information is needed.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    HenroidHenroid Mexican kicked from Immigration Thread Centrism is Racism :3Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    If you're going to get a degree, get it from an actual university. Do not go to places like Heald or ITT Tech or anything like that. For the most part, certs are how you're going to get the job.

    Distram, the thing about experience is that everyone, whether or not they went to college, lacks experience. It's pointless to point that out.

    The IT field, at least out in California a few years ago, may be dominated by people who have long since been in it. Finding a job may be hard.

    Henroid on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Usually the general career flow in networking and system administration is: do some projects for home or school -> get an entry-level position -> get a certification -> get a mid-level position -> get a better certification -> get a better position.

    Programming and development is a different situation, though, and I'm not really qualified to comment on that area of it.

    Project management is basically the same, only replace the last two steps with "get a project management certification -> get a project management position"

    So if you want to do networking and system administration, start by setting up a home network or a home server. Or take a class at a community college. Then go find an entry-level position and be honest that you have amateur experience but no real-world work experience but you're willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to get the experience. Then use the money you get from that to go get a certification, or bug your employer to loan you the cash for a certification.

    I'm of the camp that believes that certifications are pointless unless you have experience to back them up.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    KrizKriz Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    the IT Department of a college is a good place to start; that's what I'm doing in addition to full time classes. I was in a unix systems class and started talking to one of the other students; turned out he was a workstudy up at IT, so he vouched for me.

    Times are tough though, and IT is often one of the first things that organizations and businesses look to cut from the budget. my wage is paid by financial aid so it doesn't cost them anything, but it doesn't make a difference to me. If they aren't hiring, and you're really desperate to get your foot in the door, see if they'll take you as an unpaid intern.

    I'm trying my best to learn as much as I can while on the job, and get some good experience. As for a degree, you might want to check out a University's business school and see if they have something like Management Information Systems. I'm still trying to figure out what's right for me, but that's what I'm looking into at the moment.

    Kriz on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Kriz wrote: »
    Times are tough though, and IT is often one of the first things that organizations and businesses look to cut from the budget.

    It's not that bad. Companies will look to outsourcing more, which means the companies doing the outsourcing will need people. And they might cut costs by virtualizing servers or moving to open-source.

    If you're good with Linux and VMWare or Xen, you would have no trouble finding a job right now.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    MoSiAcMoSiAc Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Right now it might help (not sure) if you have fewer certifications because they would want to pay you less. The same thing works for teachers in some states if you don't have a masters degree or etc etc they can pay you less and they sometimes wont hire people that have a lot of qualifications if they want cheaper labor.

    MoSiAc on
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    Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    As has been said, to be more accurate, we really need to know what it is you want to do in IT. To answer your question directly, no, you don't need a degree to get into IT in an entry level position. You don't even necessarily need one to move up. I'm in a senior level software development position in a small international company right now with no degree. I know people all over the IT ladder with and without degrees. A degree will mostly help once you hit the mid-level in my experience. Entry level is easy to get into, mid-level isn't too bad to get into if you know what the hell you're doing and other people can see that. After that, while not required, a degree definitely helps from what I've seen.

    Jimmy King on
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    vonPoonBurGervonPoonBurGer Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Distram wrote: »
    The drawback of certs is that a lot of hiring managers feel that an overabundance of certificates, in the presence of a lack of experience, serves as a means by which a person is masking incompetence.
    Yes, don't go crazy on the certs. I once interviewed a guy who must have had 15 different certifications but hardly any work experience. He fell completely flat on his face in the interview as soon as I started asking him fairly basic real-world technical questions. Instead of getting reams of certs, I'd recommend that you get one or two quality certifications. A+ isn't terrible for general IT stuff, CCNA is good if you're looking to get into networking, a Java cert is good if you want to get into coding, an Oracle cert is good if you want to get into database stuff. Getting all of these (in the absence of related work experience) makes it look like you're unable to focus on one segment of the IT industry, and makes you less attractive as a job candidate.

    vonPoonBurGer on
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    Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Distram wrote: »
    The drawback of certs is that a lot of hiring managers feel that an overabundance of certificates, in the presence of a lack of experience, serves as a means by which a person is masking incompetence.
    Yes, don't go crazy on the certs. I once interviewed a guy who must have had 15 different certifications but hardly any work experience. He fell completely flat on his face in the interview as soon as I started asking him fairly basic real-world technical questions. Instead of getting reams of certs, I'd recommend that you get one or two quality certifications. A+ isn't terrible for general IT stuff, CCNA is good if you're looking to get into networking, a Java cert is good if you want to get into coding, an Oracle cert is good if you want to get into database stuff. Getting all of these (in the absence of related work experience) makes it look like you're unable to focus on one segment of the IT industry, and makes you less attractive as a job candidate.
    Another thing to keep in mind about certs which people tend to forget is that most of them are not intended for you to learn something before doing it, that's what school and personal projects are for. Certs are intended to show a certain level of experience actually doing something.

    Jimmy King on
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    MentisMentis Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Well, I'll shed a little more light on my situation, as I was admittedly vague. I'm out of highschool by 5 years now, I didn't go to college right out of school for personal reasons. I've been at the same job 3 years now, but it's a dead end job where I now have no chance of moving up, and I also am ready to start making the first steps towards a career I'd enjoy. I'll be starting school soon, but haven't 100% decided on what to go for though it will be in a tech related field. Programming doesn't so much interest me, even though I'm a fairly competent html/php programmer, and I do alot of graphic design/art. What really interests me is networks, and network security.

    The main reason I was wondering if it's possible to get a job with Certs alone is because I want out of this job I'm currently at ASAP and I thought it might be nice to gain experience while I attend school. I originally wanted to go to medical school, but I think that in the long run this will be something better suited to me.

    Mentis on
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    precisionkprecisionk Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    I don't have any certs myself and I have done just fine. You don't need certifications to advance in the IT field (imho), its all about experience. Anyone can take a test on the proper methods of migrating Microsoft Exchange, not everyone can actually migrate Microsoft Exchange right.

    precisionk on
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    vonPoonBurGervonPoonBurGer Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Jimmy King wrote: »
    Another thing to keep in mind about certs which people tend to forget is that most of them are not intended for you to learn something before doing it, that's what school and personal projects are for. Certs are intended to show a certain level of experience actually doing something.
    Ooh, yes, I should have mentioned that as well. As an interviewer, a certification combined with associated work experience was best, but a certification combined with a personal project that used the same skills was nearly as good. As long as I came away from the interview with the feeling that the candidate learned the material and actually used it, it was a point in their favour when comparing all the candidates for a position.

    vonPoonBurGer on
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    YodaTunaYodaTuna Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    If you're trying to earn some certs, you could start by finding a basic help desk job. It's pretty boring, but it's good for your resume.

    YodaTuna on
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    TaterskinTaterskin Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Mentis wrote: »
    I'm looking for a way to get into IT. But I'm really just wondering one thing at the moment. Is a degree in Computer Science (or related) required to get a job? Obviously, I can see how it would be an advantage, but if one were to simply get certified with several different technologies, would they be able to get a job or is a degree of some sort required?

    A degree isn't a requirement to get a job. It definitely helps to get an interview. It might even give you a head start on training for the job depending on what courses you took. Certifications are good for getting you an interview. Once you are in an interview, all the resume stuff is out the window if you can't present yourself as competent.

    My advice, get a computer science degree at a university. Definitely skip ITT tech type schools. Also, while you are in school, get a job or internship that deals with IT somehow. And don't forget about keeping up with contacts. I got an interview for my current job because a friend passed my resume along to the hiring manager.

    Taterskin on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    precisionk wrote: »
    I don't have any certs myself and I have done just fine. You don't need certifications to advance in the IT field (imho), its all about experience. Anyone can take a test on the proper methods of migrating Microsoft Exchange, not everyone can actually migrate Microsoft Exchange right.

    I used to think this myself. I went 10 years without a single cert, advancing entirely on experience and references.

    However, now that I'm laid off in a bad economy, I'm hearing the same thing over and over again: the lack of certifications is killing my resume.

    And I have a really, really good resume. However, a lot of job postings on Craigslist are seeing 500 responses on the first day and over 1000 in the first week. There is absolutely no way an HR person can sit and read 1000 resumes, especially if they're recruiting for multiple positions.

    So they're doing a global keyword search. Some of the keywords they're searching for are core technologies. "Active Directory" "Exchange" "Group Policy" "Cisco" etc. But they're also doing keyword searches for "MCSA" "MCSE" "CCNA" "CCNP"...

    I've got 10 years of experience and no certifications. Six years ago, that was enough to get me a high-paying job in a stable field. Today, I'm going up against dozens of applicants with equivalent experience, but they have the certifications. Guess who's getting the job?

    So I'm working on my CCNA and MCITP right now.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Mentis wrote: »
    What really interests me is networks, and network security.
    Feral wrote: »
    Usually the general career flow in networking and system administration is: do some projects for home or school -> get an entry-level position -> get a certification -> get a mid-level position -> get a better certification -> get a better position.

    ...

    So if you want to do networking and system administration, start by setting up a home network or a home server. Or take a class at a community college. Then go find an entry-level position and be honest that you have amateur experience but no real-world work experience but you're willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to get the experience. Then use the money you get from that to go get a certification, or bug your employer to loan you the cash for a certification.
    Mentis wrote: »
    The main reason I was wondering if it's possible to get a job with Certs alone is because I want out of this job I'm currently at ASAP

    Go ahead and get an entry-level certification (A+, Network+, MCP, MCTS, and CCENT are all easy certifications to get) but do some personal projects at the same time, like set up a media server at home or a home network or something like that.

    You're still going to be looking at entry-level positions, no matter how many certifications you get, so don't waste too much time and money getting higher level certifications right now (like MCSE or CCNP). But an entry-level cert or two won't hurt you.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    precisionkprecisionk Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    Feral wrote: »
    precisionk wrote: »
    I don't have any certs myself and I have done just fine. You don't need certifications to advance in the IT field (imho), its all about experience. Anyone can take a test on the proper methods of migrating Microsoft Exchange, not everyone can actually migrate Microsoft Exchange right.

    I used to think this myself. I went 10 years without a single cert, advancing entirely on experience and references.

    However, now that I'm laid off in a bad economy, I'm hearing the same thing over and over again: the lack of certifications is killing my resume.

    And I have a really, really good resume. However, a lot of job postings on Craigslist are seeing 500 responses on the first day and over 1000 in the first week. There is absolutely no way an HR person can sit and read 1000 resumes, especially if they're recruiting for multiple positions.

    So they're doing a global keyword search. Some of the keywords they're searching for are core technologies. "Active Directory" "Exchange" "Group Policy" "Cisco" etc. But they're also doing keyword searches for "MCSA" "MCSE" "CCNA" "CCNP"...

    I've got 10 years of experience and no certifications. Six years ago, that was enough to get me a high-paying job in a stable field. Today, I'm going up against dozens of applicants with equivalent experience, but they have the certifications. Guess who's getting the job?

    So I'm working on my CCNA and MCITP right now.

    IT field in my opinion, hasn't nearly had the economic issue as some careers. As a matter of fact, I think its stayed roughly the same, with some downturn. Contract positions are always available and hell, I get emails everyday from contractors offering me positions (not tooting my horn by any means, but I think they are very abundant).

    I do believe certifications have their place and thats for positions like cisco, citrix, vmware and the like. However, I still believe experience will always be > then certs. Certs are nice to have, but not necessary.

    If an employer chooses a guy with 3 years experience and 4 certs over a guy with 6 years experience and no certs, I wouldn't want to work for that employer. Just shows that the employer values peoples test taking abilities over true experience. In IT, once you get out of school, you can toss that book knowledge out the window as most of those things won't be used/not realistic in the real world and how things function.

    Mind you I am in IT field, specifically SAN's and Network, so YMMV of course.

    precisionk on
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    EliminationElimination Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    My friend all he did was skip the courses and challenge the tests. Now he is the head IT guy for an entire school district just for completing the exams alone.

    I'm challenging the A+ one in a few weeks here myself without bothering with the course. If you have some knowledge already you could get away with it. And it will save you a few grand in student loans to do it.

    Elimination on
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    KakodaimonosKakodaimonos Code fondler Helping the 1% get richerRegistered User regular
    edited February 2009
    As someone who's been involved in hiring before, here's what I've generally looked for in new hires for a development position:

    A degree in CS or some a CS-related field with some significant coursework in CS (math, computer engineering, physics, etc.)

    3.25 GPA

    An understanding of some sort of OO language (ideally with some major project work or job experience).

    An understanding of basic software engineering principles. You should be able to explain what a standard waterfall development model is versus an iterative model.

    And we make everyone take a written test.

    We are a fairly selective since we're a small company.

    IT does not necessarily mean a software development position. Are you interested in that or a network support/admin type of job?

    Kakodaimonos on
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    EliminationElimination Registered User regular
    edited February 2009
    As someone who's been involved in hiring before, here's what I've generally looked for in new hires for a development position:

    A degree in CS or some a CS-related field with some significant coursework in CS (math, computer engineering, physics, etc.)

    3.25 GPA

    An understanding of some sort of OO language (ideally with some major project work or job experience).

    An understanding of basic software engineering principles. You should be able to explain what a standard waterfall development model is versus an iterative model.

    And we make everyone take a written test.

    We are a fairly selective since we're a small company.

    IT does not necessarily mean a software development position. Are you interested in that or a network
    support/admin type of job?

    That definitely needs to be clarified. Because one has far different expectations than the other. The one i spoke of earlier was an admin/network job. Which is usually a little easier to get into in some cases.

    Elimination on
    PSN: PA_Elimination 3DS: 4399-2012-1711 Steam: http://steamcommunity.com/id/TheElimination/
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