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View Full Version : What is more important in IT certifications or a degree?



cptrohn
August 20th, 2009, 04:13 AM
For those that work in the computer field.. I've heard that certifications mean more than a degree is this true?

jrusso2
August 20th, 2009, 04:35 AM
I would rate it

1. Experience
2. Degree
3. Certifications

warreno
August 20th, 2009, 04:41 AM
I would rate it

1. Experience
2. Degree
3. Certifications

Yes. Without a doubt. Experience is, as they say, the best teacher. Nothing like destroying your own OS a few times to learn how not to do it, and while both degrees and certs are benchmarks of ability and willingness to stick to it, only experience gets you what you need in The Real World™.

Classroom instruction is formatted, a kind of sandbox, and deals in a general way with many what-if scenarios, but there's nothing like hanging your butt out there — live and unprotected — to really embed the knowledge you need to do well in IT.

PurposeOfReason
August 20th, 2009, 04:43 AM
I talked to some professors at my university who used to work for various IT jobs. A lot of the people who only had certs got laughed at or were frowned upon. The only exceptions were the ones with 8+ years under their belts. Reason, give me a few thousand dollars and a few months and I'll pass a lot of cert tests.

FuturePilot
August 20th, 2009, 04:49 AM
I would rate it

1. Experience
2. Degree
3. Certifications

I will completely agree. Experience is what will get you somewhere. You can only learn so much in a classroom.

PilotJLR
August 20th, 2009, 05:31 AM
Yep. Experience is the best, but a degree from a respected university is also very good. Certifications are mostly of low value.

I have a couple dozen certs, and I think RHCE is the only one that really holds any value.

pwnst*r
August 20th, 2009, 05:33 AM
degree and experience are close, certs last.

thisllub
August 20th, 2009, 06:35 AM
1. Certifications
2. Degree
3. Experience

I have been looking for work for a while.
I have an impressive resume full of quality work but I am losing out to younger people with the right qualifications.

PRINCE 2 or ITIL Certification and Agile or Sigma 6 are nearly mandatory.
Once you get over that hurdle there is a toss up between degree qualification and experience.

Thing is you can get a degree with little more than a 50% pass.
Try delivering a 50% finished or wrong product to a client.

Tristam Green
August 20th, 2009, 02:36 PM
It depends on the type of job you're hunting.

If you're looking to become a CIO or a leader of any kind, a degree and experience is best, with experience leading the pack.

If you're looking to become a technician, certifications and experience (in about...equal parts I'd say) are important.

If you're looking into being a remote technician or, say, a printer tech? Certifications win out.

If you want to open your own tech shop? Get all three.

RiceMonster
August 20th, 2009, 02:45 PM
I would rate it

1. Experience
2. Degree
3. Certifications

/thread

I work with someone who has no degree or certifications, but has tons of experience. That is what got him hired, and that's what makes him an important employee.

swoll1980
August 20th, 2009, 04:11 PM
I hope the degree is the most important. Otherwise I'm wasting 4 years of my life, and a whole crap ton of money.

Cheesemill
August 20th, 2009, 04:47 PM
I would rate it

1. Experience
2. Degree
3. Certifications

+1

Employers place alot more emphasis on real-world experience than they do on qualifications.

Hogosha
August 20th, 2009, 04:52 PM
it seems to me that experience is always number one and certs are a tie breaker when trying to decide between people with the same degrees.

The exception to this is the lower level and small businesses. They will take certs over degrees because they want some one who knows what they are doing but wont jump ship when a real job comes a long. As a student having a cert is great cause you can get some great IT jobs while in school to get the degree.

Certs can be cheap if you look in the right places. A+ is a good cert to start with. look for a local trade or tech school and see if they offer the test.

PurposeOfReason
August 20th, 2009, 07:36 PM
I hope the degree is the most important. Otherwise I'm wasting 4 years of my life, and a whole crap ton of money.
Just make sure you grab an internship while you're their. Your university CS department should always have a listing of them. Do one your senior year or earlier and you'll be gold. A lot of places like to see someone fresh out of college with a degree and a year or so under their belt.

RiceMonster
August 20th, 2009, 07:42 PM
I hope the degree is the most important. Otherwise I'm wasting 4 years of my life, and a whole crap ton of money.

You're not wasting your time, a degree is what you need to get you started. Also as PurposeOfReason said, do an intership. I'm actually doing one right now.

LowSky
August 20th, 2009, 08:05 PM
Honestly its how well you can relate to the person hiring you. Find out the corporate structure before walking in the door. Check to see the requirements of the other jobs being offered (knowing that even an admin needs a Degree will tell you how educated they are looking for a person to be), for instance my company wont look at anyone without a degree, others will. Some companies only want to make sure you been certified, while many will take experience over anything as long as the references check out. Best to know what they look for before making a fool of yourself.

gn2
August 20th, 2009, 08:12 PM
1: Competence.

Degrees, certifications and experience count for nothing if the IT man can't fix the IT problems.
The IT department of my company are all highly qualified, certified and experienced but they couldn't organise a drunken orgy in a brothel next door to an off licence.

RiceMonster
August 20th, 2009, 08:14 PM
1: Competence.

Degrees, certifications and experience count for nothing if the IT man can't fix the IT problems.
The IT department of my company are all highly qualified, certified and experienced but they couldn't organise a drunken orgy in a brothel next door to an off licence.

This is more about how you get the job rather than how well you perform at the job.

pwnst*r
August 20th, 2009, 08:18 PM
+1

Employers place alot more emphasis on real-world experience than they do on qualifications.

that's mostly NOT true with corporations.

Tristam Green
August 20th, 2009, 08:26 PM
that's mostly NOT true with corporations.

exactly, and the entire reason why I typed out my thoughtful, yet overlooked, post describing why "it depends on the job you're seeking".

sydbat
August 20th, 2009, 10:18 PM
Although this should be the way it is
I would rate it

1. Experience
2. Degree
3. CertificationsThis tends to be the reality
1. Certifications
2. Degree
3. Experience
I have found this to be exactly the same for me
I have been looking for work for a while.
I have an impressive resume full of quality work but I am losing out to younger people with the right qualifications.I have friends who graduated from the same degree course as me who have been required to get certifications, even though our degree surpasses what is in the certs. It is incompetence in the IT departments that requires certifications and does not look at degrees/experience.

That said, swoll1980 keep up your studies and get the degree. In the long run, it will be of significantly more benefit than a 'dime-a-dozen' certificate.

scorp123
August 20th, 2009, 11:05 PM
I hope the degree is the most important. No it's not. It's a start at best. But a degree can open a few doors so you ultimately will get the really important thing: Experience. No degree can replace experience. That's the one thing you can't cheat your way out of :)

sydbat
August 20th, 2009, 11:12 PM
No it's not. It's a start at best. But a degree can open a few doors so you ultimately will get the really important thing: Experience. No degree can replace experience. That's the one thing you can't cheat your way out of :)+ Infinity!

Devilfish303
August 20th, 2009, 11:31 PM
One thing I learned from 2 interviews with "geek squad": Play down your skills/experience during an interview, another thing, an acquaintance of mine was an assistant manager at one of their branches told me most of the "geek squad" techs paid a site 20 bucks to print out an A+ cert, no test or anything like that. I personally have no cert but I worked as an SQA Tech for a year after those two faithful interviews.

scorp123
August 20th, 2009, 11:33 PM
This tends to be the reality:
1. Certifications
2. Degree
3. Experience You'll find incompetent HR people in many places. Look at it from the bright side: Their incompetence saved you from accepting a job that most likely would have sucked anyway. Who can know how many other incompetent people you would have had to deal with? Now given their stupidity you at least won't have to waste your time and your nerves to find that out.

Such stuff happened to me as well. At one company these morons in HR really asked me if I have Microsoft certificates??? Pardon me? What the heck would I want with that ... (yuck!) Now it gets even funnier: They gave me a serious "talking to". Sort of "Son, if you want a job in our company, you have to work for it first. Because as I see it, you have no experience .... "

Yeah right. LOL. 7 years at HP, and before that 3 years at another company of similar size ... "no experience" ??? No idea what they were smoking.

They seriously wanted me to sign up for a joke of a salary (about what an untrained beginner without any degrees whatsoever would receive!) and they wanted me to sign a document where I had to promise to pass this and that Microsoft certification by the end of the year ....

I showed them the middle finger and walked right out of the door. I almost tripped over a few times because I was laughing so hard.

So if a company doesn't know to value your experience: don't be sad. They're just incompetent, that's all.

A competent HR guy who really knows what the frog he's doing will easily spot the number of years you spent at your previous jobs, will quickly glance through your work references and work certificates, do some quick math in his head and calculate how many years of work experience he's looking at in your case and even before you've sat down in the chair he will already know what kind of job he should be talking to you about. Probably he won't bother to read your certifications and degrees for too long ... He will mention that stuff quickly for form's sake, but what he really wants to hear is what you did all those years at your former employer ... What challenges you faced, what problems you solved, what kind of customers you faced, and so on.

That's the kind of job interview you're after: where the HR guy knows the value of your experience.

Don't waste your time with HR morons who want to talk you into getting some silly worthless M$ certificate (those things expire after each new software release anyway ...).

Sorry for this long posting ... :)

PurposeOfReason
August 20th, 2009, 11:34 PM
Geek squad doesn't count. I wasn't hired because I was "too much of a tech and not enough of a people person". That is BB's way of saying I can't lie to a customer and tell them monster cables are good.

running_rabbit07
August 20th, 2009, 11:40 PM
I hope the degree is the most important. Otherwise I'm wasting 4 years of my life, and a whole crap ton of money.

I know your pain, I am in my 4rth semester and I hope it pays off.

I know that Certifications rate a little lower than degree for me beause I have taken cert classes while builing up to me degree. I just aced A+ and Network+ yet I am out of the loop because neither one covered Vista and Vista is what is breaking.

BTW I like your new avatar Swoll1980.

running_rabbit07
August 20th, 2009, 11:43 PM
Geek squad doesn't count. I wasn't hired because I was "too much of a tech and not enough of a people person". That is BB's way of saying I can't lie to a customer and tell them monster cables are good.

How hard is it to get a job with them. I haven't seen anyone at the stores here that even resemble a geek. They all look like metros here.

Devilfish303
August 20th, 2009, 11:47 PM
I got cocky working in SQA, I had a knack for it and was accumulating more bugs than the other two techs put together, eventually there was talk of layoffs and the one of the two guys I had to share nightshift with began acting hostile so I switched to the more vulnerable shift that was disposable for a layoff in order to avoid being fired for something I didnt do. I didnt have much of a choice considering that first of all who is going to take the side of a 20 year old tech when all the others are at least twice my age and second, the one that began acting hostile was always sucking up to the important managers. Theres nothing like internal competition. :confused: The other two techs had 5-10 yrs of experience compared to entry-level-me.

PurposeOfReason
August 20th, 2009, 11:53 PM
How hard is it to get a job with them. I haven't seen anyone at the stores here that even resemble a geek. They all look like metros here.
Really easy now that I know what they want. If you go, don't overplay your tech skills. Really, act more stupid then you are. Mention some work you've done, but really play up people skills. That you're good at talking, enjoy the customer and always wish to give them the best experience (even if "best" is what best buy tells you). Most geeks squad members are just normal sales people who learned to reformat a computer.

I'm still bitter about it because it was me losing out on $12/hr. I could've used that for college and all my expensive hobbies.

running_rabbit07
August 21st, 2009, 12:07 AM
Really easy now that I know what they want. If you go, don't overplay your tech skills. Really, act more stupid then you are. Mention some work you've done, but really play up people skills. That you're good at talking, enjoy the customer and always wish to give them the best experience (even if "best" is what best buy tells you). Most geeks squad members are just normal sales people who learned to reformat a computer.

I'm still bitter about it because it was me losing out on $12/hr. I could've used that for college and all my expensive hobbies.

Cool, thanx. I'll have to drop an app there and see what happens.

PilotJLR
August 21st, 2009, 12:15 AM
PRINCE 2 or ITIL Certification and Agile or Sigma 6 are nearly mandatory.
Once you get over that hurdle there is a toss up between degree qualification and experience.

Thing is you can get a degree with little more than a 50% pass.
Try delivering a 50% finished or wrong product to a client.

Umm... not sure where you went to school, but my school required a B- or higher in every core requirement class (and C or higher in every elective) in order to graduate.

And very few places (here in the States) care about 6 Sigma or ITIL. Maybe if you're applying for Director level or above...

running_rabbit07
August 21st, 2009, 12:34 AM
Try delivering a 50% finished or wrong product to a client.

Happens every day. Just hire a contractor to build you a house or put in a pool. Unless you like half-*** work you will be fighting the contractor to come back and make repairs or hiring a lawyer to get compensation.

If someone brags about being part of a sorority, that just tells me someone paid their way through college instead of studied.

thisllub
August 21st, 2009, 12:39 AM
Umm... not sure where you went to school, but my school required a B- or higher in every core requirement class (and C or higher in every elective) in order to graduate.

And very few places (here in the States) care about 6 Sigma or ITIL. Maybe if you're applying for Director level or above...

It is all relative.
I don't know what a B- or a C is but I have passed courses with a 90% pass requirement and passed others that only had a 50% requirement.


I am not talking about director.
Just about any managerial job, certainly with government requires ITIL, even senior admins are expected to have worked in Agile environments.
Personally I consider most project managers to be glorified secretaries.
2 years ago it wasn't hard to find short term contracts paying $100 per hour, now it is hard to find anything interesting let alone well paying.

Tristam Green
August 21st, 2009, 12:50 AM
How hard is it to get a job with them. I haven't seen anyone at the stores here that even resemble a geek. They all look like metros here.

I applied for a job with them in college and didn't get it.

I am now making 4x what a Geek Squad "agent" makes, I deal with people, and I don't have to work til 10pm.

running_rabbit07
August 21st, 2009, 01:01 AM
I applied for a job with them in college and didn't get it.

I am now making 4x what a Geek Squad "agent" makes, I deal with people, and I don't have to work til 10pm.

That's great. I have no real experience with IT work other than what I do at home and what I have learned from A+ and Network+. I currently unemployed so anything would be better than what I am making now. I am also a full time student, so I have to find a flexible job. I don't mind working evenings for a while, but I try not to leave the wife and kid home alone at night in this city. Though my wife knows her way around the shotgun.

toupeiro
August 21st, 2009, 08:27 AM
This one hits home. I'll share a little bit of my personal vantage point.

I do not have a degree, but I have over a decade of experience, and only old, antiquated hardware certifications for systems and printers I supported in the late 90's. I can definitely vouch that experience is important, or I don't think I would be where I am now professionally. I can also say that I know when I was measured up to other candidates earlier in my career for a position who had close or equal experience, but had a degree, I lost some opportunities. A degree certainly can't hurt you, but if you manage to get to a certain point in your career without it and find yourself still quite able to grow, then I struggle to find the justification for it. It might take longer for your opportunities to come without a degree, but if you are patient and willing to let your work and work ethic speak for you, it will get noticed. I think there is a window of time where it could benefit people who have no experience yet. I've considered going back and finishing it, but I honestly struggle justifying it at this point. I have no desire to enter management at this point in my life, because I'm just having too much fun, and thats really the only benefit I could see a degree bringing me.

I took a gamble and tried to make the most out of some immediate opportunities out of High school, going to college for a while in the evenings, and it paid off for me, but your mileage may vary. If you have ambition (and money/scholarships) for a degree, I say go for it. Experience will come if you aren't afraid of getting your feet wet.

EDIT:

As for the value of certifications, I'll share this. I interviewed for a fairly good sized financial institution some years ago, and in that interview I was meeting with the VP of IT and I told him I don't have any industry certifications or degrees to speak of, but everything on my resume is hands on, trial by fire experience, and I had letters of recommendation from multiple supervisors. His response to me was "I've seen people come through our department that were truck drivers one day, and MCSE's overnight." I ended up getting that job. :)

Tristam Green
August 21st, 2009, 11:10 AM
That's great. I have no real experience with IT work other than what I do at home and what I have learned from A+ and Network+. I currently unemployed so anything would be better than what I am making now. I am also a full time student, so I have to find a flexible job. I don't mind working evenings for a while, but I try not to leave the wife and kid home alone at night in this city. Though my wife knows her way around the shotgun.

A good bet is to get just about anything, and do some pro bono computer work for people around town. I did freelance a good bit while at school, prior to my internship at where I now work, and it just worked out well.

beercz
August 21st, 2009, 12:51 PM
I would rate it

1. Experience
2. Degree
3. Certifications


<gloat>
I have all three + competence!
</gloat>

swoll1980
August 21st, 2009, 01:24 PM
How hard is it to get a job with them. I haven't seen anyone at the stores here that even resemble a geek. They all look like metros here.

I called about a geek squad job to see what the qualifications are. They said you have to be 6'0" have blond spiky hair with frosted tips, and dimples. /joke Really though, they said there were none. They get promoted from the floor, and "trained". The geek squad where I live looks like a Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

toupeiro
August 21st, 2009, 04:55 PM
I called about a geek squad job to see what the qualifications are. They said you have to be 6'0" have blond spiky hair with frosted tips, and dimples. /joke Really though, they said there were none. They get promoted from the floor, and "trained". The geek squad where I live looks like a Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

I get that same impression when I've gone to our best buy. lol

scorp123
August 21st, 2009, 10:48 PM
His response to me was "I've seen people come through our department that were truck drivers one day, and MCSE's overnight." I ended up getting that job. :) Nice one. =D>

My career started as "Callcenter Agent". Pick up the damn phone, say the same stupid greeting over and over again, write down who called and what their problem was, then assign the case to those IT demi-gods downstairs who treated us like dirt ... After all we were just the "brainless monkeys trained to pick up the phone" (quote!)

Things changed when after a while I started solving those cases myself. Why should I waste the customer's time with assigning their case to an unmotivated IT support guy when I already know the solution?

My cover got blown when one customer called my supervisor in order to thank him because his case got resolved so quickly ... The guy was like: "_WHO_ solved your case???"

From that moment onwards I was done with picking up phones. I was now the one getting case ID's into his queue ...

That was 13 years ago.