View Full Version : Career path: U of Phoenix vs Open U vs certifications

October 28th, 2007, 05:50 AM
Just wondering what everyone would advise would be the fastest way to get a job in IT or computers somewhere. I have built my own computers for myself and friends since i was 17.. i am marginally proficient in a few languages... and i have problem solving skills which means my neighbors always come to me to fix their problems. So I am capable my question is what is the best way to get into the field, while still holding a full time job? I can spare about 20-30 hours a week at most for studying.

I thought my options might be Open university vs University of phoenix vs Certifications.

The thing that attracts me about certifications is that I can probably earn them faster, I am an excellent test taker... and by the time i get them the knowledge I learn may not be obsolete. I am worried that I will have no real world experience or knowledge however if i actually got a job.

It would be nice if there were companies that offered a friendly internship where you could learn and work a little at the same time.

Anyways My goal is to get a 45k + paying computer job within the next 4 years with only some college education to my name. Do you think its possible?

November 4th, 2007, 01:17 AM
Hi triptoe,

How are you at hardware and networking? Many IT jobs are dead-ends now, as they're easily outsourced offshore to people who can afford to work for next to nothing. My last job moved to Indonesia a few years back (I'm semi-retired and self-employed now, by choice). Do some serious researching and thinking before deciding what to specialize in. Programming, system administration, web design and such are not viable careers in the US now, in my opinion. You'd end up competing with more experienced people for an ever-shrinking pool of jobs.

I'd stick with specialities that require hands-on work. It's hard to outsource the people who install and troubleshoot networking gear, for example. That's the field I recommend for people wanting to enter IT now.

$45k in 4 years is most certainly possible, given 20 hrs/week of study. An A+ PC Tech Certification and some interviewing skills (take a class or buy a book if you aren't sure you interview well) will get you in the door at an entry-level job working for Best Buy's Geek Squad, or some similar crappy position. Spend a year there while studying enterprise networking, working through the Network+ certification and then the Cisco Certified Network Associate.

After a year, you have a bit of credibility on your resume and 3 useful certifications. That's enough to get you into an entry level network tech position in a large IT organization somewhere. Keep that job at least 2 years so you don't get a reputation as a job-hopper. By then, you'll be ready for either a promotion in that company, or it's time to move to a higher-level network job elsewhere...and that should get you your $45k easily.

The trick is, never take your eye off the future. IT changes fast. Keep studying new things, and pay attention to industry trends that could affect you someday.

Best of luck with your plans!

November 4th, 2007, 03:51 AM
I'd go the certification route. Isn't Phoenix University an online thing? Might be a big waste of money. Get your A+. I haven't taken it yet, but one of my friends passed it and said his mom could have passed it it was so easy. I'll bet you could probably study some A+ online for a week and pass the A+ no problem.

If you just get your A+ and apply for enough jobs you'll get your foot in the door and can move up from there. The only education I have is an electronics and networking certificate from college. When I finished the course I had a hard time finding work. As soon as you tell them you have no job experience, you can see it on their face, they don't want to have anything to do with you. But I just kept applying like mad and in 3 months I found a company that was desperate for help and they took a chance on me. I just passed the probation period and now they want me to look into courses to further my knowledge and they will pay for it!

So my advice; schedule your A+ soon and study up, memorize your IRQ's, comm port addresses, etc. When you pass the test, write up a good resume, make it look really professional and readable. Send that resume off to every IT company and computer repair shop in town. Find local websites with jobs, as well as sites like monster, etc. Look in the phone book for companies that do this kind of work in your town, put on a nice shirt and tie, and go to each of them with a resume. Just keep it up and you'll get your foot in the door and can work up from there. You could possibly do this in very little time depending on what the job maket is like where you live. Pay will probably not be anywhere near your goal to start, but once you get experience, the money will come.

November 4th, 2007, 01:47 PM
don't get an A+ cert. employers don't care about them anymore. get whatever certs you can get other than that. it's MORE than possible to earn 45k in that amount of time. i'm making more than that and have two certs with some college, but i plan on getting my 4 year to round it out. don't understimate a degree though if you're looking to make good money later on.

November 4th, 2007, 11:33 PM
Since you're asking for advice, I'll offer it, although you might not like it. This is based from IT work for corporate as well as self-employment.

As Keith_Burton mentioned, in corporate IT, you will always be competing for your job against someone overseas who will basically do the same job for next to nothing. Companies nowadays like to whine about how their employees just have no loyalty anymore, while at the same time they outsource large chunks of their workforce. In corporate IT, be prepared to face a lifetime of this corporate hypocrisy.

Certifications have mixed value and rapidly fall into obsolescence, but they do serve a temporary purpose in providing you with some credentials. It's up to you to decide whether they're worth the cost.

Since you already have some skills and knowledge in IT, I would recommend you take the self-employment route. To this end, keep your IT skills sharp, but also take some classes in marketing, accounting, and business law. Basically, the college courses you need are not to enhance your technical skills (though that is always helpful), but to better enable you to find and the keep the best paying contracts.

You will have to determine what IT service you can best provide. My advice in this area when it comes to IT service is to identify where people get the biggest migraine from IT and then provide them relief. Keep in mind that your best marketing tool is your last contract and you will do well. As for pay, if you do this well, you could feasibly generate $45K per month instead of per year.