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Thread: Certification vs. Education

  1. #1
    AO Security for Non-Geeks tonybradley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002

    Certification vs. Education

    This thread has come up a few different ways recently and various opinions have been expressed. There are however hundreds who view the threads but don't post an opinion. I decided to post a poll to gauge how AO members feel about the education vs. certification debate.

    Vote in the poll to express your opinion on which of these is most important in pursuing a job in today's IT market.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Memphis, TN
    I think that a little bit of both is the best way to go

    I am starting college this year and am planning on going with a bachelor in Computer Science with a networking option. I plan to become MCSE, CCNA, CCNE, and CISSP. Thats a lot of studying to do but I'm young and computers is something I love.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    I say college education, as it is one way to avoid being the grunt. Sure, certifications show that you know your stuff (supposedly), and sure experience is great, but what will stop you from being promoted above just tech positions is the degree. The question is also, where do you want to work..., if you want to play with the big networks, then it is definately college and not certifications, with a college degree a big company will hire you knowing that they can train/certify you in whatever they need... Just from watching a graduate of my school. He got a BA in Comp Sci and went to work at Big Blue, of course he worked in the campus IT department as a student assistant, and he really knew his stuff (and what he didn't know he could easily figure out). Last I heard he as admin of a major website and paying more in taxes than the admin at my school makes in a year (and he has certs out the wazzoo, tons of experience, but I'm not sure if he has the degree..., he might though..., I dunno).

    Just some thoughts...
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  4. #4
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    POV from a student and "jack of all trades":

    Well, I think a bit of everything is better than just one or two.

    In my case... I'm working in the field while I go to school for a degree.
    In the process, I will have an opportunity to get certified in a couple of areas. I'm going to grab them.
    I learn the most at work though... hands down. If I don't know how to do something... I will very shortly after encountering it.

    If you ever get an opportunity... work for a small shop.
    They will give you the most responsability and your "portfolio" will grow rather quickly. From helpdesk, to hardware, to networking, to administration, to phone systems, etc... they let you do it all. The "shop" I work at is very laid back.... as long as you don't show up the seniors...

    I think a degree and experience is the most important though.

    I know people who have gone out and got every cert imaginable... and they know **** about computers.
    They are just "professional test takers". Very good at memorizing.

    I have talked with several IT/MIS managers and they all say the same thing... degree and experience.
    If you get some certs while you are at it... fine. If you just have certs... close the door on the way out.

    It also doesn't hurt to know someone...

    remember... networking doesn't just have to do with computers...
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  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Certs got my in the door, building my skillset got me promoted.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    central il
    It seems in today’s market you need a education and experience or certs and luck I got my current job with certs and luck. I think the down turn is hurting those of us who did contracting during the boom most of all...my mass of experience hurt me because companies saw a lot of jobs in 5 years (now only one of those was a layoff the rest about 6 where mid to short term contracts) I had to pick and chose contracts to list on my resume and make up a company name for myself to convince companies that I was able to hold down a job.

    Have all three would be best. Any thing to set you above the mass of laid off IT workers/job changers who go to certification mills.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2003


    College is the way to go in order to move up the management track. But, from what I have seen the certifications are how you get the job in the first place. Maybe not in the big companies. Plus knowledge keeps changing from year to year. So once your in a company it matters that you keep up with the current certifications.
    \"Watch out! Big brother is watching EVERYTHING!\"

  8. #8
    IMHO Experience is the most important.
    Certs are just pieces of paper. However in the real world of getting a job I think the certs will help you get in.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    In my experience anyway, employers are more likely to hire someone with 'no-experience + college degree' for a position over someone with a 'bag full of certs' + 'no-experience'. This may be because employers still have a very 1950's mind-set about a lot of things despite the buzzword laden pseudo innovation commercials and campaigns they subject innocent viewers and helpless employees to.

    On the flipside, if you have experience in the job field already then you are pretty much golden no matter what your education of certification background, particularly if you have a lot of experience ( 10 years + ).

    So... I would say do the certs if you want them, but a degree will probably land you more job opportunities in the beginning.

    Just my experience, your mileage may vary.
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