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  • #2256929

    19 Years experience but no degree


    by jw ·

    I have 19 years experience in IT but I have no degrees. I am the sole IT person for a company w/4 locations and 60 users. I have no formal education but have kept systems up for 6 years at my current employer with only 1 day of down time. I am trying to find a new job but no one wants someone with no formal education or degree. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to better improve my odds? I do not have time for classes as I work 12-14 hrs a day in various locations.

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    • #3227883

      No Degree

      by jellimonsta ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I have no degree (well, OK I have an archaic Tech degree from the UK… but it may as well be none), and I had 5 job offers from 6 interviews when I was looking for work (didn’t wait around to hear from the 6th place).

      I think it may not be a problem that you do not have time to obtain a ‘degree’, but it will be a problem if you do not have time to ‘learn’.
      I.T. does not stand still, and if your skills have, you will have difficulty finding work. You will need to cut back on your working hours, and get some study time in, learning new technologies, and being firmly grounded in ‘formal’ approaches to technologies you currently use.

      If you get so far as the interview, then the degree is not the deciding factor, and you need to sell yourself, and your skill set to the prospective employers. IMHO.
      Good luck!!

    • #3227863

      A few routes

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      There is formal education (degrees) and there is technical training (Certs). If you know your tech well, get a “redbook” and then write some cert tests. You don’t HAVE to take classes to take a cert test if your able to learn on your own.

      The other key is the type of companies you wish to apply at. Smaller firms will be less likely to be hung up on a degree than your larger firms.

      Start making a list of your skills, and then find a job that requires someone with experience. Many places want BOTH, but will settle for a minimum of three years using that specific technology.

      Does your current employer know your starting to look for a new job? What will you tell them when you need to take time out of your 12 hour work day to turn in applications and go for interviews?

      Last point. The job placement websites only work for people with something to offer that the general masses do not have. People straight out of college will not get hired from these sites, but someone with hands-on might have a chance.

      I would seriously look into at least one cert. Employers like to see SOMETHING that they can understand to qualify your skills.

      • #3227806

        Was in the same boat…. kinda sorta.

        by fungus-among-us ·

        In reply to A few routes

        I’ve been “playing” with computers since the 8088 days. All self taught, subscribed to every computer magazine out there and loved trying different scenarios with my computers. 20 years later, I found myself tired of working on cars, getting dirty and breathing asbestos and chemicals for a living (believe it or not it was a very good living). I wanted to get intom IT, but without certs or a degree in the field, it was hard getting my foot into anyone’s door. I did find time to go to school, and pretty much tested out of all the computer/networking/programming classes. I knew it all, and testing out of the class proved I knew what they were going to be teaching. I did however still have to take the English, Math, and Psych classes to get the degree. I had no interest in paying for my own bachelor or master degrees, so with an Associate’s degree under my belt, a lot of doors opened for me that wouldn’t open before. I agree with the other posters… once you HAVE an interview, it’s up to you to sell yourself. In this day and age, I tend to think certs are more important than a degree (for technical reasons), but companies do like to see some type of formal education in the resume. Don’t take your “field experience” for granted… there are plenty of organizations that would rather have an experienced worker than a fresh out of school “book smart” worker that they have to “guide”.
        Good Luck.

        • #3227779

          Hard to know what employers are looking for

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to Was in the same boat…. kinda sorta.

          because they are all looking for something different.

          That is what invalidates when anyone says “X” is more important than “Y” or “Z”.

          Your BEST bet is to be a well rounded person. Then you have something to offer everyone. Experience, certs AND the formal education.

          Again, it depends on the types of places you plan on applying at. The more the people hiring have gone to college, the higher value they will place on the college education because it helps to validate themselves and THEIR education. Smaller shops where people work their way up, certs are king because they are something that you get as you go, and are geared more towards the busy person already working in the field.

          Within a year, my resume should look very nice! B-)

      • #3229085

        no quali. but lots of experience.

        by oded1 ·

        In reply to A few routes

        In England employers are afraid of qualifications. They think that you know too much.
        Try and quote industry certificates MCSE etc.
        Do not show details of jobs older than 10 years.

        Too many years of experience frighten new employers.

        At Top put 4-5 recent successes in projects, high server up time, fast problem solutions.

        Good luck.
        You may also be fighting outsourcing of jobs to cheap places like India. Their wages are very low compared to USA or England.


        • #3229316

          outsourcing slowing down

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to no quali. but lots of experience.

          The fad of outsourcing to India and such is thankfully slowing and maybe even reversing.

          The low costs of labor did not make up for the lost good will to the customers. First, not a lot of people WANT to talk to support from another country because they know it hurts the economy of the country they live in.

          Second, because in a lot of cases the skills and training giving to the level one support seemed to be very substandard. “Follow my script of doom for three hours before I can let you talk to someone that actually KNOWS the system.”

          I do agree about not going back bast 3 or 4 jobs, or 10 years.

          If you job hop, you are not a good choice as a hire because they don’t want to invest time in training you to have you just hop again.

          If you list too much, they will be afraid you will expect too much money. They also might be afraid that you have not stayed current, because of how much the industry has changed. This is not the time to brag about working on XYZ computer back in 1922.

          Only list the skills that are relevant to the position being applied for.

      • #3205422

        Not to be picky. but…

        by projmanager ·

        In reply to A few routes

        You have 19 years of experience, 6 in the same dead end job. Is this what you want for the next 20? Yet another job doing the same thing but with maybe more or less hours. You’re going to have to take the time to get some additional training and do some real thinking about career planning, not just looking for another job. Then, you might even decide to quit your job and spend the time to make the improvements and come back in with a book of skills other then you know how to configure a PC. I’ve got 40 years in the computer game. Every step up, and there have been many, was due to my willing to gain new skills, rarely on what I’d been doing in the past. I also have no degree and have enjoyed salaries around 100k for a number of years. I’m not bragging here, trying to encourage you to start planning.

        • #3205030

          Being picky, but

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Not to be picky. but…

          That was rather judgemental

          If you enjoy the job, you find it challenging, rewarding and satisfying then it’s not a dead end is it. Telling someone their job is a dead end is how you think you’d feel about it, not how they feel about it and definitley not how they should feel about it.

          I’ve got bored by programming jobs and moved on to other jobs programming somewhere less boring. It wasn’t prgramming that was boring, it was that the solutions I was programming were not challenging.

          As for new skills, HR would say I’ve added a lot in the last twenty years, I’d say maybe four at the most.

        • #3205028

          Past experience

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to Not to be picky. but…

          can help you be able to better read tech jargon, and how to use a system. Learning a new system once you know how to learn systems is easy if your not too lazy to do it. Each system after the first typically comes easier. The more you learn, the more you CAN learn.

          But getting some goal is a good idea. You can’t get somewhere if you have no idea where your going.

    • #3227800


      by jdmercha ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      Stop working 12-14 hours a day. Work 8 hours a day and go to school.

      The real problem is that every job you apply for is also being applied for by 50 other people who have 19 years of experience and a degree.

      • #3204958

        I agree

        by ian ·

        In reply to Stop

        46 Years of age and I’ve decided to go back into full time education to get my degree. Not knowing where you live, is there an open university, somewhere you can work from home and get the qualifications you need.

        • #3204949

          Enroll in a degree program

          by itil consultant ·

          In reply to I agree

          I was in the same quandry last year. I started back to school and listed it on my resume. I listed some of the cert courses I had attended, too, even though I didn’t have the cert. Together, it made the phone ring.

          There are many online universities now and it provides the flexibility to get your degree while still meeting your current time demands.

      • #3226494

        Work on interview skills

        by birthdaycake ·

        In reply to Stop

        I recently applied for a job after 15 years at the same place. I went to work there straight out of college and didn’t have to interview. So when I got this interview, I was about to go in there and wing it. My wife, who helps interview at her job, asked me a few questions, and it was obvious my approach wasn’t going to work. I found all of the popular interview questions and wrote out answers. Then when I was asked those questions, I had an answer. I got the job.

    • #3227745

      Referrals & Networking

      by onbliss ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      Few days ago, I caught a bit of a radio program. What I gathered was that the number of jobs that get filled in via referrals is high. (Was it 50%?) The “expert” suggested to improve networking and contacts.

      There is a chance that you might be able squeeze in your resume to the right person via your contacts.

      I would recommend you to make a list of all your contacts and then start touching base with them.

    • #3229136

      Maybe a bit hard answer but…

      by ou jipi je ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      you say you got 19 years of experience. By posting of this question however, sorry I would not hire you either, even if you would have a number of degrees.

      With 19 years of experience in IT you _know_ what you need to do.

      “I am trying to find a new job but no one wants someone with no formal education or degree.” – well if this is the case get a f*^&ing degree or some kind of a certification at the level of 19 years of experience. Or is this not an answer you were expecting?

      That said, I have _never_ met an IT person with 19 years of experience who has ever asked a question like this or more, a person with 19 years of experience who has a trouble of finding of a job.

      I know a few IT guys with years of experience who got quite far in this business who did not even finished a high school. Many of those (99%) however don’t need to look for a new job, they can pick one.

      • #3205475

        Hard answer

        by jdclyde ·

        In reply to Maybe a bit hard answer but…

        bottom line, you give the employer what they want.

        If you don’t have what they want, you either get it, or stop crying and find a different employer that wants what you DO have to offer.

        The sob story about not having time to get the training is just an excuse. Get the training or get a job that does not require it. simple really.

        Yes, I go to school at night (six cretits) and work about 50 hours. (more with travel time added in)

      • #3204992

        Job Hunt..

        by dennis ·

        In reply to Maybe a bit hard answer but…

        The formal education with Certs is the only way to go. Some companies require you to have a Bachelor’s Degree for certain positions because it is considered management. May not have the Manager’s title but it is still considered Management. Now sometimes an Associates Degree with many years of experience will qualify you for the job, but in today’s climate, it’s all about who employers can disqualify… No degree, No Job. I am not currently looking myself, but I do keep up with what is being looked for. They start out with a B.S. in a Technology field. A lot of companies ask for it to be in Computer Science or Equivalent. CIS, MIS, CIT, Ecommerce and Information Systems are what companies are looking for. As for the other posts a well rounded person is not always the best fit for large companies, but smaller companies will take you over a person who just knows Microsoft…

        That’s my two cents worth.

      • #3205234

        Hard answer is right!

        by gabby22 ·

        In reply to Maybe a bit hard answer but…

        Right on. If you’ve got the experience, and the employer needs that experience, you’ll get hired, but only if you can express this experience well in your application and interview.

        I’ve got 2 degrees, from 35 years ago. Big deal. No-one important cares about degrees for job in IT when you’re over 30, 40, 50. Not a problem when you’ve got what they want and can show them that.

        I’ve known employers to use an excuse like this because they didn’t like something else, like your age, your presentation, your attitude, whatever.

        Don’t waste your time getting paperwork unless it’s directly related to what you want to do, ie you genuinely learn new skills, otherwise it’s money down the drain.

        Spend the effort on getting your resume right first, and then work on your interview skills.

      • #2533849

        lardo, give him a break

        by jcgonzalez ·

        In reply to Maybe a bit hard answer but…

        WTF this guy Lardo is nuts, yeah i agree Certs and a Degree are the way to go, but dont forget to polish up your interview skills.


    • #3229124

      Take a stand

      by alfa_male ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I was in a similar situation: long hours, experience but no formal IT qualification (degree in French and Italian ..!). If lack of a degree is stopping you getting interviews there is no remedy but to get degree – with your experience you could skip straight to a Masters degree which is what I have done; these courses are good:

      Be warned though: THERE IS NO WAY YOU WILL GET ANY DEGREE WORKING 12 – 14 HOURS A DAY. You will have to cut back to 8 hours; it sounds like you’re pretty important to your employer so hopefully you can do this. Whilst your working 12 – 14 hours / day for them you’re losing your opportunity to improve your skills and get a better job.

      Another option is to get certification – if you know your stuff you can do this quite quickly. I quit the job I didn’t like and got MCAD certification within 4 weeks. Hard work but worth it and I got a job within another 2 weeks and now work for a much better company which is actually paying for my MSc.

      Tell them you need certification and show them how it will benefit them. Ask for study leave and for them to pay for the course. They may not do so but it is worth a try.

      I was stuck with a s**t employer for 5 years until I did something about it; bad employers will just suck you dry. There are jobs out there, you just have to make yourself as employable as possible and you should be able to take your pick.

      Good luck

    • #3229116


      by pkrdk ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      Tell them that although you don’t have any formal degrees, you passed the most difficult one which NO school can teach you:

      Staying in the trade for 19 years, and filling your jobs with success.

      I compete with much younger project managers with university degrees, who speaks like out of a textbook using al the buzzwords. I haven’t any degree at all, I speak plain language managers can understand, showing that I know what it’s about, and I get the jobs. I ‘ooze’ common sense, responsibility and thrustworthyness. A university degree is no guarantee that management can trust you with a million-dollar budget.

      • #3229091

        Certs will definitely open doors

        by cshakoor ·

        In reply to Easy

        I pretty much agree with most of the replies here. You have to take time to improve skills by taking classes or getting some certification. I have no degree but have been in the IT field for nearly 15 years. However, I take the time to keep my IT certs current and embrace emerging technology to give myself an edge. Result: I have to change my number often to keep recruiters from bugging me all of the time. With 19 years of experience and some good certs you should be able to pick and choose. Keep you morale up and stay focus. Good luck.

    • #3229111

      Become your own employer

      by nobodyhome ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      There are many small businesses that need IT help but cannot justify a full time employee. You can bypass the degree issue by starting your own business. Then the issue is not whether you have a degree, but whether you are good enough at what you do to keep your customers happy and win new ones.

    • #3229109

      Emphasize your history of loyalty

      by cybaground ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I would also have to say that certifications may be the resolution to your problem due to long hours that you have to commit to your current career. The other alternative that NobodyHome said would be to start your own IT consulting business. With 19 years of experience in the field who needs an employer when you can be your own Boss. Then again owning your own business is not for everyone so perhaps you need to make some changes to your Resume. Position yourself in the Employers shoes if it came down to two finalist one was overqualified but pleased to accept the position, while other was suitable but appeared to be ?hungrier? that is less experienced and more anxious to be employed. The Employer may feel that you may get bored quickly, that your more set in your ways and perhaps that you could leave at the first opportunity to make more money. Furthermore it?s possible that the over-qualified candidate may be at odds with their supervisor?s way of doing things. Having listed all the Cons there are employers out there who will welcome your abundant skills minus a degree. The key is to position yourself in way that appeals to those who are doing the hiring. Focus on how quickly you could be up and running productively. Emphasize that you are looking for a long-term fit and are happy to do the job at hand for however long it best suits the employer. Also refer to your history of loyalty and strong performance at your previous jobs without necessarily always bucking for a quick promotion. In this way you’ll put a premium on stability and reduce some of the question marks that may otherwise arise. Best of luck with your future endvours .

      Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.
      Pete Seeger

    • #3229103

      Night School

      by andyw360 ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I also worked for a company for 8 years and had no IT qualifications but 2 years ago I decided to start my own company, so I had to get qualifications.

      I have my HNC which took me two years, I’m now working towards my Diploma, both of these qualifications are achievable at night school, it only takes up two evening of my week which is worth cutting your hours to do.

    • #3229095

      there are still hope in everything

      by jdestrella ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      Hi JW,

      Why not try distance learning? or international certifications e.g. Cisco, Java



    • #3229094

      fooling the word scanners

      by grbrown ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I a mate of mine in Australia was in this same predicament a lot of the companies use recognition software to look for key words.
      So try using Phrases like ‘ In 19 years I have not found it neccesary to get a Microsoft qualification etc’
      This will get you past the first hurdle and a least get a human to look at it

    • #3229082

      I was in the same boat…..

      by feltonch ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I am now finishing my Bachelors of Information Technology. I started taking classes online with the University of Phoenix a couple of years ago. I can do all of my regular stuff and go to school in the evening. It has been a great thing for me.

    • #3229071

      You didn’t say . . .

      by sheeva ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      . . .just what type of new positions you are seeking. If, as others in this post have alluded to, you are looking for a “techie” posting, then certification in one or more are would be prudent. However, if you’re looking for new experiences in less tactical and more strategic areas, then make time to learn some of the more leading edge stuff – very little competition and will open the first doors to a new career path. Also look for opportunities that others shy away from knowing that these are just “stepping” stones to what you really want.

      I’ve been in the computer business as long as Bill Gates. My first PC ran the CPM operating system. I was not a “computer” person but an apprenticed drafting and design engineering person for the petrochemical industry. During that stint I was forced to self learn Assembler and Fortran and Basic just to stay on top of all the standards changes when selecting the right sized pipe or pump. What I began to realize was that I “liked” building small applications. When the petrochemical industries began to falter in the late ’70s early ’80s, the writing was on the wall. I made the shift into full time computing by opening my own consulting firm and providing business application solutions in the infant PC world. It was my beginning.

      I have since raised, as a single parent, two children, put them through university and they now are also in the computing business all through the chance opportunity to recognize the near death of one industry and the sparking growth in another.

      Oh, by the way, I don’t have any degree either. I’ve resisted both getting degrees and certifications since in my opinion, these would have limited me. I have everything I need to be both tactical and strategic in my chosen profession. But I’m always on the leading edge through my continued life long love of learning. I have no fear in competing with those straight out of “Uni” or College or certification. I’m well into my fifties and am still in demand by head hunters and HR departments. I have never been disappointed because of any lack of degree or certification.

      Bottom line JW, find out what you really want from this business and go for it. Degrees and certifications are just different types of stepping stones. If you truly love what you do, you’ll find the path that leads you to your goals.

    • #3229340
    • #3205474

      Re-organize your resume to show experience

      by mikeblane ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      Re-write your resume to show your experience. You will normally only get 20 seconds to impress someone on your resume. Make your first section a [Work Experience] section where you sell your qualifications to others like a commercial:

      – Implemented a webserver that was able to withstand 25000 hits in the first day without failing.

      – Upgraded network servers over several weeks with no interruption in service for the company’s 2500 users.

      Make sure the statements are true and accurate, but give them the importance they deserve. Work this section as if you were working to get a raise from your boss and you want them to understand how important your work is.

    • #3205463


      by geeksquad ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree



      • #3205055

        Choose your employer carefully and get a cert

        by cuthbertgriswald ·

        In reply to **CERTIFICATIONS**!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        I am in a similar position, I left school with no qualifications, have been in the business for 6 years and have previously held helpdesk management type jobs. I have also been responsible for recruiting techies and have never looked for a degree when recruiting new people. Probably because I do not have one. I was made redundant about this time last year. the last guy that was recruited into the dept had actually dropped out of Uni 2 or 3 times, was a gamer and had no IT experience other than upgrading his own PC. I did not want to recruit him because it looked to me like he had no staying power, was unreliable, and of course had no corporate experience. The reason we were looking for somebody was to take the pressure off me doing tier 1 support, and the more basic admin stuff. The MD, however looked at his CV and saw somebody with potential as he obviously had the ability to obtain a degree (go figure). Anyway, this guy then disappeared for a week and after calling his home to find out where he was, I was shocked to find that he had been leaving the house each morning as if he were coming into work!!
        I then called a meeting with the MD and two other employees who were at the same hierarchical level as me within the company to decide what to do. I had alarm bells ringing all over the place, and said that we should get rid of him as he was actually making more work for the rest of the department and that this was obviously a problem he had all his life as evidenced by his CV and his inability to complete anything. We took a vote, and the other three (including the MD) decided to keep him on. Two weeks later things came to a head in my personal life, my partner who had given birth to twins a year earlier had post natal depression, was quite frankly bonkers, and would not go to the docs to get herself sorted. She was actually disabling my alarm clock so that I would not go to work/be late. So I asked for a week off to deal with it, as I had never taken all of my paternity leave when the kids were born.
        At the end of that week I got made redundant, the other guy was retained and I have not found another full time job since. That guy then continued his fun and games, causing more work for the dept and after 6 months and a load more unauthorised abscences they let him go. All because the MD had a degree and seemed to think that was the be all and end all. They also then lost the other outstanding techies that i had recruited to other companies because they had to keep filling in for this guy and were not able to do their own jobs properly.

        The key I think is, to pick your employer carefully try and do a bit of networking and find out as much about the people who will be your line managers or the poeple doing the recruiting as you can. If they aren’t hellbent on degrees then obviously you have a better chance at getting an interview. Some corporate websites seem to like boasting about thier staff and their qualifications and/or employment history, so use it to your advantage.

        Like the others have said, once you get the interview you have kind of already overcome the major herdle and it’s just a case of selling yourself (easier said than done in my book), get a book on interview techniques for help there.

        I would also say that you need to reduce your hours – 12-14 hrs a day suggests to me that you may not actually be able to do your current job effectively and implement the solutions that would save you and your users time. Perhaps say something like, initially I was working 12-14 hour days but after utilizing X, Y functionality this was then reduced to a more comfortable 8 hrs.

        I would also look at certs closely, I’m currently doing my CCNA and ITIL foundation. Someone with your experience should be able to buy the book and even with your current workload be able to get through it in a month (or take a week off).

        Self employment is an option, but you need to be highly motivated to do it. Though again, more and more clients seem to be cert savvy and actually ask what certs you hold before signing up. I have been doing this for the last year but only seem to want to do enough work to pay the rent etc, and spend the most time I can at home with the kids.

        To sum up, find a way to reduce your hours, look at certs, improve your interview technique, target the right employer and find a way of giving them what they want.

        I would go for IT experience over a degree every time.

        And the very best of luck to you,


      • #3203321

        Didn’t anyone tell you

        by jamesgrimes9 ·

        In reply to **CERTIFICATIONS**!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Didn’t anyone tell you using ALL CAPS like you have done above is like yelling, and yelling is rude. Tone it down.

      • #3140197

        Experience +

        by aaronjg77 ·

        In reply to **CERTIFICATIONS**!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Knowledge (Theory)

        Are all necessary!

        Everybody speaks of ?years of experience? but, trust me there are a lot of idiots out there that have a lot of experience. I work with a guy that has ?years of experience? and that is the reason that he got the job. My company is regretting the day they hired him. He is a hard worker and that is probably why he has kept the jobs he has had up to today but he is an idiot and CAN NOT SOLVE PROBLEMS!

        Let?s face it…. to be successful in IT; you must be an Analytical Thinker. If you can’t solve problems analytically, then your career success will come to a stop. You will never see another raise. You will never get a better job. All you are every going to do is listen to people tell you how their computer is so much slower then it use to be.

        There are always going to be the guys that have 30 years of experience and are still fixing peoples printer problems or resetting passwords. Why? Because it is the ONLY THING THAT THEY CAN DO.

        I just want everybody to stop talking about how many years of experience they have. Who cares! Give me somebody that can solve problems.

        Oh yeah and certifications aren’t everything and I know a lot of great people that don’t have them but, they do do one thing; they show your employer that you have ambition to complete something and the aptitude to learn.

    • #3205446

      Don’t feel bad

      by raulnm ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I have an associate degree and little work experience as a technician. Many companies won’t hire me as a computer technician. Most of the technician who get hired are the ones with 10 and 15 years of experience. My suggestion for you is to go to college and get you an associate degree. All it takes is about two years. You already have plenty experience. I wish I have a lot of work experience like you and I would be working as a technician for a big company.
      Good Luck.

    • #3205438

      Respectively, You Do Not Have Time to Not Pursue More Education

      by rellis1949 ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I sincerely appreciate your concern with having experience and no “paper”. I was directly in IS/It from 1968 till 1986 and have been in IS/IT support since 1986. I lost my direct IS/IT position due to downsizing and turned to education as an alternative (and now permanent) job choice.

      A major concern I constantly address to my students (as well as my own grown children) is to ensure that a degree of some type is pursued and acquired. The degree may be academic (AS, BS, or MS), may be technical, or may be acquired through certification. Employers have for decades, and moreso today, relied on the luxury of implementing “paper” titles as a weeding factor for hiring or promoting. The logic involved in the process is multiple but generally management perceives that the ability to replace a person can be as easily accomplished by using experienced personnel or by accepting less experience (with base-knowledge) and having the “papered” prospectives molded to fit the organization’s needs and culture.

      I do understand the quandry by which you exist and do understand that experience will generally be better for performance capabilities than will a degree alone. However, if upper management does not exist under those same perceptions then the only choice is to play by the rules of controlling agent(s). I would strongly suggest that you pursue “paper” acquisition in as timely a manner as possible. Your base-competition is not shrinking, management’s perceptions of replacability often overlook position experience (as a single variable for choice), and you have the capability to complement your experience qualifications.

      The 12 to 14 hour days do not go away (I also worked those hours and at times 36 hour days and 13 day weeks). Pursue a “paper” path that will allow you to CLEP courses if you decide on an academic title; take correspondence courses; take Internet classes; acquire and study certification materials at least an hour a day.

      Experience is so important towards effectively completing job mandates. However, only the experienced seem to appreciate such a concept and not all hiring managers have experience that will allow them to rationally trade action-know-how for “paper” certification. Regretfully, you do not have time to not educate yourself. Nearly 40 years in the field has reinforced a major concept; no matter how hard you work, few appreciate the time you spend supporting the organization and those that do are often not the ones that make the decision to retain or hire employees.

    • #3205076

      Pretty Weak

      by ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      19 years of experience, if employers are using that excuse. Certs are good, Degrees are good to have. If you ever get that serious interview, it might be obvious that you do or don’t have the expertise in the interview.

      • #3205064

        lack of degree/ cert

        by aa8vs ·

        In reply to Pretty Weak

        Larger companies without the certificate/ degree you will not even get to the folks that need to see your background. If the degree box is not checked the HR person will ‘can’ it. Sad but that is also reality, so your only option is to network with the type folks you want to work for.

        • #3205042


          by jamesrl ·

          In reply to lack of degree/ cert

          I had two and a half years at University, but no degree(it wasn’t in IT either).

          I found it more challenging to find work, but I was hired at large coporate firm without a degree. They even will pay for me to finish.


    • #3205029

      A+ Certification

      by holingpoon ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      Have you think about A+ Certification?

      You have to beef up for the exam, but you can do this at your own pace without going to classes. I have seen hiring ads emphasizing A+ Certs rather than degrees.

      Check out the link posted above. Give it some thought 🙂

      • #3204909

        Go for a Degree

        by andyw360 ·

        In reply to A+ Certification

        I’m half way through my degree, luckily I have a good college near me to study in the evening but if you havn’t them why not consider a degree through the Open University.

    • #3204955

      A proven career path

      by jenndavismcse ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      MAKE the time to get a certification!

      I got my MCSE 2003 through an online boot camp.

      Within in a year, I doubled my salary.
      Within in 2 years, I was promoted to a IT lead – and got another 25% pay increase.

      Certifications + experience means that you’re able to create, lead and implement an IT project – not just do the technical work.

    • #3204810

      Same Boat Too

      by michael.ramirez ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      Large companies are famous for this. Back in the ?80s, when it was a buyers market, I was without a degree and when I interviewed with both Ford and GM, they always made this clear to me. Had I had my degree, I would have been hired after my contract was over. However, being as I didn?t, I had to train my replacement!

      But that was then and now we are in a sellers market?competition is stiff.

      I don?t think the answer is necessarily a degree or certification?rather I think it is both.

      I?ve since earned my associates ( I?m an IT professional with over twenty years of experience and I have an Associates in Science?this was the quickest route for me) I receiving more offers to submit my resume and almost always an invitation to interview.

    • #3204746

      Try on-line education

      by aldanatech ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      If you need a degree ASAP and have no time to attend classes then you should try distance learning. Now because you got so much experience, you should try a school that will value it. My suggestion would be Capella University ( They got Bachelors and Masters in deferent fields of IT.

    • #3204730

      Get the Degree Anyway

      by observant ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      Try 15 years experience, several certs (MCSE,CWNA,CVE, and PMP to name a few) and a BA. I went for my masters even while traveling 3 weeks out of a month and running my own network and server installation business while my wife had her job and ran a B&B (I think I remember what she looks like!)… OH, and while you’re at it, relocate your entire household to the east cost on your own dime!

      Worth it? I suspect so. We’ll see at the next job interview in a couple of days (2nd one with this company and it’s with the president).

      Get the degree any way you can. … And explore a different career path while you’re at it.

    • #3203325

      Don’t let it hold you back

      by av . ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      Experience trumps a degree if you have successfully done the job and have good references to prove it. Network with people that know your value. They may know of other people that need someone like you.

      Small companies (under 100 people) are less likely to care about your lack of degree. They have less stringent HR policies.

      I’ve been in IT for over 20 years. I don’t have a degree either and don’t intend to get one. I do take courses to keep my education up though. That is key.

      I don’t think a lack of degree is an issue if you know your stuff.

      PS: A Fortune 500 company hired me because of my enthusiasm for the job even though I didn’t have a degree.

    • #3203298

      You do have time if you want it badly enough

      by tom.bunko ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I was in the same boat too! In the past 4 years, I have been studying as a remote student, completing my degree in accounting and IT. (last semester now) I only wish I knew about remote studies earlier. You do not attend classes, however you have to keep up. You may not be able to do a full load, seeing that you are working 12-14 hours, but be good to yourself, and steal a couple of those hours each day to fix up your credentials!

    • #3203236

      Are you open

      by d_g_l_s ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      to other ways to make money? I too have minimual training, lots of experience, but not enough traning to attract big opportunities. Though there are many possibilities, one must ask one’self if one is willing to trade one job for another, problems and all. If you are willing to have another look just say so…

    • #3203145

      Experience weighs but…

      by local support ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree


      I have about the same situation.

      I guess yo’ve got some technical advice alredy.

      I have this suggestion:

      You spend 14 days, 20 minutes a day.

      Every day take blank paper.

      Note down quickly what you are good at, what tasks you can do, what technical areas you know.

      put the paper in a sealed envelope and keep it safely.

      After 14 weeks you have 14 envelopes. Wait a week before you open them.

      From thees list you can easily see what formal education you need, and where you can get it.

      You shouldn’t work more than 10 hours a day, and not weekends. Otherwise you be to tired to think of anything. Regards
      \Local support

    • #3226403

      Experience + certs

      by ibanezoo ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I’m in the same boat as you but the places I’ve looked at require a degree OR certs + experience. With that much experience go grab some certifications. And be aware that alot of those job descriptions are written by HR people and not the actual people you might be working for. Submit your resume wherever you can, whats the worst that could happen, they say no?

    • #3202795

      Certificates ARE NOT everthing !

      by techpro34yrs. ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      Let me tell you, I’ve read alot of the responses to you question and was bumped out after reading some.
      I’m the CEO/Owner of my own business and have been in the Computer technology field for the last 29 years. Have hired and fired alot of employees throught those years and let me tell you something. I would rather hire a Tech person that has hands-on experience in the field and is not afraid of working any day of the week. I’ve had way too many techs with every certification known to man and alot only had books smarts, no practical experience or common sense and thought that they could show up at work on their own schedule. Give me someone that has the knownledge and pays attention to details and will give good customer support and I’d be a happy employer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      We’d both make money and you’d rise to the top if proven. Give me that person over the Cert. person anytime! You just need to find that right employer and show him what you can do. Don’t get me wrong, Certificates are great, but if you can’t use the knownledge that you’ve learned correctly, then they are worthless.

      Good Luck to you and keep trying!!!!! and DON’T GIVE UP!

    • #3139229


      by aaronjg77 ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      All this area was, was an area for people to describe how successful they were and make this guy feel like crap.

      You don’t need a degree. I have a degree but I work with a lot of people that don’t and my boss doesn’t treat me any different.

      This is your problem. You have been in the IT field for 19 years and you are still just doing IT support! It support is a great job to start off with. It gives the person breadth of the entire IT field.

      But to truly be successful in IT you must specialize. Too much breadth and not enough depth is the problem.

      So here is my Advise. Become a Security Guy, or become a CISCO Guy, or become a UNIX guy. Just stop being an Everything-Guy. The Everything-Guy is the IT Support Guy that manages the company?s entire IT system by himself. No matter what it is he does it. Screw that! Just think about it? you have 19 years experience, and you are still issuing people loaner notebooks, and crawling under people?s desktops to make sure their cables are connected.

      I really don?t want to end this with a cheesy line but I know you have heard the saying “Jack of all trades Master of none”.

      One more thing I need to break down for you. Certifications aren?t everything but they do make you stand out and they do prove that you have extensive knowledge in a certain area. No matter how much people here dis certs, the truth is that EMPLOYERS DO LOOK FOR THEM. All the people on this site that say that certs are nothing are the people that were too lazy to get them themselves.

      • #3139002

        Is for insects

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to Specialization

        Support is a specialised profession. I’ve done it, and systems admin and database admin and devlopment which is my core skill. But the skills I gained in other aspects of the IT profession have been invaluable to me and my employers.

        However after 19 years, probably admin or hardware specialistion is the only option.

    • #3015894

      Experience but no degree

      by admast ·

      In reply to 19 Years experience but no degree

      I too have 25 years of admin/office experience, been told I have unique skills, been leaned upon by the entire building to provide tech support, but not paid extra, provided invaluable support and coordination of the office, volunteered, gone beyond the call of duty as it may. After all the loyalty to this organization they have cut my time, hired full time employees with no experience, expect me to train my own replacements, at this age it looks like I’m of no use even tho I have all this experience with no degree or diploma. There is a lesson to be learned here, there is no loyalty when administration / managers change, or could it be something else.

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