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How is it that four year college educated people are better technicians?

By ctsmain ·
I have spent 16 years working in the computer industry in one year or another and while I agree that college education can be a good thing, typically in the tech support end of things i've personally found that the people have attended classes and done just enough to pass the classes yet do not have enough practical knowledge from the classes to actually know how to do the job.

A prime example of this is I got a temporary job at a Company in knoxville back in 1999 making $9.00 an hour and couldn't go permanent because they hired 2 people directly out of the local university that had associates degrees in computer sciences who walked in, sat down on either side of me and began asking things like "where's the hard drive in these things" "what does the memory look like and where is it". Now at that time i had only been working in computers for about 6 years and this was day one stuff here they were asking me. I was so flabergasted by the fact that these people were asking me these questions that I asked them the following: "you both went to {local un-named college} for two years now right" [response] "yes" [me agian] "and what did you do in those classes that you don't already know the things you are asking me about" [response] " well we played games mostly, Occasionally we would actually work on computer stuff but for the most part just played games" [me again] "and they give you a degree for that?" [no response]. so every since then I have no confidence and am not at all impressed with people that tell me that they have a college degree, Because I have found this to be a common thing with the people that have completed those courses.

I gained all my knowlege the old school way, by trial and error and I messed up my share of operating system loads and lost more than my share of data before I learned how to do things the proper way. The thing is I learned from all that and never again after that had to ask any one such a question as "where is the hard drive" or "what does memory look like".

Working for one of the worlds largest computer companies as a Senior Technical Support Technician I also got to speak with quite a few technicians and "IT or Network administrators" that claimed to know their stuff and had supposedly done all the proper troubleshooting before calling me.

The thing that was a resounding commonality is that a lot of them may have done some of the troubleshooting but neglected to do the simple first year type troubleshooting that any shade tree tech would have known to do, yet these people had degrees and in some cases were fully Microsoft certified yet they were on my phone having missed some of the most simple steps.

This has been a hot topic with other industry professionals that I have dealt with in my tenure as a support technician. It's like the certification means nothing actually, neither does the schooling. all it means is that those people know how to take and pass tests on the subject of computers. But when it comes time to actually have to practice or use the knowlege they are sadly lacking, yet the requirement of the certifications and college training is still a requirement for so many positions being offered these days. I even put off getting even the industry standard certification until I had to have it to keep my job because I didn't want to be someone that was thought to have just taken a test and gotten a piece of paper that says I know what I am doing. I was counting on my 16 years of experience to speak more for my abilities than any piece of paper ever could. It's just sad to me that the actual hands on experience isn't enough for people any more and they go for that false sense of security that they get with someone that has one of those expensive pieces of paper.

That's just my opinion, what's yours?

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sorry matthew

by info In reply to Ok..

clicked the wrong follow-up link. so you don't need to visit your boss.....


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by matthew.balthrop In reply to sorry matthew

Don't worry, i won't tell on you O_O

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I agree with JD

by Dumphrey In reply to How is it that four year ...

in that a good tech has skills in various areas.

I got a 4 year degree is psychology. Does it help me with computers? Indirectly. My degree taught me how to learn how to think and reason.

I have a 2 year degree from a technical school that gave me SOME hands on training and experience.

I got lucky and got a job out of tech school that is giving me a lot of varied experience. Real world, in production experience.

Am I a good tech? I think so. Am I the best, not by far.
A friend of mine has the same 4 year degree as me (we were in school together), but his 2 year is in programming, not networking. He is 1000x better with hardware, scripting, and *nix then I am. But I beat the crap out of him in Email administration, Windows in general, and router set up. Comparable ( 4 year + 2 year it related) education, different skill sets.
My opinion is experience is superior to training in 99% of all cases. So far, I am noticing that training focuses on "best case" and generalities that rarely appear in the real world.

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don't get me wrong here...

by ctsmain In reply to I agree with JD

I am not saying that all programs just let you slide through and not teach you anything. I also am not totally against having a degree. In fact I am currently enrolled in a 2 year program myself. (can't beat them join them) The whole point of this was simply to ask if anyone knows why employers put more faith in a person's abilities that has a piece of paper that says he knows what he's doing rather than a person that has been doing the job for any number of years and has the actual experience.

"So far, I am noticing that training focuses on "best case" and generalities that rarely appear in the real world."

I agree whloe heatedly with this myself by the way.

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I never read you to say all programs will

by Dumphrey In reply to don't get me wrong here.. ...

let you slide, but I know to many that did. Its amazing how little you can do and know and still pass many classes/programs.

It really comes down to the person, they will get out what they put in.

To answer your question about why employers look for the degree, I think its social advertising. They THINK that being educated in a school means you have "equivocal experience". And for some people this could be true.
Also there is the perception that College/University trained people are more focused, stay on task better, and are more capable in picking up new skills. And while this may have some grain of truth, its an opinion held by people that have never seen a frat party at its best/worst... Its hard to look at someone doing naked keg stands and picture them a future leader of anything.
Once again, it comes back to you get what you put into the curriculum.
The opinion that a certificate makes you a better tech is a false premise. All it means is that you have the skills to pass a test through real knowledge, cheating, memorization of info without actual understanding, or just blind luck. A certification means that they have a chance of having a specific skill set of knowledge. But knowledge with no experience is useless, and in some cases plain bad.

So, a concise answer is Certification is perceived to be better because people have a flawed understanding of value.

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very nice

by ctsmain In reply to I never read you to say a ...

this fully states what I was asking with the title to this post. I was kind of interested too in finding out how many (if any) others have had the same experiences as I have, given the same situations and variables.
Long and short, it is both nice and disturbing to know I am not alone in what I ran into.

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My $.02 worth

by cupcake In reply to don't get me wrong here.. ...

I've read through about 25% of the posts, but now I have to get my opinion in here.

I am in your boat CTS... I don't have a 4 four year degree. When I started out in the professional world, I didn't have a 2 year. I have found over the years, that there are companies/HRs/hiring managers who both think that you HAVE to have a degree (and doesn't matter in what) and those who don't demand it.

You have to just find them. I spent a number of years contracting - I was lucky - many of the contracts were for multiple year periods. This increased my technical skills. At the same time I worked on my education, although after all this time I still don't have it.

At the current company I work for, I am the highest paid person on a 18 person team and am not in any type of management position. I am looked to for mentoring and my opinion and help on a daily basis. And I earn every penny I make.

Companies that would dismiss me out of hand because I don't have a degree are companies that I wouldn't want to work for anyway.

Keep working, networking and you will find you niche.

My sister's manager is my sanity everyday. They hired her over my sister SIMPLY because she had a degree (a bachelors in ZOOLOGY!) rather than someone who had been performing the job and climbing the ladder for over 16 years and they are now faced with the **** it has caused because she is such a MORON!

Hang in there CTS... I think you're on the right track.


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by jdclyde In reply to My $.02 worth

it depends on the HR manager on how much weight the put in an education or not.

The down side of not having that degree, you acknowledge that you have one more obstacle in your path, and you can choose to remove it, or go around it and find employment elsewhere.

Someone that has BOTH, experience AND a degree, has just doubled their chances.

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Dead on...not that it's right, but it is the way it is...

by jmgarvin In reply to Exactly

In the workforce now, it's just easier to have a 4 year degree (even if it is in basket weaving), than to not have one. With community colleges and universities offering more flexible scheduling, I see no reason NOT to go get a degree (at least a 2 year). It just makes your life easier.

With that being said, there is a point of diminishing returns. I'd stop after the 4 year degree unless you REALLY feel a need for a graduate degree.

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I would like to go on

by jdclyde In reply to Dead on...not that it's r ...

to get my masters, but that is because I would like to teach again, and that is the standard now to teach at the university level.

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