Is it practical to get into Networking without a degree?

By Conall O'G ·
As topic, I'm currently finishing off Cisco CCNA Routing & Switching at the moment, hoping to sit my exam in about 2 months or so.

Afterwards I intend to get CCNA Security, and i'l probably sit the CompTIA A+ since I know the vast majority of it already.

however beyond this the path to take isn't very clear at all.

Would you expect it to be possible to get in the door in some companies with just these, no experience?

What types of courses would you recommend next, if any?

I was thinking of doing something like a Microsoft cert in server administration to go down the IT Administrator route,

(Microsoft Certified Server Administrator
-PREREQ: MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Configuration (70-640)
-PREREQ: MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure Configuration (70-642)
Exam 70-646 (PRO): Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator )

Is this a good or a bad idea? any advice would be excellent. If you have done something similar, your experiences would be even better!

ive subbed to this thread via e-mail, can't wait to hear from you guys.

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All Answers

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professional networking

by njcsamuels In reply to Is it practical to get in ...

ccna, net+, sec+, mcp id think any two of these should get you in the door of a entry level job. problem is that the market is flooded with ppl trying to find those jobs.

the best advice i can think of is to start professional networking. find people who make hiring decisions and help them out. find a community you like and post content.

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Yes, no, and maybe

by robo_dev In reply to Is it practical to get in ...

Many large companies won't hire anyone without a four-year degree, while most small companies really don't care, as long as you know your stuff.

Whether you volunteer your network and computer skills to charities or non-profits, or do an internship of some sort, it would be very useful to have something to put down as experience.

Realistically, you're up against experienced competition, so your first 'computer job' may have to be something more entry-level, like support-desk, repair, or field service.

I would try to get your foot in the door with some sort of contractor, as they care about knowledge and results, not degrees.

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Reponse To Answer

by databaseben In reply to Yes, no, and maybe
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being overqualified is no gaurantee of getting a job

by databaseben In reply to Is it practical to get in ...

you probably shouldn't go overboard with the education and the money to pay for it, because it's highly likely that any position you land will be entry level. the only job you might actually land during the next few years could be sitting behind a desk all day inside a cubicle as a customer service rep or tech for the next few years. and then by the time you land a "real" job, your skill sets might become outdated.

ideally it is only after you land a job and know for sure that it is a good business to work for, that you should then take courses that will help the company and help you grow with it. otherwise, you will be limiting yourself looking for positions that require "only" those specific skill sets you spent so much time and money to acquire.

to this end, go volunteer some place(s) where you can apply your technical knowledge towards ascertaining actual "EXPERIENCE & TRAINING" - real time and training experience that you can put on your resume and give you the edge to get hired.

btw: getting a microsoft certification is a good thing because all companies have a need for a windows expert. so if by chance the only job you land is in the mail room, your windows certification can get you out of there and into other departments to provide assistance.

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Age old question

by Seonix In reply to Is it practical to get in ...

The degree: A lot of companies won't even look at you if you don't have one. This reasons for this are usually because they want clients to believe that all their staff are the cream of the crop so to speak. The other reason is that completing a degree shows legitimate interest, ability and commitment to the subject matter.
That being said though, you don't need a degree to get a foot in the door. Many companies will look for certifications rather than degrees.

As mentioned by databaseben, you don't want to go overboard with the certifications just yet. Complete the core one(s) relevant to the job you want then volunteer your time somewhere, either to a charity or a company you'd like to work for. You won't get paid much if anything at all, but it does show legitimate interest and drive to achieve your goals. Once an employer sees your base certification and volunteer work, you'll be in with a company in no time.

BTW I know this because I had to do pretty much the exact same thing when I was younger

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Certs vs degree

by Bruce Epper In reply to Is it practical to get in ...

Many companies don't bother with any kind of contact with applicants who do not have a degree. Many of them don't really care if it is in the field or not. I have seen people with plenty of certs and 5 years experience not even get an interview for a net admin position while the guy with a degree in history, no certs and limited experience got the job even though he required a LOT of hand-holding for the first few months.

I agree with the other posters here though regarding the experience issue. Even if you are just dumping some of your free time into working with a charity or local non-profit, the experience will always be of benefit to you in the job search. I don't know of any company that would hire someone who has a degree or certs without having any real-world experience in the field although about 15-25 years ago I had been hired for contract jobs without a degree or certs just because of the experience. That additional experience allowed me to get a corporate network job a few years later even though I still did not have a degree or any certifications.

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What to do, what to DO?!?

by info In reply to Is it practical to get in ...

I've been in 'the business' for 25 years, and I STILL ponder this question! I'm self-taught, so I've always had the option of doing 'anything', but just never had the drive to actually make the choice. I naturally drifted towards hardware/network support since I found it the most fun. I'm the sole IT person for a mid-size company, which pays fairly well although a lot of you would probably find it low, and the only certs I have are A+ and MCP's in Win98 and Networking Essentials (both probably expired). I even lucked into those because a client I was doing contract support for had the vouchers that were expiring, and gave them to me!

But that was then and this is now. Things haven't changed, you can still get a job on your merits, but it's a LOT harder. I LOVE Seonix's comment, '...completing a degree shows legitimate interest, ability and commitment to the subject matter." It's total BS, and something said by either ignorant people, or people with degrees. Usually Engineering ones. "If you don't have a degree, you must not know anything." One problem isn't that they're wrong, but that the statement IS true about 7 times out of 10. The other problem is they, or an HR person under their direction, are the ones doing the hiring, so their prejudice and ignorance suddenly become 'the way it is.'. This is one thing (of the many ) I failed to understand when I was a 16 year old wunderkind looking to charge into the workforce, and thought those hiring me would be strictly professional. Often, they're not. It's your job to conform to them, at least at first, and not them to you.

As has been said, certs are the key to getting your foot in the door unless you know someone. Volunteering is another good way if you can afford to. For most larger companies and 'institutions' (academic, hospitals, government) you NEED to have a degree or at least a 2-3 year equivalent diploma. I took a government-sponsered course as a Programmer Analyst (figured doing network/support would be too boring), and that opened the door to a lot of interviews (and jobs) that never would have happened otherwise.

The best way I can illustrate is this, I was working as a team leader for a contract support company. In this particular job we were doing an overnight hardware/software upgrade rollout for a large call center for IBM. As team lead, all the glitches and issues came to me and were quickly resolved, so we completed the project well ahead of schedule. The local head of IBM's operations started talking to me, "Well, we have a few openings, and you are more than skilled enough for any of them. Where did you go to school at?" Up until I answered, "I didn't. I'm self-taught," you could SEE the fire in his eyes, he was so enthusiastic. Then that light just went out. "Oh. Okay then. Good job." He turned and walked away, and I never heard from him again.

PS: And yes, I NEED to clear some time in my overworked schedule to get something like the MSCE or MSSA certs under my belt. I'm sure that if something were to happen to my position here, I'd probably be right back to working entry-level support again, despite my experience. So let that be a guide...

PSS: Another thing to look for is 'the people factor'. If a hiring manager doesn't want you, they'll make up a reason. Lack of experience or education are convenient ones for them. Watch for this, and ask a friend to help figure out what else you can tweak to make it easier to sell yourself. Curbing your enthusiasm is also good. I wasn't invited back for a few jobs because the 'higher ups' were a bit intimidated that I was more skilled than they were, even when I was open and ready to help teach them. Once I started to 'play stupid' and defer to their judgement and 'wisdom' more, I started to get ahead more often.

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Reponse To Answer

by Conall O'G In reply to What to do, what to DO?!?

thanks for the responses everyone. I have an open university prospectus on it's way in post. I think i'l be getting a degree. If it has such a "BS" effect on people's attitude's, I would rather avoid that altogether.

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interesting views

by Z-eu In reply to Is it practical to get in ...

Interestingly enough I have found it almost the opposite direction to most of the posts here. In the UK I am finding that the smaller companies seem to be asking for unrealistic requirements such as a 2:1 degree in rocket science, 10 years experience just to get into a junior role.

The large companies just seem to ask for experience and proof of knowledge (education, cert, or experience).

There is a clear reason for this, in larger companies your job is more pocketed, that is you get given a role where you might be responsible for doing 4 tasks each day. In a small company you have to be more hands on with lots of different aspects, you're more of a "jack of all trades" rather than a specialist at one.

I recently went from a very big global company to a fairly small (but still global at 80+ countries) company where i am pocketed in my jobs, and I'm struggling to get into an even smaller company where I can get a wider exposure to more technologies, as their requirements are very demanding.

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by logantech91 In reply to Is it practical to get in ...

Getting a degree and having certifications is the best option. A majority of jobs are going to want you to have a degree and having one is only going to help you in your career. I just finished my associate???s degree with A+, MCTS net infra, MCTS AD and MCITP server admin certifications and zero experience and was able to find a good paying job in less than two weeks.

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