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  1. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Default Do security certifications make up for lack of college?

    I am thinking of skipping college for now (due to debt costs and time effort) and instead solely focusing on certs.
    If say I were to get certs like RHCE, GPEN, OSCP, CCNA, would I struggle finding an entry-level job in security? If so, what about a general IT job as say a network admin?
    I understand degrees help filter out applicants, but are there any certs which can pretty much guarantee you a decent job no matter what, even without college or experience? My end goal is to work in security.
    Thanks!
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  3. They are watching you NetworkNewb's Avatar
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    #2
    I'd guess by your comment you are still pretty young. I would go to college and suck it up now. Will only get harder to do it as you put it off more.

    Some companies will completely write you off without one, others will look down on the fact you don't have it, and the others will expect you have experience to make up for the fact you don't have one. If you just have certs with no experience I imagine it would be tough to get a job unless it was very entry level IT support.
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  4. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by NetworkNewb View Post
    I'd guess by your comment you are still pretty young. I would go to college and suck it up now. Will only get harder to do it as you put it off more.

    Some companies will completely write you off without one, others will look down on the fact you don't have it, and the others will expect you have experience to make up for the fact you don't have one. If you just have certs with no experience I imagine it would be tough to get a job unless it was very entry level IT support.
    Yes, I plan to go to college but I don't feel prepared for it now - especially for the math a computer science degree covers. I'd rather focus on certs right now and get the degree later, while working a related job so I can pay courses as I go and study more math/programming. So is starting in entry level IT and then moving up into security without college a viable option or? Is it becoming more difficult to break into the field with more college grads everyday?
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    #4
    Under 25-28 old... do a degree.. 2 years of 4 years but get a degree. After starting to work, it is so hard to get a degree while working.
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  6. Senior Member joshuamurphy75's Avatar
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    #5
    I had a hard time without a degree, but getting certs helped me to get better pay during college, so I won't say that doing them first was a bad decision.
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  7. Cisco R00t Clan Member NOC-Ninja's Avatar
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    #6
    There is a high demand of being technical. College dont teach OSCP or RHCE. CCNA are being taught on community college but nothing beats buying your own lab and TSing it on your own. You learn more by your own, watching videos, reading a book and asking qs at forums. This is better than having a debt. From there, once you get hired, make your company pay for college. Get security plus. those will help you put your foot in the door. It doesnt hurt also that you know people from the inside.
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  8. Senior Member scaredoftests's Avatar
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    #7
    No..but, experience does....
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
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  9. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOC-Ninja View Post
    There is a high demand of being technical. College dont teach OSCP or RHCE. CCNA are being taught on community college but nothing beats buying your own lab and TSing it on your own. You learn more by your own, watching videos, reading a book and asking qs at forums. This is better than having a debt. From there, once you get hired, make your company pay for college. Get security plus. those will help you put your foot in the door. It doesnt hurt also that you know people from the inside.
    That's sort of the idea I had in mind. Thanks for the tip!
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    #9
    Colleges often offer a way outdated program. Certs beat college in terms of skills and knowledge, if you ask me, plus, they totally beat college in terms of monies.
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  11. Senior Member joshuamurphy75's Avatar
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    #10
    I can agree on that. The info is much more recent and relevant, but a lot of HR people don't know that, so most jobs still want the degree.
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  12. They are watching you NetworkNewb's Avatar
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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by NOC-Ninja View Post
    There is a high demand of being technical. College dont teach OSCP or RHCE. CCNA are being taught on community college but nothing beats buying your own lab and TSing it on your own. You learn more by your own, watching videos, reading a book and asking qs at forums. This is better than having a debt. From there, once you get hired, make your company pay for college. Get security plus. those will help you put your foot in the door. It doesnt hurt also that you know people from the inside.
    This sounds great and guessing it has worked for people. But wouldn't it be hard to get a job in IT with just a couple entry level certs and no experience? I personally have not clue. Just sounds like it would be an uphill battle there and extremely hard. Someone with a college degree has shown they put in a lot more time towards a goal and should have also have done an internship or 2.

    Feel a college degrees opens so many more doors and opportunities and is something that lasts with you forever.

    Like other said, certs are better for technical knowledge and are cheaper. But so is just watching Youtube videos, reading books, and practicing topics on your own and not doing the certs at all.
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  13. Cisco R00t Clan Member NOC-Ninja's Avatar
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    #12
    I wasnt hired due to my Masters. I was hired due to my networking background. Is masters useless? Nope, I used that in salary negotiation.


    Tech skills are lacking in the workforce. College is crap. Lets be real about this. I dont know any college that will teach you real job, real work, real pen testing, deploying switches routers or wlc, deploying Nessus, splunk, tying WLC to AP to AD to ACS to MSE to PRIME, deploying WDS, WSUS, SAN, NAS, ASA, troubleshooting routing, L2 problem, MPLS, EIGRP, OSPF, deploying Vcenter, VMware, working on data center such as Nexus and the it keeps going.


    So if I can just go back. I would not take a college debt. I would use my 60k from my bachelors. Pay someone to guide me on CCIE, VMware, MCSE, RHCE, OSCP and CISSP. Help me build a lab and really learn it. I bet you its cheaper that way and you get paid more.


    Look at all these college grad. They are in debt unless their parents are rich and backed them up. So lets say they are 30-60k in debt. THey have no clue what to do once they get hired. You have to train them. Youll be lucky to find a decent guy with a cert and real knowledge.
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    #13
    I’m not saying college is amazing and teaches everything. And will definitely agree technical skills are lacking. I’m just referring to how it looks to employers and on actually getting a job.

    I thought the OP didn’t even have a bachelors degree though. You had experience so your Masters didn’t matter as much. Unless I’m mistaken the OP does not have any experience. Which is why a degree would mean completely different in his case when it comes to his career and job opportunities. Not saying there aren’t better ways to gain technical skills in particular areas.
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  15. Senior Member mbarrett's Avatar
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    #14
    College will serve you much better in the long run. If you really feel that you must enter the workforce immediately, then by all means get your cert of short-term knowledge (which will be mostly obsolete in a couple years) and get your foot in the door someplace - but think about getting the degree eventually. It won't teach you the same thing as the certs do (unless it's WGU, which is basically some certs packaged as a college degree) but it will show others that you are disciplined, can effectively manage time, think critically and teach you how to learn, and also the opportunity to make social connections that might last for many years.
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  16. Burn Baby Burn! Cisco Inferno's Avatar
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    #15
    yeah for someone like you, college will teach you things you dont learn in the workforce.

    To add on what mbarrett mentions, college teaches you how to fail, how to take criticism, how to work on teams, how to deal with multi part projects with various people involved, how to listen and take notes, how to present, etc.

    You do not want to be that smart guy who cant hold a convo with a regular joe.

    Do us all a favor and learn people skills, whether or not if its from college.


    I would be lying if I were to say most of us here went to college and then the workforce.
    A vast majority of us got certed up, and then joined the workforce, THEN figured out college. Most are doing work AND school.
    Its just that it wasnt advanced infosec certs.

    This thread could take a turn if we were to discuss entering the cyber field as a noob. Lots of various views there.
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    #16
    A lot of the value of college is in the intangibles...communication skills, time management, etc...versus certifications that give you the operational know how.

    Do you really think you are going to get better at math and be more prepared by not practicing and just going into the workforce? If anything you will get worse...you are in the school mode now so unless you have some circumstance that is forcing you into the workforce, college makes more sense. You can always go to a community college for a couple years and then transfer to a 4 year program to keep costs down. That way you get the basic prerequisite courses complete for low cost and possibly can study for a certification or two in the process.

    College is much harder if you are working...it doesn’t matter if you go back for a bachelors or masters or PhD...it’s a ton of time investment and in 5-10 years when you are “ready” you might have a lot of different things going on in your life that make it significantly harder.
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  18. Explore_Dream_Discover TechGuy215's Avatar
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    #17
    You also have to consider your long-term goals when making this assessment. If you'd like to enter executive leadership one day, i.e. CISO, VP, etc... a college degree will definitely open more doors vs. someone with a high school diploma and a few certifications.
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  19. Achieve excellence daily
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    #18
    Quote Originally Posted by TechGuru80 View Post
    A lot of the value of college is in the intangibles...communication skills, time management, etc...versus certifications that give you the operational know how.

    Do you really think you are going to get better at math and be more prepared by not practicing and just going into the workforce? If anything you will get worse...you are in the school mode now so unless you have some circumstance that is forcing you into the workforce, college makes more sense. You can always go to a community college for a couple years and then transfer to a 4 year program to keep costs down. That way you get the basic prerequisite courses complete for low cost and possibly can study for a certification or two in the process.

    College is much harder if you are working...it doesn’t matter if you go back for a bachelors or masters or PhD...it’s a ton of time investment and in 5-10 years when you are “ready” you might have a lot of different things going on in your life that make it significantly harder.

    This is what I cam here to post...read this one again, carefully.
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    #19
    I won't say it would be impossible for me to go through the motions of starting a four year degree at my current age (late 30's) with a wife, three kids, house, bills, aging parents, etc. But it would be pretty darn close. I have to sacrifice so much just to study for certs at this point in my life that sometimes I don't think the trade off is even worth it anymore. And the energy level just isn't the same as it was as a whippersnapper in my early 20's.

    Not to say I wouldn't love to go back to school and say get a masters. I was born to be a student. But is it is infinitely harder the longer you wait.
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    #20
    The math portion of most Computer Science programs is negligible compared to say 20 years ago when the degree was a math degree with access to computers. Go read up on your up to date syllabi.

    I do believe you will be better served with a broad degree in CS than anything else as somethings never seem to go out of style - whether its CS or pants. Still around in 20 or 30 years and will serve you well.

    Going the cert only route is going to pigeonhole you into very specific roles better serviced by robots and Shakespear's monkey's typing away on an infinite number of keyboards.

    Time to get ready for college and all the responsibilities or allow others to manage your career for you.

    - b/eads
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    #21
    Quote Originally Posted by beads View Post
    The math portion of most Computer Science programs is negligible compared to say 20 years ago when the degree was a math degree with access to computers. Go read up on your up to date syllabi.

    I do believe you will be better served with a broad degree in CS than anything else as somethings never seem to go out of style - whether its CS or pants. Still around in 20 or 30 years and will serve you well.

    Going the cert only route is going to pigeonhole you into very specific roles better serviced by robots and Shakespear's monkey's typing away on an infinite number of keyboards.

    Time to get ready for college and all the responsibilities or allow others to manage your career for you.

    - b/eads
    That coincides when I was getting my undergrad. I worked for Computer Services alongside a lot of CS majors and they were taking Calc I, Calc II, and Discrete Structures before they could take a single CS class. I've kept in touch with some of these people and even those whose math wasn't capable of passing these courses are working in IT in Dev/Ops or technical project management.
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    #22
    I think you should reconsider a few of your underlying assumptions.

    1. You don't need to get a computer science degree, in reality any degree with certs will do.
    2. Even if you did want a CS degree, the effort to learn the math is really not that hard in the grand scheme of things. In comparison to the laundry list of certs you listed (RHCE, GPEN, OSCP, CCNA), learning the math could be arguably easier.

    You should consider the following however:
    A. Chances are if you skip college now, its unlikely you will start later down the road. Life happens.

    B. You would be fighting an uphill battle. Damn near every young person has it drilled from a young age that they need to get a degree. You will be in the minority with no bachelors, when some of your peers with have a combination of bachelors,masters, certs, and experience. Some will have all four, and they will undoubtably be paid better than you.

    C. What are your long term goals? If you ever want to manage people, then the degree will hold value.

    D. Degrees hold small short term value, and but high long term value. As you ascend in the ranks of your career, you will find it harder to get to the highest positions/salary.

    E. You may hate IT and have to move into another industry. Other industries will not be so forgiving that you have no education.

    My point is not to discourage you from trying to enter the field, only to point out how things actually are in the real world. I believe anyone can get an entry level job, even without a degree. That doesn't mean it will be easy. I should also point out my wife works in HR, and on occasion I get to look at resumes with her. A lot of people on this forum seem to think all HR people are idiots, and somehow they are the reason they can't find a job. The truth is there will always be someone out there better than you who has the same level of experience, and a degree or two to boot.
    Last edited by emek; 01-31-2018 at 10:49 PM.
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  24. Senior Member
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    #23
    My eyes are bleeding from all that bold text.
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  25. Completely Clueless TechGromit's Avatar
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    #24
    Quote Originally Posted by kaze39 View Post
    I understand degrees help filter out applicants, but are there any certs which can pretty much guarantee you a decent job no matter what, even without college or experience?
    Yes, No, Maybe. College certainly doesn't guarantee you you'll get a job, but it tends to make you more desirable, since some companies will not even consider someone without a college degree. And in other companies they don't care either way, generally experience trumps a degree or certs. In most companies you'll not be able to advance to the rank of manger or above without a degree, but it's still possible to advance to a manger level position in some companies, but rarely into a senior manager or director level and above. Certifications certainly help you obtain employment, especially if you don't have experience.

    In short you can get a secure job paying 150k a year in security with experience and certifications without ever going to college, and have a very secure future, but there will always be those few companies who look at you as human garbage because you never got a degree, and never get hired there.
    Last edited by TechGromit; 02-01-2018 at 02:43 AM.
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    #25
    Oh man, I can't imagine trying to get into IT without a degree in my area. So many require the degree, in ANYTHING, just to get in the door.

    But that aside, pretty sure hard math shouldn't be the deterrent. I feel like people forget, but schools have plenty of stuff to help. I would've struggled a ton with my basic algebra in college, but I used the available resources. Office hours with the instructor, visiting the math lab where they pay students with workstudy jobs to help other students with math topics. If math is your weakness, you just have to be dedicated to spending more time on your weakness.

    Like others have said, going back to school after starting work/real life, it's much harder. While I'm working on a graduate certificate and will start a full masters program this fall or next spring, most of those programs are specialized and fit better with a professional life. The undergrad is broad; it's much easier for me to sit down in the evenings and study something related to my job, it would be much harder to sit down and do calculus after working all day. Writing essays for English comp class. Reading/writing about government. Lots of broad, dry stuff.
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