Degree vs Certification

When I first thought about going into the IT field back in the late 90's, everyone was telling me that all I need to do is get certified and I will make at least $60,000 a year. And the top 3 certifications I thought about were Microsoft MSCE, Cisco CCNA and Comptia A+. So, I listened and began going to Seminole Community College to study the current (at the time) Microsoft track because they offered 2 year degrees working toward certifications. No way did I have the money to pay for an MCSE bootcamp.

So technically, I was doing both, getting a degree and studying for a certification within the degree itself. I continued for the next 4 yrs taking basically every MCSE related course and 6 semesters of Cisco course content as well. And while I did manage to get my MCP in Windows NT Workstation (yeah, I know, but I did say the late 90's), I would still have to take 6 more certification tests to become MCSE. No money = No test taking. Each test cost around $100-125 per test. At the time, I could not continue to finish my certifications. Their were other students in my same position. But it did help get me a job in the IT field beginning at the IT help desk level. After about 4 months of that, while still studying and learning more about Windows NT/2000/XP and Cisco, I got promoted to a Desktop Support Technician where I am currently at level 3 now.

So what am I getting at....unfortunately, without a degree or an actual current certification (my MCP actually expired a few years ago), I probably will not get promoted again. Yes, I do work for a government agency and I've discovered that its even harder to get promoted because a degree or certification is still a big part of what's needed to apply to most agencies. There are people where I work, who have a 4 year degree that have basically walked into their promotion knowing.....yup, nothing about the new position. Which, in my opinion can be good or bad. If employers are just looking to give someone with a degree a chance to make a name for themselves...but if someone without a degree or maybe has a certification or two but still no degree is better qualified for the position, that person should be hired. But it all depends on the agency's employment policies.

So, its come down to this for me....go back to school and finish my degree in Computer Networking, or start studying for Microsoft and Cisco again.

Continue reading to see what I decided to do about getting a degree or certification.


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