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How much education, and or training do you typically need to work in IT?

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18 answers

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Dexter’s Answer

Hey Ralph,

I think it depends on what you want to do in IT.

I got hired at my company not because of my degree, but because I had worked a part time job for two years during college. I also had knowledge about Linux and Windows because I had tinkered with them growing up (I was just curious). I know a lot of managers who do care about degrees, but I know many that don't care about that at all, so it all depends. I started my career in help desk/desktop support, then transitioned into web development (which I had picked up in high school and college).

As for what you want to do in IT and how that relates, I had friends who worked as network engineers at my company and they first had internships while attending a community college, and then were able to become successful network engineers even though they only had an associates degree. I do think this is uncommon though, as most people I know working in networking do have bachelor's degrees.

If you're looking for a desktop support or system administrator job, this is a field where having a degree matters far less. It's just more about, are you knowledgeable about the technologies you're supporting, do you communicate well with people, and can you work under pressure.

If you're looking at a program manager role, you should probably get a degree of some sort. I don't know any program managers who didn't graduate from college with some kind of degree. Like wise, from my experience, most web developers and analysts, have degrees.

Anyways, I hope you find out who you are and find the job that fits you best. Best of luck!

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Mitchell’s Answer

I do IT work for the Navy but I've also known many people in the private sector, where I'll be moving in a couple years. To answer your question, it depends on what specific work you want to do, and what you have to show your knowledge. For most people, that would be a degree and a couple IT certifications. If you can't afford school, but you have a crazy work ethic, study habits, and a couple years of stable time you can spend studying, you can get some pretty advanced certs. While A+ and Security+ are pretty standard nowadays, getting Linux+ or CISSP/CASP could very well get you into hiring rooms that wouldn't normally take a non-college graduate. If you can gain skills on your own, you could develop some kind of portfolio as well. There are a ton of volunteer opportunities for database managers, and if you like to code, getting a Python cert or two and building a project portfolio with that would be the icing on the cake.

If you have the time to get big-time certs, maybe throw a little coding knowledge to help show that you're well-rounded and passionate about computers as a whole, and get some hands-on work through online volunteering, you'll definitely get in the door. And once you're hired, you'll climb the latter in no time.

Good luck!

Mitchell recommends the following next steps:

Start piling on the certs, and get as high up as humanly possible in your timeframe: https://www.comptia.org/certifications
If you're into code, Python Institute offers certs, and full courses to help you prepare for free: https://pythoninstitute.org/
Get some experience through volunteering. Here's some virtual volunteer opportunities for IT folks like us: https://www.volunteermatch.org/virtual-volunteering/Computers%20&%20Technology

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Zohreh’s Answer

I worked with some very famous companies (including Cisco) without a bachelor degree. I did a associate degree in city college but while doing it went above and beyond and worked on my own to get some Cisco certificates. Certificates are important but more important than them or having a degree, is that you show that you know what you are talking about, if you are good at troubleshooting and setting up of new technologies, whether system admin skills or network admin skills you will be hired, maybe in the beginning in the smaller companies but then you can show your talent and move up. Of course if you have the chance of doing a bachelor or a masters degree that would be awesome and you will for sure land a good company, but I mentioned my story to tell you that if you do not have the opportunity to go to a university, it is by no means the end. In IT it all comes to your motivation to learn more and more on your own and then you can put that in your resume and show your talent during interviews and get hired. That's what I did :) Good luck!

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Mike’s Answer

Hello Ralph.

While advanced education (i.e. college degree) is preferred, as a hiring manager, I typically look for 5-10 years practical experience in a related field of IT to either complement, or offset, a college degree. The experience in the field is invaluable, as it not only starts to teach the prospect about how to apply skills learned in college, it helps reinforce soft-skills needed for communicating within a team and supervisor, and it instills a sense of confidence & creativity needed for real-world application of the IT knowledge.

Additionally, hiring managers will also look for initiative, and continued education (e.g. certifications) within your field of interest. For IT, I have taken, and encourage others to take, courses offered through Udemy (https://www.udemy.com/) and Udacity (https://www.udacity.com/), or even W3 School (https://www.w3schools.com/). W3 Schools is where I first got into web page design – its free, has examples, and has a multitude of other resource links to start drilling down into areas that interest you from a software/coding perspective. Bottom line, always continue reading, learning, and sharpening your skills!

Hope this helps! Good luck – you got this!

Mike recommends the following next steps:

Review Udemy (https://www.udemy.com/)
Review Udacity (https://www.udacity.com/)
Review W3 School (https://www.w3schools.com/)

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Ernie’s Answer

Great question, but it is as anything in life is. It depends on what you want in life. I have seen individuals get a minimum technical school certificate and live a great life. I also have seen others who have achieved Bachelor's, Master's and Doctorate's degrees. I achieved an Associate's Degree, Bachelor's Degree, and Master's Degree. Each degree advanced my career, responsibilities, and salary. I loved my career and enjoyed every day. Success in life is in the eye of the beholder. My Associate's degree was in Technical Engineering, my Bachelor's Degree was in Mechanical Engineering, my Master's degree was in Industrial Engineering. I would suggest that someone looking to make a career in IT shoot for at least a Bachelor's Degree and look for a company that will reimburse them for getting a Master's Degree and/or Doctorate Degree. When I started I had no idea what I really wanted to do in Engineering. I took Mechanical Engineering to be more of a generalist. I started out working for Westinghouse for a year in a graduate placement and training job and did not find it a fit for me. They were grooming me for management. I left without a job which was a bad idea. I landed a job with a Phoenix Steel as a Roll Shop Supervisor in a recession period. It did not last 6 months before the company went belly up. I then landed a job with Campbell Soup for 3 years which I loved, but the 1-hour commute was terrible in the winter snow. I can remember a 5 hour commute home one night which made me look for a new job. I then landed a job with General Electric, which became Martin Marrietta and then Lockheed Martin. 35 years later I was a Chief System of System IT Architect and Lockheed Martin Fellow. My career took many twists and turns. I learned and adapted as I went. I stepped up and volunteered and took the big challenges in front of me. It was fun and I would do it all again. I have no regrets. Get at least a Bachelor's Degree and stretch your imagination with what you can do and don't be afraid to volunteer and see how far you can go. Learn to work hard and play hard.

Ernie recommends the following next steps:

Get that Bachelor's Degree with a company that will pay for further eductation
Accept new challenges in job assignments, learn how to work hard, excel and play hard
Determine what interests you with your current job and position your self for advancement
Get an advanced degree on your company's nickel to advance your career
Enjoy every day of your life. Life is short enjoy what you do every day of your life.

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Shaun’s Answer

Great question, Ralph! The IT industry is vast and I can't speak for all areas of it. But I can tell you more about what we look for when we hire a service technician to work at our business. I work at a Managed Service Provider. Basically, companies and organizations pay us to be their "IT department" because it's much cheaper than hiring their own people to do it. Technicians who work at a Managed Service Provider need to have a versatile skill set. They need to know PC hardware, operating systems (especially Windows) for both PCs and servers, Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, databases, popular online services (Zoom, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc). It has also become necessary that they understand and are committed to the security of our clients.

If you're interested in starting a career in IT service (whether it's for an MSP or an in-house IT department), you don't need college. You need experience. College is expensive and can leave you drowning in debt for decades. If a job candidate at my company has an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree, that's fine. I don't hold it against them. If they were to have a higher degree than that, it leads me to wonder why they're applying for a service technician job instead of a specialist job related to their high-level degree's field of study. If you have a scholarship or some other way that your college will be paid for without you incurring debt, then go for it. Otherwise, get a CompTIA A+ certification and a Network+ certification at a minimum. A low-level Cisco certification is nice. Security+ is an enormous advantage.

If you start out knowing absolutely nothing about IT, give yourself 8 months to study for the A+ certification. Of course, if you're not ready for the exam after 8 months, give yourself more time. Give yourself 5 months to study for the Network+ certification. You don't need as long to study for that because you'll learn the very basics of networking while studying for the A+ exam. I don't know how Cisco structures their low level certifications these days. You might need one or two exams. But give yourself 6 months for each Cisco exam assuming you've already completed A+ and Network+. If you haven't completed A+ and Network+ and you want a Cisco certification, give yourself at least 14 months. But I recommend getting Network+ and A+ first. It would be difficult to earn a Cisco cert without a solid foundation of knowledge before you begin studying. Security+ is hard. If you're going to buckle down and really study every day, give yourself 6 months. You may be able to study some of these concurrently. Maybe you can study for A+ and Network+ at the same time. But it's really going to consume your life. And for all of these certs, you need to get your hands on some relevant equipment and work with it. When I earned my A+ certification, I built my own computer. That was tremendously helpful towards learning the material.

When hiring somebody, I want to see that they can work independently. I'm very busy. I don't want them calling me for help on every service ticket they work. It's fine if they don't know everything. That's what Google is for. They just need to know enough to understand what to Google. I've been working in this industry and with this company since I was a young teenager and I still use Google almost every day. Who can remember the syntax of every Powershell command, for example? They also need to project confidence. Customers are often anxious when they have an IT issue. They may be worried they're going to lose all the work saved on their computer. The customer should feel better when they talk to the technician. They should feel that the technician knows what they're doing and will do the job right. A nervous technician will seem inexperienced to the customer. Oh, and IT service really isn't just a job. For most of us, it's a lifestyle. You're never off the clock. There's always plenty of work to do. You just kind of live your life around that. So I need a technician who understands that they will need to work tickets on evenings and weekends. This isn't the case for every IT job though. There are some companies, organizations and especially government agencies out there where you'll really only work eight hours a day. But for service technicians at MSPs, the job never ends. In fact, I need to wrap this up because a ticket just came in and I need to go work it.

I hope this was helpful, Bryan.

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Brendan’s Answer

The answer to this question can vary wildly.

Typically, most of my peers have Bachelors degrees (all have at least Associates degrees), and all have completed at least a couple professional certifications.

I personally have completed a B.S in Networking and Systems Administration and a couple Cisco certifications. During school I worked doing software development and completed some tool specific certifications for that role. All of this has lead to my current position working for a large network technology company.

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Tosif’s Answer

Basic knowledge of computer and bachelor degree in CS should help you to get into IT.

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Bhabani’s Answer

There are two essential things which are required to get an jo in IT Sector. One is you need to be an graduate which is either B. SC or B. E/B.tech(most preferably) and the second thing is you need to be very good in communicating with others. Communication skills should be enough if you are looking for an customer support kind of jobs. If you want to settle in as software developer or consultant then you need to have complete knowledge of various programming language such as Java,Sql,PHP,C++ etc.

Certification is not mandatory but you have it will add the plus point in your career.

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Roohan’s Answer

Bachelors degree in IT or CS along with strong knowledge of the field that you want to work in. For example, if you want to work in programing field, you need to have a degree in CS (preferably) and make sure you are good with programming languages like Java, Python, C, C++.

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Tosif’s Answer

Basic knowledge of computer and bachelor degree in CS should help you to get into IT.

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Laeba’s Answer

I would say it really depends on the country you're based in.

For example, I am based in Sydney, Australia and here people can easily get an IT job just by doing 6 months certifications or a year of diploma.

It is different for other countries I believe, where a bachelor's degree along with industry certifications is required to get an offer letter.

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Manu’s Answer

Basic graduate degree will be fair enough for a decent position. for a start.

Other than academics, soft skills matters a lot and determine how you thrive in the career.

EQ/Team work/Collaboration/how to deal pressure/communication, etc

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Nagendra’s Answer

Basically you require a bachelor degree in Engg. once you are in then the path is set. You will need to focus on additional crash course to develop your skills.

Also going through the IEEE papers will help you and provide an insight of what needs to be focussed and you can develop your area of interest to build your career in that area.

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Sara’s Answer

IT isn’t my wheelhouse, but the folks I know working successfully in the IT industry have at a minimum a bachelors degree and several certificates.

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Rahul’s Answer

You will need a bachelors degree in any of your desired stream in IT and couple of certifications to gain and prove the knowledge.
Now it depends on how you would accomplish those certifications, by studying on your own or enrolling yourself for training courses.
You would certainly require time and money to pursue the knowledge and henceforth.

According to me we cannot say which is the best course to get an IT job instead it all depends on the passion of the respective individual.
For instance some are passionate to art, this helps to create some interesting web pages and we call it as UI development for websites. one can think in this way.
Some of them have fantasy to work on databases so they choose courses like Oracle, MySql etc. to work with and start career.
And most of them have interest to develop the applications and play, perform magics with strong programming skills. Let us say java, dot net, php, python...

Note: Each and every course take you to land in a good job but the only thing is the interest and commitment towards it and later crack the interviews.

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karthik’s Answer


Education : It depends on the company, Some companies look for Graduates and some companies give opportunity who are diploma with good technology skill.

Training : Training and certificates are good to have for freshers , even if you are self learner better to have certifications.

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Patricia R’s Answer

Others who have responded have good advice; I’ll just add another perspective.

If you are uncertain about furthering your education after secondary school/high school, and/or you’re hesitant about jumping into student loans (if you and your family are not fabulously wealthy!), spend some time investigation your options.

If you have a general idea of your career goals, find someone who already has that type of job. Generally, people like talking about themselves, and many will respond positively when you ask.

• Ask people who enjoy their jobs.
o Why do they like it?
o What were some of the challenges to getting, and keeping, that particular job?
o Would they do anything differently if they got a do-over?

• Ask someone who *doesn’t* like their job.
o Why do they dislike it?
o Did they like it when they first started the job?
o How has it changed?
o What would they do differently in a do-over?

• Ask about their educational preparation.
o Was it practical or too academic (in their opinion)?
o How helpful was the added time in school?
o How often have they continued to update their tech knowledge and skills?
o Who pays for it?

An important issue to keep in the front of your plan, is that all things technological change rapidly, and upkeep is an *absolutely* essential component of IT as a career choice.

Use the information you've gathered to inform your decision about your educational future. Good hunting!