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OHN

join:2003-02-05
Appleton, WI
kudos:1

1 edit

What Specialization Would You Choose Now?

Hello everyone,

I have a question for all of you. If you had to do it over again, would you select a different specialization than the one you are doing now?

I have 15+ years in the tech world now. I am an autodidact so I do not have a degree or certifications. As I mentioned in a prior thread, I am a jack-of-all trades, master of none. Although I am up in age now (37), I am considering going to school to get a degree. If you had to do it over, what specialization would you choose? I was very interested in computer forensics for a while. I love information technology so no matter what I pick, I would be happy doing. What would you do?


ke4pym
Premium
join:2004-07-24
Charlotte, NC

Work towards an MBA.

Or if you're still interested in Forensics, look towards a CISSP and related education.


tomdlgns
Premium
join:2003-03-21
Chicago, IL
kudos:1
reply to OHN

tough choice for me. i like it all, but after being in a position that does a little bit of everything, i probably would have focused on one thing and tried my best to master it.

one of these:

-exchange admin
-cisco networking
-virtualization



JB
Stay Gold
Premium
join:2009-05-14
kudos:1

Second Cisco Networking.



DarkLogix
Texan and Proud
Premium
join:2008-10-23
Baytown, TX
kudos:3

3rd Cisco Networking



Brano
I hate Vogons
Premium,MVM
join:2002-06-25
Burlington, ON
kudos:10

1 recommendation

reply to OHN

Dentist.


OHN

join:2003-02-05
Appleton, WI
kudos:1
reply to OHN

Thanks for the feedback guys. I do see Cisco is up there.


OHN

join:2003-02-05
Appleton, WI
kudos:1
reply to Brano

Funny, I was considering being a dentist when I was in high school.



Nightfall
My Goal Is To Deny Yours
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join:2001-08-03
Grand Rapids, MI
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reply to OHN

I focused on infrastructure in college. Servers and networking was my bread and butter when I graduated, but I also had great customer service skills. Those customer service skills put me in jobs where I could interact with people. So not only was I providing support, but also working on the infrastructure and servers. I guess you could consider me a "Jack of all trades" as well. There really is nothing wrong with that either.

Look at the way IT has progressed in the last 15 years. Specialists can find jobs just as easily as Jack of all Trades can. The difference is where you work. Most specialists are consultants or work for very large firms. Most Jack of all Trades are working for small to medium sized companies where flexibility is king.

Personally, I have always found that people who have a very diverse skill set have better employment prospects. Sure, the guy that knows VMWare inside out and backwards may be a master at what he does, but those jobs not as numerous as the small to medium sized companies looking for someone who has seen and done many things.

I have also found that if you can not only work on technology, but also work with users, then the world is your oyster. Many IT people have issues with training users or working with people for one reason or another. There are jobs for those people, but the IT professionals who have super people skills are not as common and in higher demand.

If I was doing it all over again in your shoes, I would get a college degree and certifications. Those are the two things that are really holding you back in your career. The degree especially since that opens doors for you. The certifications also help because it shows that you know what you know. The certs are not as important as the degree, but still hold value in the job market, especially when you get up to the CISSP.

As for me, if I had to do it all over again, I would stay right where I am. I think specializing in one thing is boring. I have my CCNA, a couple MCP's, A+, Security+, and a few other certs. I love the ability to sit down and work on a Cisco router, but then switch gears and work on VMWare. Am I a master at either one? No. I don't need to be one either. I also like switching it up to help people when the rest of the people on my team need a helping hand.
--
My domain - Nightfall.net



DarkLogix
Texan and Proud
Premium
join:2008-10-23
Baytown, TX
kudos:3

if I did it over again I would have focused more on school and less on work.

Gotten my degree and certs
I would go for A+, Net+, iNet+, CCNA, and CCNP plus a Microsoft cert.

As it is I focused on work and am now at a job that they'll reimburse me for going to college if my grades are good enough.

The upside is I have 7 years work experience in the field of IT.
--
»Death Star Petition


OHN

join:2003-02-05
Appleton, WI
kudos:1
reply to Nightfall

Thank you so much. Great feedback.


OHN

join:2003-02-05
Appleton, WI
kudos:1
reply to DarkLogix

I agree. I think with my real world experiance AND a degree and certs, I will be a better candidate and also have more doors open to me.

So far Cisco and Security certs appear to be the top. Found some info on Project Management certs as well.

I am very excited. Works does reimbruse me for going to school up to a certain amount.



NotTheMama
What Would Earl Do?

join:2012-12-06
reply to OHN

said by OHN:

If you had to do it over again, would you select a different specialization

No.

Of course, I didn't so much pick my career path as it did me. I went back to school to study programming (because I didn't want to spend the rest of my life working in a tennis shop and stringing tennis rackets--fun stuff but didn't pay all that well). One of my instructors had a guy working for him who had a position, so they offered me a job; part-time funded became part-time hourly became full-time hourly became full-time permanent and that led to real promotions. Even though all of my jobs since have had "analyst" or "engineer" in the title and I've gotten to do precious little programming, coding is still what I'd prefer over anything else... except I'd still pick the better-paying job that offers a little programming now and then over the pure programming job that doesn't pay nearly as well. The only change I'd really make is to have gotten into it 10 years earlier than I did (even though that would have meant coding sheets and punch cards for much of that next 10 years--something I chose not to do at that 10-years-earlier time when I had the chance [just didn't know how much fun it would turn out to be]).
--
"...but ya doesn't hasta call me Johnson!"


workablob

join:2004-06-09
Houston, TX
kudos:3
Reviews:
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reply to OHN

I too am primarily an autodidact. I have a few old MS certs but could not care less about them now.

Somehow I have managed to get in the door at a few great places and love it where I am at. almost 8 years as IT Admin at my current employer with not intention of getting out of it.

The jack-of-all-trades moniker suits me just fine.

And, it's much less boring for me than doing one thing really well.

Dave
--
I may have been born yesterday. But it wasn't at night.



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19
reply to OHN

If I had to do it all over again, I would have taken programming much more seriously than I did. I messed around with various languages, but I should have made that my passion over everything else.

Other than that, I am very pleased with the Linux exposure I've had and how it got me where I am now.

I could never recommend college to anyone wanting to enter into the computer field with how much it costs... not right out of high school. Teach kids by middle school how to write code and watch it flourish in high school into something that lands them a job.

If someone were to go to college today, I'd recommend waiting until they could pay for it themself via night school, get a scholarship right out of high school, or have it paid by a future employer. I could never recommend them paying for it full blast via student loans.

Force a kid to grow up with Linux and write some code and they'll never have a problem getting a job.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



DarkLogix
Texan and Proud
Premium
join:2008-10-23
Baytown, TX
kudos:3

Well when I was right out of high school I could have had a pell grant fully cover college, but part way through I was deemed to make to much to qualify.
--
»Death Star Petition



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

It is extremely difficult to just make blanket statements that has one-size-fits-all. You have to take into consideration that the person you're giving advice to has to be motivated enough to actually get themselves in the field.

I think some people forget that most important part. Many people don't even want to put in the effort to get to where we are.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



Nightfall
My Goal Is To Deny Yours
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join:2001-08-03
Grand Rapids, MI
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said by Archivis:

It is extremely difficult to just make blanket statements that has one-size-fits-all. You have to take into consideration that the person you're giving advice to has to be motivated enough to actually get themselves in the field.

I think some people forget that most important part. Many people don't even want to put in the effort to get to where we are.

You are 100% correct on this statement for sure.

As for college, there is nothing wrong with it. I worked my way through college and graduated with 2k in student loan debt. That took 2 years of working as a Resident Advisor in the residence halls where I could get free room and board for doing the job. Then 2 internships on top of that in the summers. Then a part time job where I would work 20 hours a week in the computer labs. With the RA job that took me to about 40 hours a week and I was going to school full time as well.

College was much more affordable back then. Today, there are many junior level colleges that are much more affordable and many offer scholarships. If I couldn't make it like I did before, I would have went to work full time and found an employer who would pay for my schooling.

The college degree really is a major factor in earning potential. I would never skip out on it.
--
My domain - Nightfall.net


Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

Not everyone is graduating with 2k in student loan debt. 2k is nothing. There are a swarm of people who are graduating with 6-figure student loan debt. The mass protests of the "1%" stuff demonstrated that.

There's nothing wrong with college if you can keep it from crushing you in debt. We've had the college conversations before, but even without a college degree, there's nothing stopping an individual from achieving an IT position that doesn't eventually lead into a six-figure income.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK



Nightfall
My Goal Is To Deny Yours
Premium,MVM
join:2001-08-03
Grand Rapids, MI
Reviews:
·ooma
·Comcast
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said by Archivis:

Not everyone is graduating with 2k in student loan debt. 2k is nothing. There are a swarm of people who are graduating with 6-figure student loan debt. The mass protests of the "1%" stuff demonstrated that.

There's nothing wrong with college if you can keep it from crushing you in debt. We've had the college conversations before, but even without a college degree, there's nothing stopping an individual from achieving an IT position that doesn't eventually lead into a six-figure income.

The big difference was that I graduated in 1997, and I also chose a major that I could do something with when I got out.

Also, there are many universities out there that you can go to school at and not get even 50k of student loan debt. Many people say 6 figures because that was what was thrown around on TV during those protests.

»www.usnews.com/education/best-co···colleges

Yup, you and I have had these conversations before, and I agree that there is no one stopping an individual from achieving an IT position. The issue is that the "6 figure income" you talk about is much much harder to achieve without the degree than with one. Achievable without a degree though? Yes, but the road is not easy.
--
My domain - Nightfall.net


Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

I'll be hitting you up for information when my kids reach an age to prep for college.



Nightfall
My Goal Is To Deny Yours
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join:2001-08-03
Grand Rapids, MI
Reviews:
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said by Archivis:

I'll be hitting you up for information when my kids reach an age to prep for college.

Your kids are what, about 14 years from college? By then I will be 54 and an old grumpy man. You won't want my advice by then.
--
My domain - Nightfall.net

OHN

join:2003-02-05
Appleton, WI
kudos:1
reply to Archivis

Hahahah I did that with my son. I installed Ubuntu on his machine. Now he has a dual boot but does spend a lot of time on the Linux side.



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19
reply to Nightfall

My oldest is 11.



DarkLogix
Texan and Proud
Premium
join:2008-10-23
Baytown, TX
kudos:3

said by Archivis:

My oldest is 11.

Push them to start college early.
Take AP classes.
etc.
--
»Death Star Petition


exocet_cm
Free at last, free at last
Premium
join:2003-03-23
New Orleans, LA
kudos:3
reply to OHN

Autodidact FTW!

I started working, as in getting paid, in IT support in 2005. Started college in 2006. I dropped out of college and joined the police department in 2008. Became a violent crimes detective July of 2010. Moved to a detective's slot in our computer forensics unit in March of 2012 investigating (read: hacking, cracking, processing, analyzing) cellular devices. No formal education. Been to a few cellular investigation training classes but find myself bored as hell (not tooting my own horn but I seem to know more than what the class is teaching and every "advanced" class I attend I'm still bored and asking for harder/more intensive work).

I still work in IT but only in a contract type situation managing the servers in our data center for the police department and I volunteer with a non-profit. It keeps the IT side of me happy while I work my regular forensics job.

If I had to do it over again? I'd do what I'm doing. I'm still young (26) so there is time for me to change/move to something else if I want. I really want to learn Cisco network (wired and wireless).
--
"All newspaper editorial writers ever do is come down from the hills after the battle is over and shoot the wounded." - Bruce Anderson
"I have often regretted my speech, never my silence." - Xenocrates



Modus
I hate smartassery on forums
Premium
join:2005-05-02
us
reply to OHN

I would do something in the medical field so i could have a bigger impact on peoples lives.
--
Think Ahead. Learn More. Solve Now!


Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL
reply to OHN

»schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2···rysearch

"Higher education is approaching bubble status. The costs have risen rapidly, beyond the ability of most families to pay. Debt is being taken on at unprecedented levels and in an economic climate that is not providing the high-paying jobs necessary for that debt to be retired. At the same time, employers complain of a skills gap: the inability to hire employees with the skills needed to perform these new technologically demanding jobs."

We need more trades and apprenticeship in tech IT and need move away from the Idea of 4 year+ degrees.

Also IT work should not be lumped into CS.



Nightfall
My Goal Is To Deny Yours
Premium,MVM
join:2001-08-03
Grand Rapids, MI
Reviews:
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said by Joe12345678:

»schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2···rysearch

"Higher education is approaching bubble status. The costs have risen rapidly, beyond the ability of most families to pay. Debt is being taken on at unprecedented levels and in an economic climate that is not providing the high-paying jobs necessary for that debt to be retired. At the same time, employers complain of a skills gap: the inability to hire employees with the skills needed to perform these new technologically demanding jobs."

We need more trades and apprenticeship in tech IT and need move away from the Idea of 4 year+ degrees.

Also IT work should not be lumped into CS.

While I agree to a certain extent, there are two issues with that blog.

First, there are many colleges out there where you can get a quality 4 year education for under 40k.

Secondly, while there is a need for skilled IT people, there is also a need for educated and skilled IT people. In order to excel in IT, there needs to be skills also in reading, writing, basic math, public speaking, project management, and so on.

What we need are more trades and apprenticeship opportunities in IT that lead to basic technical jobs. The company I work for now needs jobs filled for printer techs badly, and its hard to find good techs these days.

At the same time, IT cannot afford to abandon the college route. If anything, colleges should be looking to augment their offerings to make college more appealing. I am teaching a class right now on network design at Davenport University. We are not only writing proposals, but doing full network designs and involving other IT managers and companies at the same time. We need less teachers who don't know technology teaching these classes and more IT Managers and technical people pushing and teaching students.
--
My domain - Nightfall.net


Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19
reply to Joe12345678

said by Joe12345678:

"Higher education is approaching bubble status. The costs have risen rapidly, beyond the ability of most families to pay. Debt is being taken on at unprecedented levels and in an economic climate that is not providing the high-paying jobs necessary for that debt to be retired. At the same time, employers complain of a skills gap: the inability to hire employees with the skills needed to perform these new technologically demanding jobs."

And I'm frequently seeing college grads who have no idea how to do a job that their degree says they're qualified for. How can you spend four years getting a degree in something and not know how to do basic tasks.

We interviewed folks who didn't understand what a subnet mask was. I just don't see people getting their money's worth out of their degrees with the costs.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK