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Old February 9th, 2013, 06:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default IT Qualifications

Not sure if this is the right place to post this but here goes :

I am a A Level student, and I've already done 2 GCSE's and a AS level in IT.

I was just wondering on everyone's opinions on the actual usefulness of both the actual skills and also the qualification itself in terms of getting a job in IT later on.

Just something else I noticed : to do a degree in Computer Science, IT wasn't a compulsory A level for a lot of universities - but Chemistry was?

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Old February 9th, 2013, 07:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm a full time IT tech and make more than the average household income so I do fairly well. I have no idea what a GCSE or an AS level is so I have no idea if it's beneficial or not. A lot of it really depends on what you want to do. I work with many people who have no IT certifications at all.
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Old February 10th, 2013, 09:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You'll need both credentials and demonstrable skills to snag the best jobs. Precisely what combination is best for you in your particular situation and time and place could be practically anything. If it gets you work, it's good.

Computer Science is more about the science than the computers. If you dream of designing the ultimate IT system from the ground up, then a CS degree may be what you need. OTOH if your dream job is troubleshooting and solving puzzles, you'll probably want a degree with the word "technology" in it.

See how far you can get with the certs that you have. If you're not happy with where you are after a certain period of time, go after more credentials.

If you have the time and money, go for a 4-year degree, and enjoy the college experience while you can. When I went to college, I learned far more useful stuff outside of the classrooms than I did in them. Not to say that my education was a waste (far from it!), but it's the "whole package" that builds a well-rounded person IME.
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Old February 10th, 2013, 12:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Honestly, I would say that experience is worth 10 times what a cert is worth. I would highly recommend a 4 yr degree though because of the things you learn outside of your major. I went to a liberal arts college, got a CS degree and don't regret it. I work with guys who have Master's degrees though and a couple who are working on their doctorates in CS and I will likely be promoted at our job before they are simply because I have more experience.
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Old February 10th, 2013, 12:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by A.Nonymous View Post
Honestly, I would say that experience is worth 10 times what a cert is worth
Totally, especially in the UK where the OP is from.

I'm the UK Technical team leader for Desktop support in a Global technology company. The only "Qualification" I have is ITIL (Which is very good to have an understanding of).

It's all well and good having qualifications, but although they mean something, they don't mean much. I've said it before and I'll say it again. What makes a great technician is something that cannot be taught. Its a combination of:
  • Ambition
  • Interest
  • Natural ability
  • Logic
  • Reason
  • Understanding
  • Technical aptitude
  • Methodical approach

Without all (or most) of the above, you will never be more than a pretty good technician, which for some is enough.

You could have degree's coming out of your ears, but an employer knows you're green if you have no experience. They also know you are unproven.

I've had MCSA's passing what I see as simple incidents for me to resolve (and I do resolve them) because they are taught certain things. These things are classed as knowledge but they are not taught how to apply the knowledge and how to work outside your known limitations.

If I was an employer, I would take on the guy with 4 years experience and no degree over a guy with a 4 year degree and no experience. If I 2 people with 10 years experience and one of them had a degree, well the degree wouldn't matter at that stage. The only time I would take a degree over not a degree, is if they both have 1 year experience but one has a degree. Because a year is not really experience.

That's my feeling anyway.
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Old February 10th, 2013, 01:07 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I moved the to the Computers and IT forum so you can get some more focused eyes on it.
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Old February 10th, 2013, 02:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Just to translate between the American and US education systems: Mehta has GCSEs (done in highschool from age 14-16) and A-Levels (done in English collages/6th form from age 17-18). When it comes to universities here, we don't use the major/minor system, although you will have the option to take modules outside of your department if your time table allows it. And, with some exceptions, undergrad degrees are fixed length at 3 years (+1 if you do a masters).

However, you can get sandwhich courses, where the university will help you find a paid industrial placement for one year (between the second and final year of your undergraduate degree). I would seriously recommend you look for a course that offers that, and make sure to ask them how many of their students typically find a place, etc.

That's if you decide to go to university. It will cost you a fair bit nowadays.
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Old February 10th, 2013, 02:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Yeah, looking to go to uni.

I agree with what y'all are saying : there's more to getting a good job than just qualifications....
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Old February 27th, 2013, 05:43 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'd have thought an engineering degree would be a good option and give you more options later.

Why's that important? Well, it's debatable whether there will still be good IT careers available in the UK (and the US) in 5 or 10 years time. There's a lot of talk about outsourcing / off shoring slowing down but precious little evidence.

The affect of this is that, while there are still jobs, salaries are at best stagnating and at worst falling. I do consultancy and my rates are exactly the same as they were 10 years ago - that's a 23% real terms fall. Lots of people I know have seen their rates actually cut.

IT has been very good to me but it may be that, like manufacturing, it's become a dying industry in the west.
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Old February 27th, 2013, 09:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Depends what discipline of IT. You cannot offshore Desktop support.
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Old February 27th, 2013, 09:54 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Depends. If you stick everybody on VMs and give 'em Wyse terminals, you can offshore 90% of it. I'd say 2/3 of the companies I've worked for in the last decade have either already moved or are planning to move to VM desktops.

Besides, the OP is after career advice. If IT is the hospice of careers (and it is), desktop support is the graveyard
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Old February 27th, 2013, 10:53 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SUroot View Post
Depends what discipline of IT. You cannot offshore Desktop support.
Unfortunately, yes you can. It's not live obviously, but it is possible to offshore with a email-only or similar setup. It's not the most effective way to do things, but cheaper. :S
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Old February 27th, 2013, 11:17 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: IT Qualifications

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiempreTuna View Post
If IT is the hospice of careers (and it is), desktop support is the graveyard
Disagree. Even with a wyse estate, they still need flashing and physically attending. Its not possible to remotely check a network cable or monitor connection. There will always be a need for a physical presence on site
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Old February 27th, 2013, 11:18 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Unfortunately, yes you can. It's not live obviously, but it is possible to offshore with a email-only or similar setup. It's not the most effective way to do things, but cheaper. :S
That's not desktop support
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Old February 27th, 2013, 11:27 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Doh! Sorry. I got my wires crossed between this thread and another about helpdesk. You're right.
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Old February 27th, 2013, 12:00 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Yeah its helpdesk, and you're right on that, it can be off-shored.

Emails fine though. Most service management tools have email listeners and robo technicians nowadays. So they can auto assign etc .
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Old February 28th, 2013, 05:40 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Disagree. Even with a wyse estate, they still need flashing and physically attending. Its not possible to remotely check a network cable or monitor connection. There will always be a need for a physical presence on site
I did say 90%. Of course some support will always be required on site, my point is that less and less is required on-site.

Even then, many on-site services are being provided by off-shoring companies who put their own people in to the roles, paying them a pittance compared to local resource and locking them in via restricted work visas.
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Old February 28th, 2013, 06:28 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I think the trend for off shoring has gone down, particularly for technical roles. Business application support (oracle, Cognos, BI etc) yeah sure, lots of off shoring there.

Outsourced IT helpdesks from my experience (FTSE 100, FTSE 250, UK Government, Managed Service Providers) tend still to be UK based. Technical off shore teams tend to be qualified to the eye balls but not so good at independent thought or working off-piste

Over my last 10 years working in technical IT support I have seen the trend go:

Outsourced > Off Shore > Onshore > insourced

The biggest outsourcing for Helpdesks are usually customer facing. Virgin Media etc but for corporate / enterprise end users, this doesn't seem to be the case from my experience

I can only talk of my own experience in the companies / organisations I have worked for in the public and private sectors, but I am definitely seeing plenty of roles for technical support advertised on the UK market. Sure, some of the places I work do have a team of IT technicians in India for example, but they don't make up the bulk of the department. Some companies need productivity to be maintained to continue their success and often this means having localised IT specialists with quick response times and an on-site presence
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Old February 28th, 2013, 08:29 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: IT Qualifications

I don't know if salary trends have changed much in the last 12 years (when I left desktop support) but it seems that dev and QA pay tons more. I know it depends on the company, location and industry...
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Old February 28th, 2013, 08:41 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SUroot View Post
Outsourced > Off Shore > Onshore > insourced
Like I say, I've heard that story quite a lot but I have never seen it. All I've actually seen is:

Outsourced > Off Shored

or, in one case:

Outsourced > Off Shored > Off shored to an even cheaper country

I think most people in IT believe that the trajectory ought to be the one you describe, unfortunately I'm not sure it is (I would love to be wrong) largely because it tends to be the accountants who make the decisions and all they look at are the dollars and cents at the bottom of the bill.

Quote:
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I don't know if salary trends have changed much in the last 12 years (when I left desktop support) but it seems that dev and QA pay tons more
Not as much these days as Dev and QA are two of the things that are most easily outsourced.
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Old February 28th, 2013, 11:47 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SiempreTuna View Post
Like I say, I've heard that story quite a lot but I have never seen it. All I've actually seen is:

Outsourced > Off Shored

or, in one case:

Outsourced > Off Shored > Off shored to an even cheaper country

I think most people in IT believe that the trajectory ought to be the one you describe, unfortunately I'm not sure it is (I would love to be wrong) largely because it tends to be the accountants who make the decisions and all they look at are the dollars and cents at the bottom of the bill.
I think what we can take away from this is that if we both report opposing trends being witnessed, then perhaps the reality lies somewhere in the middle?
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Old March 1st, 2013, 04:23 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I'd much prefer the reality to be that I'm completely wrong and you're completely right

I can't afford to retire any time soon!
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Old March 1st, 2013, 04:34 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Oh don't. I'd love to be able to afford to retire at my age!

No the fact certainly is although there are plenty of jobs, there's still 100 candidates per role so you really need to be something special.
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Old March 1st, 2013, 01:08 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mehta23 View Post
I am a A Level student, and I've already done 2 GCSE's and a AS level in IT.
Not being from the UK I don't know what any of that means. However...

Quote:
I was just wondering on everyone's opinions on the actual usefulness of both the actual skills and also the qualification itself in terms of getting a job in IT later on.

Just something else I noticed : to do a degree in Computer Science, IT wasn't a compulsory A level for a lot of universities - but Chemistry was?
I don't know the rationale behind that, but let me tell you about my own experience, okay? I was a pre-med student, so I had lots of math, chemistry and physics under my belt. Due to utter burnout, I needed a break before going on. So one thing led to another, I never ended up getting my MD, but I taught myself UNIX programming and system administration, database programming, and more. I had two amazing jobs spanning ~20 years. At the first, I transitioned a furniture store chain off their IBM System/3 mainframes onto a multi-user, multi-location UNIX system, and at the second, I did all the programming for a data processing company. I had not one *IOTA* of education in IT, unless you count one 'intro to computer science' (or some such) class I took in college, no degrees or certificates or ANYTHING related to IT. I did fine! The analytical skills I'd always had, and that had served me well in math and science courses, were perfect for what I did. While I can state unequivocally that I never used any actual chemistry knowledge in my programming/sysadmin career, the thinking is very similar. So if you're required to take chemistry, plunge in and have fun. Organic chemistry was my favorite college course of all time.
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Old March 5th, 2013, 05:27 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I can remember when we got the first IT grads join the IT department of the major oil company I was working for back in the 80s: they knew absolutely nothing useful and it took years to train them

The way I started was as a temp with too little to do. The guy from IT saw I was bored and (literally) threw me a manual and said RTFM. Two years later, I was working for IT earning more than him and his boss.

Unfortunately, getting into corporate IT (where you can find what good jobs there still are) these days is not nearly so easy. Unless it's a really tiny operation - where IT tends to essentially be PC support - recruitment is run by HR and you have to have qualifications that look relevant to someone who struggles to understand Word.

It's a really tough world for kids these days ..
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Old March 5th, 2013, 05:40 AM   #26 (permalink)
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System Admin and Network security are still big areas, If you decide to got that way, make sure you get a VERY good understnading of how the TCP/IP stack works and how it can be subverted. Python, Perl and Assembler are all good to know if you decide i=on an IT/Network security degree/career. To help get a foot in the doot, it helps to have some Microsoft or Linux/Unix Admin certs as well.
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