Originally Posted by Zate
no you dont. I spent 8 years in one of the big 4 accounting firms doing unix and security, with no degree. Degree's are ok, but the technology changes so fast that you will learn very little there you can't learn some where else much faster and cheaper.
Degree's are a very nice thing to have, but you can do just fine without it. That being said, I'd get a degree if it didnt involve learning so much useless crap you will never use again. Much like the CISSP.
While yes you can
do things fine without a degree and learning on the job, it's certainly easier
to land a job with a degree.
I'll use myself as an example since I'm also looking at a career in Network Security.
Two years ago I got a job as a PC repair tech at a local shop. This was my first IT job, ever. Before this I had just been messing around on my own, built a couple computers and that's about it. But it was enough to get an interview at the shop, which later panned out to getting the job. Before I go any further let me say that I do not have any degrees at present, so obviously I didn't have any when I started this job.
I can safely say I learned 10x as much in the first 4 months of that repair technician job than I did in all my years of tinkering on my own. Easily that much more. Now, that was due in large part because I wasn't working for a big-box retailer - since it was a local shop everyone there had a background i computers, and management took the time to train me properly rather than say "Click this button, if it doesn't work they need a new computer". During my time at this repair shop I got my A+, Network+ and Security+ certs. This was from a combination of the training and teaching from my manager and self study books. I sincerely doubt that the classes I would've taken at this point would have given me the same knowledge. I probably would've been able to pass the certs just the same, but I wouldn't know why
the answer to question 42 was A, but that is was
that answer. Profound difference. Higher level classes would be a different story.
Fast forward to more recently and I've taken a NOC position in a Fortune 500 company. Still no degree, just the certs and contacts. Now, I have always said that these certs, being entry level, are meaningless. And I say that because anyone who studies for 2-3 weeks should have no problem passing them. It's your higher level CCNA, CCNP, Juniper, etc certs that require actual skill and know-how. But
entry level certs get you interviews. I can safely say that while the connections I had to my current management got me my phone interview, the certs and experience got me my second, face-to-face, interview. Beyond that, you need to show a willingness to learn and deal with the bottom-of-the-totem jobs.
Yes, you can jump into higher level positions without degrees, but it's going to be much harder. I am getting my degree while working this NOC position, and I'll be honest, I can't wait til I'm out of it. NOC isn't a terrible position at all, it's just not what I want to do and is thus not a very exciting position for someone like you or myself who wants to get into a higher level security position. But, without that elegant slip of paper - you need to work from the bottom up.
Now, on the flip side, if I had a degree and my repair shop experience , I probably could have gone into some Jr. Sys Admin position, rather than doing the middle-man position first. However, the main difference is I'd have four years of book-knowledge rather than four years of book knowledge backed by on the job training and experience.
So TL;DR - the degree makes jobs and interviews easier to get, but don't think that it outweighs experience. In many cases, the degree is what allows you to get the experience in the first place; but you'll have a better understanding of it than the guy with just experience or the guy with just the degree.